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 76 - 100 of 1087 results

Optogenetic investigation of BMP target gene expression diversity.

blue VfAU1-LOV zebrafish in vivo Endogenous gene expression Developmental processes
Elife, 11 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.7554/elife.58641 Link to full text
Abstract: Signaling molecules activate distinct patterns of gene expression to coordinate embryogenesis, but how spatiotemporal expression diversity is generated is an open question. In zebrafish, a BMP signaling gradient patterns the dorsal-ventral axis. We systematically identified target genes responding to BMP and found that they have diverse spatiotemporal expression patterns. Transcriptional responses to optogenetically delivered high- and low-amplitude BMP signaling pulses indicate that spatiotemporal expression is not fully defined by different BMP signaling activation thresholds. Additionally, we observed negligible correlations between spatiotemporal expression and transcription kinetics for the majority of analyzed genes in response to BMP signaling pulses. In contrast, spatial differences between BMP target genes largely collapsed when FGF and Nodal signaling were inhibited. Our results suggest that, similar to other patterning systems, combinatorial signaling is likely to be a major driver of spatial diversity in BMP-dependent gene expression in zebrafish.

Synthetic protein condensates that recruit and release protein activity in living cells.

bioRxiv, 10 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.09.375766 Link to full text
Abstract: Compartmentation of proteins into biomolecular condensates or membraneless organelles formed by phase separation is an emerging principle for the regulation of cellular processes. Creating synthetic condensates that accommodate specific intracellular proteins on demand would have various applications in chemical biology, cell engineering and synthetic biology. Here, we report the construction of synthetic protein condensates capable of recruiting and/or releasing proteins of interest in living mammalian cells in response to a small molecule or light. We first present chemogenetic protein-recruiting and -releasing condensates, which rapidly inhibited and activated signaling proteins, respectively. An optogenetic condensate system was successfully constructed that enables reversible release and sequestration of protein activity using light. This proof-of-principle work provides a new platform for chemogenetic and optogenetic control of protein activity in mammalian cells and represents a step towards tailor-made engineering of synthetic protein condensates with various functionalities.

Improvement of Phycocyanobilin Synthesis for Genetically Encoded Phytochrome-Based Optogenetics.

red PhyB/PIF3 HeLa mESCs Xenopus in vivo
ACS Chem Biol, 9 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.0c00477 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics is a powerful technique using photoresponsive proteins, and the light-inducible dimerization (LID) system, an optogenetic tool, allows to manipulate intracellular signaling pathways. One of the red/far-red responsive LID systems, phytochrome B (PhyB)-phytochrome interacting factor (PIF), has a unique property of controlling both association and dissociation by light on the second time scale, but PhyB requires a linear tetrapyrrole chromophore such as phycocyanobilin (PCB), and such chromophores are present only in higher plants and cyanobacteria. Here, we report that we further improved our previously developed PCB synthesis system (SynPCB) and successfully established a stable cell line containing a genetically encoded PhyB-PIF LID system. First, four genes responsible for PCB synthesis, namely, PcyA, HO1, Fd, and Fnr, were replaced with their counterparts derived from thermophilic cyanobacteria. Second, Fnr was truncated, followed by fusion with Fd to generate a chimeric protein, tFnr-Fd. Third, these genes were concatenated with P2A peptide cDNAs for polycistronic expression, resulting in an approximately 4-fold increase in PCB synthesis compared with the previous version. Finally, we incorporated the PhyB, PIF, and SynPCB system into drug inducible lentiviral and transposon vectors, which enabled us to induce PCB synthesis and the PhyB-PIF LID system by doxycycline treatment. These tools provide a new opportunity to advance our understanding of the causal relationship between intracellular signaling and cellular functions.

