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Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 9;6:20619. doi: 10.1038/srep20619.

Gold nanoparticle-assisted all optical localized stimulation and monitoring of Ca²⁺ signaling in neurons.

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Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de Québec, 2601 de la Canardière, Québec, QC, G1J 2G3, Canada.
Laser Processing and Plasmonics Laboratory, Engineering Physics Department, École Polytechnique de Montréal, Montréal, QC, H3C 3A7, Canada.
Département de Biochimie, Microbiologie et Bio-informatique, Université Laval, Québec, QC, G1V 0A6, Canada.


Light-assisted manipulation of cells to control membrane activity or intracellular signaling has become a major avenue in life sciences. However, the ability to perform subcellular light stimulation to investigate localized signaling has been limited. Here, we introduce an all optical method for the stimulation and the monitoring of localized Ca(2+) signaling in neurons that takes advantage of plasmonic excitation of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). We show with confocal microscopy that 800 nm laser pulse application onto a neuron decorated with a few AuNPs triggers a transient increase in free Ca(2+), measured optically with GCaMP6s. We show that action potentials, measured electrophysiologically, can be induced with this approach. We demonstrate activation of local Ca(2+) transients and Ca(2+) signaling via CaMKII in dendritic domains, by illuminating a single or few functionalized AuNPs specifically targeting genetically-modified neurons. This NP-Assisted Localized Optical Stimulation (NALOS) provides a new complement to light-dependent methods for controlling neuronal activity and cell signaling.

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