CASPAM: A Triple-Modality Biosensor for Multiplexed Imaging of Caspase Network Activity

ACS Sens. 2021 Jul 23;6(7):2642-2653. doi: 10.1021/acssensors.1c00554. Epub 2021 Jun 30.


Understanding signal propagation across biological networks requires to simultaneously monitor the dynamics of several nodes to uncover correlations masked by inherent intercellular variability. To monitor the enzymatic activity of more than two components over short time scales has proven challenging. Exploiting the narrow spectral width of homo-FRET-based biosensors, up to three activities can be imaged through fluorescence polarization anisotropy microscopy. We introduce Caspase Activity Sensor by Polarization Anisotropy Multiplexing (CASPAM) a single-plasmid triple-modality reporter of key nodes of the apoptotic network. Apoptosis provides an ideal molecular framework to study interactions between its three composing pathways (intrinsic, extrinsic, and effector). We characterized the biosensor performance and demonstrated the advantages that equimolar expression has in both simplifying experimental procedure and reducing observable variation, thus enabling robust data-driven modeling. Tools like CASPAM become essential to analyze molecular pathways where multiple nodes need to be simultaneously monitored.

Keywords: apoptotic cascade; biological networks; homo-FRET-based biosensor; multiplexing; systems biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Biosensing Techniques*
  • Caspases / genetics
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence


  • Caspases