Chairs: Tobias Moser and Thomas Mager Elena G. Govorunova, PhD from the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, UTHealth McGovern Medical School in Houston, Texas will talk about
Chairs: Tobias Moser and Thomas Mager
Elena G. Govorunova, PhD from the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, UTHealth McGovern Medical School in Houston, Texas will talk about “Diversity and Mechanisms of Channelrhodopsins”
Channelrhodopsins (ChRs) guide phototaxis in protists and exhibit light-gated channel conductance when their genes are heterologously expressed in mammalian cells. ChRs are widely used as molecular tools to control neurons and cardiomyocytes with light (optogenetics). Cation- and anion-selective channelrhodopsins (CCRs and ACRs, respectively) enable stimulation and inhibition of neuronal activity owing to de- and hyperpolarization of the membrane, respectively. Recent advances in polynucleotide sequencing have led to identification of hundreds of ChR homologs in many phylogenetic lineages, including non-photosynthetic protists. Some of these homologs exhibit properties not found in algal phototaxis receptors. Only a few ChRs have been characterized in detail, but there are indications that ion channel function has evolved within the superfamily of microbial rhodopsins by convergent routes. The diversity of ChRs provides an exceptional platform for the study of structure-function evolution in membrane proteins. However, electrophysiological characterization of new ChRs lags behind because it is mostly done by time-consuming manual patch clamp. Recently developed high-throughput automated patch clamp platforms may facilitate screening of ChR homologs for useful properties.