Showing 1 - 25 of 141 results
Bringing Light to Transcription: The Optogenetics Repertoire.
The ability to manipulate expression of exogenous genes in particular regions of living organisms has profoundly transformed the way we study biomolecular processes involved in both normal development and disease. Unfortunately, most of the classical inducible systems lack fine spatial and temporal accuracy, thereby limiting the study of molecular events that strongly depend on time, duration of activation, or cellular localization. By exploiting genetically engineered photo sensing proteins that respond to specific wavelengths, we can now provide acute control of numerous molecular activities with unprecedented precision. In this review, we present a comprehensive breakdown of all of the current optogenetic systems adapted to regulate gene expression in both unicellular and multicellular organisms. We focus on the advantages and disadvantages of these different tools and discuss current and future challenges in the successful translation to more complex organisms.
Optogenetic Medicine: Synthetic Therapeutic Solutions Precision-Guided by Light.
Gene- and cell-based therapies are well recognized as central pillars of next-generation medicine, but controllability remains a critical issue for clinical applications. In this context, optogenetics is opening up exciting new opportunities for precision-guided medicine by using illumination with light of appropriate intensity and wavelength as a trigger signal to achieve pinpoint spatiotemporal control of cellular activities, such as transgene expression. In this review, we highlight recent advances in optogenetics, focusing on devices for biomedical applications. We introduce the construction and applications of optogenetic-based biomedical tools to treat neurological diseases, diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer, as well as bioelectronic implants that combine light-interfaced electronic devices and optogenetic systems into portable personalized precision bioelectronic medical tools. Optogenetics-based technology promises the capability to achieve traceless, remotely controlled precision dosing of an enormous range of therapeutic outputs. Finally, we discuss the prospects for optogenetic medicine, as well as some emerging challenges.
Light‐Controlled Mammalian Cells and Their Therapeutic Applications in Synthetic Biology.
The ability to remote control the expression of therapeutic genes in mammalian cells in order to treat disease is a central goal of synthetic biology‐inspired therapeutic strategies. Furthermore, optogenetics, a combination of light and genetic sciences, provides an unprecedented ability to use light for precise control of various cellular activities with high spatiotemporal resolution. Recent work to combine optogenetics and therapeutic synthetic biology has led to the engineering of light‐controllable designer cells, whose behavior can be regulated precisely and noninvasively. This Review focuses mainly on non‐neural optogenetic systems, which are often used in synthetic biology, and their applications in genetic programing of mammalian cells. Here, a brief overview of the optogenetic tool kit that is available to build light‐sensitive mammalian cells is provided. Then, recently developed strategies for the control of designer cells with specific biological functions are summarized. Recent translational applications of optogenetically engineered cells are also highlighted, ranging from in vitro basic research to in vivo light‐controlled gene therapy. Finally, current bottlenecks, possible solutions, and future prospects for optogenetics in synthetic biology are discussed.
Lighting Up Cancer Dynamics.
Live-cell microscopy has revealed that signaling pathways carry elaborate time-varying activities. Yet, the connection between these dynamics and cellular disease has remained elusive. Recent work leverages cellular optogenetics to analyze the Ras-to-Erk transfer function in cancer cells. These analyses reveal how changes to the filtering properties of a pathway lead to the misperception of extracellular events. Overall, these studies suggest that mutations do not simply hyperactivate pathways but rather can also change their transmission properties in more subtle ways.
Switchable inteins for conditional protein splicing.
Synthetic biologists aim at engineering controllable biological parts such as DNA, RNA and proteins in order to steer biological activities using external inputs. Proteins can be controlled in several ways, for instance by regulating the expression of their encoding genes with small molecules or light. However, post-translationally modifying pre-existing proteins to regulate their function or localization leads to faster responses. Conditional splicing of internal protein domains, termed inteins, is an attractive methodology for this purpose. Here we discuss methods to control intein activity with a focus on those compatible with applications in living cells.
Dynamic control of neural stem cells by bHLH factors.
