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Published September 25, 2017 | Published
Journal Article Open

Q&A: How can advances in tissue clearing and optogenetics contribute to our understanding of normal and diseased biology?


Mammalian organs comprise a variety of cells that interact with each other and have distinct biological roles. Access to evaluate and perturb intact biological systems at the cellular and molecular levels is essential to fully understand their functioning in normal and diseased conditions, yet technical limitations have constrained most research to small pieces of tissue. Tissue clearing and optogenetics can help overcome this hurdle: tissue clearing affords optical interrogation of whole organs at the molecular level, and optogenetics enables the scalable control and measurement of cellular activity with light. In this Q&A, we delineate recent advances and practical challenges associated with these two techniques when applied body-wide.

Additional Information

© 2017 Gradinaru et al. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated. Published: 25 September 2017. We would like to thank Drs. Benjamin Deverman and Ken Chan for data used in Fig. 3. VG is supported by the NIH New Innovator Award DP2NS087949, the PECASE Award, SPARC OT2OD023848-01, and R01AG047664. VG is a Heritage Medical Research Institute Investigator, and director of the Center for Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience in the Chen Institute at Caltech. AG is a Good Ventures Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation. CC is a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service fellow of the National Institute of Aging (F32AG054101). Authors' contributions: AG and MJJ performed all experiments and data acquisition; MJJ performed neuronal tracing; AG, MJJ, CC, and VG generated the figures and wrote the manuscript. VG supervised all aspects of the work. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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October 17, 2023