Since mammalian tissue is relatively transparent to near-infrared (NIR) light, NIR fluorescent proteins (FPs) engineered from bacterial phytochromes have become widely used probes for non-invasive in vivo imaging. Recently, these genetically encoded NIR probes have been substantially improved, enabling imaging experiments that were not possible previously. Here, we discuss the use of monomeric NIR FPs and NIR biosensors for multiplexed imaging with common visible GFP-based probes and blue light-activatable optogenetic tools. These NIR probes are suitable for visualization of functional activities from molecular to organismal levels. In combination with advanced imaging techniques, such as two-photon microscopy with adaptive optics, photoacoustic tomography and its recent modification reversibly switchable photoacoustic computed tomography, NIR probes allow subcellular resolution at millimeter depths.
- all-optical electrophysiology
- bacterial phytochrome
- deep-tissue imaging
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