During brain development, neural stem cells change their competency to give sequential rise to neurons and glial cells. We found that expression of the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH)-type cell-fate determination factors Ascl1, Olig2, and Hes1 is oscillatory in neural stem cells. Conversely, sustained expression of these factors mediates cell-fate determination. Optogenetic analyses suggest that oscillatory expression regulates maintenance and proliferation of neural stem cells, and that sustained expression induces cell-fate determination. Expression of the Notch ligand Delta-like1 (Dll1), which is controlled by Hes1 and Ascl1, is also oscillatory in neural stem cells. Mathematical modeling showed that if the timing of Dll1 expression is changed, Hes1 oscillations are severely dampened, resulting in impaired maintenance and proliferation of neural stem cells and causing microcephaly. Another bHLH factor, Hes5, also shows oscillatory expression in neural stem cells. Hes5 overexpression and knock-out result in abnormal Hmga1 and Hmga2 expression, which are essential for timings the switching of neural stem-cell competency. These data indicate that oscillatory expression of bHLH factors is important for normal neural stem-cell function in the developing nervous system.
CRAC channel-based optogenetics.
Store-operated Ca²+ entry (SOCE) constitutes a major Ca2+ influx pathway in mammals to regulate a myriad of physiological processes, including muscle contraction, synaptic transmission, gene expression, and metabolism. In non-excitable cells, the Ca²+ release-activated Ca²+ (CRAC) channel, composed of ORAI and stromal interaction molecules (STIM), constitutes a prototypical example of SOCE to mediate Ca2+ entry at specialized membrane contact sites (MCSs) between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the plasma membrane (PM). The key steps of SOCE activation include the oligomerization of the luminal domain of the ER-resident Ca2+ sensor STIM1 upon Ca²+ store depletion, subsequent signal propagation toward the cytoplasmic domain to trigger a conformational switch and overcome the intramolecular autoinhibition, and ultimate exposure of the minimal ORAI-activating domain to directly engage and gate ORAI channels in the plasma membrane. This exquisitely coordinated cellular event is also facilitated by the C-terminal polybasic domain of STIM1, which physically associates with negatively charged phosphoinositides embedded in the inner leaflet of the PM to enable efficient translocation of STIM1 into ER-PM MCSs. Here, we present recent progress in recapitulating STIM1-mediated SOCE activation by engineering CRAC channels with optogenetic approaches. These STIM1-based optogenetic tools make it possible to not only mechanistically recapture the key molecular steps of SOCE activation, but also remotely and reversibly control Ca²+-dependent cellular processes, inter-organellar tethering at MCSs, and transcriptional reprogramming when combined with CRISPR/Cas9-based genome-editing tools.
Synergistic Ensemble of Optogenetic Actuators and Dynamic Indicators in Cell Biology.
Discovery of the naturally evolved fluorescent proteins and their genetically engineered biosensors have enormously contributed to current bio-imaging techniques. These reporters to trace dynamic changes of intracellular protein activities have continuously transformed according to the various demands in biological studies. Along with that, light-inducible optogenetic technologies have offered scientists to perturb, control and analyze the function of intracellular machineries in spatiotemporal manner. In this review, we present an overview of the molecular strategies that have been exploited for producing genetically encoded protein reporters and various optogenetic modules. Finally, in particular, we discuss the current efforts for combined use of these reporters and optogenetic modules as a powerful tactic for the control and imaging of signaling events in cells and tissues.
A compendium of chemical and genetic approaches to light-regulated gene transcription.
On-cue regulation of gene transcription is an invaluable tool for the study of biological processes and the development and integration of next-generation therapeutics. Ideal reagents for the precise regulation of gene transcription should be nontoxic to the host system, highly tunable, and provide a high level of spatial and temporal control. Light, when coupled with protein or small molecule-linked photoresponsive elements, presents an attractive means of meeting the demands of an ideal system for regulating gene transcription. In this review, we cover recent developments in the burgeoning field of light-regulated gene transcription, covering both genetically encoded and small-molecule based strategies for optical regulation of transcription during the period 2012 till present.
Near-Infrared Fluorescent Proteins: Multiplexing and Optogenetics across Scales.