Biphasic Response of Protein Kinase A to Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate Triggers Distinct Epithelial Phenotypes.

blue bPAC (BlaC) MDCK Signaling cascade control Immediate control of second messengers
bioRxiv, 3 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.1101/747030 Link to full text
Abstract: Despite the large diversity of the proteins involved in cellular signaling, many intracellular signaling pathways converge onto one of only dozens of small molecule second messengers. Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), one of these second messengers, is known to regulate activity of both Protein Kinase A (PKA) and the Extracellular Regulated Kinase (ERK), among other signaling pathways. In its role as an important cellular signaling hub, intracellular cAMP concentration has long been assumed to monotonically regulate its known effectors. Using an optogenetic tool that can introduce precise amounts of cAMP in MDCKI cells, we identify genes whose expression changes biphasically with monotonically increasing cAMP levels. By examining the behavior of PKA and ERK1/2 in the same dose regime, we find that these kinases also respond biphasically to increasing cAMP levels, with opposite phases. We reveal that this behavior results from an elaborate integration by PKA of many cellular signals triggered by cAMP. In addition to the direct activation of PKA, cAMP also modulates the activity of p38 and ERK, which then converge to inhibit PKA. These interactions and their ensuing biphasic PKA profile have important physiological repercussions, influencing the ability of MDCKI cells to proliferate and form acini. Our data, supported by computational modeling, synthesize a set of network interconnections involving PKA and other important signaling pathways into a model that demonstrates how cells can capitalize on signal integration to create a diverse set of responses to cAMP concentration and produce complex input-output relationships.

Optogenetic regulation of embryo implantation in mice using photoactivatable CRISPR-Cas9.

blue Magnets mouse in vivo Nucleic acid editing
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2016850117 Link to full text
Abstract: Embryo implantation is achieved upon successful interaction between a fertilized egg and receptive endometrium and is mediated by spatiotemporal expression of implantation-associated molecules including leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF). Here we demonstrate, in mice, that LIF knockdown via a photoactivatable CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system and illumination with a light-emitting diode can spatiotemporally disrupt fertility. This system enables dissection of spatiotemporal molecular mechanisms associated with embryo implantation and provides a therapeutic strategy for temporal control of reproductive functions in vivo.

Light-inducible Deformation of Mitochondria in Live Cells.

blue CRY2/CIB1 iLID 3T3-L1 Cos-7 HeLa U-2 OS Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 2 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.01.363663 Link to full text
Abstract: Mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, are dynamic organelles that undergo constant morphological changes. Increasing evidence indicates that mitochondria morphologies and functions can be modulated by mechanical cues. However, the mechano-sensing and -responding properties of mitochondria and the correlation between mitochondrial morphologies and functions are unclear due to the lack of methods to precisely exert mechano-stimulation on and deform mitochondria inside live cells. Here we present an optogenetic approach that uses light to induce deformation of mitochondria by recruiting molecular motors to the outer mitochondrial membrane via light-activated protein-protein hetero-dimerization. Mechanical forces generated by motor proteins distort the outer membrane, during which the inner mitochondrial membrane can also be deformed. Moreover, this optical method can achieve subcellular spatial precision and be combined with other optical dimerizers and molecular motors. This method presents a novel mitochondria-specific mechano-stimulator for studying mitochondria mechanobiology and the interplay between mitochondria shapes and functions.

β-Catenin signaling dynamics regulate cell fate in differentiating neural stem cells.

blue CRY2/CRY2 rat hippocampal NSCs Cell differentiation
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2008509117 Link to full text
Abstract: Stem cells undergo differentiation in complex and dynamic environments wherein instructive signals fluctuate on various timescales. Thus, cells must be equipped to properly respond to the timing of signals, for example, to distinguish sustained signaling from transient noise. However, how stem cells respond to dynamic variations in differentiation cues is not well characterized. Here, we use optogenetic activation of β-catenin signaling to probe the dynamic responses of differentiating adult neural stem cells (NSCs). We discover that, while elevated, sustained β-catenin activation sequentially promotes proliferation and differentiation, transient β-catenin induces apoptosis. Genetic perturbations revealed that the neurogenic/apoptotic fate switch was mediated through cell-cycle regulation by Growth Arrest and DNA Damage 45 gamma (Gadd45γ). Our results thus reveal a role for β-catenin dynamics in NSC fate decisions and may suggest a role for signal timing to minimize cell-fate errors, analogous to kinetic proofreading of stem-cell differentiation.

