From dusk till dawn: One-plasmid systems for light-regulated gene expression

Robert Ohlendorf, Roee R. Vidavski, Avigdor Eldar, Keith Moffat*, Andreas Möglich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Signaling photoreceptors mediate diverse organismal adaptations in response to light. As light-gated protein switches, signaling photoreceptors provide the basis for optogenetics, a term that refers to the control of organismal physiology and behavior by light. We establish as novel optogenetic tools the plasmids pDusk and pDawn, which employ blue-light photoreceptors to confer light-repressed or light-induced gene expression in Escherichia coli with up to 460-fold induction upon illumination. Key features of these systems are low background activity, high dynamic range, spatial control on the 20-μm scale, independence from exogenous factors, and ease of use. In optogenetic experiments, pDusk and pDawn can be used to specifically perturb individual nodes of signaling networks and interrogate their role. On the preparative scale, pDawn can induce by light the production of recombinant proteins and thus represents a cost-effective and readily automated alternative to conventional induction systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-542
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Mar 2012


  • gene expression
  • light-oxygen-voltage
  • optogenetics
  • photoreceptor
  • protein engineering


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