Structure-Guided Transformation of Channelrhodopsin into a Light-Activated Chloride Channel
ABSTRACT Using light to silence electrical activity in targeted cells is a major goal of optogenetics. Available optogenetic proteins that directly move ions to achieve silencing are inefficient, pumping only a single ion per photon across the cell membrane rather than allowing many ions per photon to flow through a channel pore. Building on high-resolution crystal-structure analysis, pore vestibule modeling, and structure-guided protein engineering, we designed and characterized a class of channelrhodopsins (originally cation-conducting) converted into chloride-conducting anion channels. These tools enable fast optical inhibition of action potentials and can be engineered to display step-function kinetics for stable inhibition, outlasting light pulses and for orders-of-magnitude-greater light sensitivity of inhibited cells. The resulting family of proteins defines an approach to more physiological, efficient, and sensitive optogenetic inhibition.
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ABSTRACT: Stress-especially chronic, uncontrollable stress-is an important risk factor for many neuropsychiatric disorders. The underlying mechanisms are complex and multifactorial, but they involve correlated changes in structural and functional measures of neuronal connectivity within cortical microcircuits and across neuroanatomically distributed brain networks. Here, we review evidence from animal models and human neuroimaging studies implicating stress-associated changes in functional connectivity in the pathogenesis of PTSD, depression, and other neuropsychiatric conditions. Changes in fMRI measures of corticocortical connectivity across distributed networks may be caused by specific structural alterations that have been observed in the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and other vulnerable brain regions. These effects are mediated in part by glucocorticoids, which are released from the adrenal gland in response to a stressor and also oscillate in synchrony with diurnal rhythms. Recent work indicates that circadian glucocorticoid oscillations act to balance synapse formation and pruning after learning and during development, and chronic stress disrupts this balance. We conclude by considering how disrupted glucocorticoid oscillations may contribute to the pathophysiology of depression and PTSD in vulnerable individuals, and how circadian rhythm disturbances may affect non-psychiatric populations, including frequent travelers, shift workers, and patients undergoing treatment for autoimmune disorders.01/2015; 1:174-183. DOI:10.1016/j.ynstr.2014.10.008
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ABSTRACT: There have been significant advances in the treatment of psychiatric disease in the last half century, but it is still unclear which neural circuits are ultimately responsible for specific disease states. Fortunately, technical limitations that have constrained this research have recently been mitigated by advances in research tools that facilitate circuit-based analyses. The most prominent of these tools is optogenetics, which refers to the use of genetically encoded, light-sensitive proteins that can be used to manipulate discrete neural circuits with temporal precision. Optogenetics has recently been used to examine the neural underpinnings of both psychiatric disease and symptom relief, and this research has rapidly identified novel therapeutic targets for what could be a new generation of rational drug development. As these and related methodologies for controlling neurons ultimately make their way into the clinic, circuit-based strategies for alleviating psychiatric symptoms could become a remarkably refined approach to disease treatment.Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment 01/2014; 10:1369-79. DOI:10.2147/NDT.S45896 · 2.15 Impact Factor
- Science 04/2014; 344(6182):369-70. DOI:10.1126/science.1253616 · 31.48 Impact Factor