Our ability to investigate the brain is limited by available technologies that can record biological processes in vivo with suitable spatiotemporal resolution. Advances in optogenetics now enable optical recording and perturbation of central physiological processes within the intact brains of model organisms. By monitoring key signaling molecules noninvasively, we can better appreciate how information is processed and integrated within intact circuits. In this review, we describe recent efforts engineering genetically-encoded fluorescence indicators to monitor neuronal activity. We summarize recent advances of sensors for calcium, potassium, voltage, and select neurotransmitters, focusing on their molecular design, properties, and current limitations. We also highlight impressive applications of these sensors in neuroscience research. We adopt the view that advances in sensor engineering will yield enduring insights on systems neuroscience. Neuroscientists are eager to adopt suitable tools for imaging neural activity in vivo, making this a golden age for engineering optogenetic indicators.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited