Building and breeding molecules to spy on cells and tumors

FEBS Lett. 2005 Feb 7;579(4):927-32. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2004.11.025.


Imaging of biochemical processes in living cells and organisms is essential for understanding how genes and gene products work together in space and time and in health and disease. Such imaging depends crucially on indicator molecules designed to maximize sensitivity and specificity. These molecules can be entirely synthetic, entirely genetically encoded macromolecules, or hybrid combinations, each approach having its own pros and cons. Recent examples from the author's laboratory include peptides whose uptake into cells is triggered by proteases typical of tumors, monomeric red fluorescent proteins and biarsenical-tetracysteine systems for determining the age and electron-microscopic location of proteins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Proteins / analysis
  • Luminescent Proteins / chemistry*
  • Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Peptides / analysis
  • Protein Transport


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Peptides