Fluorescent Biosensors of Protein Function

Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2008 Feb;12(1):60-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2008.01.020. Epub 2008 Mar 7.


Fluorescent biosensors allow researchers to image and quantify protein activity and small molecule signals in living cells with high spatial and temporal resolution. Genetically encoded sensors are coded by a DNA sequence and hence constructed entirely out of amino acids. These biosensors typically utilize light-emitting proteins, such as derivatives of the green fluorescent protein (GFP), and have been developed for a wide range of small molecules and enzyme activities. Fluorescent biosensors can be genetically targeted to distinct locations within cells, such as organelles and membranes. This feature facilitates elucidation of how protein activities and cellular signals are modulated in different regions of the cell. Improvements in the dynamic range and robustness of sensors have enabled high throughput screening for molecules that act as agonists or antagonists of protein function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Biosensing Techniques / methods*
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer
  • Fluorescent Dyes / analysis*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / metabolism*


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • Proteins