Steering Molecular Activity with Optogenetics: Recent Advances and Perspectives

Teak Jung Oh, Huaxun Fan, Savanna S. Skeeters, Kai Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Optogenetics utilizes photosensitive proteins to manipulate the localization and interaction of molecules in living cells. Because light can be rapidly switched and conveniently confined to the sub-micrometer scale, optogenetics allows for controlling cellular events with an unprecedented resolution in time and space. The past decade has witnessed an enormous progress in the field of optogenetics within the biological sciences. The ever-increasing amount of optogenetic tools, however, can overwhelm the selection of appropriate optogenetic strategies. Considering that each optogenetic tool may have a distinct mode of action, a comparative analysis of the current optogenetic toolbox can promote the further use of optogenetics, especially by researchers new to this field. This review provides such a compilation that highlights the spatiotemporal accuracy of current optogenetic systems. Recent advances of optogenetics in live cells and animal models are summarized, the emerging work that interlinks optogenetics with other research fields is presented, and exciting clinical and industrial efforts to employ optogenetic strategy toward disease intervention are reported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2000180
JournalAdvanced Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • cross-disciplinary interface
  • gene regulation
  • optogenetics
  • organelle manipulation
  • signal transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Medicine(all)


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