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 826 - 850 of 1087 results

Molecular Mechanism of Photozipper, a Light-Regulated Dimerizing Module Consisting of the bZIP and LOV Domains of Aureochrome-1.

blue LOV domains Background
Biochemistry, 14 May 2015 DOI: 10.1021/acs.biochem.5b00320 Link to full text
Abstract: Aureochrome-1 (AUREO1) is a blue light (BL) receptor responsible for the BL-induced blanching of a stramenopile alga, Vaucheria frigida. The AUREO1 protein contains a central basic region/leucine zipper (bZIP) domain, and a C-terminal light-oxygen-voltage-sensing (LOV) domain. BL induces the dimerization of monomeric AUREO1, which subsequently increases the affinity of this transcription factor for its target DNA [Hisatomi, O., et al. (2014) J. Biol. Chem. 289, 17379-17391]. We constructed a synthetic gene encoding N-terminally truncated monomeric AUREO1 (designated Photozipper) to elucidate the molecular mechanism of this BL-regulated transcription factor and to develop it as an optogenetic tool. In this study, four different Photozipper (PZ) protein constructs were prepared comprising different N-terminal truncations. The monomer-dimer equilibria of the PZ constructs were investigated in the dark and light states. Dynamic light scattering and size-exclusion chromatography analyses revealed that the apparent dissociation constants of PZ dimers with and without the ZIP region were ~100 and 30 μM, respectively, indicating that the ZIP region stabilized the monomeric form in the dark state. In the light state, fluorescence resonance energy transfer analyses demonstrated that deletion of the ZIP region increased the dissociation constant from ~0.15 to 0.6 μM, suggesting that intermolecular LOV-LOV and ZIP-ZIP interactions stabilized the dimeric forms. Our results suggest that synergistic interactions between the LOV and bZIP domains stabilize the monomeric form in the dark state and the dimeric form in the light state, which possibly contributes to the function of PZ as a BL-regulated molecular switch.

LOV-based optogenetic devices: light-driven modules to impart photoregulated control of cellular signaling.

blue LOV domains Review
Front Mol Biosci, 12 May 2015 DOI: 10.3389/fmolb.2015.00018 Link to full text
Abstract: The Light-Oxygen-Voltage domain family of proteins is widespread in biology where they impart sensory responses to signal transduction domains. The small, light responsive LOV modules offer a novel platform for the construction of optogenetic tools. Currently, the design and implementation of these devices is partially hindered by a lack of understanding of how light drives allosteric changes in protein conformation to activate diverse signal transduction domains. Further, divergent photocycle properties amongst LOV family members complicate construction of highly sensitive devices with fast on/off kinetics. In the present review we discuss the history of LOV domain research with primary emphasis on tuning LOV domain chemistry and signal transduction to allow for improved optogenetic tools.

Junctional actin assembly is mediated by Formin-like 2 downstream of Rac1.

blue AsLOV2 MCF10A Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Control of cell-cell / cell-material interactions
J Cell Biol, 11 May 2015 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201412015 Link to full text
Abstract: Epithelial integrity is vitally important, and its deregulation causes early stage cancer. De novo formation of an adherens junction (AJ) between single epithelial cells requires coordinated, spatial actin dynamics, but the mechanisms steering nascent actin polymerization for cell-cell adhesion initiation are not well understood. Here we investigated real-time actin assembly during daughter cell-cell adhesion formation in human breast epithelial cells in 3D environments. We identify formin-like 2 (FMNL2) as being specifically required for actin assembly and turnover at newly formed cell-cell contacts as well as for human epithelial lumen formation. FMNL2 associates with components of the AJ complex involving Rac1 activity and the FMNL2 C terminus. Optogenetic control of Rac1 in living cells rapidly drove FMNL2 to epithelial cell-cell contact zones. Furthermore, Rac1-induced actin assembly and subsequent AJ formation critically depends on FMNL2. These data uncover FMNL2 as a driver for human epithelial AJ formation downstream of Rac1.