Quantifying signal persistence in the T cell signaling network using an optically controllable antigen receptor.

blue LOVTRAP HEK293T Jurkat Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 30 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.30.362194 Link to full text
Abstract: T cells discriminate between healthy and infected cells with remarkable sensitivity when mounting an immune response. It has been hypothesized that this efficient detection requires combining signals from discrete antigen-presenting cell interactions into a more potent response, requiring T cells to maintain a ‘memory’ of previous encounters. To quantify the magnitude of this phenomenon, we have developed an antigen receptor that is both optically and chemically tunable, providing control over the initiation, duration, and intensity of intracellular T-cell signaling within physiological cell conjugates. We observe very limited persistence within the T cell intracellular network on disruption of receptor input, with signals dissipating entirely in ~15 minutes, and directly confirm that sustained proximal receptor signaling is required to maintain active gene transcription. Our data suggests that T cells are largely incapable of integrating discrete antigen receptor signals but instead simply accumulate the output of gene expression. By engineering optical control in a clinically relevant chimeric antigen receptor, we show that this limited signal persistence can be exploited to increase the activation of primary T cells by ~3-fold by using pulsatile stimulation. Our results are likely to apply more generally to the signaling dynamics of other cellular networks.

The rise and shine of yeast optogenetics.

blue green near-infrared red UV BLUF domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Yeast, 29 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1002/yea.3529 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics refers to the control of biological processes with light. The activation of cellular phenomena by defined wavelengths has several advantages compared to traditional chemically-inducible systems, such as spatiotemporal resolution, dose-response regulation, low cost and moderate toxic effects. Optogenetics has been successfully implemented in yeast, a remarkable biological platform that is not only a model organism for cellular and molecular biology studies, but also a microorganism with diverse biotechnological applications. In this review, we summarize the main optogenetic systems implemented in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which allow orthogonal control (by light) of gene expression, protein subcellular localization, reconstitution of protein activity, or protein sequestration by oligomerization. Furthermore, we review the application of optogenetic systems in the control of metabolic pathways, heterologous protein production and flocculation. We then revise an example of a previously described yeast optogenetic switch, named FUN-LOV, which allows precise and strong activation of the target gene. Finally, we describe optogenetic systems that have not yet been implemented in yeast, which could therefore be used to expand the panel of available tools in this biological chassis. In conclusion, a wide repertoire of optogenetic systems can be used to address fundamental biological questions and broaden the biotechnological toolkit in yeast.

Optogenetical control of infection signaling cascade of bacteria by an engineered light-responsive protein.

blue YtvA P. aeruginosa P. aeruginosa
bioRxiv, 29 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.28.358515 Link to full text
Abstract: Bacterial pathogens operate by tightly controlling the virulence to facilitate invasion and survival in host. Although pathways regulating virulence have been defined in detail and signals modulating these processes are gradually understood, a lack of controlling infection signaling cascades of pathogens when and whereabouts specificity limits deeper investigating of host-pathogen interactions. Here, we employed optogenetics to reengineer the GacS of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, sensor kinase of GacS/GacA TCS regulates the expression of virulence factors by directly mediating several sRNAs. The resultant protein YGS24 displayed significant light-dependent activity of GacS kinases in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. When introduced in Caenorhabditis elegans host systems, YGS24 stimulated the pathogenicity of PAO1 in BHI and of PA14 in SK medium progressively upon blue-light exposure. This optogenetic system provides an accessible way to spatiotemporally control bacterial pathogenicity in defined host even specific tissues to develop new pathogenesis systems, which may in turn expedite development of innovative therapeutics.

