Showing 451 - 475 of 678 results
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.
Connection between absorption properties and conformational changes in Deinococcus radiodurans phytochrome.
Phytochromes consist of several protein domains and a linear tetrapyrrole molecule, which interact as a red-light-sensing system. In this study, size-exclusion chromatography and light-scattering techniques are combined with UV-vis spectroscopy to investigate light-induced changes in dimeric Deinococcus radiodurans bacterial phytochrome (DrBphP) and its subdomains. The photosensory unit (DrCBD-PHY) shows an unusually stable Pfr state with minimal dark reversion, whereas the histidine kinase (HK) domain facilitates dark reversion to the resting state. Size-exclusion chromatography reveals that all phytochrome fragments remain as dimers in the illuminated state and dark state. Still, the elution profiles of all phytochrome fragments differ between the illuminated and dark states. The differences are observed reliably only when the whole UV-vis spectrum is characterized along the elution profile and show more Pfr-state characteristics at later elution volumes in DrBphP and DrCBD-PHY fragments. This implies that the PHY domain has an important role in amplifying and relaying light-induced conformational changes to the HK domain. In the illuminated state, the HK domain appears partially unfolded and prone to form oligomers. The oligomerization of DrBphP can be diminished by converting the molecule back to the resting Pr state by using far-red light.
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.
Orthogonal optogenetic triple-gene control in Mammalian cells.
Optogenetic gene switches allow gene expression control at an unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution. Recently, light-responsive transgene expression systems that are activated by UV-B, blue, or red light have been developed. These systems perform well on their own, but their integration into genetic networks has been hampered by the overlapping absorbance spectra of the photoreceptors. We identified a lack of orthogonality between UV-B and blue light-controlled gene expression as the bottleneck and employed a model-based approach that identified the need for a blue light-responsive gene switch that is insensitive to low-intensity light. Based on this prediction, we developed a blue light-responsive and rapidly reversible expression system. Finally, we employed this expression system to demonstrate orthogonality between UV-B, blue, and red/far-red light-responsive gene switches in a single mammalian cell culture. We expect this approach to enable the spatiotemporal control of gene networks and to expand the applications of optogenetics in synthetic biology.
Refactoring and optimization of light-switchable Escherichia coli two-component systems.
Light-switchable proteins enable unparalleled control of molecular biological processes in live organisms. Previously, we have engineered red/far-red and green/red photoreversible two-component signal transduction systems (TCSs) with transcriptional outputs in E. coli and used them to characterize and control synthetic gene circuits with exceptional quantitative, temporal, and spatial precision. However, the broad utility of these light sensors is limited by bulky DNA encoding, incompatibility with commonly used ligand-responsive transcription factors, leaky output in deactivating light, and less than 10-fold dynamic range. Here, we compress the four genes required for each TCS onto two streamlined plasmids and replace all chemically inducible and evolved promoters with constitutive, engineered versions. Additionally, we systematically optimize the expression of each sensor histidine kinase and response regulator, and redesign both pathway output promoters, resulting in low leakiness and 72- and 117-fold dynamic range, respectively. These second-generation light sensors can be used to program the expression of more genes over a wider range and can be more easily combined with additional plasmids or moved to different host strains. This work demonstrates that bacterial TCSs can be optimized to function as high-performance sensors for scientific and engineering applications.
Ultradian oscillations and pulses: coordinating cellular responses and cell fate decisions.
Biological clocks play key roles in organismal development, homeostasis and function. In recent years, much work has focused on circadian clocks, but emerging studies have highlighted the existence of ultradian oscillators - those with a much shorter periodicity than 24 h. Accumulating evidence, together with recently developed optogenetic approaches, suggests that such ultradian oscillators play important roles during cell fate decisions, and analyzing the functional links between ultradian oscillation and cell fate determination will contribute to a deeper understanding of the design principle of developing embryos. In this Review, we discuss the mechanisms of ultradian oscillatory dynamics and introduce examples of ultradian oscillators in various biological contexts. We also discuss how optogenetic technology has been used to elucidate the biological significance of ultradian oscillations.
An optimized optogenetic clustering tool for probing protein interaction and function.
The Arabidopsis photoreceptor cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) was previously used as an optogenetic module, allowing spatiotemporal control of cellular processes with light. Here we report the development of a new CRY2-derived optogenetic module, 'CRY2olig', which induces rapid, robust, and reversible protein oligomerization in response to light. Using this module, we developed a novel protein interaction assay, Light-Induced Co-clustering, that can be used to interrogate protein interaction dynamics in live cells. In addition to use probing protein interactions, CRY2olig can also be used to induce and reversibly control diverse cellular processes with spatial and temporal resolution. Here we demonstrate disrupting clathrin-mediated endocytosis and promoting Arp2/3-mediated actin polymerization with light. These new CRY2-based approaches expand the growing arsenal of optogenetic strategies to probe cellular function.
