Showing 351 - 375 of 617 results
The rhodopsin-guanylyl cyclase of the aquatic fungus Blastocladiella emersonii enables fast optical control of cGMP signaling.
Blastocladiomycota fungi form motile zoospores that are guided by sensory photoreceptors to areas of optimal light conditions. We showed that the microbial rhodopsin of Blastocladiella emersonii is a rhodopsin-guanylyl cyclase (RhGC), a member of a previously uncharacterized rhodopsin class of light-activated enzymes that generate the second messenger cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). Upon application of a short light flash, recombinant RhGC converted within 8 ms into a signaling state with blue-shifted absorption from which the dark state recovered within 100 ms. When expressed in Xenopus oocytes, Chinese hamster ovary cells, or mammalian neurons, RhGC generated cGMP in response to green light in a light dose-dependent manner on a subsecond time scale. Thus, we propose RhGC as a versatile tool for the optogenetic analysis of cGMP-dependent signaling processes in cell biology and the neurosciences.
Genome-editing tools for stem cell biology.
Human pluripotent stem cells provide a versatile platform for regenerative studies, drug testing and disease modeling. That the expression of only four transcription factors, Oct4, Klf4, Sox2 and c-Myc (OKSM), is sufficient for generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from differentiated somatic cells has revolutionized the field and also highlighted the importance of OKSM as targets for genome editing. A number of novel genome-editing systems have been developed recently. In this review, we focus on successful applications of several such systems for generation of iPSCs. In particular, we discuss genome-editing systems based on zinc-finger fusion proteins (ZFs), transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs) and an RNA-guided DNA-specific nuclease, Cas9, derived from the bacterial defense system against viruses that utilizes clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR).
Investigating neuronal function with optically controllable proteins.
In the nervous system, protein activities are highly regulated in space and time. This regulation allows for fine modulation of neuronal structure and function during development and adaptive responses. For example, neurite extension and synaptogenesis both involve localized and transient activation of cytoskeletal and signaling proteins, allowing changes in microarchitecture to occur rapidly and in a localized manner. To investigate the role of specific protein regulation events in these processes, methods to optically control the activity of specific proteins have been developed. In this review, we focus on how photosensory domains enable optical control over protein activity and have been used in neuroscience applications. These tools have demonstrated versatility in controlling various proteins and thereby cellular functions, and possess enormous potential for future applications in nervous systems. Just as optogenetic control of neuronal firing using opsins has changed how we investigate the function of cellular circuits in vivo, optical control may yet yield another revolution in how we study the circuitry of intracellular signaling in the brain.
Optimizing optogenetic constructs for control over signaling and cell behaviours.
Optogenetic tools have recently been developed that enable dynamic control over the activities of select signaling proteins. They provide the unique ability to rapidly turn signaling events on or off with subcellular control in living cells and organisms. This capability is leading to new insights into how the spatial and temporal coordination of signaling events governs dynamic cell behaviours such as migration and neurite outgrowth. These tools can also be used to dissect a protein's signaling functions at different organelles. Here we review the properties of photoreceptors from diverse organisms that have been leveraged to control signaling in mammalian cells. We emphasize recent engineering approaches that have been used to create optogenetic constructs with optimized spectral, kinetic, and signaling properties for controlling cell behaviours.
Applications of hydrogen deuterium exchange (HDX) for the characterization of conformational dynamics in light-activated photoreceptors.
Rational design of optogenetic tools is inherently linked to the understanding of photoreceptor function. Structural analysis of elements involved in signal integration in individual sensor domains provides an initial idea of their mode of operation, but understanding how local structural rearrangements eventually affect signal transmission to output domains requires inclusion of the effector regions in the characterization. However, the dynamic nature of these assemblies renders their structural analysis challenging and therefore a combination of high- and low-resolution techniques is required to appreciate functional aspects of photoreceptors. This review focuses on the potential of hydrogen-deuterium exchange coupled to mass spectrometry (HDX-MS) for complementing the structural characterization of photoreceptors. In this respect, the ability of HDX-MS to provide information on conformational dynamics and the possibility to address multiple functionally relevant states in solution render this methodology ideally suitable. We highlight recent examples demonstrating the potential of HDX-MS and discuss how these results can help to improve existing optogenetic systems or guide the design of novel optogenetic tools.
