Structural model of channelrhodopsin

Hiroshi C. Watanabe, Kai Welke, Franziska Schneider, Satoshi Tsunoda, Feng Zhang, Karl Deisseroth, Peter Hegemann, Marcus Elstner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Channelrhodopsins (ChRs) are light-gated cation channels that mediate ion transport across membranes in microalgae (vectorial catalysis). ChRs are now widely used for the analysis of neural networks in tissues and living animals with light (optogenetics). For elucidation of functional mechanisms at the atomic level, as well as for further engineering and application, a detailed structure is urgently needed. In the absence of an experimental structure, here we develop a structural ChR model based on several molecular computational approaches, capitalizing on characteristic patterns in amino acid sequences of ChR1, ChR2, Volvox ChRs, Mesostigma ChR, and the recently identified ChR of the halophilic alga Dunaliella salina. In the present model, we identify remarkable structural motifs that may explain fundamental electrophysiological properties of ChR2, ChR1, and their mutants, and in a crucial validation of the model, we successfully reproduce the excitation energy predicted by absorption spectra.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7456-7466
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Mar 2
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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