Pau Gorostiza Institut de Bioenginyeria de Catalunya (IBEC)

Remote control of neuronal activity using photopharmacology and infrared light has been recently demonstrated. However, its practical use in neuronal tissue to photostimulate individual neurons with three-dimensional precision has been hampered by (1) the low efficacy and reliability of two-photon isomerization using infrared light compared to one-photon excitation, and (2) the short lifetime of the two-photon induced responses. We have developed novel photoswitches endowed with both high-two photon absorption cross section and slow thermal back-isomerization. These compounds provide optimized and sustained two-photon neuronal stimulation both in light-scattering brain tissue and in live worms. This finding opens the way to analyze the function of intact neuronal circuits in three dimensions.


Cabré G, Garrido-Charles A, Moreno M, Bosch M, Porta-de-la-Riva M, Krieg M, Gascon-Moya M, Camarero N, Gelabert R, Lluch JM, Busqué F, Hernando J, Gorostiza P & Alibés R 2019, ‘Rationally designed azobenzene photoswitches for efficient two-photon neuronal excitation’, Nature Communications, 10, 907.