Curated Optogenetic Publication Database

Search precisely and efficiently by using the advantage of the hand-assigned publication tags that allow you to search for papers involving a specific trait, e.g. a particular optogenetic switch or a host organism.

Showing 251 - 275 of 1087 results

SPLIT: Stable Protein Coacervation using a Light Induced Transition.

violet PhoCl in vitro S. cerevisiae Organelle manipulation
ACS Synth Biol, 20 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.9b00503 Link to full text
Abstract: Protein coacervates serve as hubs to concentrate and sequester proteins and nucleotides and thus function as membrane-less organelles to manipulate cell physiology. We have engineered a coacervating protein to create tunable, synthetic membrane-less organelles that assemble in response to a single pulse of light. Coacervation is driven by the intrinsically disordered RGG domain from the protein LAF-1, and opto-responsiveness is coded by the protein PhoCl which cleaves in response to 405 nm light. We developed a fusion protein containing a solubilizing maltose binding protein domain, PhoCl, and two copies of the RGG domain. Several seconds of illumination at 405 nm is sufficient to cleave PhoCl, removing the solubilization domain and enabling RGG-driven coacervation within minutes in cellular-sized water-in-oil emulsions. An optimized version of this system displayed light-induced coacervation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The methods described here provide novel strategies for inducing protein phase separation using light.

Engineering light-controllable CAR T cells for cancer immunotherapy.

blue AsLOV2 CRY2/CIB1 HEK293T human T cells Jurkat mouse in vivo Endogenous gene expression
Sci Adv, 19 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay9209 Link to full text
Abstract: T cells engineered to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) can recognize and engage with target cancer cells with redirected specificity for cancer immunotherapy. However, there is a lack of ideal CARs for solid tumor antigens, which may lead to severe adverse effects. Here, we developed a light-inducible nuclear translocation and dimerization (LINTAD) system for gene regulation to control CAR T activation. We first demonstrated light-controllable gene expression and functional modulation in human embryonic kidney 293T and Jurkat T cell lines. We then improved the LINTAD system to achieve optimal efficiency in primary human T cells. The results showed that pulsed light stimulations can activate LINTAD CAR T cells with strong cytotoxicity against target cancer cells, both in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, our LINTAD system can serve as an efficient tool to noninvasively control gene activation and activate inducible CAR T cells for precision cancer immunotherapy.

Optogenetic control of single mRNA spatiotemporal dynamics.

blue Cryptochromes Review
Nat Rev Genet, 19 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41576-020-0219-y Link to full text
Abstract: Abstract not available.

Pulsatile MAPK Signaling Modulates p53 Activity to Control Cell Fate Decisions at the G2 Checkpoint for DNA Damage.

blue CRY2/CIB1 MCF7 Signaling cascade control Cell cycle control
Cell Rep, 18 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.01.074 Link to full text
Abstract: Cell-autonomous changes in p53 expression govern the duration and outcome of cell-cycle arrest at the G2 checkpoint for DNA damage. Here, we report that mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling integrates extracellular cues with p53 dynamics to determine cell fate at the G2 checkpoint. Optogenetic tools and quantitative cell biochemistry reveal transient oscillations in MAPK activity dependent on ataxia-telangiectasia-mutated kinase after DNA damage. MAPK inhibition alters p53 dynamics and p53-dependent gene expression after checkpoint enforcement, prolonging G2 arrest. In contrast, sustained MAPK signaling induces the phosphorylation of CDC25C, and consequently, the accumulation of pro-mitotic kinases, thereby relaxing checkpoint stringency and permitting cells to evade prolonged G2 arrest and senescence induction. We propose a model in which this MAPK-mediated mechanism integrates extracellular cues with cell-autonomous p53-mediated signals, to safeguard genomic integrity during tissue proliferation. Early steps in oncogene-driven carcinogenesis may imbalance this tumor-suppressive mechanism to trigger genome instability.

Optogenetic control of mRNA localization and translation in live cells.

blue CRY2/CIB1 HeLa NIH/3T3 rat hippocampal neurons Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Endogenous gene expression
Nat Cell Biol, 17 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41556-020-0468-1 Link to full text
Abstract: Despite efforts to visualize the spatio-temporal dynamics of single messenger RNAs, the ability to precisely control their function has lagged. This study presents an optogenetic approach for manipulating the localization and translation of specific mRNAs by trapping them in clusters. This clustering greatly amplified reporter signals, enabling endogenous RNA-protein interactions to be clearly visualized in single cells. Functionally, this sequestration reduced the ability of mRNAs to access ribosomes, markedly attenuating protein synthesis. A spatio-temporally resolved analysis indicated that sequestration of endogenous β-actin mRNA attenuated cell motility through the regulation of focal-adhesion dynamics. These results suggest a mechanism highlighting the indispensable role of newly synthesized β-actin protein for efficient cell migration. This platform may be broadly applicable for use in investigating the spatio-temporal activities of specific mRNAs in various biological processes.

