University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Wednesday, February 25th 2015
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Adam Cohen, Harvard University
Subject:  Bringing Bioelectricity to Light
Refreshments served in Room 216 Physics after colloquium

In the wild, microbial rhodopsin proteins convert sunlight into biochemical signals in their host organisms. Some microbial rhodopsins convert sunlight into changes in membrane voltage. We engineered a microbial rhodopsin to run in reverse: to convert changes in membrane voltage into fluorescence signals that are readily detected in a microscope. Archaerhodopsin-derived voltage-indicating proteins enable optical mapping of bioelectric phenomena with unprecedented speed and sensitivity. We are applying these tools to study the role of voltage across biology: in bacteria, plant roots, fish hearts, mouse brains, and human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived neurons and cardiomyocytes. We are engineering new functionality into microbial rhodopsins by taking advantage of their strong optical nonlinearities.

Faculty Host: Jochen Mueller

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