Optical Manipulation of F-Actin with Photoswitchable Small Molecules

J Am Chem Soc. 2020 May 20;142(20):9240-9249. doi: 10.1021/jacs.9b12898. Epub 2020 May 11.


Cell-permeable photoswitchable small molecules, termed optojasps, are introduced to optically control the dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton and cellular functions that depend on it. These light-dependent effectors were designed from the F-actin-stabilizing marine depsipeptide jasplakinolide by functionalizing them with azobenzene photoswitches. As demonstrated, optojasps can be employed to control cell viability, cell motility, and cytoskeletal signaling with the high spatial and temporal resolution that light affords. Optojasps can be expected to find applications in diverse areas of cell biological research. They may also provide a template for photopharmacology targeting the ubiquitous actin cytoskeleton with precision control in the micrometer range.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actins / chemistry*
  • Azo Compounds / chemical synthesis
  • Azo Compounds / chemistry*
  • Depsipeptides / chemistry*
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Photochemical Processes
  • Small Molecule Libraries / chemical synthesis
  • Small Molecule Libraries / chemistry*


  • Actins
  • Azo Compounds
  • Depsipeptides
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • jasplakinolide
  • azobenzene