Optogenetic Rac1 engineered from membrane lipid-binding RGS-LOV for inducible lamellipodia formation.

blue AsLOV2 BcLOV4 HEK293T Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Photochem Photobiol Sci, 12 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1039/c9pp00434c Link to full text
Abstract: We report the construction of a single-component optogenetic Rac1 (opto-Rac1) to control actin polymerization by dynamic membrane recruitment. Opto-Rac1 is a fusion of wildtype human Rac1 small GTPase to the C-terminal region of BcLOV4, a LOV (light-oxygen-voltage) photoreceptor that rapidly binds the plasma membrane upon blue-light activation via a direct electrostatic interaction with anionic membrane phospholipids. Translocation of the fused wildtype Rac1 effector permits its activation by GEFs (guanine nucleotide exchange factors) and consequent actin polymerization and lamellipodia formation, unlike in existing single-chain systems that operate by allosteric photo-switching of constitutively active Rac1 or the heterodimerization-based (i.e. two-component) membrane recruitment of a Rac1-activating GEF. Opto-Rac1 induction of lamellipodia formation was spatially restricted to the patterned illumination field and was efficient, requiring sparse stimulation duty ratios of ∼1-2% (at the sensitivity threshold for flavin photocycling) to cause significant changes in cell morphology. This work exemplifies how the discovery of LOV proteins of distinct signal transmission modes can beget new classes of optogenetic tools for controlling cellular function.

Recent advances in the use of genetically encodable optical tools to elicit and monitor signaling events.

blue cyan green red UV violet BLUF domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Opsins Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Curr Opin Cell Biol, 10 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1016/ Link to full text
Abstract: Cells rely on a complex network of spatiotemporally regulated signaling activities to effectively transduce information from extracellular cues to intracellular machinery. To probe this activity architecture, researchers have developed an extensive molecular tool kit of fluorescent biosensors and optogenetic actuators capable of monitoring and manipulating various signaling activities with high spatiotemporal precision. The goal of this review is to provide readers with an overview of basic concepts and recent advances in the development and application of genetically encodable biosensors and optogenetic tools for understanding signaling activity.

Intracellular signaling dynamics and their role in coordinating tissue repair.

blue red Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Wiley Interdiscip Rev Syst Biol Med, 8 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1002/wsbm.1479 Link to full text
Abstract: Tissue repair is a complex process that requires effective communication and coordination between cells across multiple tissues and organ systems. Two of the initial intracellular signals that encode injury signals and initiate tissue repair responses are calcium and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). However, calcium and ERK signaling control a variety of cellular behaviors important for injury repair including cellular motility, contractility, and proliferation, as well as the activity of several different transcription factors, making it challenging to relate specific injury signals to their respective repair programs. This knowledge gap ultimately hinders the development of new wound healing therapies that could take advantage of native cellular signaling programs to more effectively repair tissue damage. The objective of this review is to highlight the roles of calcium and ERK signaling dynamics as mechanisms that link specific injury signals to specific cellular repair programs during epithelial and stromal injury repair. We detail how the signaling networks controlling calcium and ERK can now also be dissected using classical signal processing techniques with the advent of new biosensors and optogenetic signal controllers. Finally, we advocate the importance of recognizing calcium and ERK dynamics as key links between injury detection and injury repair programs that both organize and execute a coordinated tissue repair response between cells across different tissues and organs. This article is categorized under: Models of Systems Properties and Processes > Mechanistic Models Biological Mechanisms > Cell Signaling Laboratory Methods and Technologies > Imaging Models of Systems Properties and Processes > Organ, Tissue, and Physiological Models.

