Non-Neuronal Optogenetics – Unraveling Cell Signaling

After the successful application in neurosciences, it did not take long to discover that the characteristics of optogenetics are also advantageous in other areas of biology. The field of non-neuronal optogenetics relies on ‘second generation’ light-responsive fusion proteins that are assembled in a modular fashion. These genetically-encoded photoactivatable proteins are not hardwired to a specific cellular response but can be fused to virtually any output or signaling domain. Non-neuronal optogenetics allows for the precise temporal and spatial control of a chosen signaling pathway of interest by irradiation of the cells. In addition, non-neuronal optogenetics has been successfully applied for the control of cellular motility, cell contraction, apoptosis and cell differentiation.