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NEW! (3/21/07) My lab released a new tool that enables neurons to be optically silenced by pulses of yellow light, the light-activated chloride pump halorhodopsin (Halo), in a paper entitled "Multiple-color optical activation, silencing, and desynchronization of neural activity, with single-spike temporal resolution." Click here to read/comment (local mirror here). This work was first publicly presented on 2/24/07, at a Spotlight Presentation at the CoSyNe meeting in Salt Lake City, UT, and published on 3/21/07.

Boyden, E. S., Zhang, F., Bamberg, E., Nagel, G., and Deisseroth, K. (2005) Millisecond-timescale, genetically-targeted optical control of neural activity. Nature Neuroscience 8(9):1263-1268.

Millisecond-timescale, genetically-targeted optical control of neural activity


Temporally precise, noninvasive control of activity in well-defined neuronal populations is a long-sought goal of systems neuroscience. We adapted for this purpose the naturally occurring algal protein Channelrhodopsin-2, a rapidly gated light-sensitive cation channel, by using lentiviral gene delivery in combination with high-speed optical switching to photostimulate mammalian neurons. We demonstrate reliable, millisecond-timescale control of neuronal spiking, as well as control of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission. This technology allows the use of light to alter neural processing at the level of single spikes and synaptic events, yielding a widely applicable tool for neuroscientists and biomedical engineers.

Lentivirus plasmid maps and sequences:
Channelrhodopsin-2/ChR2, with humanized/mammalian optimized codon usage, fused with GFP (FCK-hChR2-GFP, containing hChR2-GFP) [ plasmid map ] [ sequences for gene and plasmid ] [ plasmid data in VectorNTI format ]

Find Boyden Lab Plasmids

Email : with general questions, or to have your study added to the list below.
Mailing list: for users of channelrhodopsin (for discussing reagents, vectors, hardware, etc.). A channelrhodopsin/channelopsin/ChR2/chop-2/photostimulation community.

Applications of channelrhodopsin-2 to various neural systems

Nagel, G, Brauner M, Liewald JF, Adeishvili N, Bamberg E, Gottschalk A. (2005) Light Activation of Channelrhodopsin-2 in Excitable Cells of Caenorhabditis elegans Triggers Rapid Behavioral Responses. Curr Biol. 15(24):2279-84.
METHOD: DNA microinjection. Mercury lamp. Behavior.

Li X, Gutierrez DV, Hanson MG, Han J, Mark MD, Chiel H, Hegemann P, Landmesser LT, Herlitze S. (2005) Fast noninvasive activation and inhibition of neural and network activity by vertebrate rhodopsin and green algae channelrhodopsin. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 102(49):17816-21.
METHOD: Electroporation, virus. Xenon lamp. Vertebrate preparation.

Schroll C, Riemensperger T, Bucher D, Ehmer J, Voller T, Erbguth K, Gerber B, Hendel T, Nagel G, Buchner E, Fiala A. (2006) Light-Induced Activation of Distinct Modulatory Neurons Triggers Appetitive or Aversive Learning in Drosophila Larvae. Curr Biol. 16(17):1741-1747.
METHOD: GAL4-UAS flies. Mercury lamp, blue light-emitting diode (LED). Behavior.

Ishizuka T, Kakuda M, Araki R, Yawo H. (2005) Kinetic evaluation of photosensitivity in genetically engineered neurons expressing green algae light-gated channels. Neurosci Res. 54(2):85-94.
METHOD: Virus. Blue LED. Intact circuit, without retinal supplementation.

Bi A, Cui J, Ma YP, Olshevskaya E, Pu M, Dizhoor AM, Pan ZH. (2006) Functional Ectopic Expression of a Microbial-Type Rhodopsin Restores Visual Responses in Mice with Photoreceptor Degeneration. Neuron 50(1):23-33.
METHOD: Adeno-associated virus. Xenon lamp. Prosthetic vision prototype.

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