Role of cyclic nucleotides and their downstream signaling cascades in memory function: being at the right time at the right spot.

blue green red BLUF domains LOV domains Opsins Phytochromes Review
Neurosci Biobehav Rev, 7 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.02.004 Link to full text
Abstract: A plethora of studies indicate the important role of cAMP and cGMP cascades in neuronal plasticity and memory function. As a result, altered cyclic nucleotide signaling has been implicated in the pathophysiology of mnemonic dysfunction encountered in several diseases. In the present review we provide a wide overview of studies regarding the involvement of cyclic nucleotides, as well as their upstream and downstream molecules, in physiological and pathological mnemonic processes. Next, we discuss the regulation of the intracellular concentration of cyclic nucleotides via phosphodiesterases, the enzymes that degrade cAMP and/or cGMP, and via A-kinase-anchoring proteins that refine signal compartmentalization of cAMP signaling. We also provide an overview of the available data pointing to the existence of specific time windows in cyclic nucleotide signaling during neuroplasticity and memory formation and the significance to target these specific time phases for improving memory formation. Finally, we highlight the importance of emerging imaging tools like Förster resonance energy transfer imaging and optogenetics in detecting, measuring and manipulating the action of cyclic nucleotide signaling cascades.

Minimally disruptive optical control of protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B.

blue AsLOV2 Cos-7 HEK293T in vitro Signaling cascade control
Nat Commun, 7 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-14567-8 Link to full text
Abstract: Protein tyrosine phosphatases regulate a myriad of essential subcellular signaling events, yet they remain difficult to study in their native biophysical context. Here we develop a minimally disruptive optical approach to control protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B)-an important regulator of receptor tyrosine kinases and a therapeutic target for the treatment of diabetes, obesity, and cancer-and we use that approach to probe the intracellular function of this enzyme. Our conservative architecture for photocontrol, which consists of a protein-based light switch fused to an allosteric regulatory element, preserves the native structure, activity, and subcellular localization of PTP1B, affords changes in activity that match those elicited by post-translational modifications inside the cell, and permits experimental analyses of the molecular basis of optical modulation. Findings indicate, most strikingly, that small changes in the activity of PTP1B can cause large shifts in the phosphorylation states of its regulatory targets.

Cell and tissue manipulation with ultrashort infrared laser pulses in light-sheet microscopy.

blue CRY2/CIB1 D. melanogaster in vivo Developmental processes
Sci Rep, 6 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-54349-x Link to full text
Abstract: Three-dimensional live imaging has become an indispensable technique in the fields of cell, developmental and neural biology. Precise spatio-temporal manipulation of biological entities is often required for a deeper functional understanding of the underlying biological process. Here we present a home-built integrated framework and optical design that combines three-dimensional light-sheet imaging over time with precise spatio-temporal optical manipulations induced by short infrared laser pulses. We demonstrate their potential for sub-cellular ablation of neurons and nuclei, tissue cauterization and optogenetics by using the Drosophila melanogaster and zebrafish model systems.

Chemical and Light Inducible Epigenome Editing.

blue Cryptochromes LOV domains Review
Int J Mol Sci, 3 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.3390/ijms21030998 Link to full text
Abstract: The epigenome defines the unique gene expression patterns and resulting cellular behaviors in different cell types. Epigenome dysregulation has been directly linked to various human diseases. Epigenome editing enabling genome locus-specific targeting of epigenome modifiers to directly alter specific local epigenome modifications offers a revolutionary tool for mechanistic studies in epigenome regulation as well as the development of novel epigenome therapies. Inducible and reversible epigenome editing provides unique temporal control critical for understanding the dynamics and kinetics of epigenome regulation. This review summarizes the progress in the development of spatiotemporal-specific tools using small molecules or light as inducers to achieve the conditional control of epigenome editing and their applications in epigenetic research.

Optogenetic regulation of endogenous proteins.

blue near-infrared AsLOV2 BphP1/Q-PAS1 HeLa U-2 OS Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Multichromatic
Nat Commun, 30 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-14460-4 Link to full text
Abstract: Techniques of protein regulation, such as conditional gene expression, RNA interference, knock-in and knock-out, lack sufficient spatiotemporal accuracy, while optogenetic tools suffer from non-physiological response due to overexpression artifacts. Here we present a near-infrared light-activatable optogenetic system, which combines the specificity and orthogonality of intrabodies with the spatiotemporal precision of optogenetics. We engineer optically-controlled intrabodies to regulate genomically expressed protein targets and validate the possibility to further multiplex protein regulation via dual-wavelength optogenetic control. We apply this system to regulate cytoskeletal and enzymatic functions of two non-tagged endogenous proteins, actin and RAS GTPase, involved in complex functional networks sensitive to perturbations. The optogenetically-enhanced intrabodies allow fast and reversible regulation of both proteins, as well as simultaneous monitoring of RAS signaling with visible-light biosensors, enabling all-optical approach. Growing number of intrabodies should make their incorporation into optogenetic tools the versatile technology to regulate endogenous targets.

