From Boston, at a meeting of the American Chemical Society
Switching off a gene is now as simple as flicking on a light.
Working with zebrafish, a favorite model organism for biologists, Ilya A. Shestopalov and his colleagues at Stanford University showed that, once activated by ultraviolet light, a molecule called a photocaged morpholino can dampen a specific gene.
The molecule is made up of two parallel strips. One strip is an antisense molecule, which binds tightly to protein-coding RNA to shut down protein production. The other strip is an inhibitor that prevents the antisense molecule from doing so.
A light-sensitive bond connects the two strips. A 10-second pulse of ultraviolet light breaks the bond, liberating the antisense strip and allowing it to clamp down on the target gene product.