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 526 - 550 of 617 results

From dusk till dawn: one-plasmid systems for light-regulated gene expression.

blue YtvA E. coli
J Mol Biol, 8 Jan 2012 DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2012.01.001 Link to full text
Abstract: Signaling photoreceptors mediate diverse organismal adaptations in response to light. As light-gated protein switches, signaling photoreceptors provide the basis for optogenetics, a term that refers to the control of organismal physiology and behavior by light. We establish as novel optogenetic tools the plasmids pDusk and pDawn, which employ blue-light photoreceptors to confer light-repressed or light-induced gene expression in Escherichia coli with up to 460-fold induction upon illumination. Key features of these systems are low background activity, high dynamic range, spatial control on the 20-μm scale, independence from exogenous factors, and ease of use. In optogenetic experiments, pDusk and pDawn can be used to specifically perturb individual nodes of signaling networks and interrogate their role. On the preparative scale, pDawn can induce by light the production of recombinant proteins and thus represents a cost-effective and readily automated alternative to conventional induction systems.

The use of light for engineered control and reprogramming of cellular functions.

blue green red Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Curr Opin Biotechnol, 26 Dec 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.copbio.2011.12.004 Link to full text
Abstract: Could combating incurable diseases lie in something as simple as light? This scenario might not be too farfetched due to groundbreaking research in optogenetics. This novel scientific area, where genetically encoded photosensors transform light energy into specifically engineered biological processes, has shown enormous potential. Cell morphology can be changed, signaling pathways can be reprogrammed, and gene expression can be regulated all by the control of light. In biomedical applications where precise cell targeting is essential, non-invasive light has shown great promise. This article provides a summary of the recent advances that utilize light in genetic programming and precise control of engineered biological functions.

The evolution of flavin-binding photoreceptors: an ancient chromophore serving trendy blue-light sensors.

blue BLUF domains LOV domains Review Background
Annu Rev Plant Biol, 15 Nov 2011 DOI: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-042811-105538 Link to full text
Abstract: Photoreceptor flavoproteins of the LOV, BLUF, and cryptochrome families are ubiquitous among the three domains of life and are configured as UVA/blue-light systems not only in plants-their original arena-but also in prokaryotes and microscopic algae. Here, we review these proteins' structure and function, their biological roles, and their evolution and impact in the living world, and underline their growing application in biotechnologies. We present novel developments such as the interplay of light and redox stimuli, emerging enzymatic and biological functions, lessons on evolution from picoalgae, metagenomics analysis, and optogenetics applications.

Photophysical diversity of two novel cyanobacteriochromes with phycocyanobilin chromophores: photochemistry and dark reversion kinetics.

violet Cyanobacteriochromes Background
FEBS J, 11 Nov 2011 DOI: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2011.08397.x Link to full text
Abstract: Cyanobacteriochromes are phytochrome homologues in cyanobacteria that act as sensory photoreceptors. We compare two cyanobacteriochromes, RGS (coded by slr1393) from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 and AphC (coded by all2699) from Nostoc sp. PCC 7120. Both contain three GAF (cGMP phosphodiesterase, adenylyl cyclase and FhlA protein) domains (GAF1, GAF2 and GAF3). The respective full-length, truncated and cysteine point-mutated genes were expressed in Escherichia coli together with genes for chromophore biosynthesis. The resulting chromoproteins were analyzed by UV-visible absorption, fluorescence and circular dichroism spectroscopy as well as by mass spectrometry. RGS shows a red-green photochromism (λ(max) = 650 and 535 nm) that is assigned to the reversible 15Z/E isomerization of a single phycocyanobilin-chromophore (PCB) binding to Cys528 of GAF3. Of the three GAF domains, only GAF3 binds a chromophore and the binding is autocatalytic. RGS autophosphorylates in vitro; this reaction is photoregulated: the 535 nm state containing E-PCB was more active than the 650 nm state containing Z-PCB. AphC from Nostoc could be chromophorylated at two GAF domains, namely GAF1 and GAF3. PCB-GAF1 is photochromic, with the proposed 15E state (λ(max) = 685 nm) reverting slowly thermally to the thermostable 15Z state (λ(max)  = 635 nm). PCB-GAF3 showed a novel red-orange photochromism; the unstable state (putative 15E, λ(max) = 595 nm) reverts very rapidly (τ ~ 20 s) back to the thermostable Z state (λ(max) = 645 nm). The photochemistry of doubly chromophorylated AphC is accordingly complex, as is the autophosphorylation: E-GAF1/E-GAF3 shows the highest rate of autophosphorylation activity, while E-GAF1/Z-GAF3 has intermediate activity, and Z-GAF1/Z-GAF3 is the least active state.

