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 326 - 350 of 647 results

A Phytochrome Sensory Domain Permits Receptor Activation by Red Light.

red Cph1 HEK293 Signaling cascade control
Angew Chem Int Ed Engl, 21 Apr 2016 DOI: 10.1002/anie.201601736 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics and photopharmacology enable the spatio-temporal control of cell and animal behavior by light. Although red light offers deep-tissue penetration and minimal phototoxicity, very few red-light-sensitive optogenetic methods are currently available. We have now developed a red-light-induced homodimerization domain. We first showed that an optimized sensory domain of the cyanobacterial phytochrome 1 can be expressed robustly and without cytotoxicity in human cells. We then applied this domain to induce the dimerization of two receptor tyrosine kinases-the fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 and the neurotrophin receptor trkB. This new optogenetic method was then used to activate the MAPK/ERK pathway non-invasively in mammalian tissue and in multicolor cell-signaling experiments. The light-controlled dimerizer and red-light-activated receptor tyrosine kinases will prove useful to regulate a variety of cellular processes with light.

Light-induced nuclear export reveals rapid dynamics of epigenetic modifications.

blue AsLOV2 iLID C. elegans in vivo Cos-7 HeLa mouse IA32 fibroblasts S. cerevisiae Epigenetic modification
Nat Chem Biol, 18 Apr 2016 DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.2068 Link to full text
Abstract: We engineered a photoactivatable system for rapidly and reversibly exporting proteins from the nucleus by embedding a nuclear export signal in the LOV2 domain from phototropin 1. Fusing the chromatin modifier Bre1 to the photoswitch, we achieved light-dependent control of histone H2B monoubiquitylation in yeast, revealing fast turnover of the ubiquitin mark. Moreover, this inducible system allowed us to dynamically monitor the status of epigenetic modifications dependent on H2B ubiquitylation.

The Timing of Raf/ERK and AKT Activation in Protecting PC12 Cells against Oxidative Stress.

blue CRY2/CIB1 NIH/3T3 PC-12 Signaling cascade control
PLoS ONE, 15 Apr 2016 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153487 Link to full text
Abstract: Acute brain injuries such as ischemic stroke or traumatic brain injury often cause massive neural death and irreversible brain damage with grave consequences. Previous studies have established that a key participant in the events leading to neural death is the excessive production of reactive oxygen species. Protecting neuronal cells by activating their endogenous defense mechanisms is an attractive treatment strategy for acute brain injuries. In this work, we investigate how the precise timing of the Raf/ERK and the AKT pathway activation affects their protective effects against oxidative stress. For this purpose, we employed optogenetic systems that use light to precisely and reversibly activate either the Raf/ERK or the AKT pathway. We find that preconditioning activation of the Raf/ERK or the AKT pathway immediately before oxidant exposure provides significant protection to cells. Notably, a 15-minute transient activation of the Raf/ERK pathway is able to protect PC12 cells against oxidant strike that is applied 12 hours later, while the transient activation of the AKT pathway fails to protect PC12 cells in such a scenario. On the other hand, if the pathways are activated after the oxidative insult, i.e. postconditioning, the AKT pathway conveys greater protective effect than the Raf/ERK pathway. We find that postconditioning AKT activation has an optimal delay period of 2 hours. When the AKT pathway is activated 30min after the oxidative insult, it exhibits very little protective effect. Therefore, the precise timing of the pathway activation is crucial in determining its protective effect against oxidative injury. The optogenetic platform, with its precise temporal control and its ability to activate specific pathways, is ideal for the mechanistic dissection of intracellular pathways in protection against oxidative stress.

Illuminating Cell Signaling with Near-Infrared Light-Responsive Nanomaterials.

blue Cryptochromes Review
ACS Nano, 14 Apr 2016 DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b02284 Link to full text
Abstract: The regulation of cellular signaling in vivo has been a challenging task owing to the lack of effective methods for tunable control of the amplitude, location, and duration of cell-signaling events at a deep-tissue level. In this issue of ACS Nano, an intriguing paper by Ambrosone et al. demonstrates that deep-tissue-penetrating near-infrared (NIR) light can be used to control the Wnt/β-catenin-signaling pathway in a single-cell organism (Hydra) by utilizing microcapsules that contain plasmonic gold nanoparticles. In parallel, in recent work, we proposed upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) as NIR-light-activatable "wireless" optogenetic tools, and we showed their ability to modulate cell signaling pathways in both mammalian cells and mice. We believe that these interesting NIR-light-responsive nanotechnologies will open new avenues for both basic research and clinical applications.

Optogenetic activation reveals distinct roles of PIP3 and Akt in adipocyte insulin action.

blue CRY2/CIB1 3T3-L1 Signaling cascade control Control of vesicular transport
J Cell Sci, 13 Apr 2016 DOI: 10.1242/jcs.174805 Link to full text
Abstract: Glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4; also known as SLC2A4) resides on intracellular vesicles in muscle and adipose cells, and translocates to the plasma membrane in response to insulin. The phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt signaling pathway plays a major role in GLUT4 translocation; however, a challenge has been to unravel the potentially distinct contributions of PI3K and Akt (of which there are three isoforms, Akt1-Akt3) to overall insulin action. Here, we describe new optogenetic tools based on CRY2 and the N-terminus of CIB1 (CIBN). We used these 'Opto' modules to activate PI3K and Akt selectively in time and space in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. We validated these tools using biochemical assays and performed live-cell kinetic analyses of IRAP-pHluorin translocation (IRAP is also known as LNPEP and acts as a surrogate marker for GLUT4 here). Strikingly, Opto-PIP3 largely mimicked the maximal effects of insulin stimulation, whereas Opto-Akt only partially triggered translocation. Conversely, drug-mediated inhibition of Akt only partially dampened the translocation response of Opto-PIP3 In spatial optogenetic studies, focal targeting of Akt to a region of the cell marked the sites where IRAP-pHluorin vesicles fused, supporting the idea that local Akt-mediated signaling regulates exocytosis. Taken together, these results indicate that PI3K and Akt play distinct roles, and that PI3K stimulates Akt-independent pathways that are important for GLUT4 translocation.

Rewiring Multidomain Protein Switches: Transforming a Fluorescent Zn(2+) Sensor into a Light-Responsive Zn(2+) Binding Protein.

blue VVD HeLa in vitro
ACS Synth Biol, 12 Apr 2016 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.6b00027 Link to full text
Abstract: Protein-based sensors and switches provide attractive tools for the real-time monitoring and control of molecular processes in complex biological environments. Fluorescent sensor proteins have been developed for a wide variety of small molecules, but the construction of genetically encoded light-responsive ligand binding proteins remains mostly unexplored. Here we present a generic approach to reengineer a previously developed FRET-based Zn(2+) sensor into a light-activatable Zn(2+) binding protein using a design strategy based on mutually exclusive domain interactions. These so-called VividZn proteins consist of two light-responsive Vivid domains that homodimerize upon illumination with blue light, thus preventing the binding of Zn(2+) between two Zn(2+) binding domains, Atox1 and WD4. Following optimization of the linker between WD4 and the N-terminus of one of the Vivid domains, VividZn variants were obtained that show a 9- to 55-fold decrease in Zn(2+) affinity upon illumination, which is fully reversible following dark adaptation. The Zn(2+) affinities of the switch could be rationally tuned between 1 pM and 2 nM by systematic variation of linker length and mutation of one of the Zn(2+) binding residues. Similarly, introduction of mutations in the Vivid domains allowed tuning of the switching kinetics between 10 min and 7 h. Low expression levels in mammalian cells precluded the demonstration of light-induced perturbation of cytosolic Zn(2+) levels. Nonetheless, our results firmly establish the use of intramolecular Vivid dimerization as an attractive light-sensitive input module to rationally engineer light-responsive protein switches based on mutually exclusive domain interactions.

