Fluorescent proteins, such as green fluorescent protein and red fluorescent protein (DsRED), have become frequently used reporters in plant biology. However, their potential to monitor dynamic gene regulation is limited by their high stability. The recently made DsRED-E5 variant overcame this problem. DsRED-E5 changes its emission spectrum over time from green to red in a concentration independent manner. Therefore, the green to red fluorescence ratio indicates the age of the protein and can be used as a fluorescent timer to monitor dynamics of gene expression. Here, we analyzed the potential of DsRED-E5 as reporter in plant cells. We showed that in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) mesophyll protoplasts, DsRED-E5 changes its fluorescence in a way similar to animal cells. Moreover, the timing of this shift is suitable to study developmental processes in plants. To test whether DsRed-E5 can be used to monitor gene regulation in plant organs, we placed DsRED-E5 under the control of promoters that are either up- or down-regulated (MtACT4 and LeEXT1. promoters) or constitutively expressed (MtACT2 promoter) during root hair development in Medicago truncatula. Analysis of the fluorescence ratios clearly provided more accurate insight into the timing of promoter activity
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