Optogenetic Module Enables Genetic Manipulation

A group of researchers has developed a noninvasive light-sensitive photoactivatable recombinase that enhances in-vivo genetic manipulation. The photoactivatable Flp recombinase’s highly light-sensitive property will be ideal for controlling genetic manipulation in deep mouse brain regions via noninvasive light-emitting diode illumination. This optogenetic module will provide neuroscience researchers with a side-effect-free and expandable genetic manipulation tool.

The team featured photoactivatable Flp recombinase in the study by searching for previously unknown split sites of Flp recombinase capable of reconstitution to be active. The researchers demonstrated transgene expression within anatomically confined mouse brain regions to validate the highly light-sensitive, efficient performance of photoactivatable Flp recombinase.

The concept of local genetic labeling suggests a new optogenetic module approach for genetically identifying subpopulations of cells defined by light delivery spatial and temporal characteristics. The researchers created a photoactivatable Flp recombinase that takes full advantage of the high spatiotemporal control provided by light stimulation.

This activation via noninvasive light illumination deep within the brain is advantageous because it avoids chemical or optic fiber implantation-mediated side effects such as off-target cytotoxicity or physical lesions that may influence animal physiology or behavior. By designing a viral vector for minimal leaky expression influenced by viral nascent promoters, the optogenetic module technique provides expandable utilities for transgene expression systems based on Flp recombinase activity in vivo.

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