Showing 101 - 125 of 1087 results
Open-Closed Structure of Light Responsive Protein LOV2 Regulates its Molecular Interaction with Binding Partner.
Optogenetic approaches have broad applications including regulating cell signalling and gene expression. Photo-responsive protein LOV2 and its binding partner ZDK represent an important protein caging/uncaging optogenetic system. Herein, we combine time-resolved small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) to reveal different structural states of LOV2 and the light-controlled mechanism of interaction between LOV2 and ZDK. In response to blue light within a time frame of ca. 70 s, LOV2 has a significantly higher value of radius of gyration Rg (29.6± 0.3 Å vs 26.4± 0.4 Å) than its dark state, suggesting unwinding of the C-terminal Jα-helix into an open structure. Atomic force microscopy was used to characterise molecular interactions of LOV2 in open and closed states with ZDK at a single molecule level. The closed state of LOV2 enables strong binding with ZDK, characterised by 60-fold lower dissociation rate and ~1.5 times higher activation energy barrier than its open state. In combination, these data support a light-switching mechanism that is modulated by the proximity of multiple binding sites of LOV2 for ZDK.
Control of Cell Migration Using Optogenetics.
Optogenetics uses light to manipulate protein localization or activity from subcellular to supra-cellular level with unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution. We used it to control the activity of the Cdc42 Rho GTPase, a major regulator of actin polymerization and cell polarity. In this chapter, we describe how to trigger and guide cell migration using optogenetics as a way to mimic EMT in an artificial yet highly controllable fashion.
Optogenetic activation of heterotrimeric G-proteins by LOV2GIVe, a rationally engineered modular protein.
Heterotrimeric G-proteins are signal transducers involved in mediating the action of many natural extracellular stimuli as well as of many therapeutic agents. Non-invasive approaches to manipulate the activity of G-proteins with high precision are crucial to understand their regulation in space and time. Here, we developed LOV2GIVe, an engineered modular protein that allows the activation of heterotrimeric G-proteins with blue light. This optogenetic construct relies on a versatile design that differs from tools previously developed for similar purposes, i.e. metazoan opsins, which are light-activated GPCRs. Instead, LOV2GIVe consists of the fusion of a G-protein activating peptide derived from a non-GPCR regulator of G-proteins to a small plant protein domain, such that light uncages the G-protein activating module. Targeting LOV2GIVe to cell membranes allowed for light-dependent activation of Gi proteins in different experimental systems. In summary, LOV2GIVe expands the armamentarium and versatility of tools available to manipulate heterotrimeric G-protein activity.
DMA-tudor interaction modules control the specificity of in vivo condensates.
Biomolecular condensation is a widespread mechanism of cellular compartmentalization. Because the ‘survival of motor neuron protein’ (SMN) is required for the formation of three different membraneless organelles (MLOs), we hypothesized that at least one region of SMN employs a unifying mechanism of condensation. Unexpectedly, we show here that SMN’s globular tudor domain was sufficient for dimerization-induced condensation in vivo, while its two intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) were not. The condensate-forming property of the SMN tudor domain required binding to its ligand, dimethylarginine (DMA), and was shared by at least seven additional tudor domains in six different proteins. Remarkably, asymmetric versus symmetric DMA determined whether two distinct nuclear MLOs – gems and Cajal bodies – were separate or overlapping. These findings show that the combination of a tudor domain bound to its DMA ligand – DMA-tudor – represents a versatile yet specific interaction module that regulates MLO assembly and defines their composition.
Nucleated transcriptional condensates amplify gene expression.
Membraneless organelles or condensates form through liquid-liquid phase separation1-4, which is thought to underlie gene transcription through condensation of the large-scale nucleolus5-7 or in smaller assemblies known as transcriptional condensates8-11. Transcriptional condensates have been hypothesized to phase separate at particular genomic loci and locally promote the biomolecular interactions underlying gene expression. However, there have been few quantitative biophysical tests of this model in living cells, and phase separation has not yet been directly linked with dynamic transcriptional outputs12,13. Here, we apply an optogenetic approach to show that FET-family transcriptional regulators exhibit a strong tendency to phase separate within living cells, a process that can drive localized RNA transcription. We find that TAF15 has a unique charge distribution among the FET family members that enhances its interactions with the C-terminal domain of RNA polymerase II. Nascent C-terminal domain clusters at primed genomic loci lower the energetic barrier for nucleation of TAF15 condensates, which in turn further recruit RNA polymerase II to drive transcriptional output. These results suggest that positive feedback between interacting transcriptional components drives localized phase separation to amplify gene expression.
