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REVIEW: The Road to Optogenetics: Microbial Rhodopsins

E. G. Govorunova1,2 and L. A. Koppel1*

1Lomonosov Moscow State University, School of Biology, 119991 Moscow, Russia; E-mail: koppellar@gmail.com

2University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, McGovern Medical School, 77030 Houston, Texas, USA; E-mail: egovoru@yahoo.com

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received June 2, 2016; Revision received June 16, 2016
Optogenetics technology (using light-sensitive microbial proteins to control animal cell physiology) is becoming increasingly popular in laboratories around the world. Among these proteins, particularly important are rhodopsins that transport ions across the membrane and are used in optogenetics to regulate membrane potential by light, mostly in neurons. Although rhodopsin ion pumps transport only one charge per captured photon, channelrhodopsins are capable of more efficient passive transport. In this review, we follow the history of channelrhodopsin discovery in flagellate algae and discuss the latest addition to the channelrhodopsin family, channels with anion, rather than cation, selectivity.
KEY WORDS: rhodopsins, ion channels, neurons, membrane potential, light

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297916090029