Functional Illumination in Living Cells

Tech ID: 23622 / UC Case 2013-390-0


Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have developed a novel method of developing a wide array of small functional illuminants that do not hinder cell function.

Full Description

In the last decade, applications of genetically encoded fluorescent probes and sensors in molecular imaging have greatly improved our understanding about specific molecules cellular functions and how errant cells cause diseases. Green fluorescent protein and its relatives of color palettes (FPs) have been successfully employed in a broad range of biological disciplines, reporting the distribution, abundance, dynamics, interaction, and conformational changes of essential signaling molecules in time and space using uniquely engineered FP chimeras. Due to their large size, FPs inherently have a low level of fluorescence due to improper folding of chimeras, or highly unstable fusion complexes as well as inhibited host protein function due to altered 3-D folding of proteins.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a novel methodology to create small functional, dye based, illuminants to make the spatiotemporal regulation of cell signaling visible, which cannot be otherwise achieved with current methods. These small functional illuminants are small ranging from 1,000 Daltons to 1,200 Daltons, which lends themselves to be inserted along the sequence of proteins without interfering with their evolved physiological functions.


  • Developing novel small genetic illuminants which will expand the catalogue of fluorescence imaging tools, with added versatility


  • Small in size (1-1.2 KDa) than available cell imagining tools
  • Readily inserted along the sequence of the proteins without interfering with their function
  • Broad color spectrum of colors which can further expand to the infrared spectrum, allowing multiplex and whole animal imaging
  • Do not require maturation time like GFP
  • Capable of using multiple dyes
  • Easy to screen wish desired modifications

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 10,598,667 03/24/2020 2013-390

Additional Patent Pending


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