Optogenetics. Engineering of a light-gated potassium channel.
Abstract: The present palette of opsin-based optogenetic tools lacks a light-gated potassium (K(+)) channel desirable for silencing of excitable cells. Here, we describe the construction of a blue-light-induced K(+) channel 1 (BLINK1) engineered by fusing the plant LOV2-Jα photosensory module to the small viral K(+) channel Kcv. BLINK1 exhibits biophysical features of Kcv, including K(+) selectivity and high single-channel conductance but reversibly photoactivates in blue light. Opening of BLINK1 channels hyperpolarizes the cell to the K(+) equilibrium potential. Ectopic expression of BLINK1 reversibly inhibits the escape response in light-exposed zebrafish larvae. BLINK1 therefore provides a single-component optogenetic tool that can establish prolonged, physiological hyperpolarization of cells at low light intensities.