Reverse Engineering Caged Compounds: Design Principles for their Application in Biology

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Light passes through biological tissue, and so it is used for imaging biological processes in situ. Such observation is part of the very essence of science, but mechanistic understanding requires intervention. For more than 50 years a “second function” for light has emerged; namely, that of photochemical control. Caged compounds are biologically inert signaling molecules that are activated by light. These optical probes enable external instruction of biological processes by stimulation of an individual element in complex signaling cascades in its native environment. Cause and effect are linked directly in spatial, temporal, and frequency domains in a quantitative manner by their use. I provide a guide to the basic properties required to make effective caged compounds for the biological sciences.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202206083
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number9
StatePublished - 20 Feb 2023


  • Biological Hypotheses
  • Caged Compounds
  • Photochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Protecting Groups


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