Focusing light deep by engineering wavefronts toward guide stars inside scattering media has potential biomedical applications in imaging, manipulation, stimulation, and therapy. However, the lack of endogenous guide stars in biological tissue hinders its translations to in vivo applications. Here, we use a reversibly switchable bacterial phytochrome protein as a genetically encoded photochromic guide star (GePGS) in living tissue to tag photons at targeted locations, achieving light focusing inside the tissue by wavefront shaping. As bacterial phytochrome-based GePGS absorbs light differently upon far-red and near-infrared illumination, a large dynamic absorption contrast can be created to tag photons inside tissue. By modulating the GePGS at a distinctive frequency, we suppressed the competition between GePGS and tissue motions and formed tight foci inside mouse tumors in vivo and acute mouse brain tissue, thus improving light delivery efficiency and specificity. Spectral multiplexing of GePGS proteins with different colors is an attractive possibility.
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