Optogenetics: Past, present and future

E. Ádám, Anita Hajdu, Ferenc Nagy, András Viczián

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The term 'optogenetics' was introduced into the scientific literature less than a decade ago by Karl Deisseroth, developer of pioneering optogenetic techniques, who defined optogenetics as "the combination of genetic and optical methods to achieve gain or loss of function of well-defined events in specific cells of living tissue". Since then this new field of biology has become a very exciting and rapidly developing area producing hundreds of scientific publications. New methods and tools have been developed and long-sought answers found in these new experimental systems. Discussion and full elaboration of every optogenetic approach and application are beyond the scope of this review, instead, it gives a short insight to (i) how light can be used to manipulate the membrane potential of various cells; (ii) how light-sensitive proteins can be used to regulate targeted gene expression, and (iii) how controlled release or spatio-temporal targeting of certain molecules can be modulated by light. Besides, the most widely used light-sensor proteins, including their structure, working mechanism and their involvement in existing optogenetic applications are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-119
Number of pages15
JournalActa Biologica Szegediensis
Publication statusPublished - 2015



  • Chromophore
  • In vivo applications
  • Ion channel
  • Ion pump
  • Optogenetics
  • Photoreceptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Ádám, E., Hajdu, A., Nagy, F., & Viczián, A. (2015). Optogenetics: Past, present and future. Acta Biologica Szegediensis, 59, 105-119.