Bidirectional Neuronal Actuation by Uncaging with Violet and Green Light

Lorenzo Sansalone, Jun Zhao, Linh T.B. Nguyen, Swati Gupta, Deanna L. Benson, Manabu Abe, Graham C.R. Ellis-Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We have developed a photochemical protecting group that enables wavelength selective uncaging using green versus violet light. Change of the exocyclic oxygen of the laser dye coumarin-102 to sulfur, gave thio-coumarin-102, a new chromophore with an absorption ratio at 503/402 nm of 37. Photolysis of thio-coumarin-102 caged γ-aminobutyric acid was found to be highly wavelength selective on neurons, with normalized electrical responses >100-fold higher in the green versus violet channel. When partnered with coumarin-102 caged glutamate, we could use whole cell violet and green irradiation to fire and block neuronal action potentials with complete orthogonality. Localized irradiation of different dendritic segments, each connected to a neuronal cell body, in concert with 3-dimenional Ca2+ imaging, revealed that such inputs could function independently. Chemical signaling in living cells always involves a complex balance of multiple pathways, use of (thio)-coumarin-102 caged compounds will enable arbitrarily timed flashes of green and violet light to interrogate two independent pathways simultaneously.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202315726
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number13
StatePublished - 22 Mar 2024


  • chromatic selectivity
  • orthogonal
  • thio-coumarin
  • two-color
  • uncaging


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