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 476 - 500 of 618 results

A light-triggered protein secretion system.

UV UVR8/UVR8 Cos-7 HEK293T rat hippocampal neurons Control of vesicular transport
J Cell Biol, 13 May 2013 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201210119 Link to full text
Abstract: Optical control of protein interactions has emerged as a powerful experimental paradigm for manipulating and studying various cellular processes. Tools are now available for controlling a number of cellular functions, but some fundamental processes, such as protein secretion, have been difficult to engineer using current optical tools. Here we use UVR8, a plant photoreceptor protein that forms photolabile homodimers, to engineer the first light-triggered protein secretion system. UVR8 fusion proteins were conditionally sequestered in the endoplasmic reticulum, and a brief pulse of light triggered robust forward trafficking through the secretory pathway to the plasma membrane. UVR8 was not responsive to excitation light used to image cyan, green, or red fluorescent protein variants, allowing multicolor visualization of cellular markers and secreted protein cargo as it traverses the cellular secretory pathway. We implemented this novel tool in neurons to demonstrate restricted, local trafficking of secretory cargo near dendritic branch points.

Optogenetic elevation of endogenous glucocorticoid level in larval zebrafish.

blue bPAC (BlaC) zebrafish in vivo Immediate control of second messengers Neuronal activity control
Front Neural Circuits, 6 May 2013 DOI: 10.3389/fncir.2013.00082 Link to full text
Abstract: The stress response is a suite of physiological and behavioral processes that help to maintain or reestablish homeostasis. Central to the stress response is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, as it releases crucial hormones in response to stress. Glucocorticoids (GCs) are the final effector hormones of the HPA axis, and exert a variety of actions under both basal and stress conditions. Despite their far-reaching importance for health, specific GC effects have been difficult to pin-down due to a lack of methods for selectively manipulating endogenous GC levels. Hence, in order to study stress-induced GC effects, we developed a novel optogenetic approach to selectively manipulate the rise of GCs triggered by stress. Using this approach, we could induce both transient hypercortisolic states and persistent forms of hypercortisolaemia in freely behaving larval zebrafish. Our results also established that transient hypercortisolism leads to enhanced locomotion shortly after stressor exposure. Altogether, we present a highly specific method for manipulating the gain of the stress axis with high temporal accuracy, altering endocrine and behavioral responses to stress as well as basal GC levels. Our study offers a powerful tool for the analysis of rapid (non-genomic) and delayed (genomic) GC effects on brain function and behavior, feedbacks within the stress axis and developmental programming by GCs.

A circularly permuted photoactive yellow protein as a scaffold for photoswitch design.

blue Fluorescent proteins Background
Biochemistry, 1 May 2013 DOI: 10.1021/bi400018h Link to full text
Abstract: Upon blue light irradiation, photoactive yellow protein (PYP) undergoes a conformational change that involves large movements at the N-terminus of the protein. We reasoned that this conformational change might be used to control other protein or peptide sequences if these were introduced as linkers connecting the N- and C-termini of PYP in a circular permutant. For such a design strategy to succeed, the circularly permuted PYP (cPYP) would have to fold normally and undergo a photocycle similar to that of the wild-type protein. We created a test cPYP by connecting the N- and C-termini of wild-type PYP (wtPYP) with a GGSGGSGG linker polypeptide and introducing new N- and C-termini at G115 and S114, respectively. Biophysical analysis indicated that this cPYP adopts a dark-state conformation much like wtPYP and undergoes wtPYP-like photoisomerization driven by blue light. However, thermal recovery of dark-state cPYP is ∼10-fold faster than that of wtPYP, so that very bright light is required to significantly populate the light state. Targeted mutations at M121E (M100 in wtPYP numbering) were found to enhance the light sensitivity substantially by lengthening the lifetime of the light state to ∼10 min. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), circular dichroism, and UV-vis analysis indicated that the M121E-cPYP mutant also adopts a dark-state structure like that of wtPYP, although protonated and deprotonated forms of the chromophore coexist, giving rise to a shoulder near 380 nm in the UV-vis absorption spectrum. Fluorine NMR studies with fluorotryptophan-labeled M121E-cPYP show that blue light drives large changes in conformational dynamics and leads to solvent exposure of Trp7 (Trp119 in wtPYP numbering), consistent with substantial rearrangement of the N-terminal cap structure. M121E-cPYP thus provides a scaffold that may allow a wider range of photoswitchable protein designs via replacement of the linker polypeptide with a target protein or peptide sequence.

