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PDE Biology

Cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases (PDEs) are important drug targets with unique tissue distribution and functional properties. This family of enzymes is key in the regulation of cyclic nucleotide second messenger levels because they degrade both cAMP and cGMP. Some PDEs hydrolyze both cAMP and cGMP, while others are either cAMP or cGMP hydrolases. Selective PDE inhibitors block the activity of specific PDEs and are used to treat a variety of diseases. Non-selective PDE inhibitors include IBMX and caffeine, both of which are important consumables in basic research laboratories.

Our tools for PDE Biology:

    • Detect changes in intracellular cAMP and cGMP
    • Screen for PDE Inhibitors
    • Determine PDE selectivity
    • Monitor PDE Rates using Optogenetics
    • BacMam-mediated expression in disease relevant cell types
    • Detect fluorescence changes with automated plate readers and imaging systems


Detecting cAMP

cAMP response to isoproterenol followed by inhibition of cAMP production with quinpirole. Detected with the cADDis cAMP assay.

Detecting cGMP

Kinetic cGMP response to Sodium Nitroprusside. Detected with the GENIe cGMP assay.

PDE Selectivity Assay

Use fluorescent GENIe and cADDis assays to monitor changes in intracellular cGMP and cAMP.

IBMX, the non-selective PDE inhibitor, raises both cAMP and cGMP levels.

Comparing the cADDis and GENIe assays makes it possible to identify selective PDE inhibitors.


An Optogenetic Tool for Monitoring PDE Rates

The blue-light activated adenylyl cyclase bPAC (#V0100N) can be co-expressed with R-cADDis (#U0200R), a red fluorescent biosensor for cAMP. A two second pulse of blue light activates bPAC to stimulate cAMP production. cAMP degradation by PDE is monitored in real time using R-cADDis. Read about how this method can be used to study the role of PDE activity in neurodegeneration: Live-Cell Assays for Cell Stress Responses Reveal New Patterns of Cell Signaling Caused by Mutations in Rhodopsin, α-Synuclein and TDP-43.

Simple Protocol

Simple, step-by-step protocols for optimizing cAMP and cGMP assays are available online. These assays are non-FRET and cell lysis, enzymes, and co-factors are not necessary. Add our sensors to your cells, incubate, add drug, and measure fluorescence changes.

Sound Intriguing? Get more details on our PDE Biology Assays:

cADDis cAMP Assay

GENIe cGMP Assay

bPAC in BacMam

Recent Publications