Sensory photoreceptors not only control diverse adaptive responses in Nature, but as light-regulated actuators they also provide the foundation for optogenetics, the non-invasive and spatiotemporally precise manipulation of cellular events by light. Novel photoreceptors have been engineered that establish control by light over manifold biological processes previously inaccessible to optogenetic intervention. Recently, photoreceptor engineering has witnessed a rapid development, and light-regulated actuators for the perturbation of a plethora of cellular events are now available. Here, we review fundamental principles of photoreceptors and light-regulated allostery. Photoreceptors dichotomize into associating receptors that alter their oligomeric state as part of light-regulated allostery and non-associating receptors that do not. A survey of engineered photoreceptors pinpoints light-regulated association reactions and order-disorder transitions as particularly powerful and versatile design principles. Photochromic photoreceptors that are bidirectionally toggled by two light colors augur enhanced spatiotemporal resolution and use as photoactivatable fluorophores. By identifying desirable traits in engineered photoreceptors, we provide pointers for the design of future, light-regulated actuators.
Iterative experiment design guides the characterization of a light-inducible gene expression circuit.
Systems biology rests on the idea that biological complexity can be better unraveled through the interplay of modeling and experimentation. However, the success of this approach depends critically on the informativeness of the chosen experiments, which is usually unknown a priori. Here, we propose a systematic scheme based on iterations of optimal experiment design, flow cytometry experiments, and Bayesian parameter inference to guide the discovery process in the case of stochastic biochemical reaction networks. To illustrate the benefit of our methodology, we apply it to the characterization of an engineered light-inducible gene expression circuit in yeast and compare the performance of the resulting model with models identified from nonoptimal experiments. In particular, we compare the parameter posterior distributions and the precision to which the outcome of future experiments can be predicted. Moreover, we illustrate how the identified stochastic model can be used to determine light induction patterns that make either the average amount of protein or the variability in a population of cells follow a desired profile. Our results show that optimal experiment design allows one to derive models that are accurate enough to precisely predict and regulate the protein expression in heterogeneous cell populations over extended periods of time.
Control of Protein Activity and Cell Fate Specification via Light-Mediated Nuclear Translocation.
Light-activatable proteins allow precise spatial and temporal control of biological processes in living cells and animals. Several approaches have been developed for controlling protein localization with light, including the conditional inhibition of a nuclear localization signal (NLS) with the Light Oxygen Voltage (AsLOV2) domain of phototropin 1 from Avena sativa. In the dark, the switch adopts a closed conformation that sterically blocks the NLS motif. Upon activation with blue light the C-terminus of the protein unfolds, freeing the NLS to direct the protein to the nucleus. A previous study showed that this approach can be used to control the localization and activity of proteins in mammalian tissue culture cells. Here, we extend this result by characterizing the binding properties of a LOV/NLS switch and demonstrating that it can be used to control gene transcription in yeast. Additionally, we show that the switch, referred to as LANS (light-activated nuclear shuttle), functions in the C. elegans embryo and allows for control of nuclear localization in individual cells. By inserting LANS into the C. elegans lin-1 locus using Cas9-triggered homologous recombination, we demonstrated control of cell fate via light-dependent manipulation of a native transcription factor. We conclude that LANS can be a valuable experimental method for spatial and temporal control of nuclear localization in vivo.
Photoactivatable CRISPR-Cas9 for optogenetic genome editing.
We describe an engineered photoactivatable Cas9 (paCas9) that enables optogenetic control of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing in human cells. paCas9 consists of split Cas9 fragments and photoinducible dimerization domains named Magnets. In response to blue light irradiation, paCas9 expressed in human embryonic kidney 293T cells induces targeted genome sequence modifications through both nonhomologous end joining and homology-directed repair pathways. Genome editing activity can be switched off simply by extinguishing the light. We also demonstrate activation of paCas9 in spatial patterns determined by the sites of irradiation. Optogenetic control of targeted genome editing should facilitate improved understanding of complex gene networks and could prove useful in biomedical applications.
How Does Photoreceptor UVR8 Perceive a UV-B Signal?
UVR8 is the only known plant photoreceptor that mediates light responses to UV-B (280-315 nm) of the solar spectrum. UVR8 perceives a UV-B signal via light-induced dimer dissociation, which triggers a wide range of cellular responses involved in photomorphogenesis and photoprotection. Two recent crystal structures of Arabidopsis thaliana UVR8 (AtUVR8) have revealed unusual clustering of UV-B-absorbing Trp pigments at the dimer interface and provided a structural framework for further mechanistic investigation. This review summarizes recent advances in spectroscopic, computational and crystallographic studies on UVR8 that are directed toward full understanding of UV-B perception at the molecular level.
The Dual Characteristics of Light-Induced Cryptochrome 2, Homo-oligomerization and Heterodimerization, for Optogenetic Manipulation in Mammalian Cells.
