A new method uses light to turn specific intracellular signalling pathways on and off in live, behaving animals. The technique, described in Nature, should prove useful for neuroscience research, providing an insight into the links between signalling systems and behaviour.
Karl Deisseroth and colleagues devised a versatile family of genetically encoded optical tools (optoXRs) that can control the activity of G-protein-coupled receptor signalling pathways, a diverse family of signalling pathways that responds to certain hormones, neurotransmitters, pheromones and other chemicals. The response is fast and, in turn, influences neuronal activity.
The team has demonstrated proof of principle in live mice where they used light to activate the molecules and stimulate specific neurons in a particular part of the brain linked to reward, driving a conditioned behavioural response for place preference.
Karl Deisseroth (Stanford University, CA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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