Optimized second-generation CRY2-CIB dimerizers and photoactivatable Cre recombinase.

blue CRY2/CIB1 HEK293 S. cerevisiae
Nat Chem Biol, 11 Apr 2016 DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.2063 Link to full text
Abstract: Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 (AtCRY2), a light-sensitive photosensory protein, was previously adapted for use in controlling protein-protein interactions through light-dependent binding to a partner protein, CIB1. While the existing CRY2-CIB dimerization system has been used extensively for optogenetic applications, some limitations exist. Here, we set out to optimize function of the CRY2-CIB system by identifying versions of CRY2-CIB that are smaller, show reduced dark interaction, and maintain longer or shorter signaling states in response to a pulse of light. We describe minimal functional CRY2 and CIB1 domains maintaining light-dependent interaction and new signaling mutations affecting AtCRY2 photocycle kinetics. The latter work implicates an α13-α14 turn motif within plant CRYs whose perturbation alters signaling-state lifetime. Using a long-lived L348F photocycle mutant, we engineered a second-generation photoactivatable Cre recombinase, PA-Cre2.0, that shows five-fold improved dynamic range, allowing robust recombination following exposure to a single, brief pulse of light.

Optogenetic oligomerization of Rab GTPases regulates intracellular membrane trafficking.

blue CRY2/CIB1 Cos-7 HeLa NIH/3T3 PC-12 rat hippocampal neurons Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Control of vesicular transport
Nat Chem Biol, 11 Apr 2016 DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.2064 Link to full text
Abstract: Intracellular membrane trafficking, which is involved in diverse cellular processes, is dynamic and difficult to study in a spatiotemporal manner. Here we report an optogenetic strategy, termed light-activated reversible inhibition by assembled trap of intracellular membranes (IM-LARIAT), that uses various Rab GTPases combined with blue-light-induced hetero-interaction between cryptochrome 2 and CIB1. In this system, illumination induces a rapid and reversible intracellular membrane aggregation that disrupts the dynamics and functions of the targeted membrane. We applied IM-LARIAT to specifically perturb several Rab-mediated trafficking processes, including receptor transport, protein sorting and secretion, and signaling initiated from endosomes. We finally used this tool to reveal different functions of local Rab5-mediated and Rab11-mediated membrane trafficking in growth cones and soma of young hippocampal neurons. Our results show that IM-LARIAT is a versatile tool that can be used to dissect spatiotemporal functions of intracellular membranes in diverse systems.

Manipulating leukocyte interactions in vivo through optogenetic chemokine release.

UV UVR8/UVR8 HEK293T mouse in vivo Control of cell-cell / cell-material interactions
Blood, 7 Apr 2016 DOI: 10.1182/blood-2015-11-684852 Link to full text
Abstract: Light-mediated release of signaling ligands, such as chemoattractants, growth factors, and cytokines is an attractive strategy for investigation and therapeutic targeting of leukocyte communication and immune responses. We introduce a versatile optogenetic method to control ligand secretion, combining UV-conditioned endoplasmic reticulum-to-Golgi trafficking and a furin-processing step. As proof of principle, we achieved light-triggered chemokine secretion and demonstrated that a brief pulse of chemokine release can mediate a rapid flux of leukocyte contacts with target cells in vitro and in vivo. This approach opens new possibilities for dynamic investigation of leukocyte communication in vivo and may confer the potential to control the local release of soluble mediators in the context of immune cell therapies.

Optogenetic activation of axon guidance receptors controls direction of neurite outgrowth.

blue CRY2/CRY2 C. elegans in vivo HEK293T Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Sci Rep, 7 Apr 2016 DOI: 10.1038/srep23976 Link to full text
Abstract: Growth cones of extending axons navigate to correct targets by sensing a guidance cue gradient via membrane protein receptors. Although most signaling mechanisms have been clarified using an in vitro approach, it is still difficult to investigate the growth cone behavior in complicated extracellular environment of living animals due to the lack of tools. We develop a system for the light-dependent activation of a guidance receptor, Deleted in Colorectal Cancer (DCC), using Arabidopsis thaliana Cryptochrome 2, which oligomerizes upon blue-light absorption. Blue-light illumination transiently activates DCC via its oligomerization, which initiates downstream signaling in the illuminated subcellular region. The extending axons are attracted by illumination in cultured chick dorsal root ganglion neurons. Moreover, light-mediated navigation of the growth cones is achieved in living Caenorhabditis elegans. The photo-manipulation system is applicable to investigate the relationship between the growth cone behavior and its surrounding environment in living tissue.

