Expression of the excitatory opsin ChRERα can be traced longitudinally in rat and nonhuman primate brains with PET imaging

Jordi Bonaventura, Matthew A. Boehm, Hank P. Jedema, Oscar Solis, Marco Pignatelli, Xiaowei Song, Hanbing Lu, Christopher T. Richie, Shiliang Zhang, Juan L. Gomez, Sherry Lam, Marisela Morales, Omar A. Gharbawie, Martin G. Pomper, Elliot A. Stein, Charles W. Bradberry, Michael Michaelides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Optogenetics is a widely used technology with potential for translational research. A critical component of such applications is the ability to track the location of the transduced opsin in vivo. To address this problem, we engineered an excitatory opsin, ChRERα (hChR2(134R)-V5-ERα-LBD), that could be visualized using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging in a noninvasive, longitudinal, and quantitative manner. ChRERα consists of the prototypical excitatory opsin channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) and the ligand-binding domain (LBD) of the human estrogen receptor α (ERα). ChRERα showed conserved ChR2 functionality and high affinity for [18F]16α-fluoroes-tradiol (FES), an FDA-approved PET radiopharmaceutical. Experiments in rats demonstrated that adeno-associated virus (AAV)–mediated expression of ChRERα enables neural circuit manipulation in vivo and that ChRERα expression could be monitored using FES-PET imaging. In vivo experiments in nonhuman primates (NHPs) confirmed that ChRERα expression could be monitored at the site of AAV injection in the primary motor cortex and in long-range neuronal terminals for up to 80 weeks. The anatomical connectivity map of the primary motor cortex identified by FES-PET imaging of ChRERα expression overlapped with a functional connectivity map identified using resting state fMRI in a separate cohort of NHPs. Overall, our results demonstrate that ChRERα expression can be mapped longitudinally in the mammalian brain using FES-PET imaging and can be used for neural circuit modulation in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereadd1014
JournalScience translational medicine
Issue number706
StatePublished - Jul 26 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Expression of the excitatory opsin ChRERα can be traced longitudinally in rat and nonhuman primate brains with PET imaging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this