home   genetic news   bioinformatics   biotechnology   literature   journals   ethics   positions   events   sitemap
  HUM-MOLGEN -> Genetic News | search  

Chemical Treatment Of Neurons Makes Them Light Sensitive

  March, 6 2008 10:28
your information resource in human molecular genetics

A chemical treatment that makes neurons light responsive is described online this week in Nature Methods. This will allow researchers to selectively increase neuronal activity in animals. This is directly applicable to understanding the functioning of the nervous system and in the future it may have therapeutic applications.

Neuronal activity mediates behaviour in all animals with neurons but light doesn't normally regulate this activity. Neuroscientists have developed artificial methods however, that allow them to control neuronal activity with light. Existing methods for imparting long-term light sensitivity to neurons requires expression of foreign proteins. This can be done with genetic engineering but is difficult and not always feasible.

To overcome this limitation Richard Kramer and colleagues designed a chemical that permanently attaches to cell surface proteins and acts as a 'photoswitch'. Exposure to different colours of light flips the photoswitch between two different physical orientations. When the chemical is added to neurons it attaches to potassium channels on their surface and the light-induced flipping blocks and unblocks the channels to increase or decrease the excitability of the neurons.

This method will allow researchers to control the activity of almost any neuron by simply treating it with the chemical and shining light on the cell.

Author contact:

Richard H. Kramer (University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA)
E-mail: rhkramer@berkeley.edu

Abstract available online.

(C) Nature Methods press release.

Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza

print this article mail this article
Latest News
Variants Associated with Pediatric Allergic Disorder

Mutations in PHF6 Found in T-Cell Leukemia

Genetic Risk Variant for Urinary Bladder Cancer

Antibody Has Therapeutic Effect on Mice with ALS

Regulating P53 Activity in Cancer Cells

Anti-RNA Therapy Counters Breast Cancer Spread

Mitochondrial DNA Diversity

The Power of RNA Sequencing

‘Pro-Ageing' Therapy for Cancer?

Niche Genetics Influence Leukaemia

Molecular Biology: Clinical Promise for RNA Interference

Chemoprevention Cocktail for Colon Cancer

more news ...

Generated by News Editor 2.0 by Kai Garlipp
WWW: Kai Garlipp, Frank S. Zollmann.
7.0 © 1995-2023 HUM-MOLGEN. All rights reserved. Liability, Copyright and Imprint.