Optogenetically controlled RAF to characterize BRAF and CRAF protein kinase inhibitors.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CRY2/CRY2 HEK293T HeLa Signaling cascade control
Sci Rep, 30 Mar 2016 DOI: 10.1038/srep23713 Link to full text
Abstract: Here, we applied optoRAF, an optogenetic tool for light-controlled clustering and activation of RAF proteins that mimics the natural occurring RAS-mediated dimerization. This versatile tool allows studying the effect on BRAF and CRAF homodimer- as well as heterodimer-induced RAF signaling. Vemurafenib and dabrafenib are two clinically approved inhibitors for BRAF that efficiently suppress the kinase activity of oncogenic BRAF (V600E). However in wild-type BRAF expressing cells, BRAF inhibitors can exert paradoxical activation of wild-type CRAF. Using optoRAF, vemurafenib was identified as paradoxical activator of BRAF and CRAF homo- and heterodimers. Dabrafenib enhanced activity of light-stimulated CRAF at low dose and inhibited CRAF signaling at high dose. Moreover, dabrafenib increased the protein level of CRAF proteins but not of BRAF proteins. Increased CRAF levels correlate with elevated RAF signaling in a dabrafenib-dependent manner, independent of light activation.

Chromophore Structure of Photochromic Fluorescent Protein Dronpa: Acid-Base Equilibrium of Two Cis Configurations.

cyan Fluorescent proteins Background
J Phys Chem B, 24 Mar 2016 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.6b01752 Link to full text
Abstract: Dronpa is a novel photochromic fluorescent protein that exhibits fast response to light. The present article is the first report of the resonance and preresonance Raman spectra of Dronpa. We used the intensity and frequency of Raman bands to determine the structure of the Dronpa chromophore in two thermally stable photochromic states. The acid-base equilibrium in one photochromic state was observed by spectroscopic pH titration. The Raman spectra revealed that the chromophore in this state shows a protonation/deprotonation transition with a pKa of 5.2 ± 0.3 and maintains the cis configuration. The observed resonance Raman bands showed that the other photochromic state of the chromophore is in a trans configuration. The results demonstrate that Raman bands selectively enhanced for the chromophore yield valuable information on the molecular structure of the chromophore in photochromic fluorescent proteins after careful elimination of the fluorescence background.

Library-Aided Probing of Linker Determinants in Hybrid Photoreceptors.

blue LOV domains Background
ACS Synth Biol, 21 Mar 2016 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.6b00028 Link to full text
Abstract: Signaling proteins comprise interaction and effector modules connected by linkers. Throughout evolution, these recurring modules have multiply been recombined to produce the present-day plethora of signaling proteins. Likewise, modular recombination lends itself to the engineering of hybrid signal receptors, whose functionality hinges on linker topology, sequence, and length. Often, numerous linkers must be assessed to obtain functional receptors. To expedite linker optimization, we devised the PATCHY strategy (primer-aided truncation for the creation of hybrid proteins) for the facile construction of hybrid gene libraries with defined linker distributions. Empowered by PATCHY, we engineered photoreceptors whose signal response was governed by linker length: whereas blue-light-repressed variants possessed linkers of 7n or 7n+5 residues, variants with 7n+1 residues were blue-light-activated. Related natural receptors predominantly displayed linker lengths of 7n and 7n+5 residues but rarely of 7n+1 residues. PATCHY efficiently explores linker sequence space to yield functional hybrid proteins including variants transcending the natural repertoire of signaling proteins.

