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Building up on the work performed in the lab of Gobind Khorana [1], the team of Karl Deisseroth engineered chimeric receptors by replacing the intracellular loops of the bovine rhodopsin with those of specific adrenergic receptors [2], taking advantage of common structure-function relationships amongst GPCRs. Using these tools they were able to optically activate the intracellular pathways normally recruited by these receptors (the cAMP and IP3 pathways). Following a similar approach, the team of Stefan Herlitze produced a light-activated receptor which recruits the signaling cascade of a specific serotonin receptor [3]. These emerging tools might be gathered under the name “opto-XRs” proposed by Airan et al. [2], where X specifies the particular pathways which is being optically "hijacked" (e.g. opto-α1AR for α1 adrenergic receptors).

Available opto-XRs

Acronym Full Name Description Refs
Opto-XRs Based on Adrenergic Receptors
opto-α1AR [2]
opto-β2AR [2]
Opto-XRs Based on Dopaminergic Receptors
Opto-XRs Based on Serotonergic Receptors
Rh-CT5-HT1A [3]
Other Opto-XRs
JellyOp bleach-resistant opsin from the box jellyfish Carybdea rastonii. The light dependent increase in cAMP induced by JellyOp is both higher amplitude and more repeatable than the response driven by currently available OptoXRs. Bailes et al., 2012

Properties of available opto-XRs

Acronym Species* λ max (nm) Desensitization*** (1 - Is-s/Ipeak) Sensitivity (EC50) (mW/mm2) Refs

Available constructs


Name Description Map Lab Addgene
Opto-XRs Based on Adrenergic Receptors
pcDNA3.1v5his-opto-a1AR-EYFP Map (everyvector) Deisseroth Lab
pcDNA3.1v5his-opto-b2AR-EYFP Map (everyvector) Deisseroth Lab


Error fetching PMID 19295515:
Error fetching PMID 20643652:
Error fetching PMID 15709741:
  1. Error fetching PMID 15709741: [Kim2005]
  2. Error fetching PMID 19295515: [Airan2009]
  3. Error fetching PMID 20643652: [Oh2010]
All Medline abstracts: PubMed HubMed