National Research Council of Italy

Institute of Biosciences and BioResources

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IBBR publication #323

Mitochondrial biosensors

De Michele R, Carimi F, Frommer WB

The International Journal of Biochemistry (2014)
doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2013.12.014

Biosensors offer an innovative tool for measuring the dynamics of a wide range of metabolites in living organisms. Biosensors are genetically encoded, and thus can be specifically targeted to specific compartments of organelles by fusion to proteins or targeting sequences. Mitochondria are central to eukaryotic cell metabolism and present a complex structure with multiple compartments. Over the past decade, genetically encoded sensors for molecules involved in energy production, reactive oxygen species and secondary messengers have helped to unravel key aspects of mitochondrial physiology. To date, sensors for ATP, NADH, pH, hydrogen peroxide, superoxide anion, redox state, cAMP, calcium and zinc have been used in the matrix, intermembrane space and in the outer membrane region of mitochondria of animal and plant cells. This review summarizes the different types of sensors employed in mitochondria and their main limits and advantages, and it provides an outlook for the future application of biosensor technology in studying mitochondrial biology.

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