Since mammalian tissue is relatively transparent to near-infrared (NIR) light, NIR fluorescent proteins (FPs) engineered from bacterial phytochromes have become widely used probes for non-invasive in vivo imaging. Recently, these genetically encoded NIR probes have been substantially improved, enabling imaging experiments that were not possible previously. Here, we discuss the use of monomeric NIR FPs and NIR biosensors for multiplexed imaging with common visible GFP-based probes and blue light-activatable optogenetic tools. These NIR probes are suitable for visualization of functional activities from molecular to organismal levels. In combination with advanced imaging techniques, such as two-photon microscopy with adaptive optics, photoacoustic tomography and its recent modification reversibly switchable photoacoustic computed tomography, NIR probes allow subcellular resolution at millimeter depths.
Oscillatory Control of Notch Signaling in Development.
The Notch effectors Hes1 and Hes7 and the Notch ligand Delta-like1 (Dll1) are expressed in an oscillatory manner during neurogenesis and somitogenesis. These two biological events exhibit different types of oscillations: anti-/out-of-phase oscillation in neural stem cells during neurogenesis and in-phase oscillation in presomitic mesoderm (PSM) cells during somitogenesis. Accelerated or delayed Dll1 expression by shortening or elongating the size of the Dll1 gene, respectively, dampens or quenches Dll1 oscillation at intermediate levels, a phenomenon known as "amplitude/oscillation death" of coupled oscillators. Under this condition, both Hes1 oscillation in neural stem cells and Hes7 oscillation in PSM cells are also dampened. As a result, maintenance of neural stem cells is impaired, leading to microcephaly, while somite segmentation is impaired, leading to severe fusion of somites and their derivatives, such as vertebrae and ribs. Thus, the appropriate timing of Dll1 expression is critical for the oscillatory expression in Notch signaling and normal processes of neurogenesis and somitogenesis. Optogenetic analysis indicated that Dll1 oscillations transfer the oscillatory information between neighboring cells, which may induce anti-/out-of-phase and in-phase oscillations depending on the delay in signaling transmission. These oscillatory dynamics can be described in a unified manner by mathematical modeling.
Illuminating pathogen-host intimacy through optogenetics.
The birth and subsequent evolution of optogenetics has resulted in an unprecedented advancement in our understanding of the brain. Its outstanding success does usher wider applications; however, the tool remains still largely relegated to neuroscience. Here, we introduce selected aspects of optogenetics with potential applications in infection biology that will not only answer long-standing questions about intracellular pathogens (parasites, bacteria, viruses) but also broaden the dimension of current research in entwined models. In this essay, we illustrate how a judicious integration of optogenetics with routine methods can illuminate the host-pathogen interactions in a way that has not been feasible otherwise.
Blue-Light Receptors for Optogenetics.
Sensory photoreceptors underpin light-dependent adaptations of organismal physiology, development, and behavior in nature. Adapted for optogenetics, sensory photoreceptors become genetically encoded actuators and reporters to enable the noninvasive, spatiotemporally accurate and reversible control by light of cellular processes. Rooted in a mechanistic understanding of natural photoreceptors, artificial photoreceptors with customized light-gated function have been engineered that greatly expand the scope of optogenetics beyond the original application of light-controlled ion flow. As we survey presently, UV/blue-light-sensitive photoreceptors have particularly allowed optogenetics to transcend its initial neuroscience applications by unlocking numerous additional cellular processes and parameters for optogenetic intervention, including gene expression, DNA recombination, subcellular localization, cytoskeleton dynamics, intracellular protein stability, signal transduction cascades, apoptosis, and enzyme activity. The engineering of novel photoreceptors benefits from powerful and reusable design strategies, most importantly light-dependent protein association and (un)folding reactions. Additionally, modified versions of these same sensory photoreceptors serve as fluorescent proteins and generators of singlet oxygen, thereby further enriching the optogenetic toolkit. The available and upcoming UV/blue-light-sensitive actuators and reporters enable the detailed and quantitative interrogation of cellular signal networks and processes in increasingly more precise and illuminating manners.
Shining light on spindle positioning.
Optogenetic approaches are leading to a better understanding of the forces that determine the plane of cell division.
"Rho"ing a Cellular Boat with Rearward Membrane Flow.