Optogenetic control of molecular motors and organelle distributions in cells.

blue CRY2/CIB1 Cos-7 Organelle manipulation
Chem Biol, 9 May 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2015.04.014 Link to full text
Abstract: Intracellular transport and distribution of organelles play important roles in diverse cellular functions, including cell polarization, intracellular signaling, cell survival, and apoptosis. Here, we report an optogenetic strategy to control the transport and distribution of organelles by light. This is achieved by optically recruiting molecular motors onto organelles through the heterodimerization of Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) and its interacting partner CIB1. CRY2 and CIB1 dimerize within subseconds upon exposure to blue light, which requires no exogenous ligands and low intensity of light. We demonstrate that mitochondria, peroxisomes, and lysosomes can be driven toward the cell periphery upon light-induced recruitment of kinesin, or toward the cell nucleus upon recruitment of dynein. Light-induced motor recruitment and organelle movements are repeatable, reversible, and can be achieved at subcellular regions. This light-controlled organelle redistribution provides a new strategy for studying the causal roles of organelle transport and distribution in cellular functions in living cells.

Optogenetics. Engineering of a light-gated potassium channel.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293T S. cerevisiae Xenopus oocytes zebrafish in vivo Neuronal activity control
Science, 7 May 2015 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa2787 Link to full text
Abstract: The present palette of opsin-based optogenetic tools lacks a light-gated potassium (K(+)) channel desirable for silencing of excitable cells. Here, we describe the construction of a blue-light-induced K(+) channel 1 (BLINK1) engineered by fusing the plant LOV2-Jα photosensory module to the small viral K(+) channel Kcv. BLINK1 exhibits biophysical features of Kcv, including K(+) selectivity and high single-channel conductance but reversibly photoactivates in blue light. Opening of BLINK1 channels hyperpolarizes the cell to the K(+) equilibrium potential. Ectopic expression of BLINK1 reversibly inhibits the escape response in light-exposed zebrafish larvae. BLINK1 therefore provides a single-component optogenetic tool that can establish prolonged, physiological hyperpolarization of cells at low light intensities.

Mammalian synthetic biology: emerging medical applications.

blue Cryptochromes Review
J R Soc Interface, 6 May 2015 DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2014.1000 Link to full text
Abstract: In this review, we discuss new emerging medical applications of the rapidly evolving field of mammalian synthetic biology. We start with simple mammalian synthetic biological components and move towards more complex and therapy-oriented gene circuits. A comprehensive list of ON-OFF switches, categorized into transcriptional, post-transcriptional, translational and post-translational, is presented in the first sections. Subsequently, Boolean logic gates, synthetic mammalian oscillators and toggle switches will be described. Several synthetic gene networks are further reviewed in the medical applications section, including cancer therapy gene circuits, immuno-regulatory networks, among others. The final sections focus on the applicability of synthetic gene networks to drug discovery, drug delivery, receptor-activating gene circuits and mammalian biomanufacturing processes.

Regulation of endogenous transmembrane receptors through optogenetic Cry2 clustering.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HEK293T NIH/3T3 rat hippocampal NSCs Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Nat Commun, 22 Apr 2015 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms7898 Link to full text
Abstract: Transmembrane receptors are the predominant conduit through which cells sense and transduce extracellular information into intracellular biochemical signals. Current methods to control and study receptor function, however, suffer from poor resolution in space and time and often employ receptor overexpression, which can introduce experimental artefacts. We report a genetically encoded approach, termed Clustering Indirectly using Cryptochrome 2 (CLICR), for spatiotemporal control over endogenous transmembrane receptor activation, enabled through the optical regulation of target receptor clustering and downstream signalling using noncovalent interactions with engineered Arabidopsis Cryptochrome 2 (Cry2). CLICR offers a modular platform to enable photocontrol of the clustering of diverse transmembrane receptors including fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR), platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) and integrins in multiple cell types including neural stem cells. Furthermore, light-inducible manipulation of endogenous receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) activity can modulate cell polarity and establish phototaxis in fibroblasts. The resulting spatiotemporal control over cellular signalling represents a powerful new optogenetic framework for investigating and controlling cell function and fate.

Prohibitin 2: At a communications crossroads.

blue BLUF domains Background
IUBMB Life, 21 Apr 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.chemphys.2011.05.028 Link to full text
Abstract: Prohibitins (PHBs) are a highly conserved class of proteins first discovered as inhibitors of cellular proliferation. Since then PHBs have been found to have a significant role in transcription, nuclear signaling, mitochondrial structural integrity, cell division, and cellular membrane metabolism, placing these proteins among the key regulators of pathologies such as cancer, neuromuscular degeneration, and other metabolic diseases. The human genome encodes two PHB proteins, prohibitin 1 (PHB1) and prohibitin 2 (PHB2), which function not only as a heterodimeric complex, but also independently. While many previous reviews have focused on the better characterized prohibitin, PHB1, this review focuses on PHB2 and new data concerning its cellular functions both in complex with PHB1 and independent of PHB1.

