Engineering and application of genetically encoded calcium indicators

Jasper Akerboom, Lin Tian, Jonathan S. Marvin, Loren L. Looger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Genetically encoded fluorescent biosensors are useful tools for tracking target analytes in cells, tissues and living organisms. These probes are often chimeric proteins consisting of a recognition element (e.g., a ligand-binding protein) and a reporter element (one or more fluorescent proteins). The analyte-induced conformational change in the recognition element leads to an observable change in fluorescence in the reporter element. Expression of biosensors is noninvasive and can be targeted to specific tissues and cell types using specific promoter and enhancer sequences, and to subcellular compartments with signal peptides and retention tags. Recent improvements in both indicator engineering and microscopy methods enable chronic in vivo measurements. Here, we describe methods used in the design, testing, optimization and application of genetically encoded biosensors, with a particular focus on the widely utilized calcium indicator GCaMP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNeuromethods
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 2012

Publication series

ISSN (Print)08932336
ISSN (Electronic)19406045


  • Calcium imaging
  • GCaMP
  • GCaMP3
  • GECI
  • Neural activity imaging
  • Protein engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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