GSBS Student Publications

Student Author(s)

Lauren E. Foley

GSBS Program


UMMS Affiliation

Department of Neurobiology



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Animals; Animals, Genetically Modified; Choice Behavior; Cryptochromes; Drosophila; Humans; *Light; *Magnetics; Motor Activity; Retina; Sensation


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Neuroscience and Neurobiology


Humans are not believed to have a magnetic sense, even though many animals use the Earth's magnetic field for orientation and navigation. One model of magnetosensing in animals proposes that geomagnetic fields are perceived by light-sensitive chemical reactions involving the flavoprotein cryptochrome (CRY). Here we show using a transgenic approach that human CRY2, which is heavily expressed in the retina, can function as a magnetosensor in the magnetoreception system of Drosophila and that it does so in a light-dependent manner. The results show that human CRY2 has the molecular capability to function as a light-sensitive magnetosensor and reopen an area of sensory biology that is ready for further exploration in humans.

Rights and Permissions

Citation: Nat Commun. 2011 Jun 21;2:356. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1364. Link to article on publisher's site


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.