Bi-stable neural state switches
Karl Deisseroth and his colleagues at Stanford University in collaboration with Peter Hegemann’s group at Humboldt University report new variants of channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), a light-activated cation channel from green algae, that enable precise switching between stable active and inactive states.
Kinetically bi-stable channelrhodopsin-2variants enable sensitive, step-like and reversible photoexcitability in neurons. Light-based tools have changed the landscape in neuroscience research by enabling simultaneous noninvasive and finely localized control of neuronal stimulation. Light-responsive ion channels called opsins are fundamental to this experimental revolution; neurons that express opsins can be selectively activated, which allows scientists to study how neurons communicate with each other and to map neuronal networks.
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