Showing 501 - 525 of 617 results
Light-inducible spatiotemporal control of gene activation by customizable zinc finger transcription factors.
Advanced gene regulatory systems are necessary for scientific research, synthetic biology, and gene-based medicine. An ideal system would allow facile spatiotemporal manipulation of gene expression within a cell population that is tunable, reversible, repeatable, and can be targeted to diverse DNA sequences. To meet these criteria, a gene regulation system was engineered that combines light-sensitive proteins and programmable zinc finger transcription factors. This system, light-inducible transcription using engineered zinc finger proteins (LITEZ), uses two light-inducible dimerizing proteins from Arabidopsis thaliana, GIGANTEA and the LOV domain of FKF1, to control synthetic zinc finger transcription factor activity in human cells. Activation of gene expression in human cells engineered with LITEZ was reversible and repeatable by modulating the duration of illumination. The level of gene expression could also be controlled by modulating light intensity. Finally, gene expression could be activated in a spatially defined pattern by illuminating the human cell culture through a photomask of arbitrary geometry. LITEZ enables new approaches for precisely regulating gene expression in biotechnology and medicine, as well as studying gene function, cell-cell interactions, and tissue morphogenesis.
Photoinduced damage to cellular DNA: direct and photosensitized reactions.
The survey focuses on recent aspects of photochemical reactions to cellular DNA that are implicated through the predominant formation of mostly bipyrimidine photoproducts in deleterious effects of human exposure to sunlight. Recent developments in analytical methods have allowed accurate and quantitative measurements of the main DNA photoproducts in cells and human skin. Highly mutagenic CC and CT bipyrimidine photoproducts, including cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers and pyrimidine (6-4) pyrimidone photoproducts (6-4PPs) are generated in low yields with respect to TT and TC photoproducts. Another striking finding deals with the formation of Dewar valence isomers, the third class of bipyrimidine photoproducts that is accounted for by UVA-mediated isomerization of initially UVB generated 6-4PPs. Cyclobutadithymine (T<>T) has been unambiguously shown to be involved in the genotoxicity of UVA radiation. Thus, T<>T is formed in UVA-irradiated cellular DNA according to a direct excitation mechanism with a higher efficiency than oxidatively generated DNA damage that arises mostly through the Type II photosensitization mechanism. C<>C and C<>T are repaired at rates intermediate between those of T<>T and 6-4TT. Evidence has been also provided for the occurrence of photosensitized reactions mediated by exogenous agents that act either in an independent way or through photodynamic effects.
Light-mediated control of DNA transcription in yeast.
A variety of methods exist for inducible control of DNA transcription in yeast. These include the use of native yeast promoters or regulatory elements that are responsive to small molecules such as galactose, methionine, and copper, or engineered systems that allow regulation by orthogonal small molecules such as estrogen. While chemically regulated systems are easy to use and can yield high levels of protein expression, they often provide imprecise control over protein levels. Moreover, chemically regulated systems can affect many other proteins and pathways in yeast, activating signaling pathways or physiological responses. Here, we describe several methods for light mediated control of DNA transcription in vivo in yeast. We describe methodology for using a red light and phytochrome dependent system to induce transcription of genes under GAL1 promoter control, as well as blue light/cryptochrome dependent systems to control transcription of genes under GAL1 promoter or LexA operator control. Light is dose dependent, inexpensive to apply, easily delivered, and does not interfere with cellular pathways, and thus has significant advantages over chemical systems.
Light activated cell migration in synthetic extracellular matrices.
Synthetic extracellular matrices provide a framework in which cells can be exposed to defined physical and biological cues. However no method exists to manipulate single cells within these matrices. It is desirable to develop such methods in order to understand fundamental principles of cell migration and define conditions that support or inhibit cell movement within these matrices. Here, we present a strategy for manipulating individual mammalian stem cells in defined synthetic hydrogels through selective optical activation of Rac, which is an intracellular signaling protein that plays a key role in cell migration. Photoactivated cell migration in synthetic hydrogels depended on mechanical and biological cues in the biomaterial. Real-time hydrogel photodegradation was employed to create geometrically defined channels and spaces in which cells could be photoactivated to migrate. Cell migration speed was significantly higher in the photo-etched channels and cells could easily change direction of movement compared to the bulk hydrogels.
Optogenetic control of phosphoinositide metabolism.
Phosphoinositides (PIs) are lipid components of cell membranes that regulate a wide variety of cellular functions. Here we exploited the blue light-induced dimerization between two plant proteins, cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) and the transcription factor CIBN, to control plasma membrane PI levels rapidly, locally, and reversibly. The inositol 5-phosphatase domain of OCRL (5-ptase(OCRL)), which acts on PI(4,5)P(2) and PI(3,4,5)P(3), was fused to the photolyase homology region domain of CRY2, and the CRY2-binding domain, CIBN, was fused to plasma membrane-targeting motifs. Blue-light illumination (458-488 nm) of mammalian cells expressing these constructs resulted in nearly instantaneous recruitment of 5-ptase(OCRL) to the plasma membrane, where it caused rapid (within seconds) and reversible (within minutes) dephosphorylation of its targets as revealed by diverse cellular assays: dissociation of PI(4,5)P(2) and PI(3,4,5)P(3) biosensors, disappearance of endocytic clathrin-coated pits, nearly complete inhibition of KCNQ2/3 channel currents, and loss of membrane ruffling. Focal illumination resulted in local and transient 5-ptase(OCRL) recruitment and PI(4,5)P(2) dephosphorylation, causing not only local collapse and retraction of the cell edge or process but also compensatory accumulation of the PI(4,5)P(2) biosensor and membrane ruffling at the opposite side of the cells. Using the same approach for the recruitment of PI3K, local PI(3,4,5)P(3) synthesis and membrane ruffling could be induced, with corresponding loss of ruffling distally to the illuminated region. This technique provides a powerful tool for dissecting with high spatial-temporal kinetics the cellular functions of various PIs and reversibly controlling the functions of downstream effectors of these signaling lipids.
Structure of a bacteriophytochrome and light-stimulated protomer swapping with a gene repressor.
Phytochromes are photoreceptors in phototropic organisms that respond to light conditions by changing interactions between a response regulator and DNA. Bacterial phytochromes (BphPs) comprise an input photosensory core domain (PCD) and an output transducing domain (OTD). We report the structure of a BphP containing both PCD and the majority of its OTD, and demonstrate interaction with its cognate repressor. The OTD of RpBphP1, from Rhodopseudomonas palustris, is composed of a PAS/PAC domain and, to our knowledge, a hitherto unrecognized two-helix output sensor (HOS) domain. Unlike canonical BphPs, it does not transmit phosphorelay signals but forms a complex with the transcriptional repressor RpPpsR2 on photoconversion with far-red light. We show that HOS is essential for complex formation and that the anti-parallel dimer geometry is crucial in achieving HOS domain activation and protomer swapping under the control of light. These results provide insights into the steps taken by a two-component signaling system.
Rac1 is essential in cocaine-induced structural plasticity of nucleus accumbens neurons.
Repeated cocaine administration increases the dendritic arborization of nucleus accumbens neurons, but the underlying signaling events remain unknown. Here we show that repeated exposure to cocaine negatively regulates the active form of Rac1, a small GTPase that controls actin remodeling in other systems. Further, we show, using viral-mediated gene transfer, that overexpression of a dominant negative mutant of Rac1 or local knockout of Rac1 is sufficient to increase the density of immature dendritic spines on nucleus accumbens neurons, whereas overexpression of a constitutively active Rac1 or light activation of a photoactivatable form of Rac1 blocks the ability of repeated cocaine exposure to produce this effect. Downregulation of Rac1 activity likewise promotes behavioral responses to cocaine exposure, with activation of Rac1 producing the opposite effect. These findings establish that Rac1 signaling mediates structural and behavioral plasticity in response to cocaine exposure.
Light-controlled synthetic gene circuits.
Highly complex synthetic gene circuits have been engineered in living organisms to develop systems with new biological properties. A precise trigger to activate or deactivate these complex systems is desired in order to tightly control different parts of a synthetic or natural network. Light represents an excellent tool to achieve this goal as it can be regulated in timing, location, intensity, and wavelength, which allows for precise spatiotemporal control over genetic circuits. Recently, light has been used as a trigger to control the biological function of small molecules, oligonucleotides, and proteins involved as parts in gene circuits. Light activation has enabled the construction of unique systems in living organisms such as band-pass filters and edge-detectors in bacterial cells. Additionally, light also allows for the regulation of intermediate steps of complex dynamic pathways in mammalian cells such as those involved in kinase networks. Herein we describe recent advancements in the area of light-controlled synthetic networks.
Controlling the DNA cleavage activity of light-inducible chimeric endonucleases by bidirectional photoactivation.
A functional coupling of photosensory domains derived from photoreceptors to effector proteins is a promising strategy for engineering novel photoresponsive proteins in optogenetics. Here, we have fused the light-sensitive LOV2 domain from Avena sativa phototropin1 to the restriction enzyme PvuII to generate a genetically encoded, light-controllable endonuclease. By analyzing several LOV-PvuII fusion enzymes, variants were obtained that show a 3-fold difference in DNA cleavage activity, when illuminated with blue light or kept in the dark. The effect is fully reversible over multiple photocycles. Depending on the particular fusion interface, the LOV-PvuII variants obtained had a bidirectional polarity in photoactivation; i.e., increased DNA cleavage activity was observed either in the dark state, with a compact folded LOV domain, or in the blue light photoexcitation state, when the LOV domain is partially unfolded.
Time-resolved tracking of interprotein signal transduction: Synechocystis PixD-PixE complex as a sensor of light intensity.
PixD (Slr1694) is a blue light receptor that contains a BLUF (blue light sensors using a flavin chromophore) domain. A protein-protein interaction between PixD and a response regulator PixE (Slr1693) is essential to achieve light signal transduction for phototaxis of the species. Although the initial photochemical reaction of PixD, the red shift of the flavin absorption spectrum, has been investigated, the subsequent reaction dynamics remain largely unresolved. Only the disassembly of the PixD(10)-PixE(5) dark complex has been characterized by static size exclusion chromatography. In this report, interprotein reaction dynamics were examined using time-resolved transient grating spectroscopy. The dissociation process was clearly observed as the light-induced diffusion coefficient change in the time domain, and the kinetics was determined. More strikingly, disassembly was found to take place only after photoactivation of two PixD subunits in the complex. This result suggests that the biological response of PixD does not follow a linear correlation with the light intensity but appears to be light-intensity-dependent.
Photo-inducible cell ablation in Caenorhabditis elegans using the genetically encoded singlet oxygen generating protein miniSOG.
We describe a method for light-inducible and tissue-selective cell ablation using a genetically encoded photosensitizer, miniSOG (mini singlet oxygen generator). miniSOG is a newly engineered fluorescent protein of 106 amino acids that generates singlet oxygen in quantum yield upon blue-light illumination. We transgenically expressed mitochondrially targeted miniSOG (mito-miniSOG) in Caenorhabditis elegans neurons. Upon blue-light illumination, mito-miniSOG causes rapid and effective death of neurons in a cell-autonomous manner without detectable damages to surrounding tissues. Neuronal death induced by mito-miniSOG appears to be independent of the caspase CED-3, but the clearance of the damaged cells partially depends on the phagocytic receptor CED-1, a homolog of human CD91. We show that neurons can be killed at different developmental stages. We further use this method to investigate the role of the premotor interneurons in regulating the convulsive behavior caused by a gain-of-function mutation in the neuronal acetylcholine receptor acr-2. Our findings support an instructive role for the interneuron AVB in controlling motor neuron activity and reveal an inhibitory effect of the backward premotor interneurons on the forward interneurons. In summary, the simple inducible cell ablation method reported here allows temporal and spatial control and will prove to be a useful tool in studying the function of specific cells within complex cellular contexts.
Designing photoswitchable peptides using the AsLOV2 domain.
Photocontrol of functional peptides is a powerful tool for spatial and temporal control of cell signaling events. We show that the genetically encoded light-sensitive LOV2 domain of Avena Sativa phototropin 1 (AsLOV2) can be used to reversibly photomodulate the affinity of peptides for their binding partners. Sequence analysis and molecular modeling were used to embed two peptides into the Jα helix of the AsLOV2 domain while maintaining AsLOV2 structure in the dark but allowing for binding to effector proteins when the Jα helix unfolds in the light. Caged versions of the ipaA and SsrA peptides, LOV-ipaA and LOV-SsrA, bind their targets with 49- and 8-fold enhanced affinity in the light, respectively. These switches can be used as general tools for light-dependent colocalization, which we demonstrate with photo-activable gene transcription in yeast.
Phytochrome signaling in green Arabidopsis seedlings: impact assessment of a mutually negative phyB-PIF feedback loop.
The reversibly red (R)/far-red (FR)-light-responsive phytochrome (phy) photosensory system initiates both the deetiolation process in dark-germinated seedlings upon first exposure to light, and the shade-avoidance process in fully deetiolated seedlings upon exposure to vegetational shade. The intracellular signaling pathway from the light-activated photoreceptor conformer (Pfr) to the transcriptional network that drives these responses involves direct, physical interaction of Pfr with a small subfamily of bHLH transcription factors, termed Phy-Interacting Factors (PIFs), which induces rapid PIF proteolytic degradation. In addition, there is evidence of further complexity in light-grown seedlings, whereby phyB-PIF interaction reciprocally induces phyB degradation, in a mutually-negative, feedback-loop configuration. Here, to assess the relative contributions of these antagonistic activities to the net phenotypic readout in light-grown seedlings, we have examined the magnitude of the light- and simulated-shade-induced responses of a pentuple phyBpif1pif3pif4pif5 (phyBpifq) mutant and various multiple pif-mutant combinations. The data (1) reaffirm that phyB is the predominant, if not exclusive, photoreceptor imposing the inhibition of hypocotyl elongation in deetiolating seedlings in response to prolonged continuous R irradiation and (2) show that the PIF quartet (PIF1, PIF3, PIF4, and PIF5) retain and exert a dual capacity to modulate hypocotyl elongation under these conditions, by concomitantly promoting cell elongation through intrinsic transcriptional-regulatory activity, and reducing phyB-inhibitory capacity through feedback-loop-induced phyB degradation. In shade-exposed seedlings, immunoblot analysis shows that the shade-imposed reduction in Pfr levels induces increases in the abundance of PIF3, and mutant analysis indicates that PIF3 acts, in conjunction with PIF4 and PIF5, to promote the known shade-induced acceleration of hypocotyl elongation. Conversely, although the quadruple pifq mutant displays clearly reduced hypocotyl elongation compared to wild-type in response to prolonged shade, immunoblot analysis detects no elevation in phyB levels in the mutant seedlings compared to the wild-type during the majority of the shade-induced growth period, and phyB levels are not robustly correlated with the growth phenotype across the pif-mutant combinations compared. These results suggest that PIF feedback modulation of phyB abundance does not play a dominant role in modulating the magnitude of the PIF-promoted, shade-responsive phenotype under these conditions. In seedlings grown under diurnal light-dark cycles, the data show that FR-pulse-induced removal of Pfr at the beginning of the dark period (End-of-Day-FR (EOD-FR) treatment) results in longer hypocotyls relative to no EOD-FR treatment and that this effect is attenuated in the pif-mutant combinations tested. This result similarly indicates that the PIF quartet members are capable of intrinsically promoting hypocotyl cell elongation in light-grown plants, independently of the effects of PIF feedback modulation of photoactivated-phyB abundance.
Crystal structures of Aureochrome1 LOV suggest new design strategies for optogenetics.
Aureochrome1, a signaling photoreceptor from a eukaryotic photosynthetic stramenopile, confers blue-light-regulated DNA binding on the organism. Its topology, in which a C-terminal LOV sensor domain is linked to an N-terminal DNA-binding bZIP effector domain, contrasts with the reverse sensor-effector topology in most other known LOV-photoreceptors. How, then, is signal transmitted in Aureochrome1? The dark- and light-state crystal structures of Aureochrome1 LOV domain (AuLOV) show that its helical N- and C-terminal flanking regions are packed against the external surface of the core β sheet, opposite to the FMN chromophore on the internal surface. Light-induced conformational changes occur in the quaternary structure of the AuLOV dimer and in Phe298 of the Hβ strand in the core. The properties of AuLOV extend the applicability of LOV domains as versatile design modules that permit fusion to effector domains via either the N- or C-termini to confer blue-light sensitivity.
LOV to BLUF: flavoprotein contributions to the optogenetic toolkit.
Optogenetics is an emerging field that combines optical and genetic approaches to non-invasively interfere with cellular events with exquisite spatiotemporal control. Although it arose originally from neuroscience, optogenetics is widely applicable to the study of many different biological systems and the range of applications arising from this technology continues to increase. Moreover, the repertoire of light-sensitive proteins used for devising new optogenetic tools is rapidly expanding. Light, Oxygen, or Voltage sensing (LOV) and Blue-Light-Utilizing flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) (BLUF) domains represent new contributors to the optogenetic toolkit. These small (100-140-amino acids) flavoprotein modules are derived from plant and bacterial photoreceptors that respond to UV-A/blue light. In recent years, considerable progress has been made in uncovering the photoactivation mechanisms of both LOV and BLUF domains. This knowledge has been applied in the design of synthetic photoswitches and fluorescent reporters with applications in cell biology and biotechnology. In this review, we summarize the photochemical properties of LOV and BLUF photosensors and highlight some of the recent advances in how these flavoproteins are being employed to artificially regulate and image a variety of biological processes.
LOV domain-containing F-box proteins: light-dependent protein degradation modules in Arabidopsis.
Plants constantly survey the surrounding environment using several sets of photoreceptors. They can sense changes in the quantity (=intensity) and quality (=wavelength) of light and use this information to adjust their physiological responses, growth, and developmental patterns. In addition to the classical photoreceptors, such as phytochromes, cryptochromes, and phototropins, ZEITLUPE (ZTL), FLAVIN-BINDING, KELCH REPEAT, F-BOX 1 (FKF1), and LOV KELCH PROTEIN 2 (LKP2) proteins have been recently identified as blue-light photoreceptors that are important for regulation of the circadian clock and photoperiodic flowering. The ZTL/FKF1/LKP2 protein family possesses a unique combination of domains: a blue-light-absorbing LOV (Light, Oxygen, or Voltage) domain along with domains involved in protein degradation. Here, we summarize recent advances in our understanding of the function of the Arabidopsis ZTL/FKF1/LKP2 proteins. We summarize the distinct photochemical properties of their LOV domains and discuss the molecular mechanisms by which the ZTL/FKF1/LKP2 proteins regulate the circadian clock and photoperiodic flowering by controlling blue-light-dependent protein degradation.
The amino-terminal helix modulates light-activated conformational changes in AsLOV2.
The mechanism of light-triggered conformational change and signaling in light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domains remains elusive in spite of extensive investigation and their use in optogenetic studies. The LOV2 domain of Avenasativa phototropin 1 (AsLOV2), a member of the Per-Arnt-Sim (PAS) family, contains a flavin mononucleotide chromophore that forms a covalent bond with a cysteine upon illumination. This event leads to the release of the carboxy-terminal Jα helix, the biological output signal. Using mutational analysis, circular dichroism, and NMR, we find that the largely ignored amino-terminal helix is a control element in AsLOV2's light-activated conformational change. We further identify a direct amino-to-carboxy-terminal "input-output" signaling pathway. These findings provide a framework to rationalize the LOV domain architecture, as well as the signaling mechanisms in both isolated and tandem arrangements of PAS domains. This knowledge can be applied in engineering LOV-based photoswitches, opening up new design strategies and improving existing ones.
TULIPs: tunable, light-controlled interacting protein tags for cell biology.
Naturally photoswitchable proteins offer a means of directly manipulating the formation of protein complexes that drive a diversity of cellular processes. We developed tunable light-inducible dimerization tags (TULIPs) based on a synthetic interaction between the LOV2 domain of Avena sativa phototropin 1 (AsLOV2) and an engineered PDZ domain (ePDZ). TULIPs can recruit proteins to diverse structures in living yeast and mammalian cells, either globally or with precise spatial control using a steerable laser. The equilibrium binding and kinetic parameters of the interaction are tunable by mutation, making TULIPs readily adaptable to signaling pathways with varying sensitivities and response times. We demonstrate the utility of TULIPs by conferring light sensitivity to functionally distinct components of the yeast mating pathway and by directing the site of cell polarization.
Molecular switches in animal cells.
Molecular switches are the fundamental building blocks in the field of synthetic biology. The majority of these switches is based on protein-protein, protein-DNA or protein-RNA interactions that are responsive towards endogenous metabolites or external stimuli like small molecules or light. By the rational and predictive reassembling of multiple compatible molecular switches, complex synthetic signaling networks can be engineered. Here we review how these switches were used for the regulation of important cellular processes at every level of the signaling cascade. In the second part we review how these switches can be assembled to open- and closed-loop control signaling networks and how these networks can be applied to facilitate cattle reproduction, to treat diabetes or to autonomously detect and cure disease states like gouty arthritis or cancer.
Structural basis of ultraviolet-B perception by UVR8.
The Arabidopsis thaliana protein UVR8 is a photoreceptor for ultraviolet-B. Upon ultraviolet-B irradiation, UVR8 undergoes an immediate switch from homodimer to monomer, which triggers a signalling pathway for ultraviolet protection. The mechanism by which UVR8 senses ultraviolet-B remains largely unknown. Here we report the crystal structure of UVR8 at 1.8 Å resolution, revealing a symmetric homodimer of seven-bladed β-propeller that is devoid of any external cofactor as the chromophore. Arginine residues that stabilize the homodimeric interface, principally Arg 286 and Arg 338, make elaborate intramolecular cation-π interactions with surrounding tryptophan amino acids. Two of these tryptophans, Trp 285 and Trp 233, collectively serve as the ultraviolet-B chromophore. Our structural and biochemical analyses identify the molecular mechanism for UVR8-mediated ultraviolet-B perception, in which ultraviolet-B radiation results in destabilization of the intramolecular cation-π interactions, causing disruption of the critical intermolecular hydrogen bonds mediated by Arg 286 and Arg 338 and subsequent dissociation of the UVR8 homodimer.
Manipulating cellular processes using optical control of protein-protein interactions.
Tools for optical control of proteins offer an unprecedented level of spatiotemporal control over biological processes, adding a new layer of experimental opportunity. While use of light-activated cation channels and anion pumps has already revolutionized neurobiology, an emerging class of more general optogenetic tools may have similar transformative effects. These tools consist of light-dependent protein interaction modules that allow control of target protein interactions and localization with light. Such tools are modular and can be applied to regulate a wide variety of biological activities. This chapter reviews the different properties of light-induced dimerization systems, based on plant phytochromes, cryptochromes, and light-oxygen-voltage domain proteins, exploring advantages and limitations of the different systems and practical considerations related to their use. Potential applications of these tools within the neurobiology field, including light control of various signaling pathways, neuronal activity, and DNA recombination and transcription, are discussed.
Spatiotemporal control of gene expression by a light-switchable transgene system.
We developed a light-switchable transgene system based on a synthetic, genetically encoded light-switchable transactivator. The transactivator binds promoters upon blue-light exposure and rapidly initiates transcription of target transgenes in mammalian cells and in mice. This transgene system provides a robust and convenient way to spatiotemporally control gene expression and can be used to manipulate many biological processes in living systems with minimal perturbation.
Plant UVR8 photoreceptor senses UV-B by tryptophan-mediated disruption of cross-dimer salt bridges.
The recently identified plant photoreceptor UVR8 (UV RESISTANCE LOCUS 8) triggers regulatory changes in gene expression in response to ultraviolet-B (UV-B) light through an unknown mechanism. Here, crystallographic and solution structures of the UVR8 homodimer, together with mutagenesis and far-UV circular dichroism spectroscopy, reveal its mechanisms for UV-B perception and signal transduction. β-propeller subunits form a remarkable, tryptophan-dominated, dimer interface stitched together by a complex salt-bridge network. Salt-bridging arginines flank the excitonically coupled cross-dimer tryptophan "pyramid" responsible for UV-B sensing. Photoreception reversibly disrupts salt bridges, triggering dimer dissociation and signal initiation. Mutation of a single tryptophan to phenylalanine retunes the photoreceptor to detect UV-C wavelengths. Our analyses establish how UVR8 functions as a photoreceptor without a prosthetic chromophore to promote plant development and survival in sunlight.
Phycoviolobilin formation and spectral tuning in the DXCF cyanobacteriochrome subfamily.
Phytochromes are red/far-red photosensory proteins that regulate adaptive responses to light via photoswitching of cysteine-linked linear tetrapyrrole (bilin) chromophores. The related cyanobacteriochromes (CBCRs) extend the photosensory range of the phytochrome superfamily to shorter wavelengths of visible light. CBCRs and phytochromes share a conserved Cys residue required for bilin attachment. In one CBCR subfamily, often associated with a blue/green photocycle, a second Cys lies within a conserved Asp-Xaa-Cys-Phe (DXCF) motif and is essential for the blue/green photocycle. Such DXCF CBCRs use isomerization of the phycocyanobilin (PCB) chromophore into the related phycoviolobilin (PVB) to shorten the conjugated system for sensing green light. We here use recombinant expression of individual CBCR domains in Escherichia coli to survey the DXCF subfamily from the cyanobacterium Nostoc punctiforme. We describe ten new photoreceptors with well-resolved photocycles and three additional photoproteins with overlapping dark-adapted and photoproduct states. We show that the ability of this subfamily to form PVB or retain PCB provides a powerful mechanism for tuning the photoproduct absorbance, with blue-absorbing dark states leading to a broad range of photoproducts absorbing teal, green, yellow, or orange light. Moreover, we use a novel green/teal CBCR that lacks the blue-absorbing dark state to demonstrate that PVB formation requires the DXCF Cys residue. Our results demonstrate that this subfamily exhibits much more spectral diversity than had been previously appreciated.
Ca2+ signaling amplification by oligomerization of L-type Cav1.2 channels.
Ca(2+) influx via L-type Ca(v)1.2 channels is essential for multiple physiological processes, including gene expression, excitability, and contraction. Amplification of the Ca(2+) signals produced by the opening of these channels is a hallmark of many intracellular signaling cascades, including excitation-contraction coupling in heart. Using optogenetic approaches, we discovered that Ca(v)1.2 channels form clusters of varied sizes in ventricular myocytes. Physical interaction between these channels via their C-tails renders them capable of coordinating their gating, thereby amplifying Ca(2+) influx and excitation-contraction coupling. Light-induced fusion of WT Ca(v)1.2 channels with Ca(v)1.2 channels carrying a gain-of-function mutation that causes arrhythmias and autism in humans with Timothy syndrome (Ca(v)1.2-TS) increased Ca(2+) currents, diastolic and systolic Ca(2+) levels, contractility and the frequency of arrhythmogenic Ca(2+) fluctuations in ventricular myocytes. Our data indicate that these changes in Ca(2+) signaling resulted from Ca(v)1.2-TS increasing the activity of adjoining WT Ca(v)1.2 channels. Collectively, these data support the concept that oligomerization of Ca(v)1.2 channels via their C termini can result in the amplification of Ca(2+) influx into excitable cells.