Showing 576 - 600 of 647 results
Structural basis of photosensitivity in a bacterial light-oxygen-voltage/helix-turn-helix (LOV-HTH) DNA-binding protein.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The short-lived signaling state of the photoactive yellow protein photoreceptor revealed by combined structural probes.
The signaling state of the photoactive yellow protein (PYP) photoreceptor is transiently developed via isomerization of its blue-light-absorbing chromophore. The associated structural rearrangements have large amplitude but, due to its transient nature and chemical exchange reactions that complicate NMR detection, its accurate three-dimensional structure in solution has been elusive. Here we report on direct structural observation of the transient signaling state by combining double electron electron resonance spectroscopy (DEER), NMR, and time-resolved pump-probe X-ray solution scattering (TR-SAXS/WAXS). Measurement of distance distributions for doubly spin-labeled photoreceptor constructs using DEER spectroscopy suggests that the signaling state is well ordered and shows that interspin-label distances change reversibly up to 19 Å upon illumination. The SAXS/WAXS difference signal for the signaling state relative to the ground state indicates the transient formation of an ordered and rearranged conformation, which has an increased radius of gyration, an increased maximum dimension, and a reduced excluded volume. Dynamical annealing calculations using the DEER derived long-range distance restraints in combination with short-range distance information from (1)H-(15)N HSQC perturbation spectroscopy give strong indication for a rearrangement that places part of the N-terminal domain in contact with the exposed chromophore binding cleft while the terminal residues extend away from the core. Time-resolved global structural information from pump-probe TR-SAXS/WAXS data supports this conformation and allows subsequent structural refinement that includes the combined energy terms from DEER, NMR, and SAXS/WAXS together. The resulting ensemble simultaneously satisfies all restraints, and the inclusion of TR-SAXS/WAXS effectively reduces the uncertainty arising from the possible spin-label orientations. The observations are essentially compatible with reduced folding of the I(2)' state (also referred to as the 'pB' state) that is widely reported, but indicates it to be relatively ordered and rearranged. Furthermore, there is direct evidence for the repositioning of the N-terminal region in the I(2)' state, which is structurally modeled by dynamical annealing and refinement calculations.
Old chromophores, new photoactivation paradigms, trendy applications: flavins in blue light-sensing photoreceptors.
The knowledge on the mechanisms by which blue light (BL) is sensed by diverse and numerous organisms, and of the physiological responses elicited by the BL photoreceptors, has grown remarkably during the last two decades. The basis for this "blue revival" was set by the identification and molecular characterization of long sought plant BL sensors, employing flavins as chromophores, chiefly cryptochromes and phototropins. The latter photosensors are the foundation members of the so-called light, oxygen, voltage (LOV)-protein family, largely spread among archaea, bacteria, fungi and plants. The accumulation of sequenced microbial genomes during the last years has added the BLUF (Blue Light sensing Using FAD) family to the BL photoreceptors and yielded the opportunity for intense "genome mining," which has presented to us the intriguing wealth of BL sensing in prokaryotes. In this contribution we provide an update of flavin-based BL sensors of the LOV and BLUF type, from prokaryotic microorganisms, with special emphasis to their light-activation pathways and molecular signal-transduction mechanisms. Rather than being a fully comprehensive review, this research collects the most recent discoveries and aims to unveil and compare signaling pathways and mechanisms of BL sensors.
Lights on and action! Controlling microbial gene expression by light.
Light-mediated control of gene expression and thus of any protein function and metabolic process in living microbes is a rapidly developing field of research in the areas of functional genomics, systems biology, and biotechnology. The unique physical properties of the environmental factor light allow for an independent photocontrol of various microbial processes in a noninvasive and spatiotemporal fashion. This mini review describes recently developed strategies to generate photo-sensitive expression systems in bacteria and yeast. Naturally occurring and artificial photoswitches consisting of light-sensitive input domains derived from different photoreceptors and regulatory output domains are presented and individual properties of light-controlled expression systems are discussed.
PACα--an optogenetic tool for in vivo manipulation of cellular cAMP levels, neurotransmitter release, and behavior in Caenorhabditis elegans.
Photoactivated adenylyl cyclase α (PACα) was originally isolated from the flagellate Euglena gracilis. Following stimulation by blue light it causes a rapid increase in cAMP levels. In the present study, we expressed PACα in cholinergic neurons of Caenorhabditis elegans. Photoactivation led to a rise in swimming frequency, speed of locomotion, and a decrease in the number of backward locomotion episodes. The extent of the light-induced behavioral effects was dependent on the amount of PACα that was expressed. Furthermore, electrophysiological recordings from body wall muscle cells revealed an increase in miniature post-synaptic currents during light stimulation. We conclude that the observed effects were caused by cAMP synthesis because of photoactivation of pre-synaptic PACα which subsequently triggered acetylcholine release at the neuromuscular junction. Our results demonstrate that PACα can be used as an optogenetic tool in C. elegans for straightforward in vivo manipulation of intracellular cAMP levels by light, with good temporal control and high cell specificity. Thus, using PACα allows manipulation of neurotransmitter release and behavior by directly affecting intracellular signaling.
