Bistable rhodopsins are naturally photosensitive G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) that can be toggled between stable ON and OFF states using light. They are responsible for photosensitivity and vision across animals (including humans), and a potential source of powerful optogenetic tools enabling bidirectional control of influential intracellular signalling cascades across all body systems using light. Lack of understanding of structure-function relationships for these proteins curtails understanding of their biology and their engineering for optogenetic purposes.
PI Kleinlogel first demonstrated that chimeras between bistable rhodopsin and ligand GPRCs can be functionally active and provoke a strong physiological response when expressed in vivo. PI Schertler has extensive experience in the structural analysis of rhodopsins and has successfully solved the first structure of a recombinantly expressed bistable rhodopsin. PI Hegemann has longstanding experience in the spectroscopic characterisation and engineering of photoreceptor proteins and is one of the founding fathers of optogenetics. PI Lucas pioneered cellular systems suitable for analysing spectral properties and G protein selectivity and had a leading role in elucidating the physiological role of the bistable rhodopsin melanopsin.
Together, the team aims to understand how structural features of these influential photoreceptors define their bistability, bichromicity, kinetics, and G-protein selectivity (Objective 1). We will exploit this knowledge for rational engineering towards colour tuning and G protein selectivity for optogenetic tools (Objective 2) and to probe physiological functions (Objective 3). The result will be a decisive step towards a general theory of structure-function relationship in photoreceptors and will produce a new generation of powerful optogenetic tools enabling defined GPCR signalling activities in any cell type.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/biological sciences/biochemistry/biomolecules/proteins
- /natural sciences/biological sciences/cell biology/cell signaling
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