Since the development of green fluorescent protein (GFP) and other fluorescent proteins (FPs) with distinct colors, genetically-encoded probes and biosensors have been widely applied to visualize the molecular localization and activities in live cells. In particular, biosensors based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) have significantly advanced our understanding of the dynamic molecular hierarchy at subcellular levels. These biosensors have also been extensively applied in recent years to study how cells perceive the mechanical environment and transmit it into intracellular molecular signals (i.e. mechanotransduction). In this review, we will first provide a brief introduction of the recent development of FPs. Different FRET biosensors based on FPs will then be described. The last part of the review will be dedicated to the introduction of examples applying FRET biosensors to visualize mechanotransduction in live cells. In summary, the integration of FRET technology and the different cutting-edge mechanical stimulation systems can provide powerful tools to allow the elucidation of the mechanisms regulating mechanobiology at cellular and molecular levels in normal and pathophysiological conditions.
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