Fluorescent proteins: a cell biologist's user guide

Trends Cell Biol. 2009 Nov;19(11):649-55. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2009.08.002. Epub 2009 Oct 8.


Fluorescent Proteins (FPs) have revolutionized cell biology. The value of labeling and visualizing proteins in living cells is evident from the thousands of publications since the cloning of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). Biologists have been flooded with a cornucopia of FPs; however, the FP toolbox has not necessarily been optimized for cell biologists. Common FP plasmids are suboptimal for the construction of proteins fused to FP. More problematic are commercial and investigator-constructed FP-fusion proteins that disrupt important cellular targeting information. Even when cell biologists correctly construct FP-fusion proteins, it is rarely self-evident which FP should be used. Important FP information, such as oligomer formation or photostability, is often obscure or anecdotal. This brief guide is offered to assist the biologist to exploit FPs in the analysis of cellular processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Biology*
  • Cell Survival
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Proteins / analysis*
  • Luminescent Proteins / chemistry
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Engineering / methods*
  • Protein Multimerization


  • Luminescent Proteins