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      High-performance calcium sensors for imaging activity in neuronal populations and microcompartments

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          Calcium imaging with genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) is routinely used to measure neural activity in intact nervous systems. GECIs are frequently used in one of two different modes: to track activity in large populations of neuronal cell bodies, or to follow dynamics in subcellular compartments such as axons, dendrites and individual synaptic compartments. Despite major advances, calcium imaging is still limited by the biophysical properties of existing GECIs, including affinity, signal-to-noise ratio, rise and decay kinetics and dynamic range. Using structure-guided mutagenesis and neuron-based screening, we optimized the green fluorescent protein-based GECI GCaMP6 for different modes of in vivo imaging. The resulting jGCaMP7 sensors provide improved detection of individual spikes (jGCaMP7s,f), imaging in neurites and neuropil (jGCaMP7b), and may allow tracking larger populations of neurons using two-photon (jGCaMP7s,f) or wide-field (jGCaMP7c) imaging.

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          Optimization of a GCaMP calcium indicator for neural activity imaging.

          Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) are powerful tools for systems neuroscience. Recent efforts in protein engineering have significantly increased the performance of GECIs. The state-of-the art single-wavelength GECI, GCaMP3, has been deployed in a number of model organisms and can reliably detect three or more action potentials in short bursts in several systems in vivo. Through protein structure determination, targeted mutagenesis, high-throughput screening, and a battery of in vitro assays, we have increased the dynamic range of GCaMP3 by severalfold, creating a family of "GCaMP5" sensors. We tested GCaMP5s in several systems: cultured neurons and astrocytes, mouse retina, and in vivo in Caenorhabditis chemosensory neurons, Drosophila larval neuromuscular junction and adult antennal lobe, zebrafish retina and tectum, and mouse visual cortex. Signal-to-noise ratio was improved by at least 2- to 3-fold. In the visual cortex, two GCaMP5 variants detected twice as many visual stimulus-responsive cells as GCaMP3. By combining in vivo imaging with electrophysiology we show that GCaMP5 fluorescence provides a more reliable measure of neuronal activity than its predecessor GCaMP3. GCaMP5 allows more sensitive detection of neural activity in vivo and may find widespread applications for cellular imaging in general.
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            A high signal-to-noise Ca(2+) probe composed of a single green fluorescent protein.

            Recently, several groups have developed green fluorescent protein (GFP)-based Ca(2+) probes. When applied in cells, however, these probes are difficult to use because of a low signal-to-noise ratio. Here we report the development of a high-affinity Ca(2+) probe composed of a single GFP (named G-CaMP). G-CaMP showed an apparent K(d) for Ca(2+) of 235 nM. Association kinetics of Ca(2+) binding were faster at higher Ca(2+) concentrations, with time constants decreasing from 230 ms at 0.2 microM Ca(2+) to 2.5 ms at 1 microM Ca(2+). Dissociation kinetics (tau approximately 200 ms) are independent of Ca(2+) concentrations. In HEK-293 cells and mouse myotubes expressing G-CaMP, large fluorescent changes were observed in response to application of drugs or electrical stimulations. G-CaMP will be a useful tool for visualizing intracellular Ca2+ in living cells. Mutational analysis, together with previous structural information, suggests the residues that may alter the fluorescence of GFP.
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              Is Open Access

              Sensitive red protein calcium indicators for imaging neural activity

              Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) allow measurement of activity in large populations of neurons and in small neuronal compartments, over times of milliseconds to months. Although GFP-based GECIs are widely used for in vivo neurophysiology, GECIs with red-shifted excitation and emission spectra have advantages for in vivo imaging because of reduced scattering and absorption in tissue, and a consequent reduction in phototoxicity. However, current red GECIs are inferior to the state-of-the-art GFP-based GCaMP6 indicators for detecting and quantifying neural activity. Here we present improved red GECIs based on mRuby (jRCaMP1a, b) and mApple (jRGECO1a), with sensitivity comparable to GCaMP6. We characterized the performance of the new red GECIs in cultured neurons and in mouse, Drosophila, zebrafish and C. elegans in vivo. Red GECIs facilitate deep-tissue imaging, dual-color imaging together with GFP-based reporters, and the use of optogenetics in combination with calcium imaging. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.12727.001

                Author and article information

                Nature Methods
                Nat Methods
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                June 17 2019
                © 2019




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