Tripping the light fantastic: blue-light photoreceptors as examples of environmentally modulated protein-protein interactions.
Blue-light photoreceptors play a pivotal role in detecting the quality and quantity of light in the environment, controlling a wide range of biological responses. Several families of blue-light photoreceptors have been characterized in detail using biophysics and biochemistry, beginning with photon absorption, through intervening signal transduction, to regulation of biological activities. Here we review the light oxygen voltage, cryptochrome, and sensors of blue light using FAD families, three different groups of proteins that offer distinctly different modes of photochemical activation and signal transduction yet play similar roles in a vast array of biological responses. We cover mechanisms of light activation and propagation of conformational responses that modulate protein-protein interactions involved in biological signaling. Discovery and characterization of these processes in natural proteins are now allowing the design of photoregulatable engineered proteins, facilitating the generation of novel reagents for biochemical and cell biological research.
Rapid blue-light-mediated induction of protein interactions in living cells.
Dimerizers allowing inducible control of protein-protein interactions are powerful tools for manipulating biological processes. Here we describe genetically encoded light-inducible protein-interaction modules based on Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 and CIB1 that require no exogenous ligands and dimerize on blue-light exposure with subsecond time resolution and subcellular spatial resolution. We demonstrate the utility of this system by inducing protein translocation, transcription and Cre recombinase-mediated DNA recombination using light.
Light modulation of cellular cAMP by a small bacterial photoactivated adenylyl cyclase, bPAC, of the soil bacterium Beggiatoa.
The recent success of channelrhodopsin in optogenetics has also caused increasing interest in enzymes that are directly activated by light. We have identified in the genome of the bacterium Beggiatoa a DNA sequence encoding an adenylyl cyclase directly linked to a BLUF (blue light receptor using FAD) type light sensor domain. In Escherichia coli and Xenopus oocytes, this photoactivated adenylyl cyclase (bPAC) showed cyclase activity that is low in darkness but increased 300-fold in the light. This enzymatic activity decays thermally within 20 s in parallel with the red-shifted BLUF photointermediate. bPAC is well expressed in pyramidal neurons and, in combination with cyclic nucleotide gated channels, causes efficient light-induced depolarization. In the Drosophila central nervous system, bPAC mediates light-dependent cAMP increase and behavioral changes in freely moving animals. bPAC seems a perfect optogenetic tool for light modulation of cAMP in neuronal cells and tissues and for studying cAMP-dependent processes in live animals.
Natural and engineered photoactivated nucleotidyl cyclases for optogenetic applications.
Cyclic nucleotides, cAMP and cGMP, are ubiquitous second messengers that regulate metabolic and behavioral responses in diverse organisms. We describe purification, engineering, and characterization of photoactivated nucleotidyl cyclases that can be used to manipulate cAMP and cGMP levels in vivo. We identified the blaC gene encoding a putative photoactivated adenylyl cyclase in the Beggiatoa sp. PS genome. BlaC contains a BLUF domain involved in blue-light sensing using FAD and a nucleotidyl cyclase domain. The blaC gene was overexpressed in Escherichia coli, and its product was purified. Irradiation of BlaC in vitro resulted in a small red shift in flavin absorbance, typical of BLUF photoreceptors. BlaC had adenylyl cyclase activity that was negligible in the dark and up-regulated by light by 2 orders of magnitude. To convert BlaC into a guanylyl cyclase, we constructed a model of the nucleotidyl cyclase domain and mutagenized several residues predicted to be involved in substrate binding. One triple mutant, designated BlgC, was found to have photoactivated guanylyl cyclase in vitro. Irradiation with blue light of the E. coli cya mutant expressing BlaC or BlgC resulted in the significant increases in cAMP or cGMP synthesis, respectively. BlaC, but not BlgC, restored cAMP-dependent growth of the mutant in the presence of light. Small protein sizes, negligible activities in the dark, high light-to-dark activation ratios, functionality at broad temperature range and physiological pH, as well as utilization of the naturally occurring flavins as chromophores make BlaC and BlgC attractive for optogenetic applications in various animal and microbial models.
Multichromatic control of gene expression in Escherichia coli.
