Optogenetics at the presynapse

Benjamin R. Rost, Jonas Wietek, Ofer Yizhar & Dietmar Schmitz

Optogenetic actuators enable highly precise spatiotemporal interrogation of biological processes at levels ranging from the subcellular to cells, circuits and behaving organisms. Although their application in neuroscience has traditionally focused on the control of spiking activity at the somatodendritic level, the scope of optogenetic modulators for direct manipulation of presynaptic functions is growing. Presynaptically localized opsins combined with light stimulation at the terminals allow light-mediated neurotransmitter release, presynaptic inhibition, induction of synaptic plasticity and specific manipulation of individual components of the presynaptic machinery. Here, we describe presynaptic applications of optogenetic tools in the context of the unique cell biology of axonal terminals, discuss their potential shortcomings and outline future directions for this rapidly developing research area.

Nat Neurosci. 25, 984–998 (2022)


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