Optogenetic control of contractile function in skeletal muscle

Nat Commun. 2015 Jun 2;6:7153. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8153.


Optogenetic stimulation allows activation of cells with high spatial and temporal precision. Here we show direct optogenetic stimulation of skeletal muscle from transgenic mice expressing the light-sensitive channel Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2). Largest tetanic contractions are observed with 5-ms light pulses at 30 Hz, resulting in 84% of the maximal force induced by electrical stimulation. We demonstrate the utility of this approach by selectively stimulating with a light guide individual intralaryngeal muscles in explanted larynges from ChR2-transgenic mice, which enables selective opening and closing of the vocal cords. Furthermore, systemic injection of adeno-associated virus into wild-type mice provides sufficient ChR2 expression for optogenetic opening of the vocal cords. Thus, direct optogenetic stimulation of skeletal muscle generates large force and provides the distinct advantage of localized and cell-type-specific activation. This technology could be useful for therapeutic purposes, such as restoring the mobility of the vocal cords in patients suffering from laryngeal paralysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Channelrhodopsins
  • Dependovirus / genetics
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Laryngeal Muscles / pathology
  • Laryngeal Muscles / physiology*
  • Light*
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Optogenetics / methods*
  • Vocal Cords*


  • Channelrhodopsins