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Science 296 (5577): 2395-2398

Copyright © 2002 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Channelrhodopsin-1: A Light-Gated Proton Channel in Green Algae

Georg Nagel,1* Doris Ollig,1 Markus Fuhrmann,2 Suneel Kateriya,2 Anna Maria Musti,3 Ernst Bamberg,1 Peter Hegemann2

Phototaxis and photophobic responses of green algae are mediated by rhodopsins with microbial-type chromophores. We report a complementary DNA sequence in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii that encodes a microbial opsin-related protein, which we term Channelopsin-1. The hydrophobic core region of the protein shows homology to the light-activated proton pump bacteriorhodopsin. Expression of Channelopsin-1, or only the hydrophobic core, in Xenopus laevis oocytes in the presence of all-trans retinal produces a light-gated conductance that shows characteristics of a channel selectively permeable for protons. We suggest that Channelrhodopsins are involved in phototaxis of green algae.

1 Max-Planck-Institut für Biophysik, Kennedyallee 70, 60596 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
2 Institut für Biochemie, Universität Regensburg, Universitätsstrasse 31, 93040 Regensburg, Germany.
3 Dipartimento Farmaco-Biologico Università della Calabria, 87036 Rende, Italy.
*   To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: nagel{at}

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