Considerations in repetitive activation of light sensitive ion channels for long-term studies: Channel rhodopsin in the Drosophila model

Jake Higgins, Christina Hermanns, Cole Malloy, Robin L. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Optogenetics is a technique used in various animal models and holds a potential for therapeutic possibilities in mammals. There are technical issues with the use of light sensitive ion channels: reproducible effects over time, controlling where the non-native proteins are targeted within the cell and changes in the biophysical properties of the cells they are expressed in. We used a variant of channel rhodopsin (ChR2-XXL) and targeted expression in neurons of larval Drosophila to investigate the acute and chronic activation, with light pulses, of the channels on synaptic function. The rhodopsin channel modifier all trans retinal (ATR) also plays a role in the sensitivity of the channel to light. Periods of acute, repetitive, and pulsatile blue light exposure over larval development produced attenuated responses. These blue light sensitive ion channels, with ATR, show accommodation and produce an electrical refractory period in inducing synaptic responses. The biological significance and aim of this study is to demonstrate that in controlling particular neurons or neuronal circuits with optogenetics, over time and throughout development, one will have to understand the dynamic nature of activating and silencing the light sensitive channels as well as the biophysical effects on neuronal activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroscience Research
StatePublished - Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation ( KSEF-3712-RDE-019 ) at the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (RLC), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (JH) & personal funds (RLC) . We thank Kristin Weineck, Meagan Medley and Nicole Dzbuck Pettersson for editorial comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ireland Ltd and Japan Neuroscience Society


  • Drosophila
  • Neuron
  • Optogenetics
  • Techniques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)


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