1. Research Laboratory for Biomedical Optics and Molecular Imaging, Institute of Biomedical and Health Engineering, Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenzhen 518055, China;
2. Beijing Center for Mathematics and Information Interdisciplinary Sciences (BCMIIS), Beijing 100048, China.
Photoacoustic (PA) imaging is a rapidly emerging biomedical imaging modality that is capable of visualizing cellular and molecular functions with high detection sensitivity and spatial resolution in deep tissue. Great efforts and progress have been made on the development of various PA imaging technologies with improved resolution and sensitivity over the past two decades. Various PA probes with high contrast have also been extensively developed, with many important biomedical applications. In comparison with chemical dyes and nanoparticles, genetically encoded probes offer easier labeling of defined cells within tissues or proteins of interest within a cell, have higher stability in vivo, and eliminate the need for delivery of exogenous substances. Genetically encoded probes have thus attracted increasing attention from researchers in engineering and biomedicine. In this review, we aim to provide an overview of the existing PA imaging technologies and genetically encoded PA probes, and describe further improvements in PA imaging techniques and the near-infrared photochromic protein BphP1, the most sensitive genetically encoded probe thus far, as well as the potential biomedical applications of BphP1-based PA imaging in vivo.
Keywords: Molecular Imaging, Photoacoustic Imaging, Photoacoustic Probe, Reporter Gene, Genetically Encoded Probe, Photoswitchable Protein.