The photoreceptor cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) has become a powerful optogenetic tool that allows light-inducible manipulation of various signaling pathways and cellular processes in mammalian cells with high spatiotemporal precision and ease of application. However, it has also been shown that the behavior of CRY2 under blue light is complex, as the photoexcited CRY2 can both undergo homo-oligomerization and heterodimerization by binding to its dimerization partner CIB1. To better understand the light-induced CRY2 activities in mammalian cells, this article systematically characterizes CRY2 homo-oligomerization in different cellular compartments, as well as how CRY2 homo-oligomerization and heterodimerization activities affect each other. Quantitative analysis reveals that membrane-bound CRY2 has drastically enhanced oligomerization activity compared to that of its cytoplasmic form. While CRY2 homo-oligomerization and CRY2-CIB1 heterodimerization could happen concomitantly, the presence of certain CIB1 fusion proteins can suppress CRY2 homo-oligomerization. However, the homo-oligomerization of cytoplasmic CRY2 can be significantly intensified by its recruitment to the membrane via interaction with the membrane-bound CIB1. These results contribute to the understanding of the light-inducible CRY2-CRY2 and CRY2-CIB1 interaction systems and can be used as a guide to establish new strategies utilizing the dual optogenetic characteristics of CRY2 to probe cellular processes.
Probing Yeast Polarity with Acute, Reversible, Optogenetic Inhibition of Protein Function.
We recently developed a technique for rapidly and reversibly inhibiting protein function through light-inducible sequestration of proteins away from their normal sites of action. Here, we adapt this method for inducible inactivation of Bem1, a scaffold protein involved in budding yeast polarity. We find that acute inhibition of Bem1 produces profound defects in cell polarization and cell viability that are not observed in bem1Δ. By disrupting Bem1 activity at specific points in the cell cycle, we demonstrate that Bem1 is essential for the establishment of polarity and bud emergence but is dispensable for the growth of an emerged bud. By taking advantage of the reversibility of Bem1 inactivation, we show that pole size scales with cell size, and that this scaling is dependent on the actin cytoskeleton. Our experiments reveal how rapid reversible inactivation of protein function complements traditional genetic approaches. This strategy should be widely applicable to other biological contexts.
Molecular Mechanism of Photozipper, a Light-Regulated Dimerizing Module Consisting of the bZIP and LOV Domains of Aureochrome-1.
Aureochrome-1 (AUREO1) is a blue light (BL) receptor responsible for the BL-induced blanching of a stramenopile alga, Vaucheria frigida. The AUREO1 protein contains a central basic region/leucine zipper (bZIP) domain, and a C-terminal light-oxygen-voltage-sensing (LOV) domain. BL induces the dimerization of monomeric AUREO1, which subsequently increases the affinity of this transcription factor for its target DNA [Hisatomi, O., et al. (2014) J. Biol. Chem. 289, 17379-17391]. We constructed a synthetic gene encoding N-terminally truncated monomeric AUREO1 (designated Photozipper) to elucidate the molecular mechanism of this BL-regulated transcription factor and to develop it as an optogenetic tool. In this study, four different Photozipper (PZ) protein constructs were prepared comprising different N-terminal truncations. The monomer-dimer equilibria of the PZ constructs were investigated in the dark and light states. Dynamic light scattering and size-exclusion chromatography analyses revealed that the apparent dissociation constants of PZ dimers with and without the ZIP region were ~100 and 30 μM, respectively, indicating that the ZIP region stabilized the monomeric form in the dark state. In the light state, fluorescence resonance energy transfer analyses demonstrated that deletion of the ZIP region increased the dissociation constant from ~0.15 to 0.6 μM, suggesting that intermolecular LOV-LOV and ZIP-ZIP interactions stabilized the dimeric forms. Our results suggest that synergistic interactions between the LOV and bZIP domains stabilize the monomeric form in the dark state and the dimeric form in the light state, which possibly contributes to the function of PZ as a BL-regulated molecular switch.
LOV-based optogenetic devices: light-driven modules to impart photoregulated control of cellular signaling.
The Light-Oxygen-Voltage domain family of proteins is widespread in biology where they impart sensory responses to signal transduction domains. The small, light responsive LOV modules offer a novel platform for the construction of optogenetic tools. Currently, the design and implementation of these devices is partially hindered by a lack of understanding of how light drives allosteric changes in protein conformation to activate diverse signal transduction domains. Further, divergent photocycle properties amongst LOV family members complicate construction of highly sensitive devices with fast on/off kinetics. In the present review we discuss the history of LOV domain research with primary emphasis on tuning LOV domain chemistry and signal transduction to allow for improved optogenetic tools.
Junctional actin assembly is mediated by Formin-like 2 downstream of Rac1.
Epithelial integrity is vitally important, and its deregulation causes early stage cancer. De novo formation of an adherens junction (AJ) between single epithelial cells requires coordinated, spatial actin dynamics, but the mechanisms steering nascent actin polymerization for cell-cell adhesion initiation are not well understood. Here we investigated real-time actin assembly during daughter cell-cell adhesion formation in human breast epithelial cells in 3D environments. We identify formin-like 2 (FMNL2) as being specifically required for actin assembly and turnover at newly formed cell-cell contacts as well as for human epithelial lumen formation. FMNL2 associates with components of the AJ complex involving Rac1 activity and the FMNL2 C terminus. Optogenetic control of Rac1 in living cells rapidly drove FMNL2 to epithelial cell-cell contact zones. Furthermore, Rac1-induced actin assembly and subsequent AJ formation critically depends on FMNL2. These data uncover FMNL2 as a driver for human epithelial AJ formation downstream of Rac1.
Optogenetic control of molecular motors and organelle distributions in cells.
Intracellular transport and distribution of organelles play important roles in diverse cellular functions, including cell polarization, intracellular signaling, cell survival, and apoptosis. Here, we report an optogenetic strategy to control the transport and distribution of organelles by light. This is achieved by optically recruiting molecular motors onto organelles through the heterodimerization of Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) and its interacting partner CIB1. CRY2 and CIB1 dimerize within subseconds upon exposure to blue light, which requires no exogenous ligands and low intensity of light. We demonstrate that mitochondria, peroxisomes, and lysosomes can be driven toward the cell periphery upon light-induced recruitment of kinesin, or toward the cell nucleus upon recruitment of dynein. Light-induced motor recruitment and organelle movements are repeatable, reversible, and can be achieved at subcellular regions. This light-controlled organelle redistribution provides a new strategy for studying the causal roles of organelle transport and distribution in cellular functions in living cells.
Optogenetics. Engineering of a light-gated potassium channel.
The present palette of opsin-based optogenetic tools lacks a light-gated potassium (K(+)) channel desirable for silencing of excitable cells. Here, we describe the construction of a blue-light-induced K(+) channel 1 (BLINK1) engineered by fusing the plant LOV2-Jα photosensory module to the small viral K(+) channel Kcv. BLINK1 exhibits biophysical features of Kcv, including K(+) selectivity and high single-channel conductance but reversibly photoactivates in blue light. Opening of BLINK1 channels hyperpolarizes the cell to the K(+) equilibrium potential. Ectopic expression of BLINK1 reversibly inhibits the escape response in light-exposed zebrafish larvae. BLINK1 therefore provides a single-component optogenetic tool that can establish prolonged, physiological hyperpolarization of cells at low light intensities.
Mammalian synthetic biology: emerging medical applications.
In this review, we discuss new emerging medical applications of the rapidly evolving field of mammalian synthetic biology. We start with simple mammalian synthetic biological components and move towards more complex and therapy-oriented gene circuits. A comprehensive list of ON-OFF switches, categorized into transcriptional, post-transcriptional, translational and post-translational, is presented in the first sections. Subsequently, Boolean logic gates, synthetic mammalian oscillators and toggle switches will be described. Several synthetic gene networks are further reviewed in the medical applications section, including cancer therapy gene circuits, immuno-regulatory networks, among others. The final sections focus on the applicability of synthetic gene networks to drug discovery, drug delivery, receptor-activating gene circuits and mammalian biomanufacturing processes.
Regulation of endogenous transmembrane receptors through optogenetic Cry2 clustering.
Transmembrane receptors are the predominant conduit through which cells sense and transduce extracellular information into intracellular biochemical signals. Current methods to control and study receptor function, however, suffer from poor resolution in space and time and often employ receptor overexpression, which can introduce experimental artefacts. We report a genetically encoded approach, termed Clustering Indirectly using Cryptochrome 2 (CLICR), for spatiotemporal control over endogenous transmembrane receptor activation, enabled through the optical regulation of target receptor clustering and downstream signalling using noncovalent interactions with engineered Arabidopsis Cryptochrome 2 (Cry2). CLICR offers a modular platform to enable photocontrol of the clustering of diverse transmembrane receptors including fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR), platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) and integrins in multiple cell types including neural stem cells. Furthermore, light-inducible manipulation of endogenous receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) activity can modulate cell polarity and establish phototaxis in fibroblasts. The resulting spatiotemporal control over cellular signalling represents a powerful new optogenetic framework for investigating and controlling cell function and fate.
Prohibitin 2: At a communications crossroads.
Prohibitins (PHBs) are a highly conserved class of proteins first discovered as inhibitors of cellular proliferation. Since then PHBs have been found to have a significant role in transcription, nuclear signaling, mitochondrial structural integrity, cell division, and cellular membrane metabolism, placing these proteins among the key regulators of pathologies such as cancer, neuromuscular degeneration, and other metabolic diseases. The human genome encodes two PHB proteins, prohibitin 1 (PHB1) and prohibitin 2 (PHB2), which function not only as a heterodimeric complex, but also independently. While many previous reviews have focused on the better characterized prohibitin, PHB1, this review focuses on PHB2 and new data concerning its cellular functions both in complex with PHB1 and independent of PHB1.
Optical control of biological processes by light-switchable proteins.
Cellular processes such as proliferation, differentiation, or migration depend on precise spatiotemporal coordination of protein activities. Correspondingly, reaching a quantitative understanding of cellular behavior requires experimental approaches that enable spatial and temporal modulation of protein activity. Recently, a variety of light-sensitive protein domains have been engineered as optogenetic actuators to spatiotemporally control protein activity. In the present review, we discuss the principle of these optical control methods and examples of their applications in modulating signaling pathways. By controlling protein activity with spatiotemporal specificity, tunable dynamics, and quantitative control, light-controllable proteins promise to accelerate our understanding of cellular and organismal biology.
Red Light-Regulated Reversible Nuclear Localization of Proteins in Mammalian Cells and Zebrafish.
Protein trafficking in and out of the nucleus represents a key step in controlling cell fate and function. Here we report the development of a red light-inducible and far-red light-reversible synthetic system for controlling nuclear localization of proteins in mammalian cells and zebrafish. First, we synthetically reconstructed and validated the red light-dependent Arabidopsis phytochrome B nuclear import mediated by phytochrome-interacting factor 3 in a nonplant environment and support current hypotheses on the import mechanism in planta. On the basis of this principle we next regulated nuclear import and activity of target proteins by the spatiotemporal projection of light patterns. A synthetic transcription factor was translocated into the nucleus of mammalian cells and zebrafish to drive transgene expression. These data demonstrate the first in vivo application of a plant phytochrome-based optogenetic tool in vertebrates and expand the repertoire of available light-regulated molecular devices.
A synthetic erectile optogenetic stimulator enabling blue-light-inducible penile erection.
Precise spatiotemporal control of physiological processes by optogenetic devices inspired by synthetic biology may provide novel treatment opportunities for gene- and cell-based therapies. An erectile optogenetic stimulator (EROS), a synthetic designer guanylate cyclase producing a blue-light-inducible surge of the second messenger cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) in mammalian cells, enabled blue-light-dependent penile erection associated with occasional ejaculation after illumination of EROS-transfected corpus cavernosum in male rats. Photostimulated short-circuiting of complex psychological, neural, vascular, and endocrine factors to stimulate penile erection in the absence of sexual arousal may foster novel advances in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
An optogenetic upgrade for the Tet-OFF system.
The rapid development of mammalian optogenetics has produced an expanding number of gene switches that can be controlled with the unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution of light. However, in the "pre-optogenetic" era many networks, cell lines and transgenic organisms have been engineered that rely on chemically-inducible transgene expression systems but would benefit from the advantages of the traceless inducer light. To open the possibility for the effortless upgrade of such systems from chemical inducers to light, we capitalized on the specific Med25VBD inhibitor of the VP16/VP64 transactivation domain. In a first step, we demonstrated the efficiency and selectivity of Med25VBD in the inhibition of VP16/VP64-based transgene expression systems. Then, we fused the inhibitor to the blue light-responsive B-LID degron and optimized the performance of this construct with regard to the number of Med25VBD repeats. This approach resulted in an optogenetic upgrade of the popular Tet-OFF (TetR-VP64, tetO7 -PhCMVmin ) system that allows tunable, blue light-inducible transgene expression in HEK-293T cells.
Engineered pairs of distinct photoswitches for optogenetic control of cellular proteins.
Optogenetic methods take advantage of photoswitches to control the activity of cellular proteins. Here, we completed a multi-directional engineering of the fungal photoreceptor Vivid to develop pairs of distinct photoswitches named Magnets. These new photoswitches were engineered to recognize each other based on the electrostatic interactions, thus preventing homodimerization and enhancing light-induced heterodimerization. Furthermore, we tuned the switch-off kinetics by four orders of magnitude and developed several variants, including those with substantially faster kinetics than any of the other conventional dimerization-based blue spectrum photoswitches. We demonstrate the utility of Magnets as powerful tools that can optogenetically manipulate molecular processes in biological systems.