A hallmark of cancer cells is their uncontrolled activation of growth signal transduction cascades comprised of oncogene products. Overexpression and activating mutations of the growth factor receptors Ras and Raf are frequently observed in human cancer cells. Several research groups, including our own, have been developing probes based on the principle of fluorescence (Förster) resonance energy transfer (FRET) to visualize how signaling molecules, including oncogene products, are regulated in normal and cancerous cells in the living state. In this review, we will briefly introduce the principle of FRET-based probes, present an overview of the probes reported to date, and discuss the perspectives of these probes and fluorescent imaging systems in cancer biology.
(Cancer Sci 2006; 97: 8-15).