The physicist Edward Purcell wrote in 1977 about mechanisms that cells could use to propel themselves in a low Reynolds number environment. Reporting in Developmental Cell, O'Neill et al. (2018) provide direct evidence for one of these mechanisms by optogenetically driving the migration of cells suspended in liquid through RhoA activation.
Controlling Cells with Light and LOV.
Optogenetics is a powerful method for studying dynamic processes in living cells and has advanced cell biology research over the recent past. Key to the successful application of optogenetics is the careful design of the light‐sensing module, typically employing a natural or engineered photoreceptor that links the exogenous light input to the cellular process under investigation. Light–oxygen–voltage (LOV) domains, a highly diverse class of small blue light sensors, have proven to be particularly versatile for engineering optogenetic input modules. These can function via diverse modalities, including inducible allostery, protein recruitment, dimerization, or dissociation. This study reviews recent advances in the development of LOV domain‐based optogenetic tools and their application for studying and controlling selected cellular functions. Focusing on the widely employed LOV2 domain from Avena sativa phototropin‐1, this review highlights the broad spectrum of engineering opportunities that can be explored to achieve customized optogenetic regulation. Finally, major bottlenecks in the development of optogenetic methods are discussed and strategies to overcome these with recent synthetic biology approaches are pointed out.
LOV Domains in the Design of Photoresponsive Enzymes.
In nature, a multitude of mechanisms have emerged for regulating biological processes and, specifically, protein activity. Light as a natural regulatory element is of outstanding interest for studying and modulating protein activity because it can be precisely applied with regard to a site of action, instant of time, or intensity. Naturally occuring photoresponsive proteins, predominantly those containing a light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domain, have been characterized structurally and mechanistically and also conjugated to various proteins of interest. Immediate advantages of these new photoresponsive proteins such as genetic encoding, no requirement of chemical modification, and reversibility are paid by difficulties in predicting the envisaged activity or type and site of domain fusion. In this article, we summarize recent advances and give a survey on currently available design concepts for engineering photoswitchable proteins.
Optogenetic regulation of transcription.
Optogenetics has become widely recognized for its success in real-time control of brain neurons by utilizing nonmammalian photosensitive proteins to open or close membrane channels. Here we review a less well known type of optogenetic constructs that employs photosensitive proteins to transduce the signal to regulate gene transcription, and its possible use in medicine. One of the problems with existing gene therapies is that they could remain active indefnitely while not allowing regulated transgene production on demand. Optogenetic regulation of transcription (ORT) could potentially be used to regulate the production of a biological drug in situ, by repeatedly applying light to the tissue, and inducing expression of therapeutic transgenes when needed. Red and near infrared wavelengths, which are capable of penetration into tissues, have potential for therapeutic applications. Existing ORT systems are reviewed herein with these considerations in mind.
Optogenetics: A Primer for Chemists.
The field of optogenetics uses genetically encoded, light-responsive proteins to control physiological processes. This technology has been hailed as the one of the ten big ideas in brain science in the past decade, the breakthrough of the decade, and the method of the year in 2010 and again in 2014. The excitement evidenced by these proclamations is confirmed by a couple of impressive numbers. The term "optogenetics" was coined in 2006. As of December 2017, "optogenetics" is found in the title or abstract of almost 1600 currently funded National Institutes of Health grants. In addition, nearly 600 reviews on optogenetics have appeared since 2006, which averages out to approximately one review per week! However, in spite of these impressive numbers, the potential applications and implications of optogenetics are not even close to being fully realized. This is due, in large part, to the challenges associated with the design of optogenetic analogs of endogenous proteins. This review is written from a chemist's perspective, with a focus on the molecular strategies that have been developed for the construction of optogenetic proteins.
Engineering Proteins at Interfaces: From Complementary Characterization to Material Surfaces with Designed Functions.
Once materials come in contact with a biological fluid containing proteins, proteins are generally - so desired or not - attracted by a material's surface and adsorb onto it. The aim of this review is to give an overview of the most commonly used characterization methods employed to obtain a better understanding of the adsorption processes on either planar or curved surfaces. We continue to illustrate the benefit of combining different methods to different surface geometries of the material. The thus obtained insights ideally pave the way for engineering functional materials interacting in a predetermined manner with proteins.
New approaches for solving old problems in neuronal protein trafficking.
