Exerting better control and specificity with singlet oxygen experiments in live mammalian cells

Michael Westberg, Mikkel Bregnhøj, Chiranjib Banerjee, Alfonso Blázquez-Castro, Thomas Breitenbach, Peter R. Ogilby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Singlet molecular oxygen, O2(a1Δg), is a Reactive Oxygen Species, ROS, that acts as a signaling and/or perturbing agent in mammalian cells, influencing processes that range from cell proliferation to cell death. Although the importance of O2(a1Δg) in this regard is acknowledged, an understanding of the targets and mechanisms of O2(a1Δg) action is inadequate. Thus, methods that better facilitate studies of O2(a1Δg) in mammalian cells are highly desired. This is particularly important because, as a consequence of its chemistry in a cell, O2(a1Δg) can spawn the generation of other ROS (e.g., the hydroxyl radical) that, in turn, can have a unique influence on cell behavior and function. Therefore, exerting better control and specificity in O2(a1Δg) experiments ultimately reduces the number of variables in general studies to unravel the details of ROS-dependent cell dynamics. In this article, we summarize our recent efforts to produce O2(a1Δg) with increased control and selectivity in microscope-based single-cell experiments. The topics addressed include (1) two-photon excitation of a photosensitizer using a focused laser to create a spatially-localized volume of O2(a1Δg) with sub-cellular dimensions, (2) protein-encapsulated photosensitizers that can be localized in a specific cellular domain using genetic engineering, and (3) direct excitation of dissolved oxygen in sensitizer-free experiments to selectively produce O2(a1Δg) at the expense of other ROS. We also comment on our recent efforts to monitor O2(a1Δg) in cells and to monitor the cell's response to O2(a1Δg).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-91
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Oct 15 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work described herein was supported by grants from the Danish National Research Foundation (Center for Oxygen Microscopy and Imaging), the Danish Research Council , the Marie Curie-Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies co-fund program 609033, and the Danish Ministry of Higher Education in Science (LaserLab.dk).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.


  • C11-BODIPY
  • Fluorescent ROS probes
  • Liperfluo
  • Optogenetics
  • Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)
  • Two-photon excitation


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