Background: Fluorescent proteins have been used to generate a variety of biosensors to optically monitor biological phenomena in living cells. Among this class of genetically encoded biosensors, reporters for membrane potential have been a particular challenge. The use of presently known voltage sensor proteins is limited by incorrect subcellular localization and small or absent voltage responses in mammalian cells.
Results: Here we report on a fluorescent protein voltage sensor with superior targeting to the mammalian plasma membrane and high responsiveness to membrane potential signaling in excitable cells.
Conclusions and significance: This biosensor, which we termed VSFP2.1, is likely to lead to new methods of monitoring electrically active cells with cell type specificity, non-invasively and in large numbers, simultaneously.