The first opsin gene fusions

The labs of Ernst Bamberg and Ed Boyden introduced a gene-fusion approach to achieve co-localized and stoichiometric expression of synergistic or antagonistic opsin pairs. The method relies on a genetic tandem cassette which intercalates the coding sequence of a transmembrane helix (from the β subunit of the rat gastric H+,K+-ATPase) between two opsin genes. The resulting fusion proteins allow strict ratiometric activation of rhodopsin pairs. Fusing ChR2 and NphR or Arch can be used for example to activate or silence all neurons in a field of view to a similar extent or to precisely simulate subthreshold events across the somatodendritic tree of a neuron (as each patch of membrane will preserve the stoichiometry of expression).

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