Controlling Protein Activity and Degradation Using Blue Light.

blue AtLOV2 S. cerevisiae
Methods Mol Biol, 11 Mar 2016 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4939-3512-3_5 Link to full text
Abstract: Regulation of protein stability is a fundamental process in eukaryotic cells and pivotal to, e.g., cell cycle progression, faithful chromosome segregation, or protein quality control. Synthetic regulation of protein stability requires conditional degradation sequences (degrons) that induce a stability switch upon a specific signal. Fusion to a selected target protein permits to influence virtually every process in a cell. Light as signal is advantageous due to its precise applicability in time, space, quality, and quantity. Light control of protein stability was achieved by fusing the LOV2 photoreceptor domain of Arabidopsis thaliana phototropin1 with a synthetic degron (cODC1) derived from the carboxy-terminal degron of ornithine decarboxylase to obtain the photosensitive degron (psd) module. The psd module can be attached to the carboxy terminus of target proteins that are localized to the cytosol or nucleus to obtain light control over their stability. Blue light induces structural changes in the LOV2 domain, which in turn lead to activation of the degron and thus proteasomal degradation of the whole fusion protein. Variants of the psd module with diverse characteristics are useful to fine-tune the stability of a selected target at permissive (darkness) and restrictive conditions (blue light).

Optogenetics in Plants: Red/Far-Red Light Control of Gene Expression.

red PhyB/PIF6 A. thaliana leaf protoplasts N. tabacum leaf protoplasts
Methods Mol Biol, 11 Mar 2016 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4939-3512-3_9 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic tools to control gene expression have many advantages over the classical chemically inducible systems, overcoming intrinsic limitations of chemical inducers such as solubility, diffusion, and cell toxicity. They offer an unmatched spatiotemporal resolution and permit quantitative and noninvasive control of the gene expression. Here we describe a protocol of a synthetic light-inducible system for the targeted control of gene expression in plants based on the plant photoreceptor phytochrome B and one of its interacting factors (PIF6). The synthetic toggle switch system is in the ON state when plant protoplasts are illuminated with red light (660 nm) and can be returned to the OFF state by subsequent illumination with far-red light (760 nm). In this protocol, the implementation of a red light-inducible expression system in plants using Light-Emitting Diode (LED) illumination boxes is described, including the isolation and transient transformation of plant protoplasts from Arabidopsis thaliana and Nicotiana tabacum.

Optogenetics: Turning the Microscope on Its Head.

blue LOV domains Review
Biophys J, 8 Mar 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2016.02.011 Link to full text
Abstract: Abstract not available.

Subcellular optogenetic activation of Cdc42 controls local and distal signaling to drive immune cell migration.

blue iLID RAW264.7 Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Mol Biol Cell, 3 Mar 2016 DOI: 10.1091/mbc.e15-12-0832 Link to full text
Abstract: Migratory immune cells use intracellular signaling networks to generate and orient spatially polarized responses to extracellular cues. The monomeric G protein Cdc42 is believed to play an important role in controlling the polarized responses, but it has been difficult to determine directly the consequences of localized Cdc42 activation within an immune cell. Here we used subcellular optogenetics to determine how Cdc42 activation at one side of a cell affects both cell behavior and dynamic molecular responses throughout the cell. We found that localized Cdc42 activation is sufficient to generate polarized signaling and directional cell migration. The optically activated region becomes the leading edge of the cell, with Cdc42 activating Rac and generating membrane protrusions driven by the actin cytoskeleton. Cdc42 also exerts long-range effects that cause myosin accumulation at the opposite side of the cell and actomyosin-mediated retraction of the cell rear. This process requires the RhoA-activated kinase ROCK, suggesting that Cdc42 activation at one side of a cell triggers increased RhoA signaling at the opposite side. Our results demonstrate how dynamic, subcellular perturbation of an individual signaling protein can help to determine its role in controlling polarized cellular responses.

Functional and topological diversity of LOV domain photoreceptors.