A single-component light sensor system allows highly tunable and direct activation of gene expression in bacterial cells.

blue RsLOV YtvA E. coli Transgene expression
Nucleic Acids Res, 28 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkaa044 Link to full text
Abstract: Light-regulated modules offer unprecedented new ways to control cellular behaviour with precise spatial and temporal resolution. Among a variety of bacterial light-switchable gene expression systems, single-component systems consisting of single transcription factors would be more useful due to the advantages of speed, simplicity, and versatility. In the present study, we developed a single-component light-activated bacterial gene expression system (eLightOn) based on a novel LOV domain from Rhodobacter sphaeroides (RsLOV). The eLightOn system showed significant improvements over the existing single-component bacterial light-activated expression systems, with benefits including a high ON/OFF ratio of >500-fold, a high activation level, fast activation kinetics, and/or good adaptability. Additionally, the induction characteristics, including regulatory windows, activation kinetics and light sensitivities, were highly tunable by altering the expression level of LexRO. We demonstrated the usefulness of the eLightOn system in regulating cell division and swimming by controlling the expression of the FtsZ and CheZ genes, respectively, as well as constructing synthetic Boolean logic gates using light and arabinose as the two inputs. Taken together, our data indicate that the eLightOn system is a robust and highly tunable tool for quantitative and spatiotemporal control of bacterial gene expression.

Hydrogels With Tunable Mechanical Properties Based on Photocleavable Proteins.

violet PhoCl in vitro
Front Chem, 28 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.3389/fchem.2020.00007 Link to full text
Abstract: Hydrogels with photo-responsive mechanical properties have found broad biomedical applications, including delivering bioactive molecules, cell culture, biosensing, and tissue engineering. Here, using a photocleavable protein, PhoCl, as the crosslinker we engineer two types of poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels whose mechanical stability can be weakened or strengthened, respectively, upon visible light illumination. In the photo weakening hydrogels, photocleavage leads to rupture of the protein crosslinkers, and decrease of the mechanical properties of the hydrogels. In contrast, in the photo strengthening hydrogels, by properly choosing the crosslinking positions, photocleavage does not rupture the crosslinking sites but exposes additional cryptical reactive cysteine residues. When reacting with extra maleimide groups in the hydrogel network, the mechanical properties of the hydrogels can be enhanced upon light illumination. Our study indicates that photocleavable proteins could provide more designing possibilities than the small-molecule counterparts. A proof-of-principle demonstration of spatially controlling the mechanical properties of hydrogels was also provided.

Golgi-associated microtubules are fast cargo tracks and required for persistent cell migration.

blue AsLOV2 human retinal pigment epithelium cells Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
EMBO Rep, 27 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.15252/embr.201948385 Link to full text
Abstract: Microtubules derived from the Golgi (Golgi MTs) have been implicated to play critical roles in persistent cell migration, but the underlying mechanisms remain elusive, partially due to the lack of direct observation of Golgi MT-dependent vesicular trafficking. Here, using super-resolution stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM), we discovered that post-Golgi cargos are more enriched on Golgi MTs and also surprisingly move much faster than on non-Golgi MTs. We found that, compared to non-Golgi MTs, Golgi MTs are morphologically more polarized toward the cell leading edge with significantly fewer inter-MT intersections. In addition, Golgi MTs are more stable and contain fewer lattice repair sites than non-Golgi MTs. Our STORM/live-cell imaging demonstrates that cargos frequently pause at the sites of both MT intersections and MT defects. Furthermore, by optogenetic maneuvering of cell direction, we demonstrate that Golgi MTs are essential for persistent cell migration but not for cells to change direction. Together, our study unveils the role of Golgi MTs in serving as a group of "fast tracks" for anterograde trafficking of post-Golgi cargos.

A Nudge or a Shove: Altering Actomyosin Pulse Profiles In Vivo.

blue LOV domains Review
Dev Cell, 27 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2020.01.001 Link to full text
Abstract: Pulsed actomyosin contractions drive morphogenetic processes, but how cyclic frequencies and amplitudes of contractions are tuned to achieve processive shrinking of cell surfaces remains unclear. In this issue of Developmental Cell, Cavanaugh et al. (2020) use optogenetics and biophysical modeling to demonstrate how cells respond to different oscillatory force profiles.

