Optochemical Control of Biological Processes in Cells and Animals

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2018 Mar 5;57(11):2768-2798. doi: 10.1002/anie.201700171. Epub 2018 Feb 1.


Biological processes are naturally regulated with high spatial and temporal control, as is perhaps most evident in metazoan embryogenesis. Chemical tools have been extensively utilized in cell and developmental biology to investigate cellular processes, and conditional control methods have expanded applications of these technologies toward resolving complex biological questions. Light represents an excellent external trigger since it can be controlled with very high spatial and temporal precision. To this end, several optically regulated tools have been developed and applied to living systems. In this review we discuss recent developments of optochemical tools, including small molecules, peptides, proteins, and nucleic acids that can be irreversibly or reversibly controlled through light irradiation, with a focus on applications in cells and animals.

Keywords: caged compounds; chemical biology; optochemical tools; photochemistry; photoswitches.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena / drug effects
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena / radiation effects*
  • Drug Discovery / methods
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Nucleic Acids / genetics
  • Nucleic Acids / metabolism
  • Optogenetics / methods*
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Photochemical Processes
  • Photochemistry / methods*
  • Protein Multimerization / drug effects
  • Protein Multimerization / radiation effects
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Small Molecule Libraries / chemistry
  • Small Molecule Libraries / pharmacology


  • Nucleic Acids
  • Peptides
  • Proteins
  • Small Molecule Libraries