blue LOV domains Background
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 29 Feb 2016 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1509428113 Link to full text
Abstract: Light-oxygen-voltage sensitive (LOV) flavoproteins are ubiquitous photoreceptors that mediate responses to environmental cues. Photosensory inputs are transduced into signaling outputs via structural rearrangements in sensor domains that consequently modulate the activity of an effector domain or multidomain clusters. Establishing the diversity in effector function and sensor-effector topology will inform what signaling mechanisms govern light-responsive behaviors across multiple kingdoms of life and how these signals are transduced. Here, we report the bioinformatics identification of over 6,700 candidate LOV domains (including over 4,000 previously unidentified sequences from plants and protists), and insights from their annotations for ontological function and structural arrangements. Motif analysis identified the sensors from ∼42 million ORFs, with strong statistical separation from other flavoproteins and non-LOV members of the structurally related Per-aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator (ARNT)-Sim family. Conserved-domain analysis determined putative light-regulated function and multidomain topologies. We found that for certain effectors, sensor-effector linker length is discretized based on both phylogeny and the preservation of α-helical heptad repeats within an extended coiled-coil linker structure. This finding suggests that preserving sensor-effector orientation is a key determinant of linker length, in addition to ancestry, in LOV signaling structure-function. We found a surprisingly high prevalence of effectors with functions previously thought to be rare among LOV proteins, such as regulators of G protein signaling, and discovered several previously unidentified effectors, such as lipases. This work highlights the value of applying genomic and transcriptomic technologies to diverse organisms to capture the structural and functional variation in photosensory proteins that are vastly important in adaptation, photobiology, and optogenetics.

Light-controlled intracellular transport in Caenorhabditis elegans.

blue TULIP C. elegans in vivo Organelle manipulation
Curr Biol, 22 Feb 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.12.016 Link to full text
Abstract: To establish and maintain their complex morphology and function, neurons and other polarized cells exploit cytoskeletal motor proteins to distribute cargoes to specific compartments. Recent studies in cultured cells have used inducible motor protein recruitment to explore how different motors contribute to polarized transport and to control the subcellular positioning of organelles. Such approaches also seem promising avenues for studying motor activity and organelle positioning within more complex cellular assemblies, but their applicability to multicellular in vivo systems has so far remained unexplored. Here, we report the development of an optogenetic organelle transport strategy in the in vivo model system Caenorhabditis elegans. We demonstrate that movement and pausing of various organelles can be achieved by recruiting the proper cytoskeletal motor protein with light. In neurons, we find that kinesin and dynein exclusively target the axon and dendrite, respectively, revealing the basic principles for polarized transport. In vivo control of motor attachment and organelle distributions will be widely useful in exploring the mechanisms that govern the dynamic morphogenesis of cells and tissues, within the context of a developing animal.

Biophotography: concepts, applications and perspectives.

blue red BLUF domains LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Appl Microbiol Biotechnol, 18 Feb 2016 DOI: 10.1007/s00253-016-7384-0 Link to full text
Abstract: Synthetic biology aims at manipulating biological systems by rationally designed and genetically introduced components. Efforts in photoactuator engineering resulted in microorganisms reacting to extracellular light-cues with various cellular responses. Some of them lead to the formation of macroscopically observable outputs, which can be used to generate images made of living matter. Several methods have been developed to convert colorless compounds into visible pigments by an enzymatic conversion. This has been exploited as a showcase for successful creation of an optogenetic tool; examples for basic light-controlled biological processes that have been coupled to this biophotography comprise regulation of transcription, protein stability, and second messenger synthesis. Moreover, biological reproduction of images is used as means to facilitate quantitative characterization of optogenetic switches as well as a technique to investigate complex cellular signaling circuits. Here, we will compare the different techniques for biological image generation, introduce experimental approaches, and provide future-perspectives for biophotography.

Development of a light-regulated cell-recovery system for non-photosynthetic bacteria.

green CcaS/CcaR E. coli Transgene expression Control of cell-cell / cell-material interactions
Microb Cell Fact, 15 Feb 2016 DOI: 10.1186/s12934-016-0426-6 Link to full text
Abstract: Recent advances in the understanding of photosensing in biological systems have enabled the use of photoreceptors as novel genetic tools. Exploiting various photoreceptors that cyanobacteria possess, a green light-inducible gene expression system was previously developed for the regulation of gene expression in cyanobacteria. However, the applications of cyanobacterial photoreceptors are not limited to these bacteria but are also available for non-photosynthetic microorganisms by the coexpression of a cyanobacterial chromophore with a cyanobacteria-derived photosensing system. An Escherichia coli-derived self-aggregation system based on Antigen 43 (Ag43) has been shown to induce cell self-aggregation of various bacteria by exogenous introduction of the Ag43 gene.

