Cluster of Excellence –
University of Freiburg

Stable synthetic optical switches for optogenetics and optophysiology in zebrafish

Prof. Wolfgang Driever (Institute of Biology I)

Prof. Wilfried Weber (Institute of Biology II and BIOSS)

Dr. Roland Nitschke (LIC, ZBSA)

Jun. Prof. Dr. Olaf Ronneberger (Institute of Informatics and BIOSS)

 Precise control of signaling as well as differentiation state in vivo of specific cells of a biological system in time and space is the ultimate tool to understand formation and function of complex biological systems. In this project, we want to develop genetic optical switches to express factors that drive cellular differentiation from stem and precursor cells, as well as optogenetic proteins controling neuronal behavior. The novel switches will be employed in the zebrafish experimental system in three major ongoing projects: (1) control of signals and transcription factors in defined areas of neuroectoderm and neural stem cell niches to drive differentiation of region-specific types of new dopaminergic neurons within the context of the living embryo; (2) spatiotemporal expression domains of optophysiological proteins; (3) Spatiotemporal control of signals and transcription factors within the early pluripotent blastoderm and gastrula of the zebrafish to control differentiation decisions as well as patterning mechanisms of embryonic cells.