Analyzing cell physiology in C. elegans with fluorescent ratiometric reporters

Hongning Wang, Uma Karadge, William H. Humphries, Alfred L. Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Ratiometric fluorescent reporters have recently emerged a new technique to non-invasively measure aspects of cell physiology such as redox status, calcium levels, energy production, and NADH levels. These reporters consist of either a single or pair of fluorophores along with specific modifications, such as the addition of a protein domain which binds to a metabolite of interest, thereby producing gradual alterations in fluorescence in response to changes in the measured parameter. Measurement of the changes in fluorescence produces a quantitative read-out of the cellular environment. While these reporters were initially developed to easily visualize and track changes in cultured cells, several groups have adapted these reporters to use in Caenorhabditis elegans which opens a new avenue through which to explore cell physiology during development or aging, in response to changes in external environment, or in response to genetic manipulation. These reporters have the advantage of being easily targeted to any part of the worm, and because C. elegans is transparent both the reporters and changes in their fluorescence can be clearly observed in vivo. Here we discuss the application of ratiometric reporters to C. elegans, and outline a method to quantitatively measure changes in intracellular peroxide levels using the HyPer ratiometric reporter. However, these principles can be applied to alternate ratiometric reporters which are designed to measure either other chemical species or other cellular parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-517
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Digital imaging
  • Fluorescent proteins
  • Metabolism
  • Ratiometric reporters
  • Transgene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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