Light switch | Science News



Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


Light switch

11:53am, August 28, 2007

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.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News