Photochemistry of flavoprotein light sensors.
Three major classes of flavin photosensors, light oxygen voltage (LOV) domains, blue light sensor using FAD (BLUF) proteins and cryptochromes (CRYs), regulate diverse biological activities in response to blue light. Recent studies of structure, spectroscopy and chemical mechanism have provided unprecedented insight into how each family operates at the molecular level. In general, the photoexcitation of the flavin cofactor leads to changes in redox and protonation states that ultimately remodel protein conformation and molecular interactions. For LOV domains, issues remain regarding early photochemical events, but common themes in conformational propagation have emerged across a diverse family of proteins. For BLUF proteins, photoinduced electron transfer reactions critical to light conversion are defined, but the subsequent rearrangement of hydrogen bonding networks key for signaling remains highly controversial. For CRYs, the relevant photocycles are actively debated, but mechanistic and functional studies are converging. Despite these challenges, our current understanding has enabled the engineering of flavoprotein photosensors for control of signaling processes within cells.
Engineered UV-A light-responsive gene expression system for measuring sun cream efficacy in mammalian cell culture.
Light-dependent gene regulation systems are advantageous as they allow for precise spatio-temporal control of target gene expression. In this paper, we present a novel UV-A and blue-light-inducible gene control system that is based on the light-dependent heterodimerization of the CRY2 and C1BN domains. Upon their interaction, a transcription factor is released from the cell membrane and initiates target gene expression. Capitalizing on that, sun cream UV-A protection properties were measured intracellularly.
Optogenetic approaches to cell migration and beyond.
Optogenetics, the use of genetically encoded tools to control protein function with light, can generate localized changes in signaling within living cells and animals. For years it has been focused on channel proteins for neurobiology, but has recently expanded to cover many different types of proteins, using a broad array of different protein engineering approaches. These methods have largely been directed at proteins involved in motility, cytoskeletal regulation and gene expression. This review provides a survey of non-channel proteins that have been engineered for optogenetics. Existing molecules are used to illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of the many imaginative new approaches that the reader can use to create light-controlled proteins.
Optogenetic control of signaling in mammalian cells.
Molecular signals are sensed by their respective receptors and information is transmitted and processed by a sophisticated intracellular network controlling various biological functions. Optogenetic tools allow the targeting of specific signaling nodes for a precise spatiotemporal control of downstream effects. These tools are based on photoreceptors such as phytochrome B (PhyB), cryptochrome 2, or light-oxygen-voltage-sensing domains that reversibly bind to specific interaction partners in a light-dependent manner. Fusions of a protein of interest to the photoreceptor or their interaction partners may enable the control of the protein function by light-mediated dimerization, a change of subcellular localization, or due to photocaging/-uncaging of effectors. In this review, we summarize the photoreceptors and the light-based mechanisms utilized for the modulation of signaling events in mammalian cells focusing on non-neuronal applications. We discuss in detail optogenetic tools and approaches applied to control signaling events mediated by second messengers, Rho GTPases and growth factor-triggered signaling cascades namely the RAS/RAF and phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase pathways. Applying the latest generation of optogenetic tools allows to control cell fate decisions such as proliferation and differentiation or to deliver therapeutic substances in a spatiotemporally controlled manner.
Structure and Function of the ZTL/FKF1/LKP2 Group Proteins in Arabidopsis.
The ZTL/FKF1/LKP2 group proteins are LOV-domain-based blue-light photoreceptors that control protein degradation by ubiquitination. These proteins were identified relatively recently and are known to be involved in the regulation of the circadian clock and photoperiodic flowering in Arabidopsis. In this review, we focus on two topics. First, we summarize the molecular mechanisms by which ZTL and FKF1 regulate these biological phenomena based on genetic and biochemical analyses. Next, we discuss the chemical properties of the ZTL family LOV domains obtained from structural, biophysical, and photochemical characterizations of the LOV domains. These two different levels of approach unveiled the molecular mechanisms by which plants utilize ZTL and FKF1 proteins to monitor light for daily and seasonal adaptation.
Tools for controlling protein interactions using light.
Genetically encoded actuators that allow control of protein-protein interactions using light, termed 'optical dimerizers', are emerging as new tools for experimental biology. In recent years, numerous new and versatile dimerizer systems have been developed. Here we discuss the design of optical dimerizer experiments, including choice of a dimerizer system, photoexcitation sources, and the coordinate use of imaging reporters. We provide detailed protocols for experiments using two dimerization systems we previously developed, CRY2/CIB and UVR8/UVR8, for use in controlling transcription, protein localization, and protein secretion using light. Additionally, we provide instructions and software for constructing a pulse-controlled LED device for use in experiments requiring extended light treatments.
Optogenetic engineering: light-directed cell motility.
Genetically encoded, light-activatable proteins provide the means to probe biochemical pathways at specific subcellular locations with exquisite temporal control. However, engineering these systems in order to provide a dramatic jump in localized activity, while retaining a low dark-state background remains a significant challenge. When placed within the framework of a genetically encodable, light-activatable heterodimerizer system, the actin-remodelling protein cofilin induces dramatic changes in the F-actin network and consequent cell motility upon illumination. We demonstrate that the use of a partially impaired mutant of cofilin is critical for maintaining low background activity in the dark. We also show that light-directed recruitment of the reduced activity cofilin mutants to the cytoskeleton is sufficient to induce F-actin remodeling, formation of filopodia, and directed cell motility.
A cyanobacterial light activated adenylyl cyclase partially restores development of a Dictyostelium discoideum, adenylyl cyclase a null mutant.
A light-regulated adenylyl cyclase, mPAC, was previously identified from the cyanobacterium Microcoleus chthonoplastes PCC7420. MPAC consists of a flavin-based blue light-sensing LOV domain and a catalytic domain. In this work, we expressed mPAC in an adenylate cyclase A null mutant (aca-) of the eukaryote Dictyostelium discoideum and tested to what extent light activation of mPAC could restore the cAMP-dependent developmental programme of this organism. Amoebas of Dictyostelium, a well-established model organism, generate and respond to cAMP pulses, which cause them to aggregate and construct fruiting bodies. mPAC was expressed under control of a constitutive actin-15 promoter in D. discoideum and displayed low basal adenylyl cyclase activity in darkness that was about five-fold stimulated by blue light. mPAC expression in aca- cells marginally restored aggregation and fruiting body formation in darkness. However, more and larger fruiting bodies were formed when mPAC expressing cells were incubated in light. Extending former applications of light-regulated AC, these results demonstrate that mPAC can be used to manipulate multicellular development in eukaryotes in a light dependent manner.
Remote control of myosin and kinesin motors using light-activated gearshifting.
Cytoskeletal motors perform critical force generation and transport functions in eukaryotic cells. Engineered modifications of motor function provide direct tests of protein structure-function relationships and potential tools for controlling cellular processes or for harnessing molecular transport in artificial systems. Here, we report the design and characterization of a panel of cytoskeletal motors that reversibly change gears--speed up, slow down or switch directions--when exposed to blue light. Our genetically encoded structural designs incorporate a photoactive protein domain to enable light-dependent conformational changes in an engineered lever arm. Using in vitro motility assays, we demonstrate robust spatiotemporal control over motor function and characterize the kinetics of the optical gearshifting mechanism. We have used a modular approach to create optical gearshifting motors for both actin-based and microtubule-based transport.
Aureochrome 1 illuminated: structural changes of a transcription factor probed by molecular spectroscopy.
Aureochrome 1 from Vaucheria frigida is a recently identified blue-light receptor that acts as a transcription factor. The protein comprises a photosensitive light-, oxygen- and voltage-sensitive (LOV) domain and a basic zipper (bZIP) domain that binds DNA rendering aureochrome 1 a prospective optogenetic tool. Here, we studied the photoreaction of full-length aureochrome 1 by molecular spectroscopy. The kinetics of the decay of the red-shifted triplet state and the blue-shifted signaling state were determined by time-resolved UV/Vis spectroscopy. It is shown that the presence of the bZIP domain further prolongs the lifetime of the LOV390 signaling state in comparison to the isolated LOV domain whereas bound DNA does not influence the photocycle kinetics. The light-dark Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) difference spectrum shows the characteristic features of the flavin mononucleotide chromophore except that the S-H stretching vibration of cysteine 254, which is involved in the formation of the thio-adduct state, is significantly shifted to lower frequencies compared to other LOV domains. The presence of the target DNA influences the light-induced FTIR difference spectrum of aureochrome 1. Vibrational bands that can be assigned to arginine and lysine side chains as well to the phosphate backbone, indicate crucial changes in interactions between transcription factor and DNA.
Time-resolved crystallography and protein design: signalling photoreceptors and optogenetics.
Time-resolved X-ray crystallography and solution scattering have been successfully conducted on proteins on time-scales down to around 100 ps, set by the duration of the hard X-ray pulses emitted by synchrotron sources. The advent of hard X-ray free-electron lasers (FELs), which emit extremely intense, very brief, coherent X-ray pulses, opens the exciting possibility of time-resolved experiments with femtosecond time resolution on macromolecular structure, in both single crystals and solution. The X-ray pulses emitted by an FEL differ greatly in many properties from those emitted by a synchrotron, in ways that at first glance make time-resolved measurements of X-ray scattering with the required accuracy extremely challenging. This opens up several questions which I consider in this brief overview. Are there likely to be chemically and biologically interesting structural changes to be revealed on the femtosecond time-scale? How shall time-resolved experiments best be designed and conducted to exploit the properties of FELs and overcome challenges that they pose? To date, fast time-resolved reactions have been initiated by a brief laser pulse, which obviously requires that the system under study be light-sensitive. Although this is true for proteins of the visual system and for signalling photoreceptors, it is not naturally the case for most interesting biological systems. To generate more biological targets for time-resolved study, can this limitation be overcome by optogenetic, chemical or other means?
Optical control of protein-protein interactions via blue light-induced domain swapping.
The design of new optogenetic tools for controlling protein function would be facilitated by the development of protein scaffolds that undergo large, well-defined structural changes upon exposure to light. Domain swapping, a process in which a structural element of a monomeric protein is replaced by the same element of another copy of the same protein, leads to a well-defined change in protein structure. We observe domain swapping in a variant of the blue light photoreceptor photoactive yellow protein in which a surface loop is replaced by a well-characterized protein-protein interaction motif, the E-helix. In the domain-swapped dimer, the E-helix sequence specifically binds a partner K-helix sequence, whereas in the monomeric form of the protein, the E-helix sequence is unable to fold into a binding-competent conformation and no interaction with the K-helix is seen. Blue light irradiation decreases the extent of domain swapping (from Kd = 10 μM to Kd = 300 μM) and dramatically enhances the rate, from weeks to <1 min. Blue light-induced domain swapping thus provides a novel mechanism for controlling of protein-protein interactions in which light alters both the stability and the kinetic accessibility of binding-competent states.
Illuminating cell signalling with optogenetic tools.
The light-based control of ion channels has been transformative for the neurosciences, but the optogenetic toolkit does not stop there. An expanding number of proteins and cellular functions have been shown to be controlled by light, and the practical considerations in deciding between reversible optogenetic systems (such as systems that use light-oxygen-voltage domains, phytochrome proteins, cryptochrome proteins and the fluorescent protein Dronpa) are well defined. The field is moving beyond proof of concept to answering real biological questions, such as how cell signalling is regulated in space and time, that were difficult or impossible to address with previous tools.
Engineering light-inducible nuclear localization signals for precise spatiotemporal control of protein dynamics in living cells.
The function of many eukaryotic proteins is regulated by highly dynamic changes in their nucleocytoplasmic distribution. The ability to precisely and reversibly control nuclear translocation would, therefore, allow dissecting and engineering cellular networks. Here we develop a genetically encoded, light-inducible nuclear localization signal (LINuS) based on the LOV2 domain of Avena sativa phototropin 1. LINuS is a small, versatile tag, customizable for different proteins and cell types. LINuS-mediated nuclear import is fast and reversible, and can be tuned at different levels, for instance, by introducing mutations that alter AsLOV2 domain photo-caging properties or by selecting nuclear localization signals (NLSs) of various strengths. We demonstrate the utility of LINuS in mammalian cells by controlling gene expression and entry into mitosis with blue light.
Spatio-temporally precise activation of engineered receptor tyrosine kinases by light.
Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are a large family of cell surface receptors that sense growth factors and hormones and regulate a variety of cell behaviours in health and disease. Contactless activation of RTKs with spatial and temporal precision is currently not feasible. Here, we generated RTKs that are insensitive to endogenous ligands but can be selectively activated by low-intensity blue light. We screened light-oxygen-voltage (LOV)-sensing domains for their ability to activate RTKs by light-activated dimerization. Incorporation of LOV domains found in aureochrome photoreceptors of stramenopiles resulted in robust activation of the fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGFR1), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and rearranged during transfection (RET). In human cancer and endothelial cells, light induced cellular signalling with spatial and temporal precision. Furthermore, light faithfully mimicked complex mitogenic and morphogenic cell behaviour induced by growth factors. RTKs under optical control (Opto-RTKs) provide a powerful optogenetic approach to actuate cellular signals and manipulate cell behaviour.