The amino acid glycine is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter and co-agonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors involved in synaptic plasticity. In this work, published in Nature Chemical Biology, we describe the computational design, development, and application of the first optical sensor for glycine. This FRET sensor can be used with single and two-photon excitation fluorescence microscopy. Here, we show that it can be used in combination with electrophysiology to investigate the spatial distribution of glycine in the extracellular space, and to probe how glycine concentrations change in response to plasticity-inducing stimuli.
This work was done in collaboration with Christian Henneberger’s group (University of Bonn, Institute of Cellular Neurosciences). Congratulations to Will, Michel and everyone involved in this work.