In silico feedback for in vivo regulation of a gene expression circuit.

red PhyB/PIF3 S. cerevisiae
Nat Biotechnol, 6 Nov 2011 DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2018 Link to full text
Abstract: We show that difficulties in regulating cellular behavior with synthetic biological circuits may be circumvented using in silico feedback control. By tracking a circuit's output in Saccharomyces cerevisiae in real time, we precisely control its behavior using an in silico feedback algorithm to compute regulatory inputs implemented through a genetically encoded light-responsive module. Moving control functions outside the cell should enable more sophisticated manipulation of cellular processes whenever real-time measurements of cellular variables are possible.

Engineering a photoactivated caspase-7 for rapid induction of apoptosis.

blue AsLOV2 CHO Cos-7 HEK293 HeLa NIH/3T3 Cell death
ACS Synth Biol, 4 Nov 2011 DOI: 10.1021/sb200008j Link to full text
Abstract: Apoptosis is a cell death program involved in the development of multicellular organisms, immunity, and pathologies ranging from cancer to HIV/AIDS. We present an engineered protein that causes rapid apoptosis of targeted cells in monolayer culture after stimulation with blue light. Cells transfected with the protein switch L57V, a tandem fusion of the light-sensing LOV2 domain and the apoptosis-executing domain from caspase-7, rapidly undergo apoptosis within 60 min after light stimulation. Constant illumination of under 5 min or oscillating with 1 min exposure had no effect, suggesting that cells have natural tolerance to a short duration of caspase-7 activity. Furthermore, the overexpression of Bcl-2 prevented L57V-mediated apoptosis, suggesting that although caspase-7 activation is sufficient to start apoptosis, it requires mitochondrial contribution to fully commit.

The action mechanisms of plant cryptochromes.

blue Cryptochromes Review Background
Trends Plant Sci, 7 Oct 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2011.09.002 Link to full text
Abstract: Cryptochromes (CRY) are blue-light receptors that mediate various light responses in plants. The photoexcited CRY molecules undergo several biophysical and biochemical changes, including electron transfer, phosphorylation and ubiquitination, resulting in conformational changes to propagate light signals. Two modes of CRY signal transduction have recently been discovered: the cryptochrome-interacting basic-helix-loop-helix 1 (CIB)-dependent CRY2 regulation of transcription; and the SUPPRESSOR OF PHYA1/CONSTITUTIVELY PHOTOMORPHOGENIC1 (SPA1/COP1)-dependent cryptochrome regulation of proteolysis. Both CRY signaling pathways rely on blue light-dependent interactions between the CRY photoreceptor and its signaling proteins to modulate gene expression changes in response to blue light, leading to altered developmental programs in plants.

Variations in protein-flavin hydrogen bonding in a light, oxygen, voltage domain produce non-Arrhenius kinetics of adduct decay.

blue LOV domains Background
Biochemistry, 21 Sep 2011 DOI: 10.1021/bi200976a Link to full text
Abstract: Light, oxygen, voltage (LOV) domains utilize a conserved blue light-dependent mechanism to control a diverse array of effector domains in biological and engineered proteins. Variations in the kinetics and efficiency of LOV photochemistry fine-tune various aspects of the photic response. Characterization of the kinetics of a key aspect of this photochemical mechanism in EL222, a blue light responsive DNA binding protein from Erythrobacter litoralis HTCC2594, reveals unique non-Arrhenius behavior in the rate of dark-state cleavage of the photochemically generated adduct. Sequence analysis and mutagenesis studies establish that this effect stems from a Gln to Ala mutation unique to EL222 and homologous proteins from marine bacteria. Kinetic and spectroscopic analyses reveal that hydrogen bonding interactions between the FMN N1, O2, and ribityl hydroxyls and the surrounding protein regulate photocycle kinetics and stabilize the LOV active site from temperature-induced alteration in local structure. Substitution of residues interacting with the N1-O2 locus modulates adduct stability, structural flexibility, and sequestration of the active site from bulk solvent without perturbation of light-activated DNA binding. Together, these variants link non-Arrhenius behavior to specific alteration of an H-bonding network, while affording tunability of photocycle kinetics.

Light-based feedback for controlling intracellular signaling dynamics.

red PhyB/PIF6 NIH/3T3 Signaling cascade control
Nat Methods, 11 Sep 2011 DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1700 Link to full text
Abstract: The ability to apply precise inputs to signaling species in live cells would be transformative for interrogating and understanding complex cell-signaling systems. Here we report an 'optogenetic' method for applying custom signaling inputs using feedback control of a light-gated protein-protein interaction. We applied this strategy to perturb protein localization and phosphoinositide 3-kinase activity, generating time-varying signals and clamping signals to buffer against cell-to-cell variability or changes in pathway activity.

Synthetic mammalian gene networks as a blueprint for the design of interactive biohybrid materials.

blue red Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Chem Soc Rev, 6 Sep 2011 DOI: 10.1039/c1cs15176b Link to full text
Abstract: Synthetic biology aims at the rational design and construction of devices, systems and organisms with desired functionality based on modular well-characterized biological building blocks. Based on first proof-of-concept studies in bacteria a decade ago, synthetic biology strategies have rapidly entered mammalian cell technology providing novel therapeutic solutions. Here we review how biological building blocks can be rewired to interactive regulatory genetic networks in mammalian cells and how these networks can be transformed into open- and closed-loop control configurations for autonomously managing disease phenotypes. In the second part of this tutorial review we describe how the regulatory biological sensors and switches can be transferred from mammalian cell synthetic biology to materials sciences in order to develop interactive biohybrid materials with similar (therapeutic) functionality as their synthetic biological archetypes. We develop a perspective of how the convergence of synthetic biology with materials sciences might contribute to the development of truly interactive and adaptive materials for autonomous operation in a complex environment.

Phytochrome signaling mechanisms.

red Phytochromes Review Background
Arabidopsis Book, 29 Aug 2011 DOI: 10.1199/tab.0148 Link to full text
Abstract: Phytochromes are red (R)/far-red (FR) light photoreceptors that play fundamental roles in photoperception of the light environment and the subsequent adaptation of plant growth and development. There are five distinct phytochromes in Arabidopsis thaliana, designated phytochrome A (phyA) to phyE. phyA is light-labile and is the primary photoreceptor responsible for mediating photomorphogenic responses in FR light, whereas phyB-phyE are light stable, and phyB is the predominant phytochrome regulating de-etiolation responses in R light. Phytochromes are synthesized in the cytosol in their inactive Pr form. Upon light irradiation, phytochromes are converted to the biologically active Pfr form, and translocate into the nucleus. phyB can enter the nucleus by itself in response to R light, whereas phyA nuclear import depends on two small plant-specific proteins FAR-RED ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL 1 (FHY1) and FHY1-LIKE (FHL). Phytochromes may function as light-regulated serine/threonine kinases, and can phosphorylate several substrates, including themselves in vitro. Phytochromes are phosphoproteins, and can be dephosphorylated by a few protein phosphatases. Photoactivated phytochromes rapidly change the expression of light-responsive genes by repressing the activity of CONSTITUTIVE PHOTOMORPHOGENIC 1 (COP1), an E3 ubiquitin ligase targeting several photomorphogenesis-promoting transcription factors for degradation, and by inducing rapid phosphorylation and degradation of Phytochrome-Interacting Factors (PIFs), a group of bHLH transcription factors repressing photomorphogenesis. Phytochromes are targeted by COP1 for degradation via the ubiquitin/26S proteasome pathway.

Function, structure and mechanism of bacterial photosensory LOV proteins.

blue LOV domains Review Background
Nat Rev Microbiol, 8 Aug 2011 DOI: 10.1038/nrmicro2622 Link to full text
Abstract: LOV (light, oxygen or voltage) domains are protein photosensors that are conserved in bacteria, archaea, plants and fungi, and detect blue light via a flavin cofactor. LOV domains are present in both chemotrophic and phototrophic bacterial species, in which they are found amino-terminally of signalling and regulatory domains such as sensor histidine kinases, diguanylate cyclases-phosphodiesterases, DNA-binding domains and regulators of RNA polymerase σ-factors. In this Review, we describe the current state of knowledge about the function of bacterial LOV proteins, the structural basis of LOV domain-mediated signal transduction, and the use of LOV domains as genetically encoded photoswitches in synthetic biology.

Structure of a light-activated LOV protein dimer that regulates transcription.

blue LOV domains Background
Sci Signal, 2 Aug 2011 DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2001945 Link to full text
Abstract: Light, oxygen, or voltage (LOV) protein domains are present in many signaling proteins in bacteria, archaea, protists, plants, and fungi. The LOV protein VIVID (VVD) of the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa enables the organism to adapt to constant or increasing amounts of light and facilitates proper entrainment of circadian rhythms. Here, we determined the crystal structure of the fully light-adapted VVD dimer and reveal the mechanism by which light-driven conformational change alters the oligomeric state of the protein. Light-induced formation of a cysteinyl-flavin adduct generated a new hydrogen bond network that released the amino (N) terminus from the protein core and restructured an acceptor pocket for binding of the N terminus on the opposite subunit of the dimer. Substitution of residues critical for the switch between the monomeric and the dimeric states of the protein had profound effects on light adaptation in Neurospora. The mechanism of dimerization of VVD provides molecular details that explain how members of a large family of photoreceptors convert light responses to alterations in protein-protein interactions.

Optogenetic control of cells and circuits.

blue Cryptochromes Review
Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol, 1 Aug 2011 DOI: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-100109-104051 Link to full text
Abstract: The absorption of light by bound or diffusible chromophores causes conformational rearrangements in natural and artificial photoreceptor proteins. These rearrangements are coupled to the opening or closing of ion transport pathways, the association or dissociation of binding partners, the enhancement or suppression of catalytic activity, or the transcription or repression of genetic information. Illumination of cells, tissues, or organisms engineered genetically to express photoreceptor proteins can thus be used to perturb biochemical and electrical signaling with exquisite cellular and molecular specificity. First demonstrated in 2002, this principle of optogenetic control has had a profound impact on neuroscience, where it provides a direct and stringent means of probing the organization of neural circuits and of identifying the neural substrates of behavior. The impact of optogenetic control is also beginning to be felt in other areas of cell and organismal biology.

A synthetic photoactivated protein to generate local or global Ca(2+) signals.

blue AsLOV2 Cos-7 HEK293 HeLa NIH/3T3 Immediate control of second messengers
Chem Biol, 29 Jul 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2011.04.014 Link to full text
Abstract: Ca(2+) signals regulate diverse physiological processes through tightly regulated fluxes varying in location, time, frequency, and amplitude. Here, we developed LOVS1K, a genetically encoded and photoactivated synthetic protein to generate local or global Ca(2+) signals. With 300 ms blue light exposure, LOVS1K translocated to Orai1, a plasma membrane Ca(2+) channel, within seconds, generating a local Ca(2+) signal on the plasma membrane, and returning to the cytoplasm after tens of seconds. With repeated photoactivation, global Ca(2+) signals in the cytoplasm were generated to modulate engineered Ca(2+)-inducible proteins. Although Orai1 is typically associated with global store-operated Ca(2+) entry, we demonstrate that Orai1 can also generate local Ca(2+) influx on the plasma membrane. Our photoactivation system can be used to generate spatially and temporally precise Ca(2+) signals and to engineer synthetic proteins that respond to specific Ca(2+) signals.

Diverse two-cysteine photocycles in phytochromes and cyanobacteriochromes.

red violet Cyanobacteriochromes Phytochromes Background
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 28 Jun 2011 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1107844108 Link to full text
Abstract: Phytochromes are well-known as photoactive red- and near IR-absorbing chromoproteins with cysteine-linked linear tetrapyrrole (bilin) prosthetic groups. Phytochrome photoswitching regulates adaptive responses to light in both photosynthetic and nonphotosynthetic organisms. Exclusively found in cyanobacteria, the related cyanobacteriochrome (CBCR) sensors extend the photosensory range of the phytochrome superfamily to shorter wavelengths of visible light. Blue/green light sensing by a well-studied subfamily of CBCRs proceeds via a photolabile thioether linkage to a second cysteine fully conserved in this subfamily. In the present study, we show that dual-cysteine photosensors have repeatedly evolved in cyanobacteria via insertion of a second cysteine at different positions within the bilin-binding GAF domain (cGMP-specific phosphodiesterases, cyanobacterial adenylate cyclases, and formate hydrogen lyase transcription activator FhlA) shared by CBCRs and phytochromes. Such sensors exhibit a diverse range of photocycles, yet all share ground-state absorbance of near-UV to blue light and a common mechanism of light perception: reversible photoisomerization of the bilin 15,16 double bond. Using site-directed mutagenesis, chemical modification and spectroscopy to characterize novel dual-cysteine photosensors from the cyanobacterium Nostoc punctiforme ATCC 29133, we establish that this spectral diversity can be tuned by varying the light-dependent stability of the second thioether linkage. We also show that such behavior can be engineered into the conventional phytochrome Cph1 from Synechocystis sp. PCC6803. Dual-cysteine photosensors thus allow the phytochrome superfamily in cyanobacteria to sense the full solar spectrum at the earth surface from near infrared to near ultraviolet.

Near-UV cyanobacteriochrome signaling system elicits negative phototaxis in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803.

violet Cyanobacteriochromes Background
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 13 Jun 2011 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1104242108 Link to full text
Abstract: Positive phototaxis systems have been well studied in bacteria; however, the photoreceptor(s) and their downstream signaling components that are responsible for negative phototaxis are poorly understood. Negative phototaxis sensory systems are important for cyanobacteria, oxygenic photosynthetic organisms that must contend with reactive oxygen species generated by an abundance of pigment photosensitizers. The unicellular cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 exhibits type IV pilus-dependent negative phototaxis in response to unidirectional UV-A illumination. Using a reverse genetic approach, together with biochemical, molecular genetic, and RNA expression profiling analyses, we show that the cyanobacteriochrome locus (slr1212/uirS) of Synechocystis and two adjacent response regulator loci (slr1213/uirR and the PatA-type regulator slr1214/lsiR) encode a UV-A-activated signaling system that is required for negative phototaxis. We propose that UirS, which is membrane-associated via its ETR1 domain, functions as a UV-A photosensor directing expression of lsiR via release of bound UirR, which targets the lsiR promoter. Constitutive expression of LsiR induces negative phototaxis under conditions that normally promote positive phototaxis. Also induced by other stresses, LsiR thus integrates light inputs from multiple photosensors to determine the direction of movement.

Genetically engineered light sensors for control of bacterial gene expression.

blue green red Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Biotechnol J, 7 Jun 2011 DOI: 10.1002/biot.201100091 Link to full text
Abstract: Light of different wavelengths can serve as a transient, noninvasive means of regulating gene expression for biotechnological purposes. Implementation of advanced gene regulatory circuits will require orthogonal transcriptional systems that can be simultaneously controlled and that can produce several different control states. Fully genetically encoded light sensors take advantage of the favorable characteristics of light, do not need the supplementation of any chemical inducers or co-factors, and have been demonstrated to control gene expression in Escherichia coli. Herein, we review engineered light-sensor systems with potential for in vivo regulation of gene expression in bacteria, and highlight different means of extending the range of available light input and transcriptional output signals. Furthermore, we discuss advances in multiplexing different light sensors for achieving multichromatic control of gene expression and indicate developments that could facilitate the construction of efficient systems for light-regulated, multistate control of gene expression.

The cryptochromes: blue light photoreceptors in plants and animals.

blue Cryptochromes Review Background
Annu Rev Plant Biol, 1 Jun 2011 DOI: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-042110-103759 Link to full text
Abstract: Cryptochromes are flavoprotein photoreceptors first identified in Arabidopsis thaliana, where they play key roles in growth and development. Subsequently identified in prokaryotes, archaea, and many eukaryotes, cryptochromes function in the animal circadian clock and are proposed as magnetoreceptors in migratory birds. Cryptochromes are closely structurally related to photolyases, evolutionarily ancient flavoproteins that catalyze light-dependent DNA repair. Here, we review the structural, photochemical, and molecular properties of cry-DASH, plant, and animal cryptochromes in relation to biological signaling mechanisms and uncover common features that may contribute to better understanding the function of cryptochromes in diverse systems including in man.

Computational evidence for the role of Arabidopsis thaliana UVR8 as UV-B photoreceptor and identification of its chromophore amino acids.

UV UV receptors Background
J Chem Inf Model, 24 May 2011 DOI: 10.1021/ci200017f Link to full text
Abstract: A homology model of the Arabidopsis thaliana UV resistance locus 8 (UVR8) protein is presented herein, showing a seven-bladed β-propeller conformation similar to the globular structure of RCC1. The UVR8 amino acid sequence contains a very high amount of conserved tryptophans, and the homology model shows that seven of these tryptophans cluster at the 'top surface' of the UVR8 protein where they are intermixed with positive residues (mainly arginines) and a couple of tyrosines. Quantum chemical calculations of excitation spectra of both a large cluster model involving all twelve above-mentioned residues and smaller fragments thereof reveal that absorption maxima appearing in the 280-300 nm range for the full cluster result from interactions between the central tryptophans and surrounding arginines. This observation coincides with the published experimentally measured action spectrum for the UVR8-dependent UV-B stimulation of HY5 transcription in mature A. thaliana leaf tissue. In total these findings suggest that UVR8 has in fact in itself the ability to be an ultraviolet-B photoreceptor in plants.

Structural basis of photosensitivity in a bacterial light-oxygen-voltage/helix-turn-helix (LOV-HTH) DNA-binding protein.

blue LOV domains Background
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 23 May 2011 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1100262108 Link to full text
Abstract: Light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domains are blue light-activated signaling modules integral to a wide range of photosensory proteins. Upon illumination, LOV domains form internal protein-flavin adducts that generate conformational changes which control effector function. Here we advance our understanding of LOV regulation with structural, biophysical, and biochemical studies of EL222, a light-regulated DNA-binding protein. The dark-state crystal structure reveals interactions between the EL222 LOV and helix-turn-helix domains that we show inhibit DNA binding. Solution biophysical data indicate that illumination breaks these interactions, freeing the LOV and helix-turn-helix domains of each other. This conformational change has a key functional effect, allowing EL222 to bind DNA in a light-dependent manner. Our data reveal a conserved signaling mechanism among diverse LOV-containing proteins, where light-induced conformational changes trigger activation via a conserved interaction surface.

Light control of plasma membrane recruitment using the Phy-PIF system.

red PhyB/PIF6 NIH/3T3
Meth Enzymol, 19 May 2011 DOI: 10.1016/b978-0-12-385075-1.00017-2 Link to full text
Abstract: The ability to control the activity of intracellular signaling processes in live cells would be an extraordinarily powerful tool. Ideally, such an intracellular input would be (i) genetically encoded, (ii) able to be turned on and off in defined temporal or spatial patterns, (iii) fast to switch between on and off states, and (iv) orthogonal to other cellular processes. The light-gated interaction between fragments of two plant proteins--termed Phy and PIF--satisfies each of these constraints. In this system, Phy can be switched between two conformations using red and infrared light, while PIF only binds one of these states. This chapter describes known constraints for designing genetic constructs using Phy and PIF and provides protocols for expressing these constructs in mammalian cells, purifying the small molecule chromophore required for the system's light responsivity, and measuring light-gated binding by microscopy.

