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Glucose is arguably the most important molecule in metabolism, and its mismanagement underlies diseases of vast societal import, most notably diabetes. Although glucose-related metabolism has been the subject of intense study for over a century, tools to track glucose in living organisms with high spatio-temporal resolution are lacking. We describe the engineering of a family of genetically encoded glucose sensors with high signal-to-noise ratio, fast kinetics and affinities varying over four orders of magnitude (1 µM to 10 mM). The sensors allow rigorous mechanistic characterization of glucose transporters expressed in cultured cells with high spatial and temporal resolution. Imaging of neuron/glia co-cultures revealed ∼3-fold higher glucose changes in astrocytes versus neurons. In larval Drosophila central nervous system explants, imaging of intracellular neuronal glucose suggested a novel rostro-caudal transport pathway in the ventral nerve cord neuropil, with paradoxically slower uptake into the peripheral cell bodies and brain lobes. In living zebrafish, expected glucose-related physiological sequelae of insulin and epinephrine treatments were directly visualized in real time. Additionally, spontaneous muscle twitches induced glucose uptake in muscle, and sensory- and pharmacological perturbations gave rise to large but enigmatic changes in the brain. These sensors will enable myriad experiments, most notably rapid, high-resolution imaging of glucose influx, efflux, and metabolism in behaving animals.
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