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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2018 Jun;50:171-178. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2018.03.010. Epub 2018 Apr 5.

Lighting up the brain: genetically encoded fluorescent sensors for imaging neurotransmitters and neuromodulators.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Membrane Biology, Peking University School of Life Sciences, Beijing 100871, China; PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing 100871, China.
2
State Key Laboratory of Membrane Biology, Peking University School of Life Sciences, Beijing 100871, China; PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing 100871, China; Peking-Tsinghua Center for Life Sciences, Beijing 100871, China.
3
State Key Laboratory of Membrane Biology, Peking University School of Life Sciences, Beijing 100871, China; PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing 100871, China; Peking-Tsinghua Center for Life Sciences, Beijing 100871, China. Electronic address: yulongli@pku.edu.cn.

Abstract

Measuring the precise dynamics of specific neurotransmitters and neuromodulators in the brain is essential for understanding how information is transmitted and processed. Thanks to the development and optimization of various genetically encoded sensors, we are approaching the stage in which a few key neurotransmitters/neuromodulators can be imaged with high cell specificity and good signal-to-noise ratio. Here, we summarize recent progress regarding these sensors, focusing on their design principles, properties, potential applications, and current limitations. We also highlight the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) scaffold as a promising platform that may enable the scalable development of the next generation of sensors, enabling the rapid, sensitive, and specific detection of a large repertoire of neurotransmitters/neuromodulators in vivo at cellular or even subcellular resolution.

PMID:
29627516
PMCID:
PMC5984720
DOI:
10.1016/j.conb.2018.03.010
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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