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2 Janelia Publications

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    12/01/09 | Imaging neural activity in worms, flies and mice with improved GCaMP calcium indicators.
    Tian L, Hires SA, Mao T, Huber D, Chiappe ME, Chalasani SH, Petreanu L, Akerboom J, McKinney SA, Schreiter ER, Bargmann CI, Jayaraman V, Svoboda K, Looger LL
    Nature Methods. 2009 Dec;6(12):875-81. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1398

    Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) can be used to image activity in defined neuronal populations. However, current GECIs produce inferior signals compared to synthetic indicators and recording electrodes, precluding detection of low firing rates. We developed a single-wavelength GCaMP2-based GECI (GCaMP3), with increased baseline fluorescence (3-fold), increased dynamic range (3-fold) and higher affinity for calcium (1.3-fold). We detected GCaMP3 fluorescence changes triggered by single action potentials in pyramidal cell dendrites, with signal-to-noise ratio and photostability substantially better than those of GCaMP2, D3cpVenus and TN-XXL. In Caenorhabditis elegans chemosensory neurons and the Drosophila melanogaster antennal lobe, sensory stimulation-evoked fluorescence responses were significantly enhanced with GCaMP3 (4-6-fold). In somatosensory and motor cortical neurons in the intact mouse, GCaMP3 detected calcium transients with amplitudes linearly dependent on action potential number. Long-term imaging in the motor cortex of behaving mice revealed large fluorescence changes in imaged neurons over months.

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    Looger LabSchreiter Lab
    03/06/09 | Crystal structures of the GCaMP calcium sensor reveal the mechanism of fluorescence signal change and aid rational design.
    Akerboom J, Rivera JD, Guilbe MM, Malavé EC, Hernandez HH, Tian L, Hires SA, Marvin JS, Looger LL, Schreiter ER
    The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2009 Mar 6;284:6455-64. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M807657200

    The genetically encoded calcium indicator GCaMP2 shows promise for neural network activity imaging, but is currently limited by low signal-to-noise ratio. We describe x-ray crystal structures as well as solution biophysical and spectroscopic characterization of GCaMP2 in the calcium-free dark state, and in two calcium-bound bright states: a monomeric form that dominates at intracellular concentrations observed during imaging experiments and an unexpected domain-swapped dimer with decreased fluorescence. This series of structures provides insight into the mechanism of Ca2+-induced fluorescence change. Upon calcium binding, the calmodulin (CaM) domain wraps around the M13 peptide, creating a new domain interface between CaM and the circularly permuted enhanced green fluorescent protein domain. Residues from CaM alter the chemical environment of the circularly permuted enhanced green fluorescent protein chromophore and, together with flexible inter-domain linkers, block solvent access to the chromophore. Guided by the crystal structures, we engineered a series of GCaMP2 point mutants to probe the mechanism of GCaMP2 function and characterized one mutant with significantly improved signal-to-noise. The mutation is located at a domain interface and its effect on sensor function could not have been predicted in the absence of structural data.

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