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Cardiac Optogenetics

The Optogenetics Group develops genetically encoded, light-activated tools to study the biophysics of cardiac processes, from single cell-signalling to whole-heart mechanoelectric activity.  

Light-Activated Ion Currents

In optogenetics, microbial rhodopsins comprising light-activated cation channels (Channelrhodopsins/ChRs) and photo-activated pumps (Arch, Halorhodopsins) are commonly applied to modulate the electrical activity of excitable cells. Targeting photoreceptor proteins to the cells of interest is mediated by genetic methods, employing cell-type specific promoters or viral delivery using tissue-specific virus serotypes. Currently, we optimize optogenetic actuators developed for neurophysiology for use in cells of the cardiovascular system, and their relevant subcellular compartments (Fig. 1).

Optogenetic Reporters

In addition to optical intervention systems, optogenetic tools include fluorescent proteins that are sensitive to cellular parameters such as membrane voltage, pH and intracellular Ca2+ concentration. We use the voltage-sensitive fluorescent protein (VSFP2.3), a FRET-based sensor of membrane voltage, to differentially explore electrical activity in heart muscle and connective tissue cells.

Further reading