The evolving capabilities of rhodopsin-based genetically encoded voltage indicators

Yiyang Gong

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, United States

Current Opinion in Chemical Biology 2015, 27:84–89

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Protein engineering over the past four years has made rhodopsin-based genetically encoded voltage indicators a leading candidate to achieve the task of reporting action potentials from a population of genetically targeted neurons in vivo. Rational design and large-scale screening efforts have steadily improved the dynamic range and kinetics of the rhodopsin voltage-sensing domain, and coupling these rhodopsins to bright fluorescent proteins has supported bright fluorescence readout of the large and rapid rhodopsin voltage response. The rhodopsin-fluorescent protein fusions have the highest achieved signal-to-noise ratios for detecting action potentials in neuronal cultures to date, and have successfully reported single spike events in vivo. Given the rapid pace of current development, the genetically encoded voltage indicator class is nearing the goal of robust spike imaging during live-animal behavioral experiments.