Optogenetically Controlled TrkA Activity Improves the Regenerative Capacity of Hair-Follicle-Derived Stem Cells to Differentiate into Neurons and Glia.
Hair-follicle-derived stem cells (HSCs) originating from the bulge region of the mouse vibrissa hair follicle are able to differentiate into neuronal and glial lineage cells. The tropomyosin receptor kinase A (TrkA) receptor that is expressed on these cells plays key roles in mediating the survival and differentiation of neural progenitors as well as in the regulation of the growth and regeneration of different neural systems. In this study, the OptoTrkA system is introduced, which is able to stimulate TrkA activity via blue-light illumination in HSCs. This allows to determine whether TrkA signaling is capable of influencing the proliferation, migration, and neural differentiation of these somatic stem cells. It is found that OptoTrkA is able to activate downstream molecules such as ERK and AKT with blue-light illumination, and subsequently able to terminate this kinase activity in the dark. HSCs with OptoTrkA activity show an increased ability for proliferation and migration and also exhibited accelerated neuronal and glial cell differentiation. These findings suggest that the precise control of TrkA activity using optogenetic tools is a viable strategy for the regeneration of neurons from HSCs, and also provides a novel insight into the clinical application of optogenetic tools in cell-transplantation therapy.
Activation of Cdc42 GTPase upon CRY2-Induced Cortical Recruitment Is Antagonized by GAPs in Fission Yeast.
The small GTPase Cdc42 is critical for cell polarization in eukaryotic cells. In rod-shaped fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe cells, active GTP-bound Cdc42 promotes polarized growth at cell poles, while inactive Cdc42-GDP localizes ubiquitously also along cell sides. Zones of Cdc42 activity are maintained by positive feedback amplification involving the formation of a complex between Cdc42-GTP, the scaffold Scd2, and the guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) Scd1, which promotes the activation of more Cdc42. Here, we use the CRY2-CIB1 optogenetic system to recruit and cluster a cytosolic Cdc42 variant at the plasma membrane and show that this leads to its moderate activation also on cell sides. Surprisingly, Scd2, which binds Cdc42-GTP, is still recruited to CRY2-Cdc42 clusters at cell sides in individual deletion of the GEFs Scd1 or Gef1. We show that activated Cdc42 clusters at cell sides are able to recruit Scd1, dependent on the scaffold Scd2. However, Cdc42 activity is not amplified by positive feedback and does not lead to morphogenetic changes, due to antagonistic activity of the GTPase activating protein Rga4. Thus, the cell architecture is robust to moderate activation of Cdc42 at cell sides.
Optogenetic TDP-43 nucleation induces persistent insoluble species and progressive motor dysfunction in vivo.
TDP-43 is a predominantly nuclear DNA/RNA binding protein that is often mislocalized into insoluble cytoplasmic inclusions in post-mortem patient tissue in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders, most notably, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a fatal and progressive neuromuscular disorder. The underlying causes of TDP-43 proteinopathies remain unclear, but recent studies indicate the formation of these protein assemblies is driven by aberrant phase transitions of RNA deficient TDP-43. Technical limitations have prevented our ability to understand how TDP-43 proteinopathy relates to disease pathogenesis. Current animal models of TDP-43 proteinopathy often rely on overexpression of wild-type TDP-43 to non-physiological levels that may initiate neurotoxicity through nuclear gain of function mechanisms, or by the expression of disease-causing mutations found in only a fraction of ALS patients. New technologies allowing for light-responsive control of subcellular protein crowding provide a promising approach to drive intracellular protein aggregation, as we have previously demonstrated in vitro. Here we present a model for the optogenetic induction of TDP-43 aggregation in Drosophila that recapitulates key biochemical features seen in patient pathology, most notably light-inducible persistent insoluble species and progressive motor dysfunction. These data describe a photokinetic in vivo model that could be as a future platform to identify novel genetic and pharmacological modifiers of diseases associated with TDP-43 neuropathology.
Optogenetics and biosensors set the stage for metabolic cybergenetics.
