How to control proteins with light in living systems.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Nature chemical biology, Volume 10, Issue 7, p.533-41 (2014)




Animals; Eukaryotic Cells; Gene Expression; Humans; LIGHT; Molecular Probes; Opsins; Optogenetics; Photochemical Processes; Rhodopsins, Microbial; Single-Cell Analysis; Spatio-Temporal Analysis


The possibility offered by photocontrolling the activity of biomolecules in vivo while recording physiological parameters is opening up new opportunities for the study of physiological processes at the single-cell level in a living organism. For the last decade, such tools have been mainly used in neuroscience, and their application in freely moving animals has revolutionized this field. New photochemical approaches enable the control of various cellular processes by manipulating a wide range of protein functions in a noninvasive way and with unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution. We are at a pivotal moment where biologists can adapt these cutting-edge technologies to their system of study. This user-oriented review presents the state of the art and highlights technical issues to be resolved in the near future for wide and easy use of these powerful approaches.