Measurement of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate in living cells using an improved set of resonance energy transfer-based biosensors

PLoS One. 2015 May 1;10(5):e0125601. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0125601. eCollection 2015.


Improved versions of inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP3) sensors were created to follow intracellular InsP3 changes in single living cells and in cell populations. Similar to previous InsP3 sensors the new sensors are based on the ligand binding domain of the human type-I InsP3 receptor (InsP3R-LBD), but contain a mutation of either R265K or R269K to lower their InsP3 binding affinity. Tagging the InsP3R-LBD with N-terminal Cerulean and C-terminal Venus allowed measurement of InsP3 in single-cell FRET experiments. Replacing Cerulean with a Luciferase enzyme allowed experiments in multi-cell format by measuring the change in the BRET signal upon stimulation. These sensors faithfully followed the agonist-induced increase in InsP3 concentration in HEK 293T cells expressing the Gq-coupled AT1 angiotensin receptor detecting a response to agonist concentration as low as 10 pmol/L. Compared to the wild type InsP3 sensor, the mutant sensors showed an improved off-rate, enabling a more rapid and complete return of the signal to the resting value of InsP3 after termination of M3 muscarinic receptor stimulation by atropine. For parallel measurements of intracellular InsP3 and Ca2+ levels in BRET experiments, the Cameleon D3 Ca2+ sensor was modified by replacing its CFP with luciferase. In these experiments depletion of plasma membrane PtdIns(4,5)P2 resulted in the fall of InsP3 level, followed by the decrease of the Ca2+-signal evoked by the stimulation of the AT1 receptor. In contrast, when type-III PI 4-kinases were inhibited with a high concentration of wortmannin or a more specific inhibitor, A1, the decrease of the Ca2+-signal preceded the fall of InsP3 level indicating an InsP3-, independent, direct regulation of capacitative Ca2+ influx by plasma membrane inositol lipids. Taken together, our results indicate that the improved InsP3 sensor can be used to monitor both the increase and decrease of InsP3 levels in live cells suitable for high-throughput BRET applications.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biosensing Techniques / methods*
  • COS Cells
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Survival
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Energy Transfer*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate / metabolism*
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors / chemistry
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors / metabolism


  • ITPR1 protein, human
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate
  • Calcium