Cell biology is moving from observing molecules to controlling them in real time, a critical step towards a mechanistic understanding of how cells work. Initially developed from light-gated ion channels to control neuron activity, optogenetics now describes any genetically encoded protein system designed to accomplish specific light-mediated tasks. Recent photosensitive switches use many ingenious designs that bring spatial and temporal control within reach for almost any protein or pathway of interest. This next generation optogenetics includes light-controlled protein–protein interactions and shape-shifting photosensors, which in combination with live microscopy enable acute modulation and analysis of dynamic protein functions in living cells. We provide a brief overview of various types of optogenetic switches. We then discuss how diverse approaches have been used to control cytoskeleton dynamics with light through Rho GTPase signaling, microtubule and actin assembly, mitotic spindle positioning and intracellular transport and highlight advantages and limitations of different experimental strategies.

Actin, Cell dynamics, Cry2, Cytoskeleton dynamics, Light, LOV2, Microscopy, Microtubule, Motor proteins, Optogenetics, Photoactivation, PhyB, Rho GTPase, VVD
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ceb.2020.03.003, hdl.handle.net/1765/126553
Current Opinion in Cell Biology
Biophysical Genomics, Department Cell Biology & Genetics

Wittmann, T, Dema, A. (Alessandro), & van Haren, J.A.J. (2020). Lights, cytoskeleton, action: Optogenetic control of cell dynamics. Current Opinion in Cell Biology (Vol. 66, pp. 1–10). doi:10.1016/j.ceb.2020.03.003