Quantitative imaging for discovery and assembly of the metabo-regulome. Academic Article uri icon


  • Little is known about regulatory networks that control metabolic flux in plant cells. Detailed understanding of regulation is crucial for synthetic biology. The difficulty of measuring metabolites with cellular and subcellular precision is a major roadblock. New tools have been developed for monitoring extracellular, cytosolic, organellar and vacuolar ion and metabolite concentrations with a time resolution of milliseconds to hours. Genetically encoded sensors allow quantitative measurement of steady-state concentrations of ions, signaling molecules and metabolites and their respective changes over time. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) sensors exploit conformational changes in polypeptides as a proxy for analyte concentrations. Subtle effects of analyte binding on the conformation of the recognition element are translated into a FRET change between two fused green fluorescent protein (GFP) variants, enabling simple monitoring of analyte concentrations using fluorimetry or fluorescence microscopy. Fluorimetry provides information averaged over cell populations, while microscopy detects differences between cells or populations of cells. The genetically encoded sensors can be targeted to subcellular compartments or the cell surface. Confocal microscopy ultimately permits observation of gradients or local differences within a compartment. The FRET assays can be adapted to high-throughput analysis to screen mutant populations in order to systematically identify signaling networks that control individual steps in metabolic flux.

published proceedings

  • New Phytol

author list (cited authors)

  • Okumoto, S., Takanaga, H., & Frommer, W. B.

citation count

  • 43

complete list of authors

  • Okumoto, Sakiko||Takanaga, Hitomi||Frommer, Wolf B

publication date

  • October 2008