The field of optogenetics is rapidly growing in relevance and number of
developed tools. Amongst other things, the optogenetic repertoire
includes light-responsive ion channels and methods for gene regulation.
This review will be confined to the optogenetic control of gene
expression in mammalian cells as suitable models for clinical
applications. Here optogenetic gene regulation might offer an excellent
method for spatially and timely regulated gene and protein expression in
cell therapeutic approaches. Well-known systems for gene regulation,
such as the LOV-, CRY2/CIB-, PhyB/PIF-systems, as well as other, in
mammalian cells not yet fully established systems will be described.
Advantages and disadvantages with regard to clinical applications are
outlined in detail. Among the many unanswered questions concerning the
application of optogenetics, we discuss items such as the use of
exogenous chromophores and their effects on the biology of the cells and
methods for a gentle, but effective gene transfection method for
optogenetic tools for in vivo applications.