New Pioneers of Optogenetics in Neuroscience.

blue red Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Adv Exp Med Biol, 26 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1007/5584_2019_473 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics have recently increased in popularity as tools to study behavior in response to the brain and how these trends relate back to a neuronal circuit. Additionally, the high demand for human cerebral tissue in research has led to the generation of a new model to investigate human brain development and disease. Human Pluripotent Stem Cells (hPSCs) have been previously used to recapitulate the development of several tissues such as intestine, stomach and liver and to model disease in a human context, recently new improvements have been made in the field of hPSC-derived brain organoids to better understand overall brain development but more specifically, to mimic inter-neuronal communication. This review aims to highlight the recent advances in these two separate approaches of brain research and to emphasize the need for overlap. These two novel approaches would combine the study of behavior along with the specific circuits required to produce the signals causing such behavior. This review is focused on the current state of the field, as well as the development of novel optogenetic technologies and their potential for current scientific study and potential therapeutic use.

Optogenetics reveals Cdc42 local activation by scaffold-mediated positive feedback and Ras GTPase.

blue CRY2/CIB1 S. pombe Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
PLoS Biol, 24 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000600 Link to full text
Abstract: Local activity of the small GTPase Cdc42 is critical for cell polarization. Whereas scaffold-mediated positive feedback was proposed to break symmetry of budding yeast cells and produce a single zone of Cdc42 activity, the existence of similar regulation has not been probed in other organisms. Here, we address this problem using rod-shaped cells of fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, which exhibit zones of active Cdc42-GTP at both cell poles. We implemented the CRY2-CIB1 optogenetic system for acute light-dependent protein recruitment to the plasma membrane, which allowed to directly demonstrate positive feedback. Indeed, optogenetic recruitment of constitutively active Cdc42 leads to co-recruitment of the guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) Scd1 and endogenous Cdc42, in a manner dependent on the scaffold protein Scd2. We show that Scd2 function is dispensable when the positive feedback operates through an engineered interaction between the GEF and a Cdc42 effector, the p21-activated kinase 1 (Pak1). Remarkably, this rewired positive feedback confers viability and allows cells to form 2 zones of active Cdc42 even when otherwise essential Cdc42 activators are lacking. These cells further revealed that the small GTPase Ras1 plays a role in both localizing the GEF Scd1 and promoting its activity, which potentiates the positive feedback. We conclude that scaffold-mediated positive feedback, gated by Ras activity, confers robust polarization for rod-shape formation.

Light-Inducible Recombinases for Bacterial Optogenetics.

blue Magnets VVD E. coli Nucleic acid editing
ACS Synth Biol, 21 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.9b00395 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic tools can provide direct and programmable control of gene expression. Light-inducible recombinases, in particular, offer a powerful method for achieving precise spatiotemporal control of DNA modification. However, to-date this technology has been largely limited to eukaryotic systems. Here, we develop optogenetic recombinases for Escherichia coli that activate in response to blue light. Our approach uses a split recombinase coupled with photodimers, where blue light brings the split protein together to form a functional recombinase. We tested both Cre and Flp recombinases, Vivid and Magnet photodimers, and alternative protein split sites in our analysis. The optimal configuration, Opto-Cre-Vvd, exhibits strong blue light-responsive excision and low ambient light sensitivity. For this system we characterize the effect of light intensity and the temporal dynamics of light-induced recombination. These tools expand the microbial optogenetic toolbox, offering the potential for precise control of DNA excision with light-inducible recombinases in bacteria.

Optogenetic modulation of TrkB signaling in the mouse brain.

blue CRY2/CRY2 mouse in vivo Signaling cascade control
J Mol Biol, 18 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2020.01.010 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic activation of receptors has advantages compared with chemical or ligand treatment because of its high spatial and temporal precision. Especially in the brain, the use of a genetically encoded light-tunable receptor is superior to direct infusion or systemic drug treatment. We applied light activatable TrkB receptor in mouse brain with reduced basal activity by incorporating Cry2PHR mutant, Opto-cytTrkB(E281A). Upon AAV mediated gene delivery, this form was expressed at sufficient levels in the mouse hippocampus (HPC) and medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) retaining normal canonical signal transduction by blue light stimulus, even by delivery of non-invasive LED light on the mouse head. Within target cells, where its expression was driven by a cell type-specific promoter, Opto-cytTrkB(E281A)-mediated TrkB signaling could be controlled by adjusting light-stimulation conditions. We further demonstrated that Opto-cytTrkB(E281A) could locally induce TrkB signaling in axon terminals in the MEC-HPC. In summary, Opto-cytTrkB(E281A) will be useful for elucidating time- and region-specific roles of TrkB signaling ranging from cellular function to neural circuit mechanisms.

