Showing 201 - 225 of 528 results
Engineering and Application of LOV2-Based Photoswitches.
Cellular optogenetic switches, a novel class of biological tools, have improved our understanding of biological phenomena that were previously intractable. While the design and engineering of these proteins has historically varied, they are all based on borrowed elements from plant and bacterial photoreceptors. In general terms, each of the optogenetic switches designed to date exploits the endogenous light-induced change in photoreceptor conformation while repurposing its effect to target a different biological phenomenon. We focus on the well-characterized light-oxygen-voltage 2 (LOV2) domain from Avena sativa phototropin 1 as our cornerstone for design. While the function of the LOV2 domain in the context of the phototropin protein is not fully elucidated, its thorough biophysical characterization as an isolated domain has created a strong foundation for engineering of photoswitches. In this chapter, we examine the biophysical characteristics of the LOV2 domain that may be exploited to produce an optogenetic switch and summarize previous design efforts to provide guidelines for an effective design. Furthermore, we provide protocols for assays including fluorescence polarization, phage display, and microscopy that are optimized for validating, improving, and using newly designed photoswitches.
Synthetic strategies for plant signalling studies: molecular toolbox and orthogonal platforms.
Plants deploy a wide array of signalling networks integrating environmental cues with growth, defence and developmental responses. The high level of complexity, redundancy and connection between several pathways hampers a comprehensive understanding of involved functional and regulatory mechanisms. The implementation of synthetic biology approaches is revolutionizing experimental biology in prokaryotes, yeasts and animal systems and can likewise contribute to a new era in plant biology. This review gives an overview on synthetic biology approaches for the development and implementation of synthetic molecular tools and techniques to interrogate, understand and control signalling events in plants, ranging from strategies for the targeted manipulation of plant genomes up to the spatiotemporally resolved control of gene expression using optogenetic approaches. We also describe strategies based on the partial reconstruction of signalling pathways in orthogonal platforms, like yeast, animal and in vitro systems. This allows a targeted analysis of individual signalling hubs devoid of interconnectivity with endogenous interacting components. Implementation of the interdisciplinary synthetic biology tools and strategies is not exempt of challenges and hardships but simultaneously most rewarding in terms of the advances in basic and applied research. As witnessed in other areas, these original theoretical-experimental avenues will lead to a breakthrough in the ability to study and comprehend plant signalling networks.
Go in! Go out! Inducible control of nuclear localization.
Cells have evolved a variety of mechanisms to regulate the enormous complexity of processes taking place inside them. One mechanism consists in tightly controlling the localization of macromolecules, keeping them away from their place of action until needed. Since a large fraction of the cellular response to external stimuli is mediated by gene expression, it is not surprising that transcriptional regulators are often subject to stimulus-induced nuclear import or export. Here we review recent methods in chemical biology and optogenetics for controlling the nuclear localization of proteins of interest inside living cells. These methods allow researchers to regulate protein activity with exquisite spatiotemporal control, and open up new possibilities for studying the roles of proteins in a broad array of cellular processes and biological functions.
Blue light-mediated transcriptional activation and repression of gene expression in bacteria.
Light-regulated modules offer unprecedented new ways to control cellular behavior in precise spatial and temporal resolution. The availability of such tools may dramatically accelerate the progression of synthetic biology applications. Nonetheless, current optogenetic toolbox of prokaryotes has potential issues such as lack of rapid and switchable control, less portable, low dynamic expression and limited parts. To address these shortcomings, we have engineered a novel bidirectional promoter system for Escherichia coli that can be induced or repressed rapidly and reversibly using the blue light dependent DNA-binding protein EL222. We demonstrated that by modulating the dosage of light pulses or intensity we could control the level of gene expression precisely. We show that both light-inducible and repressible system can function in parallel with high spatial precision in a single cell and can be switched stably between ON- and OFF-states by repetitive pulses of blue light. In addition, the light-inducible and repressible expression kinetics were quantitatively analysed using a mathematical model. We further apply the system, for the first time, to optogenetically synchronize two receiver cells performing different logic behaviors over time using blue light as a molecular clock signal. Overall, our modular approach layers a transformative platform for next-generation light-controllable synthetic biology systems in prokaryotes.