Light is a powerful tool for manipulating living cells because it can be applied with high resolution across space and over time. We previously constructed a red light-sensitive Escherichia coli transcription system based on a chimera between the red/far-red switchable cyanobacterial phytochrome Cph1 and the E. coli EnvZ/OmpR two-component signaling pathway. Here, we report the development of a green light-inducible transcription system in E. coli based on a recently discovered green/red photoswitchable two-component system from cyanobacteria. We demonstrate that the transcriptional output is proportional to the intensity of green light applied and that the green sensor is orthogonal to the red sensor at intensities of 532-nm light less than 0.01 W/m(2). Expression of both sensors in a single cell allows two-color optical control of transcription both in batch culture and in patterns across a lawn of engineered cells. Because each sensor functions as a photoreversible switch, this system should allow the spatial and temporal control of the expression of multiple genes through different combinations of light wavelengths. This feature aids precision single-cell and population-level studies in systems and synthetic biology.
The Cryptochrome Blue Light Receptors.
Cryptochromes are photolyase-like blue light receptors originally discovered in Arabidopsis but later found in other
plants, microbes, and animals. Arabidopsis has two cryptochromes, CRY1 and CRY2, which mediate primarily blue light
inhibition of hypocotyl elongation and photoperiodic control of fl oral initiation, respectively. In addition, cryptochromes
also regulate over a dozen other light responses, including circadian rhythms, tropic growth, stomata opening, guard
cell development, root development, bacterial and viral pathogen responses, abiotic stress responses, cell cycles, programmed
cell death, apical dominance, fruit and ovule development, seed dormancy, and magnetoreception. Cryptochromes
have two domains, the N-terminal PHR (Photolyase-Homologous Region) domain that bind the chromophore
FAD (flavin adenine dinucleotide), and the CCE (CRY C-terminal Extension) domain that appears intrinsically unstructured
but critical to the function and regulation of cryptochromes. Most cryptochromes accumulate in the nucleus,
and they undergo blue light-dependent phosphorylation or ubiquitination. It is hypothesized that photons excite electrons
of the fl avin molecule, resulting in redox reaction or circular electron shuttle and conformational changes of the
photoreceptors. The photoexcited cryptochrome are phosphorylated to adopt an open conformation, which interacts
with signaling partner proteins to alter gene expression at both transcriptional and posttranslational levels and consequently
the metabolic and developmental programs of plants.
Using light to control signaling cascades in live neurons.
Understanding the complexity of neuronal biology requires the manipulation of cellular processes with high specificity and spatio-temporal precision. The recent development of synthetic photo-activatable proteins designed using the light-oxygen-voltage and phytochrome domains provides a new set of tools for genetically targeted optical control of cell signaling. Their modular design, functional diversity, precisely controlled activity and in vivo applicability offer many advantages for investigating neuronal function. Although designing these proteins is still a considerable challenge, future advances in rational protein design and a deeper understanding of their photoactivation mechanisms will allow the development of the next generation of optogenetic techniques.
A photoswitchable DNA-binding protein based on a truncated GCN4-photoactive yellow protein chimera.
Photo-controlled DNA-binding proteins promise to be useful tools for probing complex spatiotemporal patterns of gene expression in living organisms. Here we report a novel photoswitchable DNA-binding protein, GCN4(S)Δ25PYP, based on a truncated GCN4-photoactive yellow protein chimera. In contrast to previously reported designed photoswitchable proteins where DNA binding affinity is enhanced upon irradiation, GCN4(S)Δ25PYP dissociates from DNA when irradiated with blue light. In addition, the rate of thermal relaxation to the ground state, part of the PYP photocycle, is enhanced by DNA binding whereas in previous reported constructs it is slowed. The origins of this reversed photoactivity are analyzed in structural terms.
Reversible photoswitching of protein function.
Using light to tune the activity of proteins represents a very attractive avenue for creating various temporal interferences in living systems. In this mini-review, we highlight a few recent developments in this broad and exciting field. Among the various methods, we have discussed in more detail the advantages and future challenges in using light switchable drugs to regulate the signaling proteins in the immune system.
Recent advances in the photochemical control of protein function.
Biological processes are regulated with a high level of spatial and temporal resolution. To understand and manipulate these processes, scientists need to be able to regulate them with Nature's level of precision. In this context, light is a unique regulatory element because it can be precisely controlled in terms of location, timing and amplitude. Moreover, most biological laboratories have a wide range of light sources as standard equipment. This review article summarizes the most recent advances in light-mediated regulation of protein function and its application in a cellular context. Specifically, the photocaging of small-molecule modulators of protein function and of specific amino acid residues in proteins is discussed. In addition, examples of the photochemical control of protein function through the application of genetically engineered natural-light receptors are presented.
Rationally improving LOV domain-based photoswitches.
Genetically encoded protein photosensors are promising tools for engineering optical control of cellular behavior; we are only beginning to understand how to couple these light detectors to effectors of choice. Here we report a method that increases the dynamic range of an artificial photoswitch based on the LOV2 domain of Avena sativa phototropin 1 (AsLOV2). This approach can potentially be used to improve many AsLOV2-based photoswitches.