Spatiotemporal control of small GTPases with light using the LOV domain.

blue LOV domains Review
Meth Enzymol, 11 May 2011 DOI: 10.1016/b978-0-12-385075-1.00016-0 Link to full text
Abstract: Signaling networks in living systems are coordinated through subcellular compartmentalization and precise timing of activation. These spatiotemporal aspects ensure the fidelity of signaling while contributing to the diversity and specificity of downstream events. This is studied through development of molecular tools that generate localized and precisely timed protein activity in living systems. To study the molecular events responsible for cytoskeletal changes in real time, we generated versions of Rho family GTPases whose interactions with downstream effectors is controlled by light. GTPases were grafted to the phototropin LOV (light, oxygen, or voltage) domain (Huala, E., Oeller, P. W., Liscum, E., Han, I., Larsen, E., and Briggs, W. R. (1997). Arabidopsis NPH1: A protein kinase with a putative redox-sensing domain. Science278, 2120-2123.) via an alpha helix on the LOV C-terminus (Wu, Y. I., Frey, D., Lungu, O. I., Jaehrig, A., Schlichting, I., Kuhlman, B., and Hahn, K. M. (2009). A genetically encoded photoactivatable Rac controls the motility of living cells. Nature461, 104-108.). The LOV domain sterically blocked the GTPase active site until it was irradiated. Exposure to 400-500nm light caused unwinding of the helix linking the LOV domain to the GTPase, relieving steric inhibition. The change was reversible and repeatable, and the protein could be returned to its inactive state simply by turning off the light. The LOV domain incorporates a flavin as the active chromophore. This naturally occurring molecule is incorporated simply upon expression of the LOV fusion in cells or animals, permitting ready control of GTPase function in different systems. In cultured single cells, light-activated Rac leads to membrane ruffling, protrusion, and migration. In collectively migrating border cells in the Drosophila ovary, focal activation of photoactivatable Rac (PA-Rac) in a single cell is sufficient to redirect the entire group. PA-Rac in a single cell also rescues the phenotype caused by loss of endogenous guidance receptor signaling in the whole group. These findings demonstrate that cells within the border cell cluster communicate and are guided collectively. Here, we describe optimization and application of PA-Rac using detailed examples that we hope will help others apply the approach to different proteins and in a variety of different cells, tissues, and organisms.

A genetically encoded tag for correlated light and electron microscopy of intact cells, tissues, and organisms.

blue LOV domains Background
PLoS Biol, 5 Apr 2011 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001041 Link to full text
Abstract: Electron microscopy (EM) achieves the highest spatial resolution in protein localization, but specific protein EM labeling has lacked generally applicable genetically encoded tags for in situ visualization in cells and tissues. Here we introduce "miniSOG" (for mini Singlet Oxygen Generator), a fluorescent flavoprotein engineered from Arabidopsis phototropin 2. MiniSOG contains 106 amino acids, less than half the size of Green Fluorescent Protein. Illumination of miniSOG generates sufficient singlet oxygen to locally catalyze the polymerization of diaminobenzidine into an osmiophilic reaction product resolvable by EM. MiniSOG fusions to many well-characterized proteins localize correctly in mammalian cells, intact nematodes, and rodents, enabling correlated fluorescence and EM from large volumes of tissue after strong aldehyde fixation, without the need for exogenous ligands, probes, or destructive permeabilizing detergents. MiniSOG permits high quality ultrastructural preservation and 3-dimensional protein localization via electron tomography or serial section block face scanning electron microscopy. EM shows that miniSOG-tagged SynCAM1 is presynaptic in cultured cortical neurons, whereas miniSOG-tagged SynCAM2 is postsynaptic in culture and in intact mice. Thus SynCAM1 and SynCAM2 could be heterophilic partners. MiniSOG may do for EM what Green Fluorescent Protein did for fluorescence microscopy.

Perception of UV-B by the Arabidopsis UVR8 protein.

UV UV receptors Background
Science, 1 Apr 2011 DOI: 10.1126/science.1200660 Link to full text
Abstract: To optimize their growth and survival, plants perceive and respond to ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation. However, neither the molecular identity of the UV-B photoreceptor nor the photoperception mechanism is known. Here we show that dimers of the UVR8 protein perceive UV-B, probably by a tryptophan-based mechanism. Absorption of UV-B induces instant monomerization of the photoreceptor and interaction with COP1, the central regulator of light signaling. Thereby this signaling cascade controlled by UVR8 mediates UV-B photomorphogenic responses securing plant acclimation and thus promotes survival in sunlight.
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