Physiological phenomena are regulated by multiple signal pathways upon receptor stimulation. Here, we have introduced a new technique with a combination of prism-based total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (PBTIRFM) and epifluorescence microscopy (EPI) to simultaneously monitor multiple signal pathways. This instrumentation allows us to visualize three signal pathways, Ca2+, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)/ protein kinase A (PKA), and diacylglycerol (DAG)/protein kinase C (PKC) signals in living cells. Three fluorescent indicators were employed for this purpose: (1) Fura-2 AM as a calcium sensor; (2) Epacl-camp, a cyan fluorescent protein-yellow fluorescent protein fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based cAMP indicator, as a cAMP sensor; and (3) C1-tagged monomeric red fluorescent protein, a tandem DAG-binding domain of PKC γ, as a DAG sensor or myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate-tagged DsRed for the PKC activation pathway. The DAG signal was monitored by PBTIRFM, whereas the Ca 2+ and cAMP signals were monitored by EPI, Adenosine trisphosphate resulted in generation of all three second messengers in triple probe-loaded Cos-7 cells. The spectral overlap between these signal probes was evaluated by means of linear unmixing. Forskolin also evoked Ca2+, cAMP/PKA, and DAG/PKC signals whereas acetylcholine activated Ca2+ and DAG/PKC signals as well as inhibiting cAMP generation in triple probe-loaded insulin-secreting cells. Thus, the optical observation system combining PBTIRFM and EPI offers a great advance in analyzing interplay of multiple signaling pathways, such as these second messengers, upon G-proteincoupled receptor stimulation in living cells.
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