Building a Simple and Versatile Illumination System for Optogenetic Experiments
Controlling biological processes using light has increased the accuracy and speed with which researchers can manipulate many biological processes. Optical control allows for an unprecedented ability to dissect function and holds the potential for enabling novel genetic therapies. However, optogenetic experiments require adequate light sources with spatial, temporal, or intensity control, often a bottleneck for researchers. Here we detail how to build a low-cost and versatile LED illumination system that is easily customizable for different available optogenetic tools. This system is configurable for manual or computer control with adjustable LED intensity. We provide an illustrated step-by-step guide for building the circuit, making it computer-controlled, and constructing the LEDs. To facilitate the assembly of this device, we also discuss some basic soldering techniques and explain the circuitry used to control the LEDs. Using our open-source user interface, users can automate precise timing and pulsing of light on a personal computer (PC) or an inexpensive tablet. This automation makes the system useful for experiments that use LEDs to control genes, signaling pathways, and other cellular activities that span large time scales. For this protocol, no prior expertise in electronics is required to build all the parts needed or to use the illumination system to perform optogenetic experiments.
Phillip Kyriakakis1, Lourdes Fernandez de Cossio2, Patrick Wade Howard1, Sivleng Kouv1, Marianne Catanho1, Vincent J. Hu3, Robert Kyriakakis1, Molly E. Allen1, Yunhan Ma4, Marcelo Aguilar-Rivera1, Todd P. Coleman1
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