University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Bidirectional optogenetic control of growth factor signaling during cell differentiation and embryonic development
The neurotrophic signaling pathway regulates a wide spectrum of cellular functions such as cell survival, proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. It also plays a key role in cell fate determination during embryonic development. Evidence suggests that the signaling output of the neurotrophic pathway varies with its temporal kinetics. However, a quantitative delineation of signaling kinetics is limited due to a lack of tools that allows precise control of the neurotrophic signaling in time and space. Non-neuronal optogenetics, an emerging technology that utilizes light to control intracellular signaling pathways, offer an alternative solution to address this challenge. In this presentation, I will introduce optogenetic systems recently developed in our laboratory that allow for reversible and bidirectional optical control of neurotrophic signaling pathway in intact cells and in developing Xenopus laevis embryos. I will also discuss the limitations of current non-neuronal optogenetics and update you with current progress in the field in overcoming these limitations.