A new twist on PIFE: photoisomerisation-related fluorescence enhancement Review uri icon



  • PIFE was first used as an acronym for protein-induced fluorescence enhancement, which refers to the increase in fluorescence observed upon the interaction of a fluorophore, such as a cyanine, with a protein. This fluorescence enhancement is due to changes in the rate of cis/trans photoisomerisation. It is clear now that this mechanism is generally applicable to interactions with any biomolecule and, in this review, we propose that PIFE is thereby renamed according to its fundamental working principle as photoisomerisation-related fluorescence enhancement, keeping the PIFE acronym intact. We discuss the photochemistry of cyanine fluorophores, the mechanism of PIFE, its advantages and limitations, and recent approaches to turn PIFE into a quantitative assay. We provide an overview of its current applications to different biomolecules and discuss potential future uses, including the study of protein-protein interactions, protein-ligand interactions and conformational changes in biomolecules.


  • Ploetz, Evelyn
  • Ambrose, Benjamin
  • Barth, Anders
  • Börner, Richard
  • Kapanidis, Achillefs N.
  • Kim, Harold D.
  • Levitus, Marcia
  • Lohman, Timothy M.
  • Mazumder, Abhishek
  • Rueda, David
  • Steffen, Fabio D.
  • Cordes, Thorben
  • Magennis, Steven
  • Lerner, Eitan
  • Erichson, Felix


  • 2023


  • Open Access