Analyzing protein kinase dynamics in living cells with FRET reporters

Qiang Ni, Denis V. Titov, Jin Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Genetically encoded reporters based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) are being developed for analyzing spatiotemporal dynamics of kinase activities in living cells, as the activities of this class of enzymes are often dynamically regulated and spatially compartmentalized within specific signaling context. Here we describe a general modular design and engineering strategies for the development of activity reporters for kinases of interest, using A-kinase activity reporter (AKAR) as an illustrative example. Discussed here are basic structure of such reporters, design considerations, reporter gene construction, cellular and in vitro characterization. Strategies for improving specificity, dynamic range or sensitivity, reversibility and integrity of the reporter as well as basic methods for live-cell time-lapse imaging using these reporters are summarized. Discussion of using this approach in the study of MAPK cascades is also provided. These FRET-based kinase activity reporters, along with analogous probes based on alternative designs, provide real-time tracking of kinase dynamics with subcellular resolution, which should complement other methods and offer great opportunities to delineate the molecular mechanisms underlying the complex regulation of kinases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-286
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Compartmentalization
  • FRET
  • Fluorescent protein
  • Kinase
  • Live-cell imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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