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Front Physiol. 2014 Nov 6;5:428. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2014.00428. eCollection 2014.

Optogenetic sensors and effectors: CHROMus-the Cornell Heart Lung Blood Institute Resource for Optogenetic Mouse Signaling.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veteirnary Medicine, Cornell University Ithaca, NY, USA.


Significant progress has been made in the last decade in the development of optogenetic effectors and sensors that can be deployed to understand complex biological signaling in mammals at a molecular level, without disrupting the distributed, lineage specific signaling circuits that comprise nuanced physiological responses. A major barrier to the widespread exploitation of these imaging tools, however, is the lack of readily available genetic reagents that can be easily combined to probe complex biological processes. Ideally, one could envision purpose-produced mouse lines expressing optically compatible sensors and effectors, sensor pairs in distinct lineages, or sensor pairs in discrete subcellular compartments, such that they could be crossed to enable in vivo imaging studies of unprecedented scientific power. Such lines could also be combined with mice to determine the alteration in signaling accompanying targeted gene deletion or addition. In order to address this lack, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has recently funded an optogenetic resource designed to create optically compatible, combinatorial mouse lines that will advance NHLBI research. Here we review recent advances in optogenetic sensor and effectors and describe the rationale and goals for the establishment of the Cornell/National Heart Lung Blood Resource for Optogenetic Mouse Signaling (CHROMus).


Ca2+ sensors; fluorescent imaging; genetically encoded Ca2+ indicators; green fluorescent proteins; rhodopsin; transgenic mice

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