Engineering of a bona fide light-operated calcium channel. Academic Article uri icon


  • The current optogenetic toolkit lacks a robust single-component Ca2+-selective ion channel tailored for remote control of Ca2+ signaling in mammals. Existing tools are either derived from engineered channelrhodopsin variants without strict Ca2+ selectivity or based on the stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1) that might crosstalk with other targets. Here, we describe the design of a light-operated Ca2+ channel (designated LOCa) by inserting a plant-derived photosensory module into the intracellular loop of an engineered ORAI1 channel. LOCa displays biophysical features reminiscent of the ORAI1 channel, which enables precise optical control over Ca2+ signals and hallmark Ca2+-dependent physiological responses. Furthermore, we demonstrate the use of LOCa to modulate aberrant hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal, transcriptional programming, cell suicide, as well as neurodegeneration in a Drosophila model of amyloidosis.

published proceedings

  • Nat Commun

altmetric score

  • 12.65

author list (cited authors)

  • He, L., Wang, L., Zeng, H., Tan, P., Ma, G., Zheng, S., ... Zhou, Y.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • He, Lian||Wang, Liuqing||Zeng, Hongxiang||Tan, Peng||Ma, Guolin||Zheng, Sisi||Li, Yaxin||Sun, Lin||Dou, Fei||Siwko, Stefan||Huang, Yun||Wang, Youjun||Zhou, Yubin

publication date

  • January 2021