Enlightening Allostery: Designing Switchable Proteins by Photoreceptor Fusion.

blue LOV domains Review
Adv Biosyst, 26 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.202000181 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics harnesses natural photoreceptors to non-invasively control selected processes in cells with previously unmet spatiotemporal precision. Linking the activity of a protein of choice to the conformational state of a photosensor domain through allosteric coupling represents a powerful method for engineering light-responsive proteins. It enables the design of compact and highly potent single-component optogenetic systems with fast on- and off-switching kinetics. However, designing protein-photoreceptor chimeras, in which structural changes of the photoreceptor are effectively propagated to the fused effector protein, is a challenging engineering problem and often relies on trial and error. Here, recent advances in the design and application of optogenetic allosteric switches are reviewed. First, an overview of existing optogenetic tools based on inducible allostery is provided and their utility for cell biology applications is highlighted. Focusing on light-oxygen-voltage domains, a widely applied class of small blue light sensors, the available strategies for engineering light-dependent allostery are presented and their individual advantages and limitations are highlighted. Finally, high-throughput screening technologies based on comprehensive insertion libraries, which could accelerate the creation of stimulus-responsive receptor-protein chimeras for use in optogenetics and beyond, are discussed.

Optogenetic Control of the BMP Signaling Pathway.

blue VfAU1-LOV HEK293T hESCs SW 1353 T/C28a2 Signaling cascade control
ACS Synth Biol, 21 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.0c00315 Link to full text
Abstract: Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are members of the transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) superfamily and have crucial roles during development; including mesodermal patterning and specification of renal, hepatic, and skeletal tissues. In vitro developmental models currently rely upon costly and unreliable recombinant BMP proteins that do not enable dynamic or precise activation of the BMP signaling pathway. Here, we report the development of an optogenetic BMP signaling system (optoBMP) that enables rapid induction of the canonical BMP signaling pathway driven by illumination with blue light. We demonstrate the utility of the optoBMP system in multiple human cell lines to initiate signal transduction through phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of SMAD1/5, leading to upregulation of BMP target genes including Inhibitors of DNA binding ID2 and ID4. Furthermore, we demonstrate how the optoBMP system can be used to fine-tune activation of the BMP signaling pathway through variable light stimulation. Optogenetic control of BMP signaling will enable dynamic and high-throughput intervention across a variety of applications in cellular and developmental systems.

Optogenetics in plants.

blue green red UV Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
New Phytol, 16 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1111/nph.17008 Link to full text
Abstract: The last two decades have witnessed the emergence of optogenetics; a field that has given researchers the ability to use light to control biological processes at high spatio-temporal and quantitative resolution, in a reversible manner with minimal side effects. Optogenetics has revolutionised the neurosciences, increased our understanding of cellular signalling and metabolic networks and resulted in variety of applications in biotechnology and biomedicine. However, implementing optogenetics in plants has been less straight forward given their dependency on light for their life cycle. Here, we highlight some of the widely used technologies in microorganisms and animal systems derived from plant photoreceptor proteins and discuss strategies recently implemented to overcome the challenges for using optogenetics in plants.

Mechanical competition alters the cellular interpretation of an endogenous genetic programme.

blue CRY2/CIB1 D. melanogaster in vivo Developmental processes
bioRxiv, 15 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.15.333963 Link to full text
Abstract: The intrinsic genetic programme of a cell is not sufficient to explain all of the cell’s activities. External mechanical stimuli are increasingly recognized as determinants of cell behaviour. In the epithelial folding event that constitutes the beginning of gastrulation in Drosophila, the genetic programme of the future mesoderm leads to the establishment of a contractile actomyosin network that triggers apical constriction of cells, and thereby, furrow formation. However, some cells do not constrict but instead stretch, even though they share the same genetic programme as their constricting neighbours. We show here that tissue-wide interactions force these cells to expand even when an otherwise sufficient amount of apical, active actomyosin is present. Models based on contractile forces and linear stress-strain responses are not sufficient to reproduce experimental observations, but simulations in which cells behave as ductile materials with non-linear mechanical properties do. Our models show that this behaviour is a general emergent property of supracellular actomyosin networks, in accordance with our experimental observations of actin reorganisation within stretching cells.