Cybergenetic systems use computer interfaces to enable feed-back controls over biological processes in real time. The complex and dynamic nature of cellular metabolism makes cybergenetics attractive for controlling engineered metabolic pathways in microbial fermentations. Cybergenetics would not only create new avenues of research into cellular metabolism, it would also enable unprecedented strategies for pathway optimization and bioreactor operation and automation. Implementation of metabolic cybergenetics, however, will require new capabilities from actuators, biosensors, and control algorithms. The recent application of optogenetics in metabolic engineering, the expanding role of genetically encoded biosensors in strain development, and continued progress in control algorithms for biological processes suggest that this technology will become available in the not so distant future.
Endothelial cell invasiveness is controlled by myosin IIA-dependent inhibition of Arp2/3 activity.
Sprouting angiogenesis is fundamental for development and contributes to multiple diseases, including cancer, diabetic retinopathy and cardiovascular diseases. Sprouting angiogenesis depends on the invasive properties of endothelial tip cells. However, there is very limited knowledge on the mechanisms that endothelial tip cells use to invade into tissues. Here, we prove that endothelial tip cells use long lamellipodia projections (LLPs) as the main cellular protrusion for invasion into nonvascular extracellular matrix. We show that LLPs and filopodia protrusions are balanced by myosin-IIA (MIIA) and actin-related protein 2/3 (Arp2/3) activity. Endothelial cell-autonomous ablation of MIIA promotes excessive LLPs formation in detriment of filopodia. Conversely, endothelial cell-autonomous ablation of Arp2/3 prevents LLPs development and leads to excessive filopodia formation. We further show that MIIA inhibits Rac1-dependent activation of Arp2/3, by regulating the maturation state of focal adhesions. Our discoveries establish the first comprehensive model of how endothelial tip cells regulate its protrusive activity and will pave the way towards new strategies to block invasive tip cells during sprouting angiogenesis.
Morphogenesis: Guiding Embryonic Development with Light.
Embryonic development is controlled by dynamic signaling systems that are translated into patterns of gene expression. Optogenetics has now been used to rescue genetic loss of Drosophila terminal patterning, bringing us a step closer to reconstruct morphogenesis synthetically.
Light control of RTK activity: from technology development to translational research.
Inhibition of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) by small molecule inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies is used to treat cancer. Conversely, activation of RTKs with their ligands, including growth factors and insulin, is used to treat diabetes and neurodegeneration. However, conventional therapies that rely on injection of RTK inhibitors or activators do not provide spatiotemporal control over RTK signaling, which results in diminished efficiency and side effects. Recently, a number of optogenetic and optochemical approaches have been developed that allow RTK inhibition or activation in cells and in vivo with light. Light irradiation can control RTK signaling non-invasively, in a dosed manner, with high spatio-temporal precision, and without the side effects of conventional treatments. Here we provide an update on the current state of the art of optogenetic and optochemical RTK technologies and the prospects of their use in translational studies and therapy.
Optogenetic control of the lac operon for bacterial chemical and protein production.
Control of the lac operon with isopropyl β-D-1-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG) has been used to regulate gene expression in Escherichia coli for countless applications, including metabolic engineering and recombinant protein production. However, optogenetics offers unique capabilities, such as easy tunability, reversibility, dynamic induction strength and spatial control, that are difficult to obtain with chemical inducers. We have developed a series of circuits for optogenetic regulation of the lac operon, which we call OptoLAC, to control gene expression from various IPTG-inducible promoters using only blue light. Applying them to metabolic engineering improves mevalonate and isobutanol production by 24% and 27% respectively, compared to IPTG induction, in light-controlled fermentations scalable to at least two-litre bioreactors. Furthermore, OptoLAC circuits enable control of recombinant protein production, reaching yields comparable to IPTG induction but with easier tunability of expression. OptoLAC circuits are potentially useful to confer light control over other cell functions originally designed to be IPTG-inducible.
Optogenetic Control Reveals Differential Promoter Interpretation of Transcription Factor Nuclear Translocation Dynamics.
