Channelrhodopsins provide a breakthrough insight into strategies for curing blindness
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- Tomita, H., Sugano, E., Isago, H. et al. J Genet (2009) 88: 409. doi:10.1007/s12041-009-0062-6
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Photoreceptor cells are the only retinal neurons that can absorb photons. Their degeneration due to some diseases or injuries leads to blindness. Retinal prostheses electrically stimulating surviving retinal cells and evoking a pseudo light sensation have been investigated over the past decade for restoring vision. Currently, a gene therapy approach is under development. Channelrhodopsin-2 derived from the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, is a microbial-type rhodopsin. Its specific characteristic is that it functions as a light-driven cation-selective channel. It has been reported that the channelrhodopsin-2 transforms inner light-insensitive retinal neurons to light-sensitive neurons. Herein, we introduce new strategies for restoring vision by using channelrhodopsins and discuss the properties of adeno-associated virus vectors widely used in gene therapy.