Voltage imaging with genetically encoded indicators

Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2017 Aug;39:1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2017.04.005. Epub 2017 Apr 28.


Membrane voltages are ubiquitous throughout cell biology. Voltage is most commonly associated with excitable cells such as neurons and cardiomyocytes, although many other cell types and organelles also support electrical signaling. Voltage imaging in vivo would offer unique capabilities in reporting the spatial pattern and temporal dynamics of electrical signaling at the cellular and circuit levels. Voltage is not directly visible, and so a longstanding challenge has been to develop genetically encoded fluorescent voltage indicator proteins. Recent advances have led to a profusion of new voltage indicators, based on different scaffolds and with different tradeoffs between voltage sensitivity, speed, brightness, and spectrum. In this review, we describe recent advances in design and applications of genetically-encoded voltage indicators (GEVIs). We also highlight the protein engineering strategies employed to improve the dynamic range and kinetics of GEVIs and opportunities for future advances.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena*
  • Genetic Engineering*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Imaging / methods*