Monomeric fluorescent proteins of different colors are widely used to study behavior and targeting of proteins in living cells. Fluorescent proteins that irreversibly change their spectral properties in response to light irradiation of a specific wavelength, or photoactivate, have become increasingly popular to image intracellular dynamics and superresolution protein localization. Until recently, however, no optimized monomeric red fluorescent proteins and red photoactivatable proteins have been available. Furthermore, monomeric fluorescent proteins, which change emission from blue to red simply with time, so-called fluorescent timers, were developed to study protein age and turnover. Understanding of chemical mechanisms of the chromophore maturation or photoactivation into a red form will further advance engineering of fluorescent timers and photoactivatable proteins with enhanced and novel properties.
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