Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Silencing neurons using optogenetics

Sci. Signal.  11 Aug 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 389, pp. ec228
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aad1988

Rhodopsin light-sensitive ion channels from green algae provide a powerful tool to control neuronal circuits. Rhodopsin cation channels effectively depolarize neurons and cause the firing of short-lived electrical membrane potentials. Govorunova et al. describe algal channels that do the opposite; that is, they hyperpolarize or silence particular neurons (see the Perspective by Berndt and Deisseroth). These cation channels provide greater light sensitivity than that of existing hyperpolarizing light-activated channels, operate rapidly, and selectively conduct only anions. This approach is an ideal complement to the widely used technique of creating light-sensitive neurons through the expression of rhodopsin cation channels.

E. G. Govorunova, O. A. Sineshchekov, R. Janz, X. Liu, J. L. Spudich, Natural light-gated anion channels: A family of microbial rhodopsins for advanced optogenetics. Science 349, 647–650 (2015). [Abstract][Full Text]

A. Berndt, K. Deisseroth, Expanding the optogenetics toolkit. Science 349, 590–591 (2015). [Summary][Full Text]