Cells 2020 Jul 13;9(7):E1684. doi: 10.3390/cells9071684.
Anomalies in constitutive calcium entry (CCE) have been commonly attributed to cell dysfunction in pathological conditions such as cancer. Calcium influxes of this type rely on channels, such as transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, to be constitutively opened and strongly depend on membrane potential and a calcium driving force. We developed an optogenetic approach based on the expression of the halorhodopsin chloride pump to study CCE in non-excitable cells. Using C2C12 cells, we found that halorhodopsin can be used to achieve a finely tuned control of membrane polarization. Escalating the membrane polarization by incremental changes in light led to a concomitant increase in CCE through transient receptor potential vanilloid 2 (TRPV2) channels. Moreover, light-induced calcium entry through TRPV2 channels promoted cell migration. Our study shows for the first time that by modulating CCE and related physiological responses, such as cell motility, halorhodopsin serves as a potentially powerful tool that could open new avenues for the study of CCE and associated cellular behaviors.