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Plasmids for Optogenetics Research


Optogenetics plasmids encode proteins that are controlled by light. Many of these plasmids encode for microbial opsins, which are membrane channels and pores derived from algae and archaebacteria, that can be opened and closed in response to light. These proteins can be expressed in specific neurons, often utilizing viral expression systems, to activate or deactivate these neurons in a precise manner.

One of the first microbial opsins to be adopted as an optogenetic tool is the widely used Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. ChR2 is a membrane channel that opens in response to blue light and allows cations to flow into the cell. Variants of channelrhodopsin have been engineered or identified to increase the spectral and kinetic properties as well as improve the expression and membrane targeting in host cells. Other microbial opsins, such as the Halorhodopsins, Archaerhodopsins and Leptosphaeria rhodopsins, are pumps that can actively move cations or anions into or out of the cell. When using these opsins as a tool to control neuronal activity, scientists generally attach a fluorescent protein to the opsin in order to track its expression and localization.

Many other types of proteins can also be controlled by light, generally by utilizing a light sensitive protein from cryptochromes, phytochromes, or light-oxygen-voltage-sensing (LOV) proteins. These fusions can then be used as an optical switch to control protein interactions, dimerization, localization or activity of many different types of proteins.

For a full description (including peak response spectra) of different types of opsins and optical switches available in these tables, refer to Addgene's Optogenetics Guide.

Interested in more news about optogenetics research? Find related posts on Addgene's blog.

Microbial Opsin Plasmids

Browse, sort, or search the table below for the optogenetics plasmids for neuronal excitation and inhibition. For example, search for "ChR mCherry", "Cre inhibition", "Boyden 2014", or other terms.

Looking for viral preps? We also offer ready-to-use AAV preparations of many optogenetics plasmids.

ID Plasmid Description Gene/Insert Vector Type Promoter PI Publication

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Optical Switch Plasmids

Browse, sort, or search the table below for plasmids that use light to control a protein or cellular activity. For example, search "Cdc42", "transcription", "Hahn", or other terms.

ID Plasmid Description Gene/Insert Vector Type Promoter PI Publication

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Do you have suggestions for other plasmids that should be added to this list?

Fill out our Suggest a Plasmid form or e-mail [email protected] to help us improve this resource!