The limitations of classical drugs have spurred the development of covalently tethered photoswitchable ligands to control neuromodulatory receptors. However, a major shortcoming of tethered photopharmacology is the inability to obtain optical control with an efficacy comparable with that of the native ligand. To overcome this, we developed a family of branched photoswitchable compounds to target metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs). These compounds permit photo-agonism of Gi/o-coupled group II mGluRs with near-complete efficiency relative to glutamate when attached to receptors via a range of orthogonal, multiplexable modalities. Through a chimeric approach, branched ligands also allow efficient optical control of Gq-coupled mGluR5, which we use to probe the spatiotemporal properties of receptor-induced calcium oscillations. In addition, we report branched, photoswitch-fluorophore compounds for simultaneous receptor imaging and manipulation. Finally, we demonstrate this approach in vivo in mice, where photoactivation of SNAP-mGluR2 in the medial prefrontal cortex reversibly modulates working memory in normal and disease-associated states.
Keywords: G protein-coupled receptor; astrocyte; calcium signaling; metabotropic glutamate receptor; neuromodulation; optogenetics; photopharmacology; prefrontal cortex; psychosis; working memory.
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