Gene expression is thought to be affected not only by the concentration of transcription factors (TFs) but also the dynamics of their nuclear translocation. Testing this hypothesis requires direct control of TF dynamics. Here, we engineer CLASP, an optogenetic tool for rapid and tunable translocation of a TF of interest. Using CLASP fused to Crz1, we observe that, for the same integrated concentration of nuclear TF over time, changing input dynamics changes target gene expression: pulsatile inputs yield higher expression than continuous inputs, or vice versa, depending on the target gene. Computational modeling reveals that a dose-response saturating at low TF input can yield higher gene expression for pulsatile versus continuous input, and that multi-state promoter activation can yield the opposite behavior. Our integrated tool development and modeling approach characterize promoter responses to Crz1 nuclear translocation dynamics, extracting quantitative features that may help explain the differential expression of target genes.
Combination of photoactivation with lattice light-sheet imaging reveals untemplated, lamellar ruffle generation by PA-Rac1.
Membrane protrusions that occur on the dorsal surface of a cell are an excellent experimental system to study actin machinery at work in a living cell. Small GTPase Rac1 controls the membrane protrusions that form and encapsulate extracellular volumes to perform pinocytic or phagocytic functions. Here, capitalizing on rapid volumetric imaging capabilities of lattice light-sheet microscopy (LLSM), we describe optogenetic approaches using photoactivable Rac1 (PA-Rac1) for controlled ruffle generation. We demonstrate that PA-Rac1 activation needs to be continuous, suggesting a threshold local concentration for sustained actin polymerization leading to ruffling. We show that Rac1 activation leads to actin assembly at the dorsal surface of the cell membrane that result in sheet-like protrusion formation without any requirement of a template. Further, this approach can be used to study the complex morpho-dynamics of the protrusions or to investigate specific proteins that may be enriched in the ruffles. Deactivating PA-Rac1 leads to complex contractile processes resulting in formation of macropinosomes. Using multicolour imaging in combination with these approaches, we find that Myo1e specifically is enriched in the ruffles.
Optimized iLID membrane anchors for local optogenetic protein recruitment.
Optogenetic protein dimerization systems are powerful tools to investigate the biochemical networks that cells use to make decisions and coordinate their activities. These tools, including the improved Light-Inducible Dimer (iLID) system, offer the ability to selectively recruit components to subcellular locations, such as micron-scale regions of the plasma membrane. In this way, the role of individual proteins within signaling networks can be examined with high spatiotemporal resolution. Currently, consistent recruitment is limited by heterogeneous optogenetic component expression, and spatial precision is diminished by protein diffusion, especially over long timescales. Here, we address these challenges within the iLID system with alternative membrane anchoring domains and fusion configurations. Using live cell imaging and mathematical modeling, we demonstrate that the anchoring strategy affects both component expression and diffusion, which in turn impact recruitment strength, kinetics, and spatial dynamics. Compared to the commonly used C-terminal iLID fusion, fusion proteins with large N-terminal anchors show stronger local recruitment, slower diffusion of recruited components, and efficient recruitment over wider gene expression ranges. We also define guidelines for component expression regimes for optimal recruitment for both cell-wide and subcellular recruitment strategies. Our findings highlight key sources of imprecision within light-inducible dimer systems and provide tools that allow greater control of subcellular protein localization across diverse cell biological applications.
Optogenetic Tuning of Protein-protein Binding in Bilayers Using LOVTRAP.
Modern microscopy methods are powerful tools for studying live cell signaling and biochemical reactions, enabling us to observe when and where these reactions take place from the level of a cell down to single molecules. With microscopy, each cell or molecule can be observed both before and after a given perturbation, facilitating better inference of cause and effect than is possible with destructive modes of signaling quantitation. As many inputs to cell signaling and biochemical systems originate as protein-protein interactions near the cell membrane, an outstanding challenge lies in controlling the timing, location and the magnitude of protein-protein interactions in these unique environments. Here, we detail our procedure for manipulating such spatial and temporal protein-protein interactions in a closed microscopy system using a LOVTRAP-based light-responsive protein-protein interaction system on a supported lipid bilayer. The system responds in seconds and can pattern details down to the one micron level. We used this technique to unlock fundamental aspects of T cell signaling, and this approach is generalizable to many other cell signaling and biochemical contexts.
Unraveling the Mechanism of a LOV Domain Optogenetic Sensor: A Glutamine Lever Induces Unfolding of the Jα Helix.
