Electrically synchronizing and modulating the dynamics of ERK activation to regulate cell fate

Liang Guo, Kan Zhu, Michael Pargett, Adam Contreras, Patrick Tsai, Quan Qing, Wolfgang Losert, John Albeck, Min Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Intracellular signaling dynamics play fundamental roles in cell biology. Precise modulation of the amplitude, duration, and frequency of signaling activation will be a powerful approach to investigate molecular mechanisms as well as to engineer signaling to control cell behaviors. Here, we showed a practical approach to achieve precise amplitude modulation (AM), frequency modulation (FM), and duration modulation (DM) of MAP kinase activation. Alternating current (AC) electrical stimulation induced synchronized ERK activation. Amplitude and duration of ERK activation were controlled by varying stimulation strength and duration. ERK activation frequencies were arbitrarily modulated with trains of short AC applications with accurately defined intervals. Significantly, ERK dynamics coded by well-designed AC can rewire PC12 cell fate independent of growth factors. This technique can be used to synchronize and modulate ERK activation dynamics, thus would offer a practical way to control cell behaviors in vivo without the use of biochemical agents or genetic manipulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103240
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 19 2021


  • Biotechnology
  • Cell biology
  • Functional aspects of cell biology
  • Integrative aspects of cell biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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