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Structure of primary optogenetic tool revealed

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Raymond Powers
Nov 27, 2017 21:07
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An international team of researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Forschungszentrum Jülich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, the Institut de Biologie Structurale, and the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics has determined the 3-D structure of channelrhodopsin 2, a membrane protein widely used in optogenetics to control nerve cells with light.

In addition, the methods of optogenetics are used to study the properties of natural neuron networks, which are responsible for emotion, decision-making, and other complex processes in living organisms.

Optogenetics was Nature's "Method of the Year 2010," as well as being named among Science's "Breakthroughs of 2010 and Insights of the Decade."

Because ChR2 works fast and is relatively harmless to cells, it is the current go-to solution for nerve cell activation.

For example, it is possible to increase the current it generates or alter the wavelength of light it responds to.

Researchers can even combine several protein variants for a distinct response at various wavelengths of light.

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Raymond Powers
Nov 27, 2017 21:07
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