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Nature Methods - 3, 785 - 792 (2006)
Published online: 21 September 2006; | doi:10.1038/nmeth936

Channelrhodopsin-2 and optical control of excitable cells

Feng Zhang1, 3, Li-Ping Wang1, 3, Edward S Boyden1 & Karl Deisseroth1, 2

1  Department of Bioengineering, Clark Center, Stanford University, 318 Campus Drive West, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

2  Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Clark Center, Stanford University, 318 Campus Drive West, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

3  These authors contributed equally to this work.

Correspondence should be addressed to Karl Deisseroth deissero@stanford.edu

Electrically excitable cells are important in the normal functioning and in the pathophysiology of many biological processes. These cells are typically embedded in dense, heterogeneous tissues, rendering them difficult to target selectively with conventional electrical stimulation methods. The algal protein Channelrhodopsin-2 offers a new and promising solution by permitting minimally invasive, genetically targeted and temporally precise photostimulation. Here we explore technological issues relevant to the temporal precision, spatial targeting and physiological implementation of ChR2, in the context of other photostimulation approaches to optical control of excitable cells.

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Nature Methods
ISSN: 1548-7091
EISSN: 1548-7105
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