Biomedically relevant circuit-design strategies in mammalian synthetic biology.

blue red UV Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Mol Syst Biol, 30 Apr 2013 DOI: 10.1038/msb.2013.48 Link to full text
Abstract: The development and progress in synthetic biology has been remarkable. Although still in its infancy, synthetic biology has achieved much during the past decade. Improvements in genetic circuit design have increased the potential for clinical applicability of synthetic biology research. What began as simple transcriptional gene switches has rapidly developed into a variety of complex regulatory circuits based on the transcriptional, translational and post-translational regulation. Instead of compounds with potential pharmacologic side effects, the inducer molecules now used are metabolites of the human body and even members of native cell signaling pathways. In this review, we address recent progress in mammalian synthetic biology circuit design and focus on how novel designs push synthetic biology toward clinical implementation. Groundbreaking research on the implementation of optogenetics and intercellular communications is addressed, as particularly optogenetics provides unprecedented opportunities for clinical application. Along with an increase in synthetic network complexity, multicellular systems are now being used to provide a platform for next-generation circuit design.

Multi-chromatic control of mammalian gene expression and signaling.

blue red UV PhyB/PIF6 UVR8/COP1 VVD CHO-K1 Cos-7 HEK293T MEF-1 NIH/3T3 SNB-19 Transgene expression Control of cell-cell / cell-material interactions Multichromatic
Nucleic Acids Res, 26 Apr 2013 DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkt340 Link to full text
Abstract: The emergence and future of mammalian synthetic biology depends on technologies for orchestrating and custom tailoring complementary gene expression and signaling processes in a predictable manner. Here, we demonstrate for the first time multi-chromatic expression control in mammalian cells by differentially inducing up to three genes in a single cell culture in response to light of different wavelengths. To this end, we developed an ultraviolet B (UVB)-inducible expression system by designing a UVB-responsive split transcription factor based on the Arabidopsis thaliana UVB receptor UVR8 and the WD40 domain of COP1. The system allowed high (up to 800-fold) UVB-induced gene expression in human, monkey, hamster and mouse cells. Based on a quantitative model, we determined critical system parameters. By combining this UVB-responsive system with blue and red light-inducible gene control technology, we demonstrate multi-chromatic multi-gene control by differentially expressing three genes in a single cell culture in mammalian cells, and we apply this system for the multi-chromatic control of angiogenic signaling processes. This portfolio of optogenetic tools enables the design and implementation of synthetic biological networks showing unmatched spatiotemporal precision for future research and biomedical applications.

Photoswitchable protein degradation: a generalizable control module for cellular function?

blue LOV domains Review
Chem Biol, 18 Apr 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2013.04.004 Link to full text
Abstract: In this issue of Chemistry & Biology, Renicke et al. report a photosensitive degron (psd) consisting of the LOV2 domain fused to a protein degradation sequence. This design enabled light-dependent protein degradation in yeast. When psd was fused to cell-cycle-dependent proteins, it controlled cell cycle by light with spatiotemporal precision.

A LOV2 domain-based optogenetic tool to control protein degradation and cellular function.

blue AtLOV2 S. cerevisiae Cell cycle control
Chem Biol, 18 Apr 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2013.03.005 Link to full text
Abstract: Light perception is indispensable for plants to respond adequately to external cues and is linked to proteolysis of key transcriptional regulators. To provide synthetic light control of protein stability, we developed a generic photosensitive degron (psd) module combining the light-reactive LOV2 domain of Arabidopsis thaliana phot1 with the murine ornithine decarboxylase-like degradation sequence cODC1. Functionality of the psd module was demonstrated in the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Generation of conditional mutants, light regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase activity, light-based patterning of cell growth, and yeast photography exemplified its versatility. In silico modeling of psd module behavior increased understanding of its characteristics. This engineered degron module transfers the principle of light-regulated degradation to nonplant organisms. It will be highly beneficial to control protein levels in biotechnological or biomedical applications and offers the potential to render a plethora of biological processes light-switchable.

