The second messengers cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) transduce many neuromodulatory signals from hormones and neurotransmitters into specific functional outputs. Their production, degradation and signaling are spatiotemporally regulated to achieve high specificity in signal transduction. The development of genetically encodable fluorescent biosensors has provided researchers with useful tools to study these versatile second messengers and their downstream effectors with unparalleled spatial and temporal resolution in cultured cells and living animals. In this review, we introduce the general design of these fluorescent biosensors and describe several of them in more detail. Then we discuss a few examples of using cyclic nucleotide fluorescent biosensors to study regulation of neuronal function and finish with a discussion of advances in the field. Although there has been significant progress made in understanding how the specific signaling of cyclic nucleotide second messengers is achieved, the mechanistic details in complex cell types like neurons are only just beginning to surface. Current and future fluorescent protein reporters will be essential to elucidate the role of cyclic nucleotide signaling dynamics in the functions of individual neurons and their networks.
Gorshkov, K., & Zhang, J. (2014). Visualization of cyclic nucleotide dynamics in neurons. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2014.00395