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Biosens Bioelectron. 2005 Jun 15;20(12):2504-11. Epub 2004 Dec 10.

Genetically encoded optical probes for imaging cellular signaling pathways.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, School of Science, The University of Tokyo, Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan. umezawa@chem.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp

Abstract

The intracellular signaling can be monitored in vivo in living cells by genetically encoded intracellular fluorescent and bioluminescent probes or indicators, which include second messengers, protein phosphorylation, protein conformational changes, protein-protein interactions, and protein localizations. These probes are of general use not only for fundamental biological studies, but also for assay and screening of possible pharmaceutical or toxic chemicals that inhibit or facilitate cellular signaling pathways. In this review, two examples of such indicators were briefly introduced. First, a genetically encoded fluorescent indicator was described for the detection and characterization of estrogen agonists and antagonists. The indicator was named SCCoR (single cell-coactivator recruitment). The high sensitivity of the present indicator made it possible to distinguish between estrogen strong and weak agonists in a dose-dependent fashion, immediately after adding a ligand to live cells. Discrimination of agonists from antagonists was efficiently achieved using the indicator. The approach described here can be applied to develop biosensors for other hormone receptors as well. Another example herein is a genetically encoded bioluminescent indicator for monitoring the nuclear trafficking of target proteins in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrated quantitative cell-based in vitro sensing of ligand-induced translocation of androgen receptor, which allowed high-throughput screening of exo- and endogenous agonists and antagonists. Furthermore, the indicator enabled noninvasive in vivo imaging of the androgen receptor translocation in the brains of living mice with a charge-coupled device imaging system. These rapid and quantitative analyses in vitro and in vivo provide a wide variety of applications for screening pharmacological or toxicological compounds and testing them in living animals.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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