Shape-morphing living composites.

blue CRY2/CIB1 S. cerevisiae Transgene expression
Sci Adv, 17 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax8582 Link to full text
Abstract: This work establishes a means to exploit genetic networks to create living synthetic composites that change shape in response to specific biochemical or physical stimuli. Baker's yeast embedded in a hydrogel forms a responsive material where cellular proliferation leads to a controllable increase in the composite volume of up to 400%. Genetic manipulation of the yeast enables composites where volume change on exposure to l-histidine is 14× higher than volume change when exposed to d-histidine or other amino acids. By encoding an optogenetic switch into the yeast, spatiotemporally controlled shape change is induced with pulses of dim blue light (2.7 mW/cm2). These living, shape-changing materials may enable sensors or medical devices that respond to highly specific cues found within a biological milieu.

Tunable light and drug induced depletion of target proteins.

blue CRY2/CIB1 iLID BHK-21 C. elegans in vivo HeLa Cell death
Nat Commun, 16 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-14160-8 Link to full text
Abstract: Biological processes in development and disease are controlled by the abundance, localization and modification of cellular proteins. We have developed versatile tools based on recombinant E3 ubiquitin ligases that are controlled by light or drug induced heterodimerization for nanobody or DARPin targeted depletion of endogenous proteins in cells and organisms. We use this rapid, tunable and reversible protein depletion for functional studies of essential proteins like PCNA in DNA repair and to investigate the role of CED-3 in apoptosis during Caenorhabditis elegans development. These independent tools can be combined for spatial and temporal depletion of different sets of proteins, can help to distinguish immediate cellular responses from long-term adaptation effects and can facilitate the exploration of complex networks.

Optogenetics: Rho GTPases Activated by Light in Living Macrophages.

blue LOVTRAP MEF-1 RAW264.7
Methods Mol Biol, 15 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-0716-0247-8_24 Link to full text
Abstract: Genetically encoded optogenetic tools are increasingly popular and useful for perturbing signaling pathways with high spatial and temporal resolution in living cells. Here, we show basic procedures employed to implement optogenetics of Rho GTPases in a macrophage cell line. Methods described here are generally applicable to other genetically encoded optogenetic tools utilizing the blue-green spectrum of light for activation, designed for specific proteins and enzymatic targets important for immune cell functions.

Optogenetic control of spine-head JNK reveals a role in dendritic spine regression.

blue AsLOV2 rat hippocampal neurons Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
eNeuro, 14 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1523/eneuro.0303-19.2019 Link to full text
Abstract: In this study, we use an optogenetic inhibitor of JNK in dendritic spine sub-compartments of rat hippocampal neurons. JNK inhibition exerts rapid (within seconds) reorganisation of actin in the spine-head. Using real-time FRET to measure JNK activity, we find that either excitotoxic insult (NMDA) or endocrine stress (corticosterone), activate spine-head JNK causing internalization of AMPARs and spine retraction. Both events are prevented upon optogenetic inhibition of JNK, and rescued by JNK inhibition even 2 h after insult. Moreover, we identify that the fast-acting anti-depressant ketamine reduces JNK activity in hippocampal neurons suggesting that JNK inhibition may be a downstream mediator of its anti-depressant effect. In conclusion, we show that JNK activation plays a role in triggering spine elimination by NMDA or corticosterone stress, whereas inhibition of JNK facilitates regrowth of spines even in the continued presence of glucocorticoid. This identifies that JNK acts locally in the spine-head to promote AMPAR internalization and spine shrinkage following stress, and reveals a protective function for JNK inhibition in preventing spine regression.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Identifying mechanisms that underlie dendritic spine elimination is important if we are to understand maladaptive changes that contribute to psychiatric disease. Compartment-specific, fast-acting tools can expedite this endeavor. Here we use a light-activated inhibitor of JNK to control kinase activity specifically in dendritic spines. Light-activation of the JNK inhibitor reduces AMPA receptor removal and spine regression in response to corticosterone and NMDA stress. Furthermore, we find that the anti-depressant drug ketamine lowers JNK activity in hippocampal neurons and prevents spine regression, though direct JNK inhibition is more effective. This study identifies a role for JNK in spine regression and may be relevant for endocrine control of synaptic strength and for conditions where chronic glucocorticoid stress leads to spine elimination.
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