Using HEK293T Expression System to Study Photoactive Plant Cryptochromes.
Cryptochromes are photolyase-like blue light receptors that are conserved in plants and animals. Although the light-dependent catalytic mechanism of photolyase is well studied, the photochemical mechanism of cryptochromes remains largely unknown. Lack of an appropriate protein expression system to obtain photochemically active cryptochrome holoproteins is a technical obstacle for the study of plant cryptochromes. We report here an easy-to-use method to express and study Arabidopsis cryptochrome in HEK293T cells. Our results indicate that Arabidopsis cryptochromes expressed in HEK293T are photochemically active. We envision a broad use of this method in the functional investigation of plant proteins, especially in the large-scale analyses of photochemical activities of cryptochromes such as blue light-dependent protein-protein interactions.
Positioning the cleavage furrow: All you need is Rho.
RhoA controls cleavage furrow formation during cell division, but whether RhoA suffices to orchestrate spatiotemporal dynamics of furrow formation is unknown. In this issue, Wagner and Goltzer (2016. J. Cell Biol http://dx.doi.org/10.1083/jcb.201603025) show that RhoA activity can induce furrow formation in all cell cortex positions and cell cycle phases.
An extraordinary stringent and sensitive light-switchable gene expression system for bacterial cells.
Light-switchable gene expression systems provide transient, non-invasive and reversible means to control biological processes with high tunability and spatiotemporal resolution. In bacterial cells, a few light-regulated gene expression systems based on photoreceptors and two-component regulatory systems (TCSs) have been reported, which respond to blue, green or red light.
Optogenetic Control of Nuclear Protein Import in Living Cells Using Light-Inducible Nuclear Localization Signals (LINuS).
Many biological processes are regulated by the timely import of specific proteins into the nucleus. The ability to spatiotemporally control the nuclear import of proteins of interest therefore allows study of their role in a given biological process as well as controlling this process in space and time. The light-inducible nuclear localization signal (LINuS) was developed based on a natural plant photoreceptor that reversibly triggers the import of proteins of interest into the nucleus with blue light. Each LINuS is a small, genetically encoded domain that is fused to the protein of interest at the N or C terminus. These protocols describe how to carry out initial microscopy-based screening to assess which LINuS variant works best with a protein of interest. © 2016 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Structural insight into photoactivation of an adenylate cyclase from a photosynthetic cyanobacterium.
Cyclic-AMP is one of the most important second messengers, regulating many crucial cellular events in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, and precise spatial and temporal control of cAMP levels by light shows great promise as a simple means of manipulating and studying numerous cell pathways and processes. The photoactivated adenylate cyclase (PAC) from the photosynthetic cyanobacterium Oscillatoria acuminata (OaPAC) is a small homodimer eminently suitable for this task, requiring only a simple flavin chromophore within a blue light using flavin (BLUF) domain. These domains, one of the most studied types of biological photoreceptor, respond to blue light and either regulate the activity of an attached enzyme domain or change its affinity for a repressor protein. BLUF domains were discovered through studies of photo-induced movements of Euglena gracilis, a unicellular flagellate, and gene expression in the purple bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides, but the precise details of light activation remain unknown. Here, we describe crystal structures and the light regulation mechanism of the previously undescribed OaPAC, showing a central coiled coil transmits changes from the light-sensing domains to the active sites with minimal structural rearrangement. Site-directed mutants show residues essential for signal transduction over 45 Å across the protein. The use of the protein in living human cells is demonstrated with cAMP-dependent luciferase, showing a rapid and stable response to light over many hours and activation cycles. The structures determined in this study will assist future efforts to create artificial light-regulated control modules as part of a general optogenetic toolkit.
