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The role of membrane potential in most intracellular organelles remains unexplored because of the lack of suitable tools. Here, we describe Voltair, a fluorescent DNA nanodevice that reports the absolute membrane potential and can be targeted to organelles in live cells. Voltair consists of a voltage-sensitive fluorophore and a reference fluorophore for ratiometry, and acts as an endocytic tracer. Using Voltair, we could measure the membrane potential of different organelles in situ in live cells. Voltair can potentially guide the rational design of biocompatible electronics and enhance our understanding of how membrane potential regulates organelle biology.


Anand Saminathan, John Devany, Aneesh Tazhe Veetil, Bhavyashree Suresh, Kavya Smitha Pillai, Michael Schwake, Yamuna Krishnan. A DNA-based voltmeter for organelles. Nature nanotechnology. 2021 Jan;16(1):96-103

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PMID: 33139937

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