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Luminescent Imaging with Nano-lanterns

Posted by Mary Gearing on May 25, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Fluorescent imaging techniques have become indispensable tools for molecular and cell biologists over the last two decades, but their use can be limited by a few caveats. Since fluorescent proteins (FP) require external light activation, you can’t use fluorescence to monitor processes directly affected by light. Long-term light exposure can also lead to cellular phototoxicity, and experimental success can be affected by both autofluorescence and photobleaching. Researchers have long been interested in using luminescence to get around these issues, but this solution wasn’t practical due to the low intensity of luminescent proteins. To make luminescent imaging a reality, Addgene depositor Takeharu Nagai and colleagues at Osaka University have developed Nano-lantern technology. Nano-lanterns contain a Renilla luciferase variant fused to an FP; when supplied with a luciferase substrate, the luciferase transfers energy to the FP, resulting in a fluorescent signal. Since their first publication in 2012, the Nagai laboratory has assembled a collection of multicolored nano-lanterns for use in various applications, including optogenetics, biosensors, and fusion proteins.

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Topics: Fluorescent Proteins, Luminescence

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