Optical control of biological processes by light-switchable proteins.

blue cyan red UV Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol, 8 Apr 2015 DOI: 10.1002/wdev.188 Link to full text
Abstract: Cellular processes such as proliferation, differentiation, or migration depend on precise spatiotemporal coordination of protein activities. Correspondingly, reaching a quantitative understanding of cellular behavior requires experimental approaches that enable spatial and temporal modulation of protein activity. Recently, a variety of light-sensitive protein domains have been engineered as optogenetic actuators to spatiotemporally control protein activity. In the present review, we discuss the principle of these optical control methods and examples of their applications in modulating signaling pathways. By controlling protein activity with spatiotemporal specificity, tunable dynamics, and quantitative control, light-controllable proteins promise to accelerate our understanding of cellular and organismal biology.

Red Light-Regulated Reversible Nuclear Localization of Proteins in Mammalian Cells and Zebrafish.

red PhyB/PIF3 CHO-K1 Cos-7 HEK293T HeLa NIH/3T3 zebrafish in vivo
ACS Synth Biol, 30 Mar 2015 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.5b00004 Link to full text
Abstract: Protein trafficking in and out of the nucleus represents a key step in controlling cell fate and function. Here we report the development of a red light-inducible and far-red light-reversible synthetic system for controlling nuclear localization of proteins in mammalian cells and zebrafish. First, we synthetically reconstructed and validated the red light-dependent Arabidopsis phytochrome B nuclear import mediated by phytochrome-interacting factor 3 in a nonplant environment and support current hypotheses on the import mechanism in planta. On the basis of this principle we next regulated nuclear import and activity of target proteins by the spatiotemporal projection of light patterns. A synthetic transcription factor was translocated into the nucleus of mammalian cells and zebrafish to drive transgene expression. These data demonstrate the first in vivo application of a plant phytochrome-based optogenetic tool in vertebrates and expand the repertoire of available light-regulated molecular devices.

A synthetic erectile optogenetic stimulator enabling blue-light-inducible penile erection.

blue BlgC HEK293T rat in vivo Immediate control of second messengers
Angew Chem Int Ed Engl, 18 Mar 2015 DOI: 10.1002/anie.201412204 Link to full text
Abstract: Precise spatiotemporal control of physiological processes by optogenetic devices inspired by synthetic biology may provide novel treatment opportunities for gene- and cell-based therapies. An erectile optogenetic stimulator (EROS), a synthetic designer guanylate cyclase producing a blue-light-inducible surge of the second messenger cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) in mammalian cells, enabled blue-light-dependent penile erection associated with occasional ejaculation after illumination of EROS-transfected corpus cavernosum in male rats. Photostimulated short-circuiting of complex psychological, neural, vascular, and endocrine factors to stimulate penile erection in the absence of sexual arousal may foster novel advances in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

An optogenetic upgrade for the Tet-OFF system.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293T
Biotechnol Bioeng, 13 Mar 2015 DOI: 10.1002/bit.25562 Link to full text
Abstract: The rapid development of mammalian optogenetics has produced an expanding number of gene switches that can be controlled with the unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution of light. However, in the "pre-optogenetic" era many networks, cell lines and transgenic organisms have been engineered that rely on chemically-inducible transgene expression systems but would benefit from the advantages of the traceless inducer light. To open the possibility for the effortless upgrade of such systems from chemical inducers to light, we capitalized on the specific Med25VBD inhibitor of the VP16/VP64 transactivation domain. In a first step, we demonstrated the efficiency and selectivity of Med25VBD in the inhibition of VP16/VP64-based transgene expression systems. Then, we fused the inhibitor to the blue light-responsive B-LID degron and optimized the performance of this construct with regard to the number of Med25VBD repeats. This approach resulted in an optogenetic upgrade of the popular Tet-OFF (TetR-VP64, tetO7 -PhCMVmin ) system that allows tunable, blue light-inducible transgene expression in HEK-293T cells.

Erratum: Borderud SP, Li Y, Burkhalter JE, Sheffer CE and Ostroff JS. Electronic cigarette use among patients with cancer: Characteristics of electronic cigarette users and their smoking cessation outcomes. Cancer. doi: 10.1002/ cncr.28811.

blue cyan Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Review
Cancer, 1 Mar 2015 DOI: 10.1002/adom.201900215 Link to full text
Abstract: The authors discovered some errors regarding reference group labels in Table 2. The corrected table is attached. The authors regret these errors.