Optogenetically Induced Olfactory Stimulation in Drosophila Larvae Reveals the Neuronal Basis of Odor-Aversion behavior.
Olfactory stimulation induces an odor-guided crawling behavior of Drosophila melanogaster larvae characterized by either an attractive or a repellent reaction. In order to understand the underlying processes leading to these orientations we stimulated single olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) through photo-activation within an intact neuronal network. Using the Gal4-UAS system two light inducible proteins, the light-sensitive cation channel channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR-2) or the light-sensitive adenylyl cyclase (Pacalpha) were expressed in all or in individual ORNs of the larval olfactory system. Blue light stimulation caused an activation of these neurons, ultimately producing the illusion of an odor stimulus. Larvae were tested in a phototaxis assay for their orientation toward or away from the light source. Here we show that activation of Pacalpha expressing ORNs bearing the receptors Or33b or Or45a in blind norpA mutant larvae induces a repellent behavior away from the light. Conversely, photo-activation of the majority of ORNs induces attraction towards the light. Interestingly, in wild type larvae two ligands of Or33b and Or45a, octyl acetate and propionic ethylester, respectively, have been found to cause an escape reaction. Therefore, we combined light and odor stimulation to analyze the function of Or33b and Or45a expressing ORNs. We show that the larval olfactory system contains a designated neuronal pathway for repellent odorants and that activation of a specific class of ORNs already determines olfactory avoidance behavior.
An integrative model for phytochrome B mediated photomorphogenesis: from protein dynamics to physiology.
Plants have evolved various sophisticated mechanisms to respond and adapt to changes of abiotic factors in their natural environment. Light is one of the most important abiotic environmental factors and it regulates plant growth and development throughout their entire life cycle. To monitor the intensity and spectral composition of the ambient light environment, plants have evolved multiple photoreceptors, including the red/far-red light-sensing phytochromes.
Light-induced degradation of phyA is promoted by transfer of the photoreceptor into the nucleus.
Higher plants possess multiple members of the phytochrome family of red, far-red light sensors to modulate plant growth and development according to competition from neighbors. The phytochrome family is composed of the light-labile phyA and several light-stable members (phyB-phyE in Arabidopsis). phyA accumulates to high levels in etiolated seedlings and is essential for young seedling establishment under a dense canopy. In photosynthetically active seedlings high levels of phyA counteract the shade avoidance response. phyA levels are maintained low in light-grown plants by a combination of light-dependent repression of PHYA transcription and light-induced proteasome-mediated degradation of the activated photoreceptor. Light-activated phyA is transported from the cytoplasm where it resides in darkness to the nucleus where it is needed for most phytochrome-induced responses. Here we show that phyA is degraded by a proteasome-dependent mechanism both in the cytoplasm and the nucleus. However, phyA degradation is significantly slower in the cytoplasm than in the nucleus. In the nucleus phyA is degraded in a proteasome-dependent mechanism even in its inactive Pr (red light absorbing) form, preventing the accumulation of high levels of nuclear phyA in darkness. Thus, light-induced degradation of phyA is in part controlled by a light-regulated import into the nucleus where the turnover is faster. Although most phyA responses require nuclear phyA it might be useful to maintain phyA in the cytoplasm in its inactive form to allow accumulation of high levels of the light sensor in etiolated seedlings.
Structure and function of plant photoreceptors.
Signaling photoreceptors use the information contained in the absorption of a photon to modulate biological activity in plants and a wide range of organisms. The fundamental-and as yet imperfectly answered-question is, how is this achieved at the molecular level? We adopt the perspective of biophysicists interested in light-dependent signal transduction in nature and the three-dimensional structures that underpin signaling. Six classes of photoreceptors are known: light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) sensors, xanthopsins, phytochromes, blue-light sensors using flavin adenine dinucleotide (BLUF), cryptochromes, and rhodopsins. All are water-soluble proteins except rhodopsins, which are integral membrane proteins; all are based on a modular architecture except cryptochromes and rhodopsins; and each displays a distinct, light-dependent chemical process based on the photochemistry of their nonprotein chromophore, such as isomerization about a double bond (xanthopsins, phytochromes, and rhodopsins), formation or rupture of a covalent bond (LOV sensors), or electron transfer (BLUF sensors and cryptochromes).
Light activation as a method of regulating and studying gene expression.
Recently, several advances have been made in the activation and deactivation of gene expression using light. These developments are based on the application of small molecule inducers of gene expression, antisense- or RNA interference-mediated gene silencing, and the photochemical control of proteins regulating gene function. The majority of the examples employ a classical 'caging technology', through the chemical installation of a light-removable protecting group on the biological molecule (small molecule, oligonucleotide, or protein) of interest and rendering it inactive. UV light irradiation then removes the caging group and activates the molecule, enabling control over gene activity with high spatial and temporal resolution.