Optogenetic tools for mammalian systems.

blue cyan red BLUF domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Mol Biosyst, 5 Apr 2013 DOI: 10.1039/c3mb25590e Link to full text
Abstract: Light is fundamental to life on earth. Therefore, nature has evolved a multitude of photoreceptors that sense light across all kingdoms. This natural resource provides synthetic biology with a vast pool of light-sensing components with distinct spectral properties that can be harnessed to engineer novel optogenetic tools. These devices enable control over gene expression, cell morphology and signaling pathways with superior spatiotemporal resolution and are maturing towards elaborate applications in basic research, in the production of biopharmaceuticals and in biomedicine. This article provides a summary of the recent advances in optogenetics that use light for the precise control of biological functions in mammalian cells.

Nuclear actin network assembly by formins regulates the SRF coactivator MAL.

blue AsLOV2 HeLa NIH/3T3 Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Science, 4 Apr 2013 DOI: 10.1126/science.1235038 Link to full text
Abstract: Formins are potent activators of actin filament assembly in the cytoplasm. In turn, cytoplasmic actin polymerization can promote release of actin from megakaryocytic acute leukemia (MAL) protein for serum response factor (SRF) transcriptional activity. We found that formins polymerized actin inside the mammalian nucleus to drive serum-dependent MAL-SRF activity. Serum stimulated rapid assembly of actin filaments within the nucleus in a formin-dependent manner. The endogenous formin mDia was regulated with an optogenetic tool, which allowed for photoreactive release of nuclear formin autoinhibition. Activated mDia promoted rapid and reversible nuclear actin network assembly, subsequent MAL nuclear accumulation, and SRF activity. Thus, a dynamic polymeric actin structure within the nucleus is part of the serum response.

Live imaging of multicolor-labeled cells in Drosophila.

blue CRY2/CIB1 D. melanogaster in vivo
Development, 12 Mar 2013 DOI: 10.1242/dev.088930 Link to full text
Abstract: We describe LOLLIbow, a Brainbow-based live imaging system with applications in developmental biology and neurobiology. The development of an animal, including the environmentally sensitive adaptation of its brain, is thought to proceed through continual orchestration among diverse cell types as they divide, migrate, transform and interact with one another within the body. To facilitate direct visualization of such dynamic morphogenesis by individual cells in vivo, we have modified the original Brainbow for Drosophila in which live imaging is practical during much of its development. Our system offers permanent fluorescent labels that reveal fine morphological details of individual cells without requiring dissection or fixation of the samples. It also features a non-invasive means to control the timing of stochastic tricolor cell labeling with a light pulse. We demonstrate applicability of the new system in a variety of settings that could benefit from direct imaging of the developing multicellular organism with single-cell resolution.

Guiding lights: recent developments in optogenetic control of biochemical signals.

blue red BLUF domains Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Pflugers Arch, 16 Feb 2013 DOI: 10.1007/s00424-013-1244-x Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics arises from the innovative application of microbial opsins in mammalian neurons and has since been a powerful technology that fuels the advance of our knowledge in neuroscience. In recent years, there has been growing interest in designing optogenetic tools extendable to broader cell types and biochemical signals. To date, a variety of photoactivatable proteins (refers to induction of protein activity in contrast to fluorescence) have been developed based on the understanding of plant and microbial photoreceptors including phototropins, blue light sensors using flavin adenine dinucleotide proteins, cryptochromes, and phytochromes. Such tools offered researchers reversible, quantitative, and precise spatiotemporal control of enzymatic activity, protein-protein interaction, protein translocation, as well as gene transcription in cells and in whole animals. In this review, we will briefly introduce these photosensory proteins, describe recent developments in optogenetics, and compare and contrast different methods based on their advantages and limitations.