Multichromatic Control of Signaling Pathways in Mammalian Cells.

blue red CRY2/CIB1 PhyB/PIF6 HEK293 Signaling cascade control Multichromatic
Adv Biosyst, 12 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.202000196 Link to full text
Abstract: The precise control of signaling proteins is a prerequisite to decipher the complexity of the signaling network and to reveal and to study pathways involved in regulating cellular metabolism and gene expression. Optogenetic approaches play an emerging role as they enable the spatiotemporal control of signaling processes. Herein, a multichromatic system is developed by combining the blue light cryptochrome 2 system and the red/far-red light phytochrome B system. The use of three wavelengths allows the orthogonal control of the RAF/ERK and the AKT signaling pathway. Continuous exposure of cells to blue light leads to activation of AKT while simultaneous pulses of red and far-red light enable the modulation of ERK signaling in cells with constantly active AKT signaling. The optimized, orthogonal multichromatic system presented here is a valuable tool to better understand the fine grained and intricate processes involved in cell fate decisions.

Optogenetic interrogation and control of cell signaling.

blue cyan green near-infrared red Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Curr Opin Biotechnol, 11 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.copbio.2020.07.007 Link to full text
Abstract: Signaling networks control the flow of information through biological systems and coordinate the chemical processes that constitute cellular life. Optogenetic actuators - genetically encoded proteins that undergo light-induced changes in activity or conformation - are useful tools for probing signaling networks over time and space. They have permitted detailed dissections of cellular proliferation, differentiation, motility, and death, and enabled the assembly of synthetic systems with applications in areas as diverse as photography, chemical synthesis, and medicine. In this review, we provide a brief introduction to optogenetic systems and describe their application to molecular-level analyses of cell signaling. Our discussion highlights important research achievements and speculates on future opportunities to exploit optogenetic systems in the study and assembly of complex biochemical networks.

Livecell reporters reveal bidirectional acceleration of nucleocytoplasmic transport by O-GlcNAc modification of the nuclear pore complex.

blue AsLOV2 U-2 OS
bioRxiv, 10 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.09.334029 Link to full text
Abstract: Macromolecular transportacross the nuclear envelope is fundamental to eukaryotic cells and depends on facilitated diffusion through nuclear pore complexes (NPCs). The interior of NPCs contains apermeability barriermade of phenylalanine-glycine (FG) repeat domainsthat selectively facilitatesthe permeation ofcargoes bound to nuclear transport receptors (NTRs)1,2.The NPC is enriched in O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) modification3-8, but itsfunctional rolein nucleocytoplasmic transport isunclear. We developed high-throughput assaysbased on optogenetic probes to quantify the kinetics of nuclear import and exportin living human cells and showedthat the O-GlcNAc modification of the NPC accelerates the nucleocytoplasmic transport in both directions.Super-resolution imaging of O-GlcNAc revealed strong enrichmentat the FG barrier ofthe NPC channel. O-GlcNAcmodificationalso promoted the passive permeation of a small,inert protein through NPCs.Our results suggest that O-GlcNAc modification acceleratesnucleocytoplasmic transport by enhancingthe non-specific permeabilitythe FG-repeat barrier.

Upconversion optogenetic micro-nanosystem optically controls the secretion of light-responsive bacteria for systemic immunity regulation.

blue YtvA E. coli L. lactis Transgene expression
Commun Biol, 9 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s42003-020-01287-4 Link to full text
Abstract: Chemical molecules specifically secreted into the blood and targeted tissues by intestinal microbiota can effectively affect the associated functions of the intestine especially immunity, representing a new strategy for immune-related diseases. However, proper ways of regulating the secretion metabolism of specific strains still remain to be established. In this article, an upconversion optogenetic micro-nanosystem was constructed to effectively regulate the specific secretion of engineered bacteria. The system included two major modules: (i) Modification of secretory light-responsive engineered bacteria. (ii) Optical sensing mediated by upconversion optogenetic micro-nanosystem. This system could regulate the efficient secretion of immune factors by engineered bacteria through optical manipulation. Inflammatory bowel disease and subcutaneously transplanted tumors were selected to verify the effectiveness of the system. Our results showed that the endogenous factor TGF-β1 could be controllably secreted to suppress the intestinal inflammatory response. Additionally, regulatory secretion of IFN-γ was promoted to slow the progression of B16F10 tumor.

