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PLoS One. 2011 May 11;6(5):e19520. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019520.

Red fluorescent protein-aequorin fusions as improved bioluminescent Ca2+ reporters in single cells and mice.

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1
Facultad de Medicina and Centro Regional de Investigaciones Biomédicas, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Albacete, Spain.

Abstract

Bioluminescence recording of Ca(2+) signals with the photoprotein aequorin does not require radiative energy input and can be measured with a low background and good temporal resolution. Shifting aequorin emission to longer wavelengths occurs naturally in the jellyfish Aequorea victoria by bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) to the green fluorescent protein (GFP). This process has been reproduced in the molecular fusions GFP-aequorin and monomeric red fluorescent protein (mRFP)-aequorin, but the latter showed limited transfer efficiency. Fusions with strong red emission would facilitate the simultaneous imaging of Ca(2+) in various cell compartments. In addition, they would also serve to monitor Ca(2+) in living organisms since red light is able to cross animal tissues with less scattering. In this study, aequorin was fused to orange and various red fluorescent proteins to identify the best acceptor in red emission bands. Tandem-dimer Tomato-aequorin (tdTA) showed the highest BRET efficiency (largest energy transfer critical distance R(0)) and percentage of counts in the red band of all the fusions studied. In addition, red fluorophore maturation of tdTA within cells was faster than that of other fusions. Light output was sufficient to image ATP-induced Ca(2+) oscillations in single HeLa cells expressing tdTA. Ca(2+) rises caused by depolarization of mouse neuronal cells in primary culture were also recorded, and changes in fine neuronal projections were spatially resolved. Finally, it was also possible to visualize the Ca(2+) activity of HeLa cells injected subcutaneously into mice, and Ca(2+) signals after depositing recombinant tdTA in muscle or the peritoneal cavity. Here we report that tdTA is the brightest red bioluminescent Ca(2+) sensor reported to date and is, therefore, a promising probe to study Ca(2+) dynamics in whole organisms or tissues expressing the transgene.

PMID:
21589654
PMCID:
PMC3092744
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0019520
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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