Optopharmacological tools for precise spatiotemporal control of oxytocin signaling in the central nervous system and periphery

Ismail A. Ahmed, Jing-Jing Liu, Krystyna A. Gieniec, Chloe J. Bair-Marshall, Ayomiposi B. Adewakun, Belinda E. Hetzler, Christopher J. Arp, Latika Khatri, Gilles C. Vanwalleghem, Alec T. Seidenberg, Pamela Cowin, Dirk Trauner, Moses V. Chao, Felicity M. Davis, Richard W. Tsien, Robert C. Froemke

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearch


Oxytocin is a neuropeptide critical for maternal physiology and social behavior, and is thought to be dysregulated in several neuropsychiatric disorders. Despite the biological and neurocognitive importance of oxytocin signaling, methods are lacking to activate oxytocin receptors with high spatiotemporal precision in the brain and peripheral mammalian tissues. Here we developed and validated caged analogs of oxytocin which are functionally inert until cage release is triggered by ultraviolet light. We examined how focal versus global oxytocin application affected oxytocin-driven Ca2+ wave propagation in mouse mammary tissue. We also validated the application of caged oxytocin in the hippocampus and auditory cortex with electrophysiological recordings in vitro, and demonstrated that oxytocin uncaging can accelerate the onset of mouse maternal behavior in vivo. Together, these results demonstrate that optopharmacological control of caged peptides is a robust tool with spatiotemporal precision for modulating neuropeptide signaling throughout the brain and body.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.
Original languageEnglish
Article number516001
Number of pages57
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


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