Engineered pairs of distinct photoswitches for optogenetic control of cellular proteins.

blue Magnets VVD Cos-7 NIH/3T3 Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Nat Commun, 24 Feb 2015 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms7256 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic methods take advantage of photoswitches to control the activity of cellular proteins. Here, we completed a multi-directional engineering of the fungal photoreceptor Vivid to develop pairs of distinct photoswitches named Magnets. These new photoswitches were engineered to recognize each other based on the electrostatic interactions, thus preventing homodimerization and enhancing light-induced heterodimerization. Furthermore, we tuned the switch-off kinetics by four orders of magnitude and developed several variants, including those with substantially faster kinetics than any of the other conventional dimerization-based blue spectrum photoswitches. We demonstrate the utility of Magnets as powerful tools that can optogenetically manipulate molecular processes in biological systems.

Natural photoreceptors as a source of fluorescent proteins, biosensors, and optogenetic tools.

blue red BLUF domains Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Annu Rev Biochem, 20 Feb 2015 DOI: 10.1146/annurev-biochem-060614-034411 Link to full text
Abstract: Genetically encoded optical tools have revolutionized modern biology by allowing detection and control of biological processes with exceptional spatiotemporal precision and sensitivity. Natural photoreceptors provide researchers with a vast source of molecular templates for engineering of fluorescent proteins, biosensors, and optogenetic tools. Here, we give a brief overview of natural photoreceptors and their mechanisms of action. We then discuss fluorescent proteins and biosensors developed from light-oxygen-voltage-sensing (LOV) domains and phytochromes, as well as their properties and applications. These fluorescent tools possess unique characteristics not achievable with green fluorescent protein-like probes, including near-infrared fluorescence, independence of oxygen, small size, and photosensitizer activity. We next provide an overview of available optogenetic tools of various origins, such as LOV and BLUF (blue-light-utilizing flavin adenine dinucleotide) domains, cryptochromes, and phytochromes, enabling control of versatile cellular processes. We analyze the principles of their function and practical requirements for use. We focus mainly on optical tools with demonstrated use beyond bacteria, with a specific emphasis on their applications in mammalian cells.

A light-inducible CRISPR-Cas9 system for control of endogenous gene activation.

blue CRY2/CIB1 HEK293T Endogenous gene expression
Nat Chem Biol, 9 Feb 2015 DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.1753 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic systems enable precise spatial and temporal control of cell behavior. We engineered a light-activated CRISPR-Cas9 effector (LACE) system that induces transcription of endogenous genes in the presence of blue light. This was accomplished by fusing the light-inducible heterodimerizing proteins CRY2 and CIB1 to a transactivation domain and the catalytically inactive dCas9, respectively. The versatile LACE system can be easily directed to new DNA sequences for the dynamic regulation of endogenous genes.

Two distinct domains of the UVR8 photoreceptor interact with COP1 to initiate UV-B signaling in Arabidopsis.

UV UV receptors Background
Plant Cell, 27 Jan 2015 DOI: 10.1105/tpc.114.133868 Link to full text
Abstract: UV-B photon reception by the Arabidopsis thaliana homodimeric UV RESISTANCE LOCUS8 (UVR8) photoreceptor leads to its monomerization and a crucial interaction with CONSTITUTIVELY PHOTOMORPHOGENIC1 (COP1). Relay of the subsequent signal regulates UV-B-induced photomorphogenesis and stress acclimation. Here, we report that two separate domains of UVR8 interact with COP1: the β-propeller domain of UVR8 mediates UV-B-dependent interaction with the WD40 repeats-based predicted β-propeller domain of COP1, whereas COP1 activity is regulated by interaction through the UVR8 C-terminal C27 domain. We show not only that the C27 domain is required for UVR8 activity but also that chemically induced expression of the C27 domain is sufficient to mimic UV-B signaling. We further show, in contrast with COP1, that the WD40 repeat proteins REPRESSOR OF UV-B PHOTOMORPHOGENESIS1 (RUP1) and RUP2 interact only with the UVR8 C27 domain. This coincides with their facilitation of UVR8 reversion to the ground state by redimerization and their potential to interact with UVR8 in a UV-B-independent manner. Collectively, our results provide insight into a key mechanism of photoreceptor-mediated signaling and its negative feedback regulation.

