Fluorescent ratiometric pH indicator SypHer2: Applications in neuroscience and regenerative biology

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015 Nov;1850(11):2318-28. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2015.08.002. Epub 2015 Aug 8.


Background: SypHer is a genetically encoded fluorescent pH-indicator with a ratiometric readout, suitable for measuring fast intracellular pH shifts. However, the relatively low brightness of the indicator limits its use.

Methods: Here we designed a new version of pH-sensor called SypHer-2, which has up to three times brighter fluorescence in cultured mammalian cells compared to the SypHer.

Results: Using the new indicator we registered activity-associated pH oscillations in neuronal cell culture. We observed prominent transient neuronal cytoplasm acidification that occurs in parallel with calcium entry. Furthermore, we monitored pH in presynaptic and postsynaptic termini by targeting SypHer-2 directly to these compartments and revealed marked differences in pH dynamics between synaptic boutons and dendritic spines. Finally, we were able to reveal for the first time the intracellular pH drop that occurs within an extended region of the amputated tail of the Xenopus laevis tadpole before it begins to regenerate.

Conclusions: SypHer2 is suitable for quantitative monitoring of pH in biological systems of different scales, from small cellular subcompartments to animal tissues in vivo.

General significance: The new pH-sensor will help to investigate pH-dependent processes in both in vitro and in vivo studies.

Keywords: Genetically encoded sensors; Imaging; Neurons; Regeneration; Synapse; SypHer2; pH.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Fluorescence
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Neurosciences*
  • Radiometry
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Xenopus laevis / physiology


  • Calcium