UNIT 6.20 Caged Molecules: Principles and Practical Considerations

  1. Joseph P.Y. Kao

Published Online: 1 NOV 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0620s37

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

How to Cite

Kao, J. P. 2006. Caged Molecules: Principles and Practical Considerations. Current Protocols in Neuroscience. 37:6.20:6.20.1–6.20.21.

Author Information

  1. University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, Baltimore, Maryland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 NOV 2006
  2. Published Print: OCT 2006


A caged molecule is an inert but photosensitive molecule that is transformed by photolysis into a biologically active molecule at high speed (typically 1 msec). The process is referred to as photorelease. The spatial resolution of photorelease is limited by the properties of light; submicrometer resolution is potentially achievable. Therefore, focal photorelease of caged molecules enables one to control biological processes with high spatio-temporal precision. The principles underlying caged molecules as well as practical considerations for their use are discussed in this unit.


  • caged molecule;
  • caged compound;
  • photolysis;
  • photorelease;
  • uncaging;
  • photostimulation