Resonance energy transfer sensitises and monitors in situ switching of LOV2-based optogenetic actuators.

blue LOV domains Background
Nat Commun, 9 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18816-8 Link to full text
Abstract: Engineered light-dependent switches provide uniquely powerful opportunities to investigate and control cell regulatory mechanisms. Existing tools offer high spatiotemporal resolution, reversibility and repeatability. Cellular optogenetics applications remain limited with diffusible targets as the response of the actuator is difficult to independently validate. Blue light levels commonly needed for actuation can be cytotoxic, precluding long-term experiments. We describe a simple approach overcoming these obstacles. Resonance energy transfer can be used to constitutively or dynamically modulate actuation sensitivity. This simultaneously offers on-line monitoring of light-dependent switching and precise quantification of activation-relaxation properties in intact living cells. Applying this approach to different LOV2-based switches reveals that flanking sequences can lead to relaxation times up to 11-fold faster than anticipated. In situ-measured parameter values guide the design of target-inhibiting actuation trains with minimal blue-light exposure, and context-based optimisation can increase sensitivity and experimental throughput a further 10-fold without loss of temporal precision.

Steric Interactions at Gln154 in ZEITLUPE Induce Reorganization of the LOV Domain Dimer Interface.

blue LOV domains Background
bioRxiv, 7 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.05.326595 Link to full text
Abstract: Plants measure light, quality, intensity, and duration to coordinate growth and development with daily and seasonal changes in environmental conditions, however, the molecular details linking photochemistry to signal transduction remain incomplete. Two closely related Light, Oxygen, or Voltage (LOV) domain containing photoreceptor proteins ZEITLUPE (ZTL) and FLAVIN-BINDING, KELCH REPEAT, F-BOX 1 (FKF1) divergently regulate the protein stability of circadian clock and photoperiodic flowering components to mediate daily and seasonal development. Using structural approaches, we identified that mutations at the Gly46 position led to global rearrangements of the ZTL dimer interface. Specifically, introduction of G46S and G46A variants that mimic equivalent residues found in FKF1 induce a 180° rotation about the dimer interface that is coupled to ordering of N- and C-terminal signaling elements. These conformational changes hinge upon rotation of a C-terminal Gln residue analogous to that present in light-state structures of ZTL. The results presented herein, confirm a divergent signaling mechanism within ZTL that deviates from other members of the LOV superfamily and suggests that mechanisms of signal transduction in LOV proteins may be fluid across the LOV protein family.

Optical control of ERK and AKT signaling promotes axon regeneration and functional recovery of PNS and CNS in Drosophila.

blue CRY2/CIB1 D. melanogaster in vivo HEK293T PC-12 Signaling cascade control
Elife, 6 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.7554/elife.57395 Link to full text
Abstract: Neuroregeneration is a dynamic process synergizing the functional outcomes of multiple signaling circuits. Channelrhodopsin-based optogenetics shows the feasibility of stimulating neural repair but does not pin down specific signaling cascades. Here, we utilized optogenetic systems, optoRaf and optoAKT, to delineate the contribution of the ERK and AKT signaling pathways to neuroregeneration in live Drosophila larvae. We showed that optoRaf or optoAKT activation not only enhanced axon regeneration in both regeneration-competent and -incompetent sensory neurons in the peripheral nervous system but also allowed temporal tuning and proper guidance of axon regrowth. Furthermore, optoRaf and optoAKT differ in their signaling kinetics during regeneration, showing a gated versus graded response, respectively. Importantly in the central nervous system, their activation promotes axon regrowth and functional recovery of the thermonociceptive behavior. We conclude that non-neuronal optogenetics target damaged neurons and signaling subcircuits, providing a novel strategy in the intervention of neural damage with improved precision.

