The second messenger cyclic AMP (cAMP) is a major intracellular mediator of many hormones and neurotransmitters and regulates a myriad of cell functions, including synaptic plasticity in neurons. Whereas cAMP can freely diffuse in the cytosol, a growing body of evidence suggests the formation of cAMP gradients and microdomains near the sites of cAMP production, where cAMP signals remain apparently confined. The mechanisms responsible for the formation of such microdomains are subject of intensive investigation. The development of optical methods based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), which allow a direct observation of cAMP signaling with high temporal and spatial resolution, is playing a fundamental role in elucidating the nature of such microdomains. Here, we will review the optical methods used for monitoring cAMP and protein kinase A (PKA) signaling in living cells, providing some examples of their application in neurons, and will discuss the major hypotheses on the formation of cAMP/PKA microdomains.
- Cyclic AMP
- Fluorescence resonance energy transfer
- G protein-coupled receptor
- Signaling microdomain
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience