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Professor Wang Youjun’s research group from BNU College of Life Science published research results in Nature Communications

On January 12th, Professor Wang Youjun ’s research group from College of Life Science in Beijing Normal University with collaborated lab of Professor Huang Yun and Zhou Yubin from Texas A&M University published research results in Nature Communications with the help of Professor Dou Fei and Associate Professor Sun Lin. The paper is titled with Engineering of a bona fide light-operated calcium channel. Wang Liuqing, a second-year Ph.D student from Professor Wang Youjun’s research group and He Lian, post doctorate from Texas A&M University are the co-first author.


The current optogenetic toolkit lacks a robust single-component Ca2+-selective ion channel tailored for remote control of Ca2+ signaling in mammals. Existing tools are either derived from engineered channelrhodopsin variants without strict Ca2+ selectivity or based on the stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1) that might crosstalk with other targets. So that the research group describes the design of a light-operated Ca2+ channel (designated LOCa) by inserting a plant-derived photosensory module into the intracellular loop of an engineered ORAI1 channel. LOCa displays biophysical features reminiscent of the ORAI1 channel, which enables precise optical control over Ca2+ signals and hallmark Ca2+-dependent physiological responses. Furthermore, the research group demonstrates the use of LOCa to modulate aberrant hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal, transcriptional programming, cell suicide, as well as neurodegeneration in a Drosophila model of amyloidosis.



This study was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China and Ministry of Science and Technology.