Fundamental cellular properties are determined by the repertoire and abundance of proteins displayed on the cell surface. As such, the trafficking mechanisms for establishing and maintaining the surface proteome must be tightly regulated for cells to respond appropriately to extracellular cues, yet plastic enough to adapt to ever-changing environments. Not only are the identity and abundance of surface proteins critical, but in many cases, their regulated spatial positioning within surface nanodomains can greatly impact their function. In the context of neuronal cell biology, surface levels and positioning of ion channels and neurotransmitter receptors play essential roles in establishing important properties, including cellular excitability and synaptic strength. Here we review our current understanding of the trafficking pathways that control the abundance and localization of proteins important for synaptic function and plasticity, as well as recent technological advances that are allowing the field to investigate protein trafficking with increasing spatiotemporal precision.
Induction of signal transduction using non-channelrhodopsin-type optogenetic tools.
Signal transductions are the basis for all cellular functions. Previous studies investigating signal transductions mainly relied on pharmacological inhibition, RNA interference, and constitutive active/dominant negative protein expression systems. However, such studies do not allow the modulation of protein activity in cells, tissues, and organs in animals with high spatial and temporal precision. Recently, non-channelrhodopsin-type optogenetic tools for regulating signal transduction have emerged. These photoswitches address several disadvantages of previous techniques, and allow us to control a variety of signal transductions such as cell membrane dynamics, calcium signaling, lipid signaling, and apoptosis. In this review, we summarize recent advances in the development of such photoswitches and how these optotools are applied to signaling processes.
CRISPR/dCas9 Switch Systems for Temporal Transcriptional Control.
In a swift revolution, CRISPR/Cas9 has reshaped the means and ease of interrogating biological questions. Particularly, mutants that result in a nuclease-deactivated Cas9 (dCas9) provide scientists with tools to modulate transcription of genomic loci at will by targeting transcriptional effector domains. To interrogate the temporal order of events during transcriptional regulation, rapidly inducible CRISPR/dCas9 systems provide previously unmet molecular tools. In only a few years of time, numerous light and chemical-inducible switches have been applied to CRISPR/dCas9 to generate dCas9 switches. As these inducible switch systems are able to modulate dCas9 directly at the protein level, they rapidly affect dCas9 stability, activity, or target binding and subsequently rapidly influence downstream transcriptional events. Here we review the current state of such biotechnological CRISPR/dCas9 enhancements. Specifically we provide details on their flaws and strengths and on the differences in molecular design between the switch systems. With this we aim to provide a selection guide for researchers with keen interest in rapid temporal control over transcriptional modulation through the CRISPR/dCas9 system.
Optogenetically controlled protein kinases for regulation of cellular signaling.
Protein kinases are involved in the regulation of many cellular processes including cell differentiation, survival, migration, axon guidance and neuronal plasticity. A growing set of optogenetic tools, termed opto-kinases, allows activation and inhibition of different protein kinases with light. The optogenetic regulation enables fast, reversible and non-invasive manipulation of protein kinase activities, complementing traditional methods, such as treatment with growth factors, protein kinase inhibitors or chemical dimerizers. In this review, we summarize the properties of the existing optogenetic tools for controlling tyrosine kinases and serine-threonine kinases. We discuss how the opto-kinases can be applied for studies of spatial and temporal aspects of protein kinase signaling in cells and organisms. We compare approaches for chemical and optogenetic regulation of protein kinase activity and present guidelines for selection of opto-kinases and equipment to control them with light. We also describe strategies to engineer novel opto-kinases on the basis of various photoreceptors.
Illuminating developmental biology with cellular optogenetics.
In developmental biology, localization is everything. The same stimulus-cell signaling event or expression of a gene-can have dramatically different effects depending on the time, spatial position, and cell types in which it is applied. Yet the field has long lacked the ability to deliver localized perturbations with high specificity in vivo. The advent of optogenetic tools, capable of delivering highly localized stimuli, is thus poised to profoundly expand our understanding of development. We describe the current state-of-the-art in cellular optogenetic tools, review the first wave of major studies showcasing their application in vivo, and discuss major obstacles that must be overcome if the promise of developmental optogenetics is to be fully realized.