Practical Considerations for the Use of DREADD and Other Chemogenetic Receptors to Regulate Neuronal Activity in the Mammalian Brain

  • Patrick Aldrin-Kirk
  • Tomas BjörklundEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1937)


Chemogenetics is the process of genetically expressing a macromolecule receptor capable of modulating the activity of the cell in response to selective chemical ligand. This chapter will cover the chemogenetic technologies that are available to date, focusing on the commonly available engineered or otherwise modified ligand-gated ion channels and G-protein-coupled receptors in the context of neuromodulation. First, we will give a brief overview of each chemogenetic approach as well as in vitro/in vivo applications, then we will list their strengths and weaknesses. Finally, we will provide tips for ligand application in each case.

Each technology has specific limitations that make them more or less suitable for different applications in neuroscience although we will focus mainly on the most commonly used and versatile family named designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs or DREADDs. We here describe the most common cases where these can be implemented and provide tips on how and where these technologies can be applied in the field of neuroscience.

Key words

Chemogenetics Ligand-gated ion channel G-Protein-coupled receptor DREADD TRPV1 GluCl PSAM/PSEM Allatostatin Ligand Engineered receptors Neuronal modulation Gene therapy 



This work was supported by grants from the Swedish Research Council (K2014-79X-22510-01-1 and ÄR-MH-2016-01997); Michael J Fox foundation, Swedish Parkinson Foundation; Crafoord foundation and the Bagadilico Linnaeus consortium. TB is supported by Ass. Senior lectureship from the Bente Rexed foundation.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Molecular Neuromodulation, Wallenberg Neuroscience CenterLund UniversityLundSweden

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