Cellular functioning relies on active transport of organelles by molecular motors. To explore how intracellular organelle distributions affect cellular functions, several optogenetic approaches enable organelle repositioning through light-inducible recruitment of motors to specific organelles. Nonetheless, robust application of these methods in cellular populations without side effects has remained challenging. Here, we introduce an improved toolbox for optogenetic control of intracellular transport that optimizes cellular responsiveness and limits adverse effects. To improve dynamic range, we employed improved optogenetic heterodimerization modules and engineered a photosensitive kinesin-3, which is activated upon blue light–sensitive homodimerization. This opto-kinesin prevented motor activation before experimental onset, limited dark-state activation, and improved responsiveness. In addition, we adopted moss kinesin-14 for efficient retrograde transport with minimal adverse effects on endogenous transport. Using this optimized toolbox, we demonstrate robust reversible repositioning of (endogenously tagged) organelles within cellular populations. More robust control over organelle motility will aid in dissecting spatial cell biology and transport-related diseases.

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