Natural Resources for Optogenetic Tools

  • Tilo MathesEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1408)


Photoreceptors are found in all kingdoms of life and mediate crucial responses to environmental challenges. Nature has evolved various types of photoresponsive protein structures with different chromophores and signaling concepts for their given purpose. The abundance of these signaling proteins as found nowadays by (meta-)genomic screens enriched the palette of optogenetic tools significantly. In addition, molecular insights into signal transduction mechanisms and design principles from biophysical studies and from structural and mechanistic comparison of homologous proteins opened seemingly unlimited possibilities for customizing the naturally occurring proteins for a given optogenetic task. Here, a brief overview on the photoreceptor concepts already established as optogenetic tools in natural or engineered form, their photochemistry and their signaling/design principles is given. Finally, so far not regarded photosensitive modules and protein architectures with potential for optogenetic application are described.

Key words

Photoreceptor Signal transduction Optogenetics Synthetic biology 



I would like to thank John Kennis and Peter Hegemann for generous support over the last years.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Exact Sciences/BiophysicsVrije UniversiteitAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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