Highly efficient optogenetic cell ablation in C. elegans using membrane-targeted miniSOG.

blue miniSOG C. elegans in vivo Cell death Developmental processes
Sci Rep, 10 Feb 2016 DOI: 10.1038/srep21271 Link to full text
Abstract: The genetically encoded photosensitizer miniSOG (mini Singlet Oxygen Generator) can be used to kill cells in C. elegans. miniSOG generates the reactive oxygen species (ROS) singlet oxygen after illumination with blue light. Illumination of neurons expressing miniSOG targeted to the outer mitochondrial membrane (mito-miniSOG) causes neuronal death. To enhance miniSOG's efficiency as an ablation tool in multiple cell types we tested alternative targeting signals. We find that membrane targeted miniSOG allows highly efficient cell killing. When combined with a point mutation that increases miniSOG's ROS generation, membrane targeted miniSOG can ablate neurons in less than one tenth the time of mito-miniSOG. We extend the miniSOG ablation technique to non-neuronal tissues, revealing an essential role for the epidermis in locomotion. These improvements expand the utility and throughput of optogenetic cell ablation in C. elegans.

Chemical and Biophysical Modulation of Cas9 for Tunable Genome Engineering.

blue Cryptochromes LOV domains Review
ACS Chem Biol, 9 Feb 2016 DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.5b01019 Link to full text
Abstract: The application of the CRISPR-Cas9 system for genome engineering has revolutionized the ability to interrogate genomes of mammalian cells. Programming the Cas9 endonuclease to induce DNA breaks at specified sites is achieved by simply modifying the sequence of its cognate guide RNA. Although Cas9-mediated genome editing has been shown to be highly specific, cleavage events at off-target sites have also been reported. Minimizing, and eventually abolishing, unwanted off-target cleavage remains a major goal of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology before its implementation for therapeutic use. Recent efforts have turned to chemical biology and biophysical approaches to engineer inducible genome editing systems for controlling Cas9 activity at the transcriptional and protein levels. Here, we review recent advancements to modulate Cas9-mediated genome editing by engineering split-Cas9 constructs, inteins, small molecules, protein-based dimerizing domains, and light-inducible systems.

Toward total synthesis of cell function: Reconstituting cell dynamics with synthetic biology.

blue red Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Sci Signal, 9 Feb 2016 DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aac4779 Link to full text
Abstract: Biological phenomena, such as cellular differentiation and phagocytosis, are fundamental processes that enable cells to fulfill important physiological roles in multicellular organisms. In the field of synthetic biology, the study of these behaviors relies on the use of a broad range of molecular tools that enable the real-time manipulation and measurement of key components in the underlying signaling pathways. This Review will focus on a subset of synthetic biology tools known as bottom-up techniques, which use technologies such as optogenetics and chemically induced dimerization to reconstitute cellular behavior in cells. These techniques have been crucial not only in revealing causal relationships within signaling networks but also in identifying the minimal signaling components that are necessary for a given cellular function. We discuss studies that used these systems in a broad range of cellular and molecular phenomena, including the time-dependent modulation of protein activity in cellular proliferation and differentiation, the reconstitution of phagocytosis, the reconstitution of chemotaxis, and the regulation of actin reorganization. Finally, we discuss the potential contribution of synthetic biology to medicine.

Optogenetic control of nuclear protein export.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293T HeLa Hepa1-6 Endogenous gene expression
Nat Commun, 8 Feb 2016 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10624 Link to full text
Abstract: Active nucleocytoplasmic transport is a key mechanism underlying protein regulation in eukaryotes. While nuclear protein import can be controlled in space and time with a portfolio of optogenetic tools, protein export has not been tackled so far. Here we present a light-inducible nuclear export system (LEXY) based on a single, genetically encoded tag, which enables precise spatiotemporal control over the export of tagged proteins. A constitutively nuclear, chromatin-anchored LEXY variant expands the method towards light inhibition of endogenous protein export by sequestering cellular CRM1 receptors. We showcase the utility of LEXY for cell biology applications by regulating a synthetic repressor as well as human p53 transcriptional activity with light. LEXY is a powerful addition to the optogenetic toolbox, allowing various novel applications in synthetic and cell biology.
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