Genetically encoded biosensors based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) have been widely applied to visualize the molecular activity in live cells with high spatiotemporal resolution. However, the rapid diffusion of biosensor proteins hinders a precise reconstruction of the actual molecular activation map. Based on fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) experiments, we have developed a finite element (FE) method to analyze, simulate, and subtract the diffusion effect of mobile biosensors. This method has been applied to analyze the mobility of Src FRET biosensors engineered to reside at different subcompartments in live cells. The results indicate that the Src biosensor located in the cytoplasm moves 4-8 folds faster (0.93±0.06 μm2/sec) than those anchored on different compartments in plasma membrane (at lipid raft: 0.11±0.01 μm2/sec and outside: 0.18±0.02 μm2/sec). The mobility of biosensor at lipid rafts is slower than that outside of lipid rafts and is dominated by two-dimensional diffusion. When this diffusion effect was subtracted from the FRET ratio images, high Src activity at lipid rafts was observed at clustered regions proximal to the cell periphery, which remained relatively stationary upon epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulation. This result suggests that EGF induced a Src activation at lipid rafts with well-coordinated spatiotemporal patterns. Our FE-based method also provides an integrated platform of image analysis for studying molecular mobility and reconstructing the spatiotemporal activation maps of signaling molecules in live cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Molecular Biology
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Modeling and Simulation
- Computational Theory and Mathematics