The “Optogenetic” method of controlling the position of proteins in cells using light is becoming widely employed as an important method to understand intracellular signal transduction. In conventional methods short wavelength light, such as ultraviolet light or blue light, are commonplace. In 2009, Dr. Wendell A. Lim and others announced the PhyB-PIF system utilizing red light / near infrared light, but in order to use this system in animal cells the cyanobacterial photosynthetic pigment phycocyanobilin (PCB) must be added, this step greatly hindered the use of the PhyB-PIF system.
According to Professor Kazuhiro Aoki of the National Institute for Basic Biology “We focused on the heme present in mitochondria in animals, and based on this heme we aimed at synthesizing cyanobacterial photosynthetic pigment PCB inside animal cells”. The research group has now succeeded in synthesizing PCB in animal cells directly by introducing four genes encoding cyanobacterial enzymes related to PCB synthesis.
In addition, the group succeeded in increasing the amount of PCB synthesis through disruption of the gene that encodes an enzyme called biliverdin reductase A, which is involved in the metabolism of PCB.