Image of the Day: Bright Idea

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

Shawna Williams
Shawna Williams

Shawna joined The Scientist in 2017 and is now a senior editor and news director. She holds a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Colorado College and a graduate certificate and science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

View full profile.

Learn about our editorial policies.

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.

Interested in reading more?

The Scientist ARCHIVES

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?