Light-activated protein domains provide a convenient, modular, and genetically encodable sensor for optogenetics and optobiology. Although these domains have now been deployed in numerous systems, the precise mechanism of photoactivation and the accompanying structural dynamics that modulate output domain activity remain to be fully elucidated. In the C-terminal light, oxygen, voltage (LOV) domain of plant phototropins (LOV2), blue light activation leads to formation of an adduct between a conserved Cys residue and the embedded FMN chromophore, rotation of a conserved Gln (Q513), and unfolding of a helix (Jα-helix) which is coupled to the output partner. In the present work, we focus on the allosteric pathways leading to Jα helix unfolding in Avena sativa LOV2 (AsLOV2) using an interdisciplinary approach involving molecular dynamics simulations extending to 7 μs, time-resolved infrared spectroscopy, solution NMR spectroscopy, and in-cell optogenetic experiments. In the dark state, the side chain of N414 is hydrogen bonded to the backbone N-H of Q513. The simulations predict a lever-like motion of Q513 after Cys adduct formation resulting in loss of the interaction between the side chain of N414 and the backbone C=O of Q513, and formation of a transient hydrogen bond between the Q513 and N414 side chains. The central role of N414 in signal transduction was evaluated by site-directed mutagenesis supporting a direct link between Jα helix unfolding dynamics and the cellular function of the Zdk2-AsLOV2 optogenetic construct. Through this multifaceted approach, we show that Q513 and N414 are critical mediators of protein structural dynamics, linking the ultrafast (sub-ps) excitation of the FMN chromophore to the microsecond conformational changes that result in photoreceptor activation and biological function.
Printed Degradable Optical Waveguides for Guiding Light into Tissue.
Optogenetics and photonic technologies are changing the future of medicine. To implement light‐based therapies in the clinic, patient‐friendly devices that can deliver light inside the body while offering tunable properties and compatibility with soft tissues are needed. Here extrusion printing of degradable, hydrogel‐based optical waveguides with optical losses as low as 0.1 dB cm−1 at visible wavelengths is described. Core‐only and core‐cladding fibers are printed at room temperature from polyethylene glycol (PEG)‐based and PEG/Pluronic precursors, and cured by in situ photopolymerization. The obtained waveguides are flexible, with mechanical properties tunable within a tissue‐compatible range. Degradation times are also tunable by adjusting the molar mass of the diacrylate gel precursors, which are synthesized by linking PEG diacrylate (PEGDA) with varying proportions of DL‐dithiothreitol (DTT). The printed waveguides are used to activate photochemical and optogenetic processes in close‐to‐physiological environments. Light‐triggered migration of cells in a photoresponsive 3D hydrogel and drug release from an optogenetically‐engineered living material by delivering light across >5 cm of muscle tissue are demonstrated. These results quantify the in vitro performance, and reflect the potential of the printed degradable fibers for in vivo and clinical applications.
Shared signaling pathways in Alzheimer's and metabolic disease may point to new treatment approaches.
'A peculiar severe disease process of the cerebral cortex' are the exact words used by A. Alzheimer in 1906 to describe a patient's increasingly severe condition of memory loss, changes in personality, and sleep disturbance. A century later, this 'peculiar' disease has become widely known as Alzheimer's disease (AD), the world's most common neurodegenerative disease, affecting more than 35 million people globally. At the same time, its pathology remains unclear and no successful treatment exists. Several theories for AD etiology have emerged throughout the past century. In this review, we focus on the metabolic mechanisms that are similar between AD and metabolic diseases, based on the results from genome-wide association studies. We discuss signaling pathways involved in both types of disease and look into new optogenetic methods to study the in vivo mechanisms of AD.
Spatiotemporal regulation of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation via upconversion optogenetic nanosystem.
Protein degradation technology, which is one of the most direct and effective ways to regulate the life activities of cells, is expected to be applied to the treatment of various diseases. However, current protein degradation technologies such as some small-molecule degraders which are unable to achieve spatiotemporal regulation, making them difficult to transform into clinical applications. In this article, an upconversion optogenetic nanosystem was designed to attain accurate regulation of protein degradation. This system worked via two interconnected parts: 1) the host cell expressed light-sensitive protein that could trigger the ubiquitinproteasome pathway upon blue-light exposure; 2) the light regulated light-sensitive protein by changing light conditions to achieve regulation of protein degradation. Experimental results based on model protein (Green Fluorescent Protein, GFP) validated that this system could fulfill protein degradation both in vitro (both Hela and 293T cells) and in vivo (by upconversion optogenetic nanosystem), and further demonstrated that we could reach spatiotemporal regulation by changing the illumination time (0–25 h) and the illumination frequency (the illuminating frequency of 0–30 s every 1 min). We further took another functional protein (The Nonstructural Protein 9, NSP9) into experiment. Results confirmed that the proliferation of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) was inhibited by degrading the NSP9 in this light-induced system, and PRRSV proliferation was affected by different light conditions (illumination time varies from 0–24 h). We expected this system could provide new perspectives into spatiotemporal regulation of protein degradation and help realize the clinical application transformation for treating diseases of protein degradation technology.
