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      Near-infrared (NIR) up-conversion optogenetics

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          Abstract

          Non-invasive remote control technologies designed to manipulate neural functions have been long-awaited for the comprehensive and quantitative understanding of neuronal network in the brain as well as for the therapy of neurological disorders. Recently, it has become possible for the neuronal activity to be optically manipulated using biological photo-reactive molecules such as channelrhodopsin (ChR)-2. However, ChR2 and its relatives are mostly reactive to visible light, which does not effectively penetrate through biological tissues. In contrast, near-infrared (NIR) light (650–1450 nm) penetrates deep into the tissues because biological systems are almost transparent to light within this so-called ‘imaging window’. Here we used lanthanide nanoparticles (LNPs), composed of rare-earth elements, as luminous bodies to activate ChRs since they absorb low-energy NIR light to emit high-energy visible light (up-conversion). Here, we created a new type of optogenetic system which consists of the donor LNPs and the acceptor ChRs. The NIR laser irradiation emitted visible light from LNPs, then induced the photo-reactive responses in the near-by cells that expressed ChRs. However, there remains room for large improvements in the energy efficiency of the LNP-ChR system.

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          Neocortical excitation/inhibition balance in information processing and social dysfunction.

          Severe behavioural deficits in psychiatric diseases such as autism and schizophrenia have been hypothesized to arise from elevations in the cellular balance of excitation and inhibition (E/I balance) within neural microcircuitry. This hypothesis could unify diverse streams of pathophysiological and genetic evidence, but has not been susceptible to direct testing. Here we design and use several novel optogenetic tools to causally investigate the cellular E/I balance hypothesis in freely moving mammals, and explore the associated circuit physiology. Elevation, but not reduction, of cellular E/I balance within the mouse medial prefrontal cortex was found to elicit a profound impairment in cellular information processing, associated with specific behavioural impairments and increased high-frequency power in the 30-80 Hz range, which have both been observed in clinical conditions in humans. Consistent with the E/I balance hypothesis, compensatory elevation of inhibitory cell excitability partially rescued social deficits caused by E/I balance elevation. These results provide support for the elevated cellular E/I balance hypothesis of severe neuropsychiatric disease-related symptoms.
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            High-Performance Genetically Targetable Optical Neural Silencing via Light-Driven Proton Pumps

            The ability to silence the activity of genetically specified neurons in a temporally precise fashion would open up the ability to investigate the causal role of specific cell classes in neural computations, behaviors, and pathologies. Here we show that members of the class of light-driven outward proton pumps can mediate very powerful, safe, multiple-color silencing of neural activity. The gene archaerhodopsin-31 (Arch) from Halorubrum sodomense enables near-100% silencing of neurons in the awake brain when virally expressed in mouse cortex and illuminated with yellow light. Arch mediates currents of several hundred picoamps at low light powers, and supports neural silencing currents approaching 900 pA at light powers easily achievable in vivo. In addition, Arch spontaneously recovers from light-dependent inactivation, unlike light-driven chloride pumps that enter long-lasting inactive states in response to light. These properties of Arch are appropriate to mediate the optical silencing of significant brain volumes over behaviourally-relevant timescales. Arch function in neurons is well tolerated because pH excursions created by Arch illumination are minimized by self-limiting mechanisms to levels comparable to those mediated by channelrhodopsins2,3 or natural spike firing. To highlight how proton pump ecological and genomic diversity may support new innovation, we show that the blue-green light-drivable proton pump from the fungus Leptosphaeria maculans 4 (Mac) can, when expressed in neurons, enable neural silencing by blue light, thus enabling alongside other developed reagents the potential for independent silencing of two neural populations by blue vs. red light. Light-driven proton pumps thus represent a high-performance and extremely versatile class of “optogenetic” voltage and ion modulator, which will broadly empower new neuroscientific, biological, neurological, and psychiatric investigations.
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              ReaChR: A red-shifted variant of channelrhodopsin enables deep transcranial optogenetic excitation

              Channelrhodopsins are used to optogenetically depolarize neurons. We engineered a variant of channelrhodopsin, denoted Re d- a ctivatable Ch annel r hodopsin (ReaChR), that is optimally excited with orange to red light (λ ~ 590 to 630 nm) and offers improved membrane trafficking, higher photocurrents, and faster kinetics compared with existing red-shifted channelrhodopsins. Red light is more weakly scattered by tissue and absorbed less by blood than the blue to green wavelengths required by other channelrhodopsin variants. ReaChR expressed in vibrissa motor cortex was used to drive spiking and vibrissa motion in awake mice when excited with red light through intact skull. Precise vibrissa movements were evoked by expressing ReaChR in the facial motor nucleus in the brainstem and illuminating with red light through the external auditory canal. Thus, ReaChR enables transcranial optical activation of neurons in deep brain structures without the need to surgically thin the skull, form a transcranial window, or implant optical fibers.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group
                2045-2322
                10 November 2015
                2015
                : 5
                : 16533
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Developmental Biology and Neuroscience, Tohoku University Graduate School of Life Sciences , Sendai 980-8577, Japan
                [2 ]Graduate School of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Tokyo Institute of Technology , Yokohama 226-8501, Japan
                [3 ]Department of Neuroscience II, Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Nagoya University, Furo-cho , Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, 464-8601, Japan
                [4 ]Laboratory of Visual Neuroscience, Department of Chemistry and Bioengineering, Iwate University Graduate School of Engineering , 4-3-5 Ueda, Morioka, Iwate 020-8551, Japan
                [5 ]Clinical Research, Innovation and Education Center, Tohoku University Hospital , 1-1 Seiryo, Aoba, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8574, Japan
                [6 ]Center for Neuroscience, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine , Sendai 980-8575, Japan
                Author notes
                Article
                srep16533
                10.1038/srep16533
                4639720
                26552717
                5bda0e8b-2288-4d8e-95da-f1ebbf68fdf8
                Copyright © 2015, Macmillan Publishers Limited

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

                History
                : 29 May 2015
                : 15 October 2015
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