Selective control of synaptically-connected circuit elements by all-optical synapses

Mansi Prakash, Jeremy Murphy, Robyn St Laurent, Nina Friedman, Emmanuel L. Crespo, Andreas Bjorefeldt, Akash Pal, Yuvraj Bhagat, Julie A. Kauer, Nathan C. Shaner, Diane Lipscombe, Christopher I. Moore, Ute Hochgeschwender

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Understanding percepts, engrams and actions requires methods for selectively modulating synaptic communication between specific subsets of interconnected cells. Here, we develop an approach to control synaptically connected elements using bioluminescent light: Luciferase-generated light, originating from a presynaptic axon terminal, modulates an opsin in its postsynaptic target. Vesicular-localized luciferase is released into the synaptic cleft in response to presynaptic activity, creating a real-time Optical Synapse. Light production is under experimenter-control by introduction of the small molecule luciferin. Signal transmission across this optical synapse is temporally defined by the presence of both the luciferin and presynaptic activity. We validate synaptic Interluminescence by multi-electrode recording in cultured neurons and in mice in vivo. Interluminescence represents a powerful approach to achieve synapse-specific and activity-dependent circuit control in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Article number33
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


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