The research group of Assistant Professor Tomohiro Ishii and Professor Takao Nakata in the Department of Cell Biology, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Tokyo Medical and Dental University is collaborating with Okazaki Integrated Bioscience Center and the University of Tokyo to generate intracellular calcium signals using light. Announced that it has developed a technology that can be operated freely.Calcium ions are intracellular signals that play an important role in almost all cells and control various cell functions such as fertilization, gene expression, secretion, nerve activity, and muscle contraction.The results of this research may be applicable to research on endocrine diseases such as diabetes and muscle contraction diseases such as hypertension and arteriosclerosis.

In order to investigate the role of calcium signaling in detail, it has been required to develop a technique for efficiently inducing calcium signaling at a specific cell site at a specific time.Since light causes less damage to cells and can be freely controlled temporally and spatially, artificial proteins that induce calcium signaling by light have been reported so far, but the efficiency of inducing calcium signaling is not high. There was a need for major improvements.

The research group has developed BACCS (Blue light-activated Calcium Channel Switch) that can open and close calcium ion channels with blue light.Experiments have confirmed that BACCS can induce a large calcium signal easily and quickly with blue light, can induce a calcium signal at a specific place at a specific time, and can be used for both cultured cells and individual animals.Due to these characteristics, BACCS can be widely used for various researches and is expected to contribute to the development of various life science researches.

The results of this research will be published in the online version of the international scientific journal "Nature Communications" on August 2015, 8 (UK time).

Source:[Tokyo Medical and Dental University] "Development of technology to freely manipulate intracellular calcium signals with light" -Expected to promote understanding of various biological phenomena controlled by calcium ions- (PDF)

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