A predicted structure for the PixD-PixE complex determined by homology modeling, docking simulations, and a mutagenesis study.

blue BLUF domains Background
Biochemistry, 7 Feb 2013 DOI: 10.1021/bi301004v Link to full text
Abstract: PixD is a blue light-using flavin (BLUF) photoreceptor that controls phototaxis in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC6803. PixD interacts with the response regulator-like protein PixE in a light-dependent manner, and this interaction is critical for light signal transduction in vivo. However, the structure of the PixD-PixE complex has not been determined. To improve our understanding of how PixD transmits its captured light signal to PixE, we used blue-native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis to characterize the molecular mass of a recombinant PixD-PixE complex purified from Escherichia coli and found it to be 342 kDa, suggesting that the complex contains 10 PixD and 4 PixE monomers. The stoichiometry of the complex was confirmed by Western blotting. Specifically, three intermediate states, PixD(10)-PixE(1), PixD(10)-PixE(2), and PixD(10)-PixE(3), were detected. The apparent dissociation constant for PixE and PixD is ~5 μM. A docking simulation was performed using a modeled PixE structure and the PixD(10) crystal structure. The docking simulation showed how the molecules in the PixD(10)-PixE(4) structure interact. To verify the accuracy of the docked model, a site-directed mutagenesis study was performed in which Arg80 of PixE, which appears to be capable of interacting electrostatically with Asp135 of PixD in the predicted structure, was shown to be critical for complex formation as mutation of PixE Arg80 to Asp or Ala prevented PixD-PixE complex formation. This study provides a structural basis for future investigations of the light signal transduction mechanism involving PixD and PixE.

Optogenetic protein clustering and signaling activation in mammalian cells.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HEK293T NIH/3T3 Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Nat Methods, 3 Feb 2013 DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.2360 Link to full text
Abstract: We report an optogenetic method based on Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 for rapid and reversible protein oligomerization in response to blue light. We demonstrated its utility by photoactivating the β-catenin pathway, achieving a transcriptional response higher than that obtained with the natural ligand Wnt3a. We also demonstrated the modularity of this approach by photoactivating RhoA with high spatiotemporal resolution, thereby suggesting a previously unknown mode of activation for this Rho GTPase.

Phosphorylation of phytochrome B inhibits light-induced signaling via accelerated dark reversion in Arabidopsis.

red Phytochromes Background
Plant Cell, 1 Feb 2013 DOI: 10.1105/tpc.112.106898 Link to full text
Abstract: The photoreceptor phytochrome B (phyB) interconverts between the biologically active Pfr (λmax = 730 nm) and inactive Pr (λmax = 660 nm) forms in a red/far-red-dependent fashion and regulates, as molecular switch, many aspects of light-dependent development in Arabidopsis thaliana. phyB signaling is launched by the biologically active Pfr conformer and mediated by specific protein-protein interactions between phyB Pfr and its downstream regulatory partners, whereas conversion of Pfr to Pr terminates signaling. Here, we provide evidence that phyB is phosphorylated in planta at Ser-86 located in the N-terminal domain of the photoreceptor. Analysis of phyB-9 transgenic plants expressing phospho-mimic and nonphosphorylatable phyB-yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) fusions demonstrated that phosphorylation of Ser-86 negatively regulates all physiological responses tested. The Ser86Asp and Ser86Ala substitutions do not affect stability, photoconversion, and spectral properties of the photoreceptor, but light-independent relaxation of the phyB(Ser86Asp) Pfr into Pr, also termed dark reversion, is strongly enhanced both in vivo and in vitro. Faster dark reversion attenuates red light-induced nuclear import and interaction of phyB(Ser86Asp)-YFP Pfr with the negative regulator PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR3 compared with phyB-green fluorescent protein. These data suggest that accelerated inactivation of the photoreceptor phyB via phosphorylation of Ser-86 represents a new paradigm for modulating phytochrome-controlled signaling.

Engineering of bacterial phytochromes for near-infrared imaging, sensing, and light-control in mammals.

blue near-infrared red Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Chem Soc Rev, 29 Jan 2013 DOI: 10.1039/c3cs35458j Link to full text
Abstract: Near-infrared light is favourable for imaging in mammalian tissues due to low absorbance of hemoglobin, melanin, and water. Therefore, fluorescent proteins, biosensors and optogenetic constructs for optimal imaging, optical readout and light manipulation in mammals should have fluorescence and action spectra within the near-infrared window. Interestingly, natural Bacterial Phytochrome Photoreceptors (BphPs) utilize the low molecular weight biliverdin, found in most mammalian tissues, as a photoreactive chromophore. Due to their near-infrared absorbance BphPs are preferred templates for designing optical molecular tools for applications in mammals. Moreover, BphPs spectrally complement existing genetically-encoded probes. Several BphPs were already developed into the near-infrared fluorescent variants. Based on the analysis of the photochemistry and structure of BphPs we suggest a variety of possible BphP-based fluorescent proteins, biosensors, and optogenetic tools. Putative design strategies and experimental considerations for such probes are discussed.

A red/far-red light-responsive bi-stable toggle switch to control gene expression in mammalian cells.

red PhyB/PIF6 CHO-K1 Cos-7 HUVEC MEF-1 NIH/3T3 Transgene expression Developmental processes
Nucleic Acids Res, 25 Jan 2013 DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkt002 Link to full text
Abstract: Growth and differentiation of multicellular systems is orchestrated by spatially restricted gene expression programs in specialized subpopulations. The targeted manipulation of such processes by synthetic tools with high-spatiotemporal resolution could, therefore, enable a deepened understanding of developmental processes and open new opportunities in tissue engineering. Here, we describe the first red/far-red light-triggered gene switch for mammalian cells for achieving gene expression control in time and space. We show that the system can reversibly be toggled between stable on- and off-states using short light pulses at 660 or 740 nm. Red light-induced gene expression was shown to correlate with the applied photon number and was compatible with different mammalian cell lines, including human primary cells. The light-induced expression kinetics were quantitatively analyzed by a mathematical model. We apply the system for the spatially controlled engineering of angiogenesis in chicken embryos. The system's performance combined with cell- and tissue-compatible regulating red light will enable unprecedented spatiotemporally controlled molecular interventions in mammalian cells, tissues and organisms.

Ultraviolet-B-mediated induction of protein-protein interactions in mammalian cells.

UV UVR8/COP1 S. cerevisiae U-2 OS
Nat Commun, 2013 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2800 Link to full text
Abstract: Light-sensitive proteins are useful tools to control protein localization, activation and gene expression, but are currently limited to excitation with red or blue light. Here we report a novel optogenetic system based on the ultraviolet-B-dependent interaction of the Arabidopsis ultraviolet-B photoreceptor UVR8 with COP1 that can be performed in visible light background. We use this system to induce nuclear accumulation of cytoplasmic green fluorescent protein fused to UVR8 in cells expressing nuclear COP1, and to recruit a nucleoplasmic red fluorescent protein fused to COP1 to chromatin in cells expressing UVR8-H2B. We also show that ultraviolet-B-dependent interactions between DNA-binding and transcription activation domains result in a linear induction of gene expression. The UVR8-COP1 interactions in mammalian cells can be induced using subsecond pulses of ultraviolet-B light and last several hours. As UVR8 photoperception is based on intrinsic tryptophan residues, these interactions do not depend on the addition of an exogenous chromophore.

Ultrafast red light activation of Synechocystis phytochrome Cph1 triggers major structural change to form the Pfr signalling-competent state.

red Phytochromes Background
PLoS ONE, 26 Dec 2012 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052418 Link to full text
Abstract: Phytochromes are dimeric photoreceptors that regulate a range of responses in plants and microorganisms through interconversion of red light-absorbing (Pr) and far-red light-absorbing (Pfr) states. Photoconversion between these states is initiated by light-driven isomerization of a bilin cofactor, which triggers protein structural change. The extent of this change, and how light-driven structural changes in the N-terminal photosensory region are transmitted to the C-terminal regulatory domain to initiate the signalling cascade, is unknown. We have used pulsed electron-electron double resonance (PELDOR) spectroscopy to identify multiple structural transitions in a phytochrome from Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 (Cph1) by measuring distances between nitroxide labels introduced into the protein. We show that monomers in the Cph1 dimer are aligned in a parallel 'head-to-head' arrangement and that photoconversion between the Pr and Pfr forms involves conformational change in both the N- and C-terminal domains of the protein. Cryo-trapping and kinetic measurements were used to probe the extent and temporal properties of protein motions for individual steps during photoconversion of Cph1. Formation of the primary photoproduct Lumi-R is not affected by changes in solvent viscosity and dielectric constant. Lumi-R formation occurs at cryogenic temperatures, consistent with their being no major structural reorganization of Cph1 during primary photoproduct formation. All remaining steps in the formation of the Pfr state are affected by solvent viscosity and dielectric constant and occur only at elevated temperatures, implying involvement of a series of long-range solvent-coupled conformational changes in Cph1. We show that signalling is achieved through ultrafast photoisomerization where localized structural change in the GAF domain is transmitted and amplified to cause larger-scale and slower conformational change in the PHY and histidine kinase domains. This hierarchy of timescales and extent of structural change orientates the histidine kinase domain to elicit the desired light-activated biological response.

Optogenetic control of cell function using engineered photoreceptors.

blue red Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Biol Cell, 21 Dec 2012 DOI: 10.1111/boc.201200056 Link to full text
Abstract: Over the past decades, there has been growing recognition that light can provide a powerful stimulus for biological interrogation. Light-actuated tools allow manipulation of molecular events with ultra-fine spatial and fast temporal resolution, as light can be rapidly delivered and focused with sub-micrometre precision within cells. While light-actuated chemicals such as photolabile 'caged' compounds have been in existence for decades, the use of genetically encoded natural photoreceptors for optical control of biological processes has recently emerged as a powerful new approach with several advantages over traditional methods. Here, we review recent advances using light to control basic cellular functions and discuss the engineering challenges that lie ahead for improving and expanding the ever-growing optogenetic toolkit.

Photo-dynamics and thermal behavior of the BLUF domain containing adenylate cyclase NgPAC2 from the amoeboflagellate Naegleria gruberi NEG-M strain.

blue BLUF domains Background
Chem Phys, 20 Dec 2012 DOI: 10.1016/j.chemphys.2012.12.015 Link to full text
Abstract: The absorption and emission spectroscopic behavior of the photo-activated adenylate cyclase NgPAC2 from the amoeboflagellate Naegleria gruberi NEG-M strain was studied in the dark, during blue-light exposure and after blue-light exposure. The typical BLUF domain (BLUF = Blue Light sensor Using Flavin) flavin cofactor absorption and fluorescence photo-cycle dynamics was observed. For fresh samples a reversible concentration dependent protein oligomerization occurred showing up in free flavin binding and protein color center formation with increasing protein concentration. Thermal and temporal irreversible protein unfolding with loss of BLUF domain activity was investigated. Temperature dependent protein melting times and the apparent protein melting temperature were determined. The photodynamic behavior of the NgPAC2 is compared with the behavior of the previously investigated photo-activated cyclase NgPAC1 (nPAC) from the same N. gruberi NEG-M strain.

Light detection and signal transduction in the BLUF photoreceptors.

blue BLUF domains Review Background
Plant Cell Physiol, 14 Dec 2012 DOI: 10.1093/pcp/pcs173 Link to full text
Abstract: BLUF (sensor of blue light using FAD) domain-containing proteins are one of three types of flavin-binding, blue-light-sensing proteins found in many bacteria and some algae. The other types of blue-light-sensing proteins are the cryptochromes and the light, oxygen, voltage (LOV) domain-containing proteins. BLUF proteins control a wide variety of light-dependent physiological activities including photosystem synthesis, biofilm formation and the photoavoidance response. The BLUF domain photochemical reaction is unique in that only small chromophore structural changes are involved in the light activation process, because the rigid flavin moiety is involved, rather than an isomerizable chromophore (e.g. phytochromobilin in phytochromes and retinal in rhodopsins). Recent spectroscopic, biochemical and structural studies have begun to elucidate how BLUF domains transmit the light-induced signal and identify related, subsequent changes in the domain structures. Herein, I review progress made to date concerning the physiological functions and the phototransduction mechanism of BLUF proteins.

Identification of natural and artificial DNA substrates for light-activated LOV-HTH transcription factor EL222.

blue LOV domains Background
Biochemistry, 10 Dec 2012 DOI: 10.1021/bi301306t Link to full text
Abstract: Light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domains serve as the photosensory modules for a wide range of plant and bacterial proteins, conferring blue light-dependent regulation to effector activities as diverse as enzymes and DNA binding. LOV domains can also be engineered into a variety of exogenous targets, allowing similar regulation for new protein-based reagents. Common to these proteins is the ability for LOV domains to reversibly form a photochemical adduct between an internal flavin chromophore and the surrounding protein, using this to trigger conformational changes that affect output activity. Using the Erythrobacter litoralis protein EL222 model system that links LOV regulation to a helix-turn-helix (HTH) DNA binding domain, we demonstrated that the LOV domain binds and inhibits the HTH domain in the dark, releasing these interactions upon illumination [Nash, A. I., et al. (2011) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 108, 9449-9454]. Here we combine genomic and in vitro selection approaches to identify optimal DNA binding sites for EL222. Within the bacterial host, we observe binding at several genomic sites using a 12 bp sequence consensus that is also found by in vitro selection methods. Sequence-specific alterations in the DNA consensus reduce EL222 binding affinity in a manner consistent with the expected binding mode, a protein dimer binding to two repeats. Finally, we demonstrate the light-dependent activation of transcription of two genes adjacent to an EL222 binding site. Taken together, these results shed light on the native function of EL222 and provide useful reagents for further basic and applications research of this versatile protein.

Optogenetic control of transcription in zebrafish.

blue CRY2/CIB1 S. cerevisiae zebrafish in vivo
PLoS ONE, 30 Nov 2012 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050738 Link to full text
Abstract: Light inducible protein-protein interactions are powerful tools to manipulate biological processes. Genetically encoded light-gated proteins for controlling precise cellular behavior are a new and promising technology, called optogenetics. Here we exploited the blue light-induced transcription system in yeast and zebrafish, based on the blue light dependent interaction between two plant proteins, blue light photoreceptor Cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) and the bHLH transcription factor CIB1 (CRY-interacting bHLH 1). We demonstrate the utility of this system by inducing rapid transcription suppression and activation in zebrafish.

Red/green cyanobacteriochromes: sensors of color and power.

violet Cyanobacteriochromes Background
Biochemistry, 21 Nov 2012 DOI: 10.1021/bi3013565 Link to full text
Abstract: Phytochromes are red/far-red photoreceptors using cysteine-linked linear tetrapyrrole (bilin) chromophores to regulate biological responses to light. Light absorption triggers photoisomerization of the bilin between the 15Z and 15E photostates. The related cyanobacteriochromes (CBCRs) extend the photosensory range of the phytochrome superfamily to shorter wavelengths of visible light. Several subfamilies of CBCRs have been described. Representatives of one such subfamily, including AnPixJ and NpR6012g4, exhibit red/green photocycles in which the 15Z photostate is red-absorbing like that of phytochrome but the 15E photoproduct is instead green-absorbing. Using recombinant expression of individual CBCR domains in Escherichia coli, we fully survey the red/green subfamily from the cyanobacterium Nostoc punctiforme. In addition to 14 new photoswitching CBCRs, one apparently photochemically inactive protein exhibiting intense red fluorescence was observed. We describe a novel orange/green photocycle in one of these CBCRs, NpF2164g7. Dark reversion varied in this panel of CBCRs; some examples were stable as the 15E photoproduct for days, while others reverted to the 15Z dark state in minutes or even seconds. In the case of NpF2164g7, dark reversion was so rapid that reverse photoconversion of the green-absorbing photoproduct was not significant in restoring the dark state, resulting in a broadband response to light. Our results demonstrate that red/green CBCRs can thus act as sensors for the color or intensity of the ambient light environment.

Optical control of protein activity by fluorescent protein domains.

cyan Dronpa145K/N Dronpa145N HEK293T HeLa in vitro NIH/3T3 Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Science, 9 Nov 2012 DOI: 10.1126/science.1226854 Link to full text
Abstract: Fluorescent proteins (FPs) are widely used as optical sensors, whereas other light-absorbing domains have been used for optical control of protein localization or activity. Here, we describe light-dependent dissociation and association in a mutant of the photochromic FP Dronpa, and we used it to control protein activities with light. We created a fluorescent light-inducible protein design in which Dronpa domains are fused to both termini of an enzyme domain. In the dark, the Dronpa domains associate and cage the protein, but light induces Dronpa dissociation and activates the protein. This method enabled optical control over guanine nucleotide exchange factor and protease domains without extensive screening. Our findings extend the applications of FPs from exclusively sensing functions to also encompass optogenetic control.
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