Generic and reversible opto-trapping of biomolecules

Acta Biomater. 2018 Oct 1:79:276-282. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2018.08.032. Epub 2018 Aug 28.


Molecular traps can control activity and abundance of many biological factors. Here, we report the development of a generic opto-trap to reversibly bind and release biomolecules with high spatiotemporal control by illumination with non-invasive and cell-compatible red and far-red light. We use the Arapidopsis thaliana photoreceptor phytochrome B to regulate the release of diverse proteins from a variety of material scaffolds. Fusion of a short 100 amino acids "PIF-tag", derived from the phytochrome interacting factor 6, renders arbitrary molecules opto-trap-compatible. Reversible opto-trapping of target molecules enables novel possibilities for future developments in diagnostics, therapeutics, and basic research.

Statement of significance: The investigation of cellular signaling events or the development of complex therapeutics and integrative diagnostic devices requires the deliberate control of biomolecule abundance and activity. During recent years, the use of natural photoreceptors within cells leveraged the control of diverse cellular events, benefiting from the superior spatial and temporal control characteristics of light as compared to conventional chemical stimuli. Concurrently, biological switches entailing intrinsic compatibility toward biological environments increasingly found application in biohybrid materials. We employ the plant red/far-red photoreceptor phytochrome B, which reversibly interacts with its phytochrome interacting factors (PIFs), for developing a generic opto-trap. This platform allows the use of red and far-red light to spatiotemporally control binding and release of arbitrary PIF-fused biomolecules from various material scaffolds.

Keywords: Biomaterials; Optogenetics; Phytochrome B; Phytochrome interacting factor; Synthetic biology; Trapping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Optics and Photonics / methods*
  • Phytochrome B / metabolism*


  • Antibodies
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • enhanced green fluorescent protein
  • Phytochrome B
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins