Engineered Microbial Opsins using SCHEMA Recombination and Directed Evolution

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We are combining machine learning, structure-guided recombination, and assay development to explore the relationship between sequence and function of various rhodopsin properties.

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This project is concerned with understanding the sequence-function relationships and engineering of a class of membrane proteins called rhodopsins to develop tools for optogenetics, bioenergy, and hybrid materials. In neuroscience, rhodopsin-mediated light-driven ion flux can be exploited to activate or inhibit neuronal activity with fast kinetics in a selective and reversible fashion. We also make rhodopsins with voltage-dependent fluorescence for optical “read-out” of brain activity. Our project will establish a quantitative framework to rapidly exploring rhodopsin sequence-function space and result in new tools for optogenetics. 



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