Fluorescent proteins in cellular organelles: serious pitfalls and some solutions

DNA Cell Biol. 2013 Nov;32(11):622-7. doi: 10.1089/dna.2013.2172. Epub 2013 Aug 24.


Fluorescent proteins (FPs) have been powerful tools for cell biologists for over 15 years. The large variety of FPs available rarely comes with an instruction manual or a warning label. The potential pitfalls of the use of FPs in cellular organelles represent a significant concern for investigators. FPs generally did not evolve in the often distinctive physicochemical environments of subcellular organelles. In organelles, FPs can misfold, go dark, and even distort organelle morphology. In this minireview, we describe the issues associated with FPs in organelles and provide solutions to enable investigators to better exploit FP technology in cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disulfides
  • Fluorescence
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Proteins / analysis*
  • Luminescent Proteins / chemistry*
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism*
  • Molecular Biology / methods
  • Organelles / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Protein Conformation
  • Recombinant Proteins / analysis
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism


  • Disulfides
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins