Trojan vs Hand Drivers: Effectiveness in Optogenetic Pacing of Drosophila

Mentor: Chao Zhou, Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Lab description: We are interested in developing novel optical imaging technologies for biomedical applications, especially in developing optical coherence tomography (OCT) and microscopy (OCM) technologies to perform “optical biopsy” and generate 3D in situ images of tissue morphology, function and pathological status in real-time without the need to remove and process specimens.

We are also interested in applying these technologies to a variety of biological and clinical applications, including cancer research, neuroscience, developmental biology and tissue engineering.

Project: In order to effectively place a gene of interest into a tissue of interest, a driver gene must be used. In optogenetics, this gene of interest encodes for an opsin that, such as channelrhodopsin or halorhodopsin, and in our lab, we design crosses so that these opsins are specific to the heart region, utilizing the GAL4-UAS system. Previous work in our group has shown that the Hand driver is effective at producing flies with heart specific opsins that are able to respond to heart pacing experiments. As we explore ways to further optimize our cardiac optogenetic pacing experiments, we would like to explore more drivers, comparing their effectiveness at delivering the gene of interest to the heart for optogenetic pacing experiments, both through looking at tissue specificity, using tools such as multiphoton imaging and fluorescent markers, and by comparing the results of pacing experiments at different laser power levels.