CRISPR-Cas9-based photoactivatable transcription system.

blue CRY2/CIB1 Cos-7 HEK293 HEK293T HeLa Endogenous gene expression
Chem Biol, 22 Jan 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2014.12.011 Link to full text
Abstract: Targeted endogenous gene activation is necessary for understanding complex gene networks and has great potential in medical and industrial applications. The CRISPR-Cas system offers simple and powerful tools for this purpose. However, these CRISPR-Cas-based tools for activating user-defined genes are unable to offer precise temporal control of gene expression, despite the fact that many biological phenomena are regulated by highly dynamic patterns of gene expression. Here we created a light-inducible, user-defined, endogenous gene activation system based on CRISPR-Cas9. We demonstrated that this CRISPR-Cas9-based transcription system can allow rapid and reversible targeted gene activation by light. In addition, using this system, we have exemplified photoactivation of multiple user-defined endogenous genes in mammalian cells. The present CRISPR-Cas9-based transcription system offers simple and versatile approaches for precise endogenous gene activation in basic biological research and biotechnology applications.

Controlling fertilization and cAMP signaling in sperm by optogenetics.

blue bPAC (BlaC) mouse in vivo mouse sperm cells Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Immediate control of second messengers
Elife, 20 Jan 2015 DOI: 10.7554/elife.05161 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics is a powerful technique to control cellular activity by light. The light-gated Channelrhodopsin has been widely used to study and manipulate neuronal activity in vivo, whereas optogenetic control of second messengers in vivo has not been examined in depth. In this study, we present a transgenic mouse model expressing a photoactivated adenylyl cyclase (bPAC) in sperm. In transgenic sperm, bPAC mimics the action of the endogenous soluble adenylyl cyclase (SACY) that is required for motility and fertilization: light-stimulation rapidly elevates cAMP, accelerates the flagellar beat, and, thereby, changes swimming behavior of sperm. Furthermore, bPAC replaces endogenous adenylyl cyclase activity. In mutant sperm lacking the bicarbonate-stimulated SACY activity, bPAC restored motility after light-stimulation and, thereby, enabled sperm to fertilize oocytes in vitro. We show that optogenetic control of cAMP in vivo allows to non-invasively study cAMP signaling, to control behaviors of single cells, and to restore a fundamental biological process such as fertilization.

Optogenetics for gene expression in mammalian cells.

blue cyan red UV Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Biol Chem, 10 Jan 2015 DOI: 10.1515/hsz-2014-0199 Link to full text
Abstract: Molecular switches that are controlled by chemicals have evolved as central research instruments in mammalian cell biology. However, these tools are limited in terms of their spatiotemporal resolution due to freely diffusing inducers. These limitations have recently been addressed by the development of optogenetic, genetically encoded, and light-responsive tools that can be controlled with the unprecedented spatiotemporal precision of light. In this article, we first provide a brief overview of currently available optogenetic tools that have been designed to control diverse cellular processes. Then, we focus on recent developments in light-controlled gene expression technologies and provide the reader with a guideline for choosing the most suitable gene expression system.

Optogenetic control of organelle transport and positioning.

blue CRY2/CIB1 TULIP Cos-7 rat hippocampal neurons Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Organelle manipulation
Nature, 7 Jan 2015 DOI: 10.1038/nature14128 Link to full text
Abstract: Proper positioning of organelles by cytoskeleton-based motor proteins underlies cellular events such as signalling, polarization and growth. For many organelles, however, the precise connection between position and function has remained unclear, because strategies to control intracellular organelle positioning with spatiotemporal precision are lacking. Here we establish optical control of intracellular transport by using light-sensitive heterodimerization to recruit specific cytoskeletal motor proteins (kinesin, dynein or myosin) to selected cargoes. We demonstrate that the motility of peroxisomes, recycling endosomes and mitochondria can be locally and repeatedly induced or stopped, allowing rapid organelle repositioning. We applied this approach in primary rat hippocampal neurons to test how local positioning of recycling endosomes contributes to axon outgrowth and found that dynein-driven removal of endosomes from axonal growth cones reversibly suppressed axon growth, whereas kinesin-driven endosome enrichment enhanced growth. Our strategy for optogenetic control of organelle positioning will be widely applicable to explore site-specific organelle functions in different model systems.

