Cyclic nucleotide imaging and cardiovascular disease

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The universal second messengers cyclic nucleotides 3′,5′-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and 3′,5′-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) play central roles in cardiovascular function and disease. They act in discrete, functionally relevant subcellular microdomains which regulate, for example, calcium cycling and excitation-contraction coupling. Such localized cAMP and cGMP signals have been difficult to measure using conventional biochemical techniques. Recent years have witnessed the advent of live cell imaging techniques which allow visualization of these functionally relevant second messengers with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution at cellular, subcellular and tissue levels. In this review, we discuss these new imaging techniques and give examples how they are used to visualize cAMP and cGMP in physiological and pathological settings to better understand cardiovascular function and disease. Two primary techniques include the use of Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) based cyclic nucleotide biosensors and nanoscale scanning ion conductance microscopy (SICM). These methods can provide deep mechanistic insights into compartmentalized cAMP and cGMP signaling.

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