WiChR, a highly potassium-selective channelrhodopsin for low-light one- and two-photon inhibition of excitable cells
Johannes Vierock, Enrico Peter, Christiane Grimm, Andrey Rozenberg, I-Wen Chen, Linda Tillert, Alejandro G. Castro Scalise, Marilù Casini, Sandra Augustin, Dimitrii Tanese, Benoît C. Forget, Rémi Peyronnet, Franziska Schneider-Warme, Valentina Emiliani, Oded Béjà, Peter Hegemann
The electric excitability of muscle, heart, and brain tissue relies on the precise interplay of Na+– and K+-selective ion channels. The involved ion fluxes are controlled in optogenetic studies using light-gated channelrhodopsins (ChRs). While non-selective cation-conducting ChRs are well established for excitation, K+-selective ChRs (KCRs) for efficient inhibition have only recently come into reach. Here, we report the molecular analysis of recently discovered KCRs from the stramenopile Hyphochytrium catenoides and identification of a novel type of hydrophobic K+ selectivity filter. Next, we demonstrate that the KCR signature motif is conserved in related stramenopile ChRs. Among them, WiChR from Wobblia lunata features a so far unmatched preference for K+ over Na+, stable photocurrents under continuous illumination, and a prolonged open-state lifetime. Showing high expression levels in cardiac myocytes and neurons, WiChR allows single- and two-photon inhibition at low irradiance and reduced tissue heating. Therefore, we recommend WiChR as the long-awaited efficient and versatile optogenetic inhibitor.
Sci Adv 8(49):eadd7729 (2022)