Controlling ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors with light: principles and potential

Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2015 Feb;20:135-43. doi: 10.1016/j.coph.2014.12.008. Epub 2015 Jan 5.


Light offers unique advantages for studying and manipulating biomolecules and the cellular processes that they control. Optical control of ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors has garnered significant interest, since these receptors are central to signaling at neuronal synapses and only optical approaches provide the spatial and temporal resolution required to directly probe receptor function in cells and tissue. Following the classical method of glutamate photo-uncaging, recently developed methods have added other forms of remote control, including those with high molecular specificity and genetic targeting. These tools open the door to the direct optical control of synaptic transmission and plasticity, as well as the probing of native receptor function in intact neural circuits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Light*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Receptors, Ionotropic Glutamate / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Receptors, Ionotropic Glutamate
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • Glutamic Acid