Optogenetics, the use of genetically encoded tools to control protein function with light, can generate localized changes in signaling within living cells and animals. For years it has been focused on channel proteins for neurobiology, but has recently expanded to cover many different types of proteins, using a broad array of different protein engineering approaches. These methods have largely been directed at proteins involved in motility, cytoskeletal regulation and gene expression. This review provides a survey of non-channel proteins that have been engineered for optogenetics. Existing molecules are used to illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of the many imaginative new approaches that the reader can use to create light-controlled proteins.
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