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New biosensor reveals activity of elusive metal that’s essential for life

Penn State researchers have developed a biosensor that provides scientists with the first dynamic images of manganese. The researchers crafted the sensor using a natural protein called lanmodulin, which has the ability to bind rare earth elements with remarkable precision. The sensor could have broad applications in biotechnology to advance the understanding of photosynthesis, host-pathogen interactions, and neurobiology. It could also be potentially applied more generally for processes such as the separation of the transition metal components (manganese, cobalt, and nickel) in lithium-ion battery recycling.

Publication: A genetically encoded fluorescent sensor for manganese(II), engineered from lanmodulin PNAS DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2212723119