Nature Communications, 3 March, 2021, DOI：https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21666-7
pHmScarlet is a pH-sensitive red fluorescent protein to monitor exocytosis docking and fusion steps
Anyuan Liu, Xiaoshuai Huang, Wenting He, Fudong Xue, Yanrui Yang, Jiajia Liu, Liangyi Chen, Lin Yuan & Pingyong Xu
pH-sensitive fluorescent proteins (FPs) are highly advantageous for the non-invasive monitoring of exocytosis events. Superecliptic pHluorin (SEP), a green pH-sensitive FP, has been widely used for imaging single-vesicle exocytosis. However, the docking step cannot be visualized using this FP, since the fluorescence signal inside vesicles is too low to be observed during docking process. Among the available red pH-sensitive FPs, none is comparable to SEP for practical applications due to unoptimized pH-sensitivity and fluorescence brightness or severe photochromic behavior. In this study, we engineer a bright and photostable red pH-sensitive FP, named pHmScarlet, which compared to other red FPs has higher pH sensitivity and enables the simultaneous detection of vesicle docking and fusion. pHmScarlet can also be combined with SEP for dual-color imaging of two individual secretory events. Furthermore, although the emission wavelength of pHmScarlet is red-shifted compared to that of SEP, its spatial resolution is high enough to show the ring structure of vesicle fusion pores using Hessian structured illumination microscopy (Hessian-SIM).