Deep-tissue SWIR imaging using rationally designed small red-shifted near-infrared fluorescent protein.


Applying rational design, we developed 17 kDa cyanobacteriochrome-based near-infrared (NIR-I) fluorescent protein, miRFP718nano. miRFP718nano efficiently binds endogenous biliverdin chromophore and brightly fluoresces in mammalian cells and tissues. miRFP718nano has maximal emission at 718 nm and an emission tail in the short-wave infrared (SWIR) region, allowing deep-penetrating off-peak fluorescence imaging in vivo. The miRFP718nano structure reveals the molecular basis of its red shift. We demonstrate superiority of miRFP718nano-enabled SWIR imaging over NIR-I imaging of microbes in the mouse digestive tract, mammalian cells injected into the mouse mammary gland and NF-kB activity in a mouse model of liver inflammation.





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Publication Info

Oliinyk, Olena S, Chenshuo Ma, Sergei Pletnev, Mikhail Baloban, Carlos Taboada, Huaxin Sheng, Junjie Yao, Vladislav V Verkhusha, et al. (2023). Deep-tissue SWIR imaging using rationally designed small red-shifted near-infrared fluorescent protein. Nature methods, 20(1). pp. 70–74. 10.1038/s41592-022-01683-0 Retrieved from

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Huaxin Sheng

Associate Professor in Anesthesiology

We have successfully developed various rodent models of brain and spinal cord injuries in our lab, such as focal cerebral ischemia, global cerebral ischemia, head trauma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracerebral hemorrhage, spinal cord ischemia and compression injury. We also established cardiac arrest and hemorrhagic shock models for studying multiple organ dysfunction.  Our current studies focus on two projects. One is to examine the efficacy of catalytic antioxidant in treating cerebral ischemia and the other is to examine the efficacy of post-conditioning on outcome of subarachnoid hemorrhage induced cognitive dysfunction.


Junjie Yao

Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Our mission at PI-Lab is to develop state-of-the-art photoacoustic tomography (PAT) technologies and translate PAT advances into diagnostic and therapeutic applications, especially in functional brain imaging and early cancer theranostics. PAT is the most sensitive modality for imaging rich optical absorption contrast over a wide range of spatial scales at high speed, and is one of the fastest growing biomedical imaging technologies. Using numerous endogenous and exogenous contrasts, PAT can provide high-resolution images at scales covering organelles, cells, tissues, organs, small-animal organisms, up to humans, and can reveal tissue’s anatomical, functional, metabolic, and even histologic properties, with molecular and neuronal specificity.

At PI-Lab, we develop PAT technologies with novel and advanced imaging performance, in terms of spatial resolutions, imaging speed, penetration depth, detection sensitivity, and functionality. We are interested with all aspects of PAT technology innovations, including efficient light illumination, high-sensitivity ultrasonic detection, super-resolution PAT, high-speed imaging acquisition, novel PA genetic contrast, and precise image reconstruction. On top of the technological advancements, we are devoted to serve the broad life science and medical communities with matching PAT systems for various research and clinical needs. With its unique contrast mechanism, high scalability, and inherent functional and molecular imaging capabilities, PAT is well suited for a variety of pre-clinical applications, especially for studying tumor angiogenesis, cancer hypoxia, and brain disorders; it is also a promising tool for clinical applications in procedures such as cancer screening, melanoma staging, and endoscopic examination.

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