Clustering-based positive feedback between a kinase and its substrate enables effective T-cell receptor signaling.

blue CRY2/CRY2 iLID HEK293T MEF-1 NIH/3T3 Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 6 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.06.328708 Link to full text
Abstract: Protein clusters and condensates are pervasive in mammalian signaling. Yet how the signaling capacity of higher-order assemblies differs from simpler forms of molecular organization is still poorly understood. Here, we present an optogenetic approach to switch between light-induced clusters and simple protein heterodimers with a single point mutation. We apply this system to study how clustering affects signaling from the kinase Zap70 and its substrate LAT, proteins that normally form membrane-localized clusters during T cell activation. We find that light-induced clusters of LAT and Zap70 trigger potent activation of downstream signaling pathways even in non-T cells, whereas one-to-one dimers do not. We provide evidence that clusters harbor a local positive feedback loop between three components: Zap70, LAT, and Src-family kinases that bind to phosphorylated LAT and further activate Zap70. Overall, our study provides evidence for a specific role of protein condensates in cell signaling, and identifies a simple biochemical circuit that can robustly sense protein oligomerization state.

An optogenetic switch for the Set2 methyltransferase provides evidence for transcription-dependent and -independent dynamics of H3K36 methylation.

blue AsLOV2 S. cerevisiae Epigenetic modification
Genome Res, 5 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1101/gr.264283.120 Link to full text
Abstract: Histone H3 lysine 36 methylation (H3K36me) is a conserved histone modification associated with transcription and DNA repair. Although the effects of H3K36 methylation have been studied, the genome-wide dynamics of H3K36me deposition and removal are not known. We established rapid and reversible optogenetic control for Set2, the sole H3K36 methyltransferase in yeast, by fusing the enzyme with the light-activated nuclear shuttle (LANS) domain. Light activation resulted in efficient Set2-LANS nuclear localization followed by H3K36me3 deposition in vivo, with total H3K36me3 levels correlating with RNA abundance. Although genes showed disparate levels of H3K36 methylation, relative rates of H3K36me3 accumulation were largely linear and consistent across genes, suggesting that H3K36me3 deposition occurs in a directed fashion on all transcribed genes regardless of their overall transcription frequency. Removal of H3K36me3 was highly dependent on the demethylase Rph1. However, the per-gene rate of H3K36me3 loss weakly correlated with RNA abundance and followed exponential decay, suggesting H3K36 demethylases act in a global, stochastic manner. Altogether, these data provide a detailed temporal view of H3K36 methylation and demethylation that suggests transcription-dependent and -independent mechanisms for H3K36me deposition and removal, respectively.

Optoribogenetic control of regulatory RNA molecules.

blue PAL HEK293 Cell cycle control Transgene expression
Nat Commun, 24 Sep 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18673-5 Link to full text
Abstract: Short regulatory RNA molecules underpin gene expression and govern cellular state and physiology. To establish an alternative layer of control over these processes, we generated chimeric regulatory RNAs that interact reversibly and light-dependently with the light-oxygen-voltage photoreceptor PAL. By harnessing this interaction, the function of micro RNAs (miRs) and short hairpin (sh) RNAs in mammalian cells can be regulated in a spatiotemporally precise manner. The underlying strategy is generic and can be adapted to near-arbitrary target sequences. Owing to full genetic encodability, it establishes optoribogenetic control of cell state and physiology. The method stands to facilitate the non-invasive, reversible and spatiotemporally resolved study of regulatory RNAs and protein function in cellular and organismal environments.

Light-Regulated allosteric switch enables temporal and subcellular control of enzyme activity.

blue VVD HEK293T HeLa Signaling cascade control
Elife, 23 Sep 2020 DOI: 10.7554/elife.60647 Link to full text
Abstract: Engineered allosteric regulation of protein activity provides significant advantages for the development of robust and broadly applicable tools. However, the application of allosteric switches in optogenetics has been scarce and suffers from critical limitations. Here, we report an optogenetic approach that utilizes an engineered Light-Regulated (LightR) allosteric switch module to achieve tight spatiotemporal control of enzymatic activity. Using the tyrosine kinase Src as a model, we demonstrate efficient regulation of the kinase and identify temporally distinct signaling responses ranging from seconds to minutes. LightR-Src off-kinetics can be tuned by modulating the LightR photoconversion cycle. A fast cycling variant enables the stimulation of transient pulses and local regulation of activity in a selected region of a cell. The design of the LightR module ensures broad applicability of the tool, as we demonstrate by achieving light-mediated regulation of Abl and bRaf kinases as well as Cre recombinase.
Submit a new publication to our database