A toolkit for real-time detection of cAMP: insights into compartmentalized signaling

Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2008;(186):285-98. doi: 10.1007/978-3-540-72843-6_12.


The study of cAMP signaling has received a renewed impulse since the recognition that a key aspect of this pathway is the tight spatial control of signal propagation. The study of the mechanism that regulates cAMP signaling in space and time has prompted the development of new methodological approaches to detect cAMP in intact cells. Over the last decades, techniques to assess cAMP concentration with high spatial and temporal resolution in living cells have been elaborated that are based on fluorescent molecules and the phenomenon of fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). A FRET-based indicator of cAMP concentration is typically a protein, including two fluorophores that are linked to a cAMP-binding domain. Binding of cAMP causes a change in the protein conformation and, as a consequence, in the distance between the fluorophores, thus altering the energy transfer between them. Several FRET indicators have been developed, differing in their affinity for cAMP, kinetic features and intracellular targeting. Such indicators enable the measurement of cAMP fluctuations as they happen in the complex intracellular environment and are proving to be effective tools to dissect compartmentalized cAMP signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism*
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Cation Channels / metabolism
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer / methods*
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Cation Channels
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases