Showing 401 - 425 of 647 results
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.
Natural photoreceptors as a source of fluorescent proteins, biosensors, and optogenetic tools.
Genetically encoded optical tools have revolutionized modern biology by allowing detection and control of biological processes with exceptional spatiotemporal precision and sensitivity. Natural photoreceptors provide researchers with a vast source of molecular templates for engineering of fluorescent proteins, biosensors, and optogenetic tools. Here, we give a brief overview of natural photoreceptors and their mechanisms of action. We then discuss fluorescent proteins and biosensors developed from light-oxygen-voltage-sensing (LOV) domains and phytochromes, as well as their properties and applications. These fluorescent tools possess unique characteristics not achievable with green fluorescent protein-like probes, including near-infrared fluorescence, independence of oxygen, small size, and photosensitizer activity. We next provide an overview of available optogenetic tools of various origins, such as LOV and BLUF (blue-light-utilizing flavin adenine dinucleotide) domains, cryptochromes, and phytochromes, enabling control of versatile cellular processes. We analyze the principles of their function and practical requirements for use. We focus mainly on optical tools with demonstrated use beyond bacteria, with a specific emphasis on their applications in mammalian cells.
A light-inducible CRISPR-Cas9 system for control of endogenous gene activation.
Optogenetic systems enable precise spatial and temporal control of cell behavior. We engineered a light-activated CRISPR-Cas9 effector (LACE) system that induces transcription of endogenous genes in the presence of blue light. This was accomplished by fusing the light-inducible heterodimerizing proteins CRY2 and CIB1 to a transactivation domain and the catalytically inactive dCas9, respectively. The versatile LACE system can be easily directed to new DNA sequences for the dynamic regulation of endogenous genes.
Two distinct domains of the UVR8 photoreceptor interact with COP1 to initiate UV-B signaling in Arabidopsis.
UV-B photon reception by the Arabidopsis thaliana homodimeric UV RESISTANCE LOCUS8 (UVR8) photoreceptor leads to its monomerization and a crucial interaction with CONSTITUTIVELY PHOTOMORPHOGENIC1 (COP1). Relay of the subsequent signal regulates UV-B-induced photomorphogenesis and stress acclimation. Here, we report that two separate domains of UVR8 interact with COP1: the β-propeller domain of UVR8 mediates UV-B-dependent interaction with the WD40 repeats-based predicted β-propeller domain of COP1, whereas COP1 activity is regulated by interaction through the UVR8 C-terminal C27 domain. We show not only that the C27 domain is required for UVR8 activity but also that chemically induced expression of the C27 domain is sufficient to mimic UV-B signaling. We further show, in contrast with COP1, that the WD40 repeat proteins REPRESSOR OF UV-B PHOTOMORPHOGENESIS1 (RUP1) and RUP2 interact only with the UVR8 C27 domain. This coincides with their facilitation of UVR8 reversion to the ground state by redimerization and their potential to interact with UVR8 in a UV-B-independent manner. Collectively, our results provide insight into a key mechanism of photoreceptor-mediated signaling and its negative feedback regulation.
CRISPR-Cas9-based photoactivatable transcription system.
Targeted endogenous gene activation is necessary for understanding complex gene networks and has great potential in medical and industrial applications. The CRISPR-Cas system offers simple and powerful tools for this purpose. However, these CRISPR-Cas-based tools for activating user-defined genes are unable to offer precise temporal control of gene expression, despite the fact that many biological phenomena are regulated by highly dynamic patterns of gene expression. Here we created a light-inducible, user-defined, endogenous gene activation system based on CRISPR-Cas9. We demonstrated that this CRISPR-Cas9-based transcription system can allow rapid and reversible targeted gene activation by light. In addition, using this system, we have exemplified photoactivation of multiple user-defined endogenous genes in mammalian cells. The present CRISPR-Cas9-based transcription system offers simple and versatile approaches for precise endogenous gene activation in basic biological research and biotechnology applications.
Controlling fertilization and cAMP signaling in sperm by optogenetics.
Optogenetics is a powerful technique to control cellular activity by light. The light-gated Channelrhodopsin has been widely used to study and manipulate neuronal activity in vivo, whereas optogenetic control of second messengers in vivo has not been examined in depth. In this study, we present a transgenic mouse model expressing a photoactivated adenylyl cyclase (bPAC) in sperm. In transgenic sperm, bPAC mimics the action of the endogenous soluble adenylyl cyclase (SACY) that is required for motility and fertilization: light-stimulation rapidly elevates cAMP, accelerates the flagellar beat, and, thereby, changes swimming behavior of sperm. Furthermore, bPAC replaces endogenous adenylyl cyclase activity. In mutant sperm lacking the bicarbonate-stimulated SACY activity, bPAC restored motility after light-stimulation and, thereby, enabled sperm to fertilize oocytes in vitro. We show that optogenetic control of cAMP in vivo allows to non-invasively study cAMP signaling, to control behaviors of single cells, and to restore a fundamental biological process such as fertilization.
Optogenetics for gene expression in mammalian cells.
Molecular switches that are controlled by chemicals have evolved as central research instruments in mammalian cell biology. However, these tools are limited in terms of their spatiotemporal resolution due to freely diffusing inducers. These limitations have recently been addressed by the development of optogenetic, genetically encoded, and light-responsive tools that can be controlled with the unprecedented spatiotemporal precision of light. In this article, we first provide a brief overview of currently available optogenetic tools that have been designed to control diverse cellular processes. Then, we focus on recent developments in light-controlled gene expression technologies and provide the reader with a guideline for choosing the most suitable gene expression system.
Optogenetic control of organelle transport and positioning.
Proper positioning of organelles by cytoskeleton-based motor proteins underlies cellular events such as signalling, polarization and growth. For many organelles, however, the precise connection between position and function has remained unclear, because strategies to control intracellular organelle positioning with spatiotemporal precision are lacking. Here we establish optical control of intracellular transport by using light-sensitive heterodimerization to recruit specific cytoskeletal motor proteins (kinesin, dynein or myosin) to selected cargoes. We demonstrate that the motility of peroxisomes, recycling endosomes and mitochondria can be locally and repeatedly induced or stopped, allowing rapid organelle repositioning. We applied this approach in primary rat hippocampal neurons to test how local positioning of recycling endosomes contributes to axon outgrowth and found that dynein-driven removal of endosomes from axonal growth cones reversibly suppressed axon growth, whereas kinesin-driven endosome enrichment enhanced growth. Our strategy for optogenetic control of organelle positioning will be widely applicable to explore site-specific organelle functions in different model systems.
Single-molecule tracking of small GTPase Rac1 uncovers spatial regulation of membrane translocation and mechanism for polarized signaling.
Polarized Rac1 signaling is a hallmark of many cellular functions, including cell adhesion, motility, and cell division. The two steps of Rac1 activation are its translocation to the plasma membrane and the exchange of nucleotide from GDP to GTP. It is, however, unclear whether these two processes are regulated independent of each other and what their respective roles are in polarization of Rac1 signaling. We designed a single-particle tracking (SPT) method to quantitatively analyze the kinetics of Rac1 membrane translocation in living cells. We found that the rate of Rac1 translocation was significantly elevated in protrusions during cell spreading on collagen. Furthermore, combining FRET sensor imaging with SPT measurements in the same cell, the recruitment of Rac1 was found to be polarized to an extent similar to that of the nucleotide exchange process. Statistical analysis of single-molecule trajectories and optogenetic manipulation of membrane lipids revealed that Rac1 membrane translocation precedes nucleotide exchange, and is governed primarily by interactions with phospholipids, particularly PI(3,4,5)P3, instead of protein factors. Overall, the study highlights the significance of membrane translocation in spatial Rac1 signaling, which is in addition to the traditional view focusing primarily on GEF distribution and exchange reaction.
Engineering an improved light-induced dimer (iLID) for controlling the localization and activity of signaling proteins.
The discovery of light-inducible protein-protein interactions has allowed for the spatial and temporal control of a variety of biological processes. To be effective, a photodimerizer should have several characteristics: it should show a large change in binding affinity upon light stimulation, it should not cross-react with other molecules in the cell, and it should be easily used in a variety of organisms to recruit proteins of interest to each other. To create a switch that meets these criteria we have embedded the bacterial SsrA peptide in the C-terminal helix of a naturally occurring photoswitch, the light-oxygen-voltage 2 (LOV2) domain from Avena sativa. In the dark the SsrA peptide is sterically blocked from binding its natural binding partner, SspB. When activated with blue light, the C-terminal helix of the LOV2 domain undocks from the protein, allowing the SsrA peptide to bind SspB. Without optimization, the switch exhibited a twofold change in binding affinity for SspB with light stimulation. Here, we describe the use of computational protein design, phage display, and high-throughput binding assays to create an improved light inducible dimer (iLID) that changes its affinity for SspB by over 50-fold with light stimulation. A crystal structure of iLID shows a critical interaction between the surface of the LOV2 domain and a phenylalanine engineered to more tightly pin the SsrA peptide against the LOV2 domain in the dark. We demonstrate the functional utility of the switch through light-mediated subcellular localization in mammalian cell culture and reversible control of small GTPase signaling.
Synthetic protein switches: design principles and applications.
Protein switches are ubiquitous in biological signal transduction systems, enabling cells to sense and respond to a variety of molecular queues in a rapid, specific, and integrated fashion. Analogously, tailor-engineered protein switches with custom input and output functions have become invaluable research tools for reporting on distinct physiological states and actuating molecular functions in real time and in situ. Here, we analyze recent progress in constructing protein-based switches while assessing their potential in the assembly of defined signaling motifs. We anticipate such systems will ultimately pave the way towards a new generation of molecular diagnostics and facilitate the construction of artificial signaling systems that operate in parallel to the signaling machinery of a host cell for applications in synthetic biology.
Optogenetic control of intracellular signaling pathways.
Cells employ a plethora of signaling pathways to make their life-and-death decisions. Extensive genetic, biochemical, and physiological studies have led to the accumulation of knowledge about signaling components and their interactions within signaling networks. These conventional approaches, although useful, lack the ability to control the spatial and temporal aspects of signaling processes. The recently emerged optogenetic tools open exciting opportunities by enabling signaling regulation with superior temporal and spatial resolution, easy delivery, rapid reversibility, fewer off-target side effects, and the ability to dissect complex signaling networks. Here we review recent achievements in using light to control intracellular signaling pathways and discuss future prospects for the field, including integration of new genetic approaches into optogenetics.
Plant flavoprotein photoreceptors.
Plants depend on the surrounding light environment to direct their growth. Blue light (300-500 nm) in particular acts to promote a wide variety of photomorphogenic responses including seedling establishment, phototropism and circadian clock regulation. Several different classes of flavin-based photoreceptors have been identified that mediate the effects of blue light in the dicotyledonous genetic model Arabidopsis thaliana. These include the cryptochromes, the phototropins and members of the Zeitlupe family. In this review, we discuss recent advances, which contribute to our understanding of how these photosensory systems are activated by blue light and how they initiate signaling to regulate diverse aspects of plant development.
Phytochromes: an atomic perspective on photoactivation and signaling.
The superfamily of phytochrome (Phy) photoreceptors regulates a wide array of light responses in plants and microorganisms through their unique ability to reversibly switch between stable dark-adapted and photoactivated end states. Whereas the downstream signaling cascades and biological consequences have been described, the initial events that underpin photochemistry of the coupled bilin chromophore and the ensuing conformational changes needed to propagate the light signal are only now being understood. Especially informative has been the rapidly expanding collection of 3D models developed by x-ray crystallographic, NMR, and single-particle electron microscopic methods from a remarkably diverse array of bacterial Phys. These structures have revealed how the modular architecture of these dimeric photoreceptors engages the buried chromophore through distinctive knot, hairpin, and helical spine features. When collectively viewed, these 3D structures reveal complex structural alterations whereby photoisomerization of the bilin drives nanometer-scale movements within the Phy dimer through bilin sliding, hairpin reconfiguration, and spine deformation that ultimately impinge upon the paired signal output domains. When integrated with the recently described structure of the photosensory module from Arabidopsis thaliana PhyB, new opportunities emerge for the rational redesign of plant Phys with novel photochemistries and signaling properties potentially beneficial to agriculture and their exploitation as optogenetic reagents.
Subcellular optogenetics - controlling signaling and single-cell behavior.
Variation in signaling activity across a cell plays a crucial role in processes such as cell migration. Signaling activity specific to organelles within a cell also likely plays a key role in regulating cellular functions. To understand how such spatially confined signaling within a cell regulates cell behavior, tools that exert experimental control over subcellular signaling activity are required. Here, we discuss the advantages of using optogenetic approaches to achieve this control. We focus on a set of optical triggers that allow subcellular control over signaling through the activation of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), receptor tyrosine kinases and downstream signaling proteins, as well as those that inhibit endogenous signaling proteins. We also discuss the specific insights with regard to signaling and cell behavior that these subcellular optogenetic approaches can provide.
Photo-sensitive degron variants for tuning protein stability by light.
Regulated proteolysis by the proteasome is one of the fundamental mechanisms used in eukaryotic cells to control cellular behavior. Efficient tools to regulate protein stability offer synthetic influence on molecular level on a selected biological process. Optogenetic control of protein stability has been achieved with the photo-sensitive degron (psd) module. This engineered tool consists of the photoreceptor domain light oxygen voltage 2 (LOV2) from Arabidopsis thaliana phototropin1 fused to a sequence that induces direct proteasomal degradation, which was derived from the carboxy-terminal degron of murine ornithine decarboxylase. The abundance of target proteins tagged with the psd module can be regulated by blue light if the degradation tag is exposed to the cytoplasm or the nucleus.
Structural details of light activation of the LOV2-based photoswitch PA-Rac1.
Optical control of cellular processes is an emerging approach for studying biological systems, affording control with high spatial and temporal resolution. Specifically designed artificial photoswitches add an interesting extension to naturally occurring light-regulated functionalities. However, despite a great deal of structural information, the generation of new tools cannot be based fully on rational design yet; in many cases design is limited by our understanding of molecular details of light activation and signal transduction. Our biochemical and biophysical studies on the established optogenetic tool PA-Rac1, the photoactivatable small GTPase Rac1, reveal how unexpected details of the sensor-effector interface, such as metal coordination, significantly affect functionally important structural elements of this photoswitch. Together with solution scattering experiments, our results favor differences in the population of pre-existing conformations as the underlying allosteric activation mechanism of PA-Rac1, rather than the assumed release of the Rac1 domain from the caging photoreceptor domain. These results have implications for the design of new optogenetic tools and highlight the importance of including molecular details of the sensor-effector interface, which is however difficult to assess during the initial design of novel artificial photoswitches.
Natural photoreceptors and their application to synthetic biology.
The ability to perturb living systems is essential to understand how cells sense, integrate, and exchange information, to comprehend how pathologic changes in these processes relate to disease, and to provide insights into therapeutic points of intervention. Several molecular technologies based on natural photoreceptor systems have been pioneered that allow distinct cellular signaling pathways to be modulated with light in a temporally and spatially precise manner. In this review, we describe and discuss the underlying design principles of natural photoreceptors that have emerged as fundamental for the rational design and implementation of synthetic light-controlled signaling systems. Furthermore, we examine the unique challenges that synthetic protein technologies face when applied to the study of neural dynamics at the cellular and network level.
Mind-controlled transgene expression by a wireless-powered optogenetic designer cell implant.
Synthetic devices for traceless remote control of gene expression may provide new treatment opportunities in future gene- and cell-based therapies. Here we report the design of a synthetic mind-controlled gene switch that enables human brain activities and mental states to wirelessly programme the transgene expression in human cells. An electroencephalography (EEG)-based brain-computer interface (BCI) processing mental state-specific brain waves programs an inductively linked wireless-powered optogenetic implant containing designer cells engineered for near-infrared (NIR) light-adjustable expression of the human glycoprotein SEAP (secreted alkaline phosphatase). The synthetic optogenetic signalling pathway interfacing the BCI with target gene expression consists of an engineered NIR light-activated bacterial diguanylate cyclase (DGCL) producing the orthogonal second messenger cyclic diguanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP), which triggers the stimulator of interferon genes (STING)-dependent induction of synthetic interferon-β promoters. Humans generating different mental states (biofeedback control, concentration, meditation) can differentially control SEAP production of the designer cells in culture and of subcutaneous wireless-powered optogenetic implants in mice.
Benchmarking of optical dimerizer systems.
Optical dimerizers are a powerful new class of optogenetic tools that allow light-inducible control of protein-protein interactions. Such tools have been useful for regulating cellular pathways and processes with high spatiotemporal resolution in live cells, and a growing number of dimerizer systems are available. As these systems have been characterized by different groups using different methods, it has been difficult for users to compare their properties. Here, we set about to systematically benchmark the properties of four optical dimerizer systems, CRY2/CIB1, TULIPs, phyB/PIF3, and phyB/PIF6. Using a yeast transcriptional assay, we find significant differences in light sensitivity and fold-activation levels between the red light regulated systems but similar responses between the CRY2/CIB and TULIP systems. Further comparison of the ability of the CRY2/CIB1 and TULIP systems to regulate a yeast MAPK signaling pathway also showed similar responses, with slightly less background activity in the dark observed with CRY2/CIB. In the process of developing this work, we also generated an improved blue-light-regulated transcriptional system using CRY2/CIB in yeast. In addition, we demonstrate successful application of the CRY2/CIB dimerizers using a membrane-tethered CRY2, which may allow for better local control of protein interactions. Taken together, this work allows for a better understanding of the capacities of these different dimerization systems and demonstrates new uses of these dimerizers to control signaling and transcription in yeast.
The optogenetic promise for oncology: Episode I.
As light-based control of fundamental signaling pathways is becoming a reality, the field of optogenetics is rapidly moving beyond neuroscience. We have recently developed receptor tyrosine kinases that are activated by light and control cell proliferation, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and angiogenic sprouting-cell behaviors central to cancer progression.