Nature methods

Rational design of a high-affinity, fast, red calcium indicator R-CaMP2.

PMID 25419959


Fluorescent Ca(2+) reporters are widely used as readouts of neuronal activities. Here we designed R-CaMP2, a high-affinity red genetically encoded calcium indicator (GECI) with a Hill coefficient near 1. Use of the calmodulin-binding sequence of CaMKK-α and CaMKK-β in lieu of an M13 sequence resulted in threefold faster rise and decay times of Ca(2+) transients than R-CaMP1.07. These features allowed resolving single action potentials (APs) and recording fast AP trains up to 20-40 Hz in cortical slices. Somatic and synaptic activities of a cortical neuronal ensemble in vivo were imaged with similar efficacy as with previously reported sensitive green GECIs. Combining green and red GECIs, we successfully achieved dual-color monitoring of neuronal activities of distinct cell types, both in the mouse cortex and in freely moving Caenorhabditis elegans. Dual imaging using R-CaMP2 and green GECIs provides a powerful means to interrogate orthogonal and hierarchical neuronal ensembles in vivo.