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Modern fluorescent proteins: from chromophore formation to novel intracellular applications
The diverse biochemical and photophysical properties of fluorescent proteins (FPs) have enabled the generation of a growing palette of colors, providing unique opportunities for their use in a variety of modern biology applications. Modulation of these FP characteristics is achieved through diversity in both the structure of the chromophore as well as the contacts between the chromophore and the surrounding protein barrel. Here we review our current knowledge of blue, green, and red chromophore formation in permanently emitting FPs, photoactivatable FPs, and fluorescent timers. Progress in understanding the interplay between FP structure and function has allowed the engineering of FPs with many desirable features, and enabled recent advances in microscopy techniques such as super-resolution imaging of single molecules, imaging of protein dynamics, photochromic FRET, deep-tissue imaging, and multicolor two-photon microscopy in live animals.
Modern fluorescent proteins and imaging technologies to study gene expression, nuclear localization, and dynamics
Recent developments in reagent design can address problems in single cells that were not previously approachable. We have attempted to foresee what will become possible, and the sorts of biological problems that become tractable with these novel reagents. We have focused on the novel fluorescent proteins that allow convenient multiplexing, and provide for a time-dependent analysis of events in single cells. Methods for fluorescently labeling specific molecules, including endogenously expressed proteins and mRNA have progressed and are now commonly used in a variety of organisms. Finally, sensitive microscopic methods have become more routine practice. This article emphasizes that the time is right to coordinate these approaches for a new initiative on single cell imaging of biological molecules.