Cell Ablation

Lighting the way to cell death

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Science  29 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6358, pp. 1367-1368
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6358.1367-d

Early insights into how the brain controls behavior came from surgical ablation of neural tissue. More recent optogenetic techniques allow higher precision but induce other cellular damage. Smart et al. used light to activate a natural cell death pathway. Based on an understanding that caspase-3, a key protein in apoptotic cell death, is activated by releasing tension in a linker sequence, they inserted a domain into the linker that expands when it is illuminated. With optimized placement of this LOV2 domain, they built a light-activated caspase-3, “Caspase-LOV.” Neural degeneration can be monitored in flies engineered to express Caspase-LOV in retinal, sensory, and motor neurons. The tool has potential in applications that require specific temporal and spatial ablation of cells.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1705064114 (2017).

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