Image of the Day: Bright Idea

Researchers flipped light-sensitive proteins upside down for a new twist on optogenetics.

Nov 5, 2018
Shawna Williams
A slice of rat brain, with neurons making a new light-sensitive protein shown in green.
CELL, 175:1131–40.e11, 2018

Optogenetics is a technique that uses light to control the activity of cells that have been genetically modified to produce light-sensitive proteins. In a paper published in the November 1 issue of Cell, researchers report that inverting cell membrane–spanning, light-sensitive proteins in cells can change these proteins’ behavior, expanding the repertoire of ways in which scientists can manipulate neuronal activity. 

J. Brown, “Expanding the optogenetics toolkit by topological inversion of rhodopsins,” Cell, 175:1131–40.e11, 2018

A 3-D reconstruction of a slice of mouse brain. Cells with a new light-sensitive protein are shown in pink.
JUNCHOL PARK AND JOSHUA DUDMAN