The light-based control of ion channels has been transformative for the neurosciences, but the optogenetic toolkit does not stop there. An expanding number of proteins and cellular functions have been shown to be controlled by light, and the practical considerations in deciding between reversible optogenetic systems (such as systems that use light-oxygen-voltage domains, phytochrome proteins, cryptochrome proteins and the fluorescent protein Dronpa) are well defined. The field is moving beyond proof of concept to answering real biological questions, such as how cell signalling is regulated in space and time, that were difficult or impossible to address with previous tools.
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The authors thank members of the Weiner laboratory for helpful discussions. This work was supported by a Genentech Fellowship (D.T.) and US National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants GM084040, GM096164 and GM109899 (O.D.W.).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Tischer, D., Weiner, O. Illuminating cell signalling with optogenetic tools. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 15, 551–558 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrm3837
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