CL6mN: Rationally Designed Optogenetic Photoswitches with Tunable Dissociation Dynamics.
The field of optogenetics uses genetically encoded photoswitches to modulate biological phenomena with high spatiotemporal resolution. We report a set of rationally designed optogenetic photoswitches that use the photolyase homology region of A. thaliana cryptochrome 2 (Cry2PHR) as a building block and exhibit highly efficient and tunable clustering in a blue-light dependent manner. CL6mN (Cry2-mCherry-LRP6c with N mutated PPPAP motifs) proteins were designed by mutating and/or truncating five crucial PPP(S/T)P motifs near the C-terminus of the optogenetic Wnt activator Cry2-mCherry-LRP6c, thus eliminating its Wnt activity. Light-induced CL6mN clusters have significantly greater dissociation half-lives than clusters of wild-type Cry2PHR. Moreover, the dissociation half-lives can be tuned by varying the number of PPPAP motifs, with the half-life increasing as much as 6-fold for a variant with five motifs (CL6m5) relative to Cry2PHR. Finally, we demonstrate the compatibility of CL6mN with previously reported Cry2-based photoswitches by optogenetically activating RhoA in mammalian cells.
Development of light-responsive protein binding in the monobody non-immunoglobulin scaffold.
Monobodies are synthetic non-immunoglobulin customizable protein binders invaluable to basic and applied research, and of considerable potential as future therapeutics and diagnostic tools. The ability to reversibly control their binding activity to their targets on demand would significantly expand their applications in biotechnology, medicine, and research. Here we present, as proof-of-principle, the development of a light-controlled monobody (OptoMB) that works in vitro and in cells and whose affinity for its SH2-domain target exhibits a 330-fold shift in binding affinity upon illumination. We demonstrate that our αSH2-OptoMB can be used to purify SH2-tagged proteins directly from crude E. coli extract, achieving 99.8% purity and over 40% yield in a single purification step. By virtue of their ability to be designed to bind any protein of interest, OptoMBs have the potential to find new powerful applications as light-switchable binders of untagged proteins with the temporal and spatial precision afforded by light.
Engineering combinatorial and dynamic decoders using synthetic immediate-early genes.
Many cell- and tissue-level functions are coordinated by intracellular signaling pathways that trigger the expression of context-specific target genes. Yet the input-output relationships that link pathways to the genes they activate are incompletely understood. Mapping the pathway-decoding logic of natural target genes could also provide a basis for engineering novel signal-decoding circuits. Here we report the construction of synthetic immediate-early genes (SynIEGs), target genes of Erk signaling that implement complex, user-defined regulation and can be monitored by using live-cell biosensors to track their transcription and translation. We demonstrate the power of this approach by confirming Erk duration-sensing by FOS, elucidating how the BTG2 gene is differentially regulated by external stimuli, and designing a synthetic immediate-early gene that selectively responds to the combination of growth factor and DNA damage stimuli. SynIEGs pave the way toward engineering molecular circuits that decode signaling dynamics and combinations across a broad range of cellular contexts.
Optogenetic control of protein binding using light-switchable nanobodies.
A growing number of optogenetic tools have been developed to reversibly control binding between two engineered protein domains. In contrast, relatively few tools confer light-switchable binding to a generic target protein of interest. Such a capability would offer substantial advantages, enabling photoswitchable binding to endogenous target proteins in cells or light-based protein purification in vitro. Here, we report the development of opto-nanobodies (OptoNBs), a versatile class of chimeric photoswitchable proteins whose binding to proteins of interest can be enhanced or inhibited upon blue light illumination. We find that OptoNBs are suitable for a range of applications including reversibly binding to endogenous intracellular targets, modulating signaling pathway activity, and controlling binding to purified protein targets in vitro. This work represents a step towards programmable photoswitchable regulation of a wide variety of target proteins.