Ion channels control the electrical properties of cells by opening and closing (gating) in response to a wide palette of environmental and physiological stimuli. Endowing ion channels with the possibility to be gated by remotely applied stimuli, such as light, provides a tool for in vivo control of cellular functions in behaving animals. We have engineered a synthetic light-gated potassium (K+) channel by connecting an exogenous plant photoreceptor LOV2 domain to the K+ channel pore Kcv. Here, we describe the experimental strategy that we have used to evolve the properties of the channel toward full control of light on pore gating. Our method combines rational and random mutagenesis of the channel followed by a yeast-based screening system for light-activated K+ conductance.
Keywords: Functional complementation; Gating; Ion channels; Light; Optogenetics; Potassium (K+); Protein evolution; Rational and random mutagenesis; S. cerevisiae; Screening.