Recent advances in engineering microbial rhodopsins for optogenetics

Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2015 Aug:33:8-15. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2015 Jun 1.


Protein engineering of microbial rhodopsins has been successful in generating variants with improved properties for applications in optogenetics. Members of this membrane protein family can act as both actuators and sensors of neuronal activity. Chimeragenesis, structure-guided mutagenesis, and directed evolution have proven effective strategies for tuning absorption wavelength, altering ion specificity and increasing fluorescence. These approaches facilitate the development of useful optogenetic tools and, in some cases, have yielded insights into rhodopsin structure-function relationships.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biosensing Techniques
  • Electrophysiology
  • Mammals
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Optogenetics / methods*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Engineering*
  • Rhodopsins, Microbial / chemistry*


  • Rhodopsins, Microbial