Bi-stable neural state switches

Nat Neurosci. 2009 Feb;12(2):229-34. doi: 10.1038/nn.2247. Epub 2008 Dec 8.


Here we describe bi-stable channelrhodopsins that convert a brief pulse of light into a stable step in membrane potential. These molecularly engineered probes nevertheless retain millisecond-scale temporal precision. Photocurrents can be precisely initiated and terminated with different colors of light, but operate at vastly longer time scales than conventional channelrhodopsins as a result of modification at the C128 position that extends the lifetime of the open state. Because of their enhanced kinetic stability, these step-function tools are also effectively responsive to light at orders of magnitude lower intensity than wild-type channelrhodopsins. These molecules therefore offer important new capabilities for a broad range of in vivo applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Technical Report

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Humans
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Light Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Oocytes / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rhodopsin / genetics*
  • Rhodopsin / physiology
  • Transfection
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*
  • Xenopus laevis


  • Rhodopsin