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Biologically Active Molecules with a “Light Switch”

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Abstract

Biologically active compounds which are light-responsive offer experimental possibilities which are otherwise very difficult to achieve. Since light can be manipulated very precisely, for example, with lasers and microscopes rapid jumps in concentration of the active form of molecules are possible with exact control of the area, time, and dosage. The development of such strategies started in the 1970s. This review summarizes new developments of the last five years and deals with “small molecules”, proteins, and nucleic acids which can either be irreversibly activated with light (these compounds are referred to as “caged compounds”) or reversibly switched between an active and an inactive state.

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