Subcellular optogenetics - Controlling signaling and single-cell behavior

W. K. Ajith Karunarathne, Patrick R. O'Neill, Narasimhan Gautam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Variation in signaling activity across a cell plays a crucial role in processes such as cell migration. Signaling activity specific to organelles within a cell also likely plays a key role in regulating cellular functions. To understand how such spatially confined signaling within a cell regulates cell behavior, tools that exert experimental control over subcellular signaling activity are required. Here, we discuss the advantages of using optogenetic approaches to achieve this control. We focus on a set of optical triggers that allow subcellular control over signaling through the activation of Gprotein- coupled receptors (GPCRs), receptor tyrosine kinases and downstream signaling proteins, as well as those that inhibit endogenous signaling proteins. We also discuss the specific insights with regard to signaling and cell behavior that these subcellular optogenetic approaches can provide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-25
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of cell science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Optogenetics
  • Subcellular signaling


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