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Dirk Trauner "Optochemical Genetics"

Abstract :

Transmembrane receptors allow a cell to communicate with its environment in response to a variety of input signals.
These can be changes in the concentration of ligands (e.g. hormones or neurotransmitters), temperature, pressure (e.g. via acoustic waves or touch), transmembrane potential, or light intensity. Many important receptors have now
been characterized in atomic detail and our understanding of their functional properties has markedly increased in recent years. As a consequence, these sophisticated molecular machines can be reprogrammed to respond to unnatural input signals.

Arguably, the most useful of these signals is light. I will show how ligand-gated ion channels, G-protein coupled receptors, as well as voltage-gated ion channels, can be manipulated with synthetic photoswitches to become light-sensitive. The resulting hybrid photoreceptors can be used to optically control neurons with very high precision. They have been used to dissect neural networks and might find applications in the restoration of vision and the control of other sensations (such as pain). This combination of synthetic photoswitches and receptor proteins augments the field of Optogenetics and adds a new functional dimension to Chemical Genetics. As such, we propose to call it "Optochemical Genetics".

Selected publications

An efficient synthesis of loline alkaloids. Cakmak M, Mayer P, Trauner D.Nat Chem. 2011 Jun 19;3(7):543-5. doi: 10.1038/nchem.1072.
Synthetic studies toward A-74528.Hager A, Mazunin D, Mayer P, Trauner D.Org Lett. 2011 Mar 18;13(6):1386-9. Epub 2011 Feb 16.
Optogenetic dissection of a behavioural module in the vertebrate spinal cord.Wyart C, Del Bene F, Warp E, Scott EK, Trauner D, Baier H, Isacoff EY. Nature. 2009 Sep 17;461(7262):407-10.
Bishop, L.M.; Barbarow, J. E.; Bergman, R.G.; Trauner, D., "Catalysis of 6p Electrocyclizations" Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 2008, 47
Volgraf, M.; Lumb, J.-P., Brastianos, H.C.; Carr, G.; Chung, M.K.W.; Münzel, M.; Mauk, A.G.; Andersen, R.J.; Trauner, D., "Biomimetic Synthesis of the IDO Inhibitors Exiguamine A and B" Nature Chem. Biol. 2008, 4, 535-537.

Scientific focus :

Studied Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Vienna, Austria
Studied Chemistry at the Free University of Berlin, Germany
1997 Ph.D. University of Vienna, Austria
1998-2000 Postdoctoral research fellow with Professor Samuel J. Danishefsky at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, USA
2000-2006 Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, USA
2006-2008 Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Since 2008 Professor of Organic Chemistry, LMU

Daniel Choquet de l'IINS