Single-molecule tracking of small GTPase Rac1 uncovers spatial regulation of membrane translocation and mechanism for polarized signaling.

blue CRY2/CIB1 MCF7 Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 5 Jan 2015 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1409667112 Link to full text
Abstract: Polarized Rac1 signaling is a hallmark of many cellular functions, including cell adhesion, motility, and cell division. The two steps of Rac1 activation are its translocation to the plasma membrane and the exchange of nucleotide from GDP to GTP. It is, however, unclear whether these two processes are regulated independent of each other and what their respective roles are in polarization of Rac1 signaling. We designed a single-particle tracking (SPT) method to quantitatively analyze the kinetics of Rac1 membrane translocation in living cells. We found that the rate of Rac1 translocation was significantly elevated in protrusions during cell spreading on collagen. Furthermore, combining FRET sensor imaging with SPT measurements in the same cell, the recruitment of Rac1 was found to be polarized to an extent similar to that of the nucleotide exchange process. Statistical analysis of single-molecule trajectories and optogenetic manipulation of membrane lipids revealed that Rac1 membrane translocation precedes nucleotide exchange, and is governed primarily by interactions with phospholipids, particularly PI(3,4,5)P3, instead of protein factors. Overall, the study highlights the significance of membrane translocation in spatial Rac1 signaling, which is in addition to the traditional view focusing primarily on GEF distribution and exchange reaction.

Engineering an improved light-induced dimer (iLID) for controlling the localization and activity of signaling proteins.

blue AsLOV2 iLID in vitro mouse IA32 fibroblasts Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 22 Dec 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1417910112 Link to full text
Abstract: The discovery of light-inducible protein-protein interactions has allowed for the spatial and temporal control of a variety of biological processes. To be effective, a photodimerizer should have several characteristics: it should show a large change in binding affinity upon light stimulation, it should not cross-react with other molecules in the cell, and it should be easily used in a variety of organisms to recruit proteins of interest to each other. To create a switch that meets these criteria we have embedded the bacterial SsrA peptide in the C-terminal helix of a naturally occurring photoswitch, the light-oxygen-voltage 2 (LOV2) domain from Avena sativa. In the dark the SsrA peptide is sterically blocked from binding its natural binding partner, SspB. When activated with blue light, the C-terminal helix of the LOV2 domain undocks from the protein, allowing the SsrA peptide to bind SspB. Without optimization, the switch exhibited a twofold change in binding affinity for SspB with light stimulation. Here, we describe the use of computational protein design, phage display, and high-throughput binding assays to create an improved light inducible dimer (iLID) that changes its affinity for SspB by over 50-fold with light stimulation. A crystal structure of iLID shows a critical interaction between the surface of the LOV2 domain and a phenylalanine engineered to more tightly pin the SsrA peptide against the LOV2 domain in the dark. We demonstrate the functional utility of the switch through light-mediated subcellular localization in mammalian cell culture and reversible control of small GTPase signaling.

Synthetic protein switches: design principles and applications.

blue cyan red Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Trends Biotechnol, 20 Dec 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2014.11.010 Link to full text
Abstract: Protein switches are ubiquitous in biological signal transduction systems, enabling cells to sense and respond to a variety of molecular queues in a rapid, specific, and integrated fashion. Analogously, tailor-engineered protein switches with custom input and output functions have become invaluable research tools for reporting on distinct physiological states and actuating molecular functions in real time and in situ. Here, we analyze recent progress in constructing protein-based switches while assessing their potential in the assembly of defined signaling motifs. We anticipate such systems will ultimately pave the way towards a new generation of molecular diagnostics and facilitate the construction of artificial signaling systems that operate in parallel to the signaling machinery of a host cell for applications in synthetic biology.

Optogenetic control of intracellular signaling pathways.

blue red UV Cryptochromes Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Trends Biotechnol, 17 Dec 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2014.11.007 Link to full text
Abstract: Cells employ a plethora of signaling pathways to make their life-and-death decisions. Extensive genetic, biochemical, and physiological studies have led to the accumulation of knowledge about signaling components and their interactions within signaling networks. These conventional approaches, although useful, lack the ability to control the spatial and temporal aspects of signaling processes. The recently emerged optogenetic tools open exciting opportunities by enabling signaling regulation with superior temporal and spatial resolution, easy delivery, rapid reversibility, fewer off-target side effects, and the ability to dissect complex signaling networks. Here we review recent achievements in using light to control intracellular signaling pathways and discuss future prospects for the field, including integration of new genetic approaches into optogenetics.
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