Establishing a sensitive fluorescence-based quantification method for cyclic nucleotides


  • N. Gruteser
  • V. Kohlhas
  • S. Balfanz
  • A. Franzen
  • A. Günther
  • A. Offenhäusser
  • F. Müller
  • V. Nikolaev
  • M.J. Lohse
  • A. Baumann


  • BMC Biotechnology


  • BMC Biotechnol 20 (1): 47


  • BACKGROUND: Approximately 40% of prescribed drugs exert their activity via GTP-binding protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Once activated, these receptors cause transient changes in the concentration of second messengers, e.g., cyclic adenosine 3′,5′-monophosphate (cAMP). Specific and efficacious genetically encoded biosensors have been developed to monitor cAMP fluctuations with high spatial and temporal resolution in living cells or tissue. A well characterized biosensor for cAMP is the Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based Epac1-camps protein. Pharmacological characterization of newly developed ligands acting at GPCRs often includes numerical quantification of the second messenger amount that was produced. RESULTS: To quantify cellular cAMP concentrations, we bacterially over-expressed and purified Epac1-camps and applied the purified protein in a cell-free detection assay for cAMP in a multi-well format. We found that the biosensor can detect as little as 0.15 pmol of cAMP, and that the sensitivity is not impaired by non-physiological salt concentrations or pH values. Notably, the assay tolerated desiccation and storage of the protein without affecting Epac1-camps cyclic nucleotide sensitivity. CONCLUSIONS: We found that determination cAMP in lysates obtained from cell assays or tissue samples by purified Epac1-camps is a robust, fast, and sensitive assay suitable for routine and high throughput analyses.