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Science 322 (5900): 395-399

Copyright © 2008 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Optical Switches for Remote and Noninvasive Control of Cell Signaling

Pau Gorostiza1, and Ehud Y. Isacoff2,3*

Abstract: Although the identity and interactions of signaling proteins have been studied in great detail, the complexity of signaling networks cannot be fully understood without elucidating the timing and location of activity of individual proteins. To do this, one needs a means for detecting and controlling specific signaling events. An attractive approach is to use light, both to report on and control signaling proteins in cells, because light can probe cells in real time with minimal damage. Although optical detection of signaling events has been successful for some time, the development of the means for optical control has accelerated only recently. Of particular interest is the development of chemically engineered proteins that are directly sensitive to light.

1 Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats and Institut de Bioenginyeria de Catalunya, Parc Científic de Barcelona, Edifici Hèlix. C/Baldiri Reixac 15, Barcelona 08028, Spain.
2 Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley, 271 Life Sciences Addition, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
3 Divisions of Material and Physical Bioscience, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: ehud{at}

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