Publication Date



Nature Neuroscience


Channelrhodopsins are used widely for optical control of neurons, in which they generate photoinduced proton, sodium or chloride influx. Potassium (K+) is central to neuron electrophysiology, yet no natural K+-selective light-gated channel has been identified. Here, we report kalium channelrhodopsins (KCRs) from Hyphochytrium catenoides. Previously known gated potassium channels are mainly ligand- or voltage-gated and share a conserved K+-selectivity filter. KCRs differ in that they are light-gated and have independently evolved an alternative K+ selectivity mechanism. The KCRs are potent, highly selective of K+ over Na+, and open in less than 1 ms following photoactivation. The permeability ratio PK/PNa of 23 makes H. catenoides KCR1 (HcKCR1) a powerful hyperpolarizing tool to suppress excitable cell firing upon illumination, demonstrated here in mouse cortical neurons. HcKCR1 enables optogenetic control of K+ gradients, which is promising for the study and potential treatment of potassium channelopathies such as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and long-QT syndrome and other cardiac arrhythmias.


Animals, Channelrhodopsins, Ion Channel Gating, Mice, Optogenetics, Potassium, Potassium Channels, Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated, Sodium



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