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 576 - 600 of 678 results

LOV to BLUF: flavoprotein contributions to the optogenetic toolkit.

blue BLUF domains LOV domains Review
Mol Plant, 19 Mar 2012 DOI: 10.1093/mp/sss020 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

blue LOV domains Review
Mol Plant, 8 Mar 2012 DOI: 10.1093/mp/sss013 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

blue LOV domains Background
J Mol Biol, 7 Mar 2012 DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2012.02.037 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

blue TULIP HeLa in vitro S. cerevisiae Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Cell cycle control
Nat Methods, 4 Mar 2012 DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1904 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

blue red BLUF domains Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
FEBS Lett, 3 Mar 2012 DOI: 10.1016/j.febslet.2012.02.032 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

UV UV receptors Background
Nature, 29 Feb 2012 DOI: 10.1038/nature10931 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

blue red BLUF domains Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Prog Brain Res, 16 Feb 2012 DOI: 10.1016/b978-0-444-59426-6.00006-9 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

blue VVD HEK293 Hep G2 in vitro MCF7 MDA-MB-231 mouse in vivo PC-3 Transgene expression
Nat Methods, 12 Feb 2012 DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1892 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

UV UV receptors Background
Science, 9 Feb 2012 DOI: 10.1126/science.1218091 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

violet Cyanobacteriochromes Background
Biochemistry, 8 Feb 2012 DOI: 10.1021/bi201783j Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

blue FKF1/GI mouse cardiomyocytes rat cardiomyocytes tsA201 Immediate control of second messengers
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 17 Jan 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1116731109 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

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.
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