Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are a large and essential membrane receptor family. The molecular mechanisms and physiological consequences of RTK activation depend on, for example, ligand identity, subcellular localization, and developmental or disease stage. In the past few years, genetically-encoded light-activated RTKs (Opto-RTKs) have been developed to dissect these complexities by providing reversible and spatio-temporal control over cell signaling. These methods have very recently matured to include highly-sensitive multi-color actuators. The new ability to regulate RTK activity with high precision has been recently harnessed to gain mechanistic insights in subcellular, tissue, and animal models. Because of their sophisticated engineering, Opto-RTKs may only mirror some aspects of natural activation mechanisms but nevertheless offer unique opportunities to study RTK signaling and physiology.
- Light-activated receptor tyrosine kinases
- molecular mechanisms
- cell signaling