Repurposing Synechocystis PCC6803 UirS-UirR as a UV-Violet/Green Photoreversible Transcriptional Regulatory Tool in E. coli.
We have previously engineered green/red and red/far red photoreversible E. coli phytochrome and cyanobacteriochrome (CBCR) two-component systems (TCSs) and utilized them to program tailor-made gene expression signals for gene circuit characterization. Here, we transport the UV-violet/green photoreversible CBCR TCS UirS-UirR from Synechocystis PCC6803 to E. coli. We demonstrate that the promoter of the small RNA csiR1, previously shown to be activated by inorganic carbon stress, is a UirS-UirR output. Additionally, in contrast to a recently proposed sequestration model, we show that the sensor histidine kinase UirS phosphorylates the response regulator UirR to activate PcsiR1 transcription in response to UV-violet light. Finally, we measure changes in UirS-UirR output minutes after a change in light input and exploit these rapid dynamics to program a challenging gene expression signal with high predictability. UirS-UirR is the first engineered transcriptional regulatory tool activated exclusively by UV-violet light, and the most blue shifted photoreversible transcriptional regulatory tool.
A bacterial phytochrome-based optogenetic system controllable with near-infrared light.
Light-mediated control of protein-protein interactions to regulate cellular pathways is an important application of optogenetics. Here, we report an optogenetic system based on the reversible light-induced binding between the bacterial phytochrome BphP1 and its natural partner PpsR2 from Rhodopseudomonas palustris bacteria. We extensively characterized the BphP1-PpsR2 interaction both in vitro and in mammalian cells and then used this interaction to translocate target proteins to specific cellular compartments, such as the plasma membrane and the nucleus. We showed light-inducible control of cell morphology that resulted in a substantial increase of the cell area. We demonstrated light-dependent gene expression with 40-fold contrast in cultured cells, 32-fold in subcutaneous mouse tissue, and 5.7-fold in deep tissues in mice. Characteristics of the BphP1-PpsR2 optogenetic system include its sensitivity to 740- to 780-nm near-infrared light, its ability to utilize an endogenous biliverdin chromophore in eukaryotes (including mammals), and its spectral compatibility with blue-light-driven optogenetic systems.
Phytochrome and retrograde signalling pathways converge to antagonistically regulate a light-induced transcriptional network.
Plastid-to-nucleus retrograde signals emitted by dysfunctional chloroplasts impact photomorphogenic development, but the molecular link between retrograde- and photosensory-receptor signalling has remained unclear. Here, we show that the phytochrome and retrograde signalling (RS) pathways converge antagonistically to regulate the expression of the nuclear-encoded transcription factor GLK1, a key regulator of a light-induced transcriptional network central to photomorphogenesis. GLK1 gene transcription is directly repressed by PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR (PIF)-class bHLH transcription factors in darkness, but light-activated phytochrome reverses this activity, thereby inducing expression. Conversely, we show that retrograde signals repress this induction by a mechanism independent of PIF mediation. Collectively, our data indicate that light at moderate levels acts through the plant's nuclear-localized sensory-photoreceptor system to induce appropriate photomorphogenic development, but at excessive levels, sensed through the separate plastid-localized RS system, acts to suppress such development, thus providing a mechanism for protection against photo-oxidative damage by minimizing the tissue exposure to deleterious radiation.
A Phytochrome Sensory Domain Permits Receptor Activation by Red Light.
Optogenetics and photopharmacology enable the spatio-temporal control of cell and animal behavior by light. Although red light offers deep-tissue penetration and minimal phototoxicity, very few red-light-sensitive optogenetic methods are currently available. We have now developed a red-light-induced homodimerization domain. We first showed that an optimized sensory domain of the cyanobacterial phytochrome 1 can be expressed robustly and without cytotoxicity in human cells. We then applied this domain to induce the dimerization of two receptor tyrosine kinases-the fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 and the neurotrophin receptor trkB. This new optogenetic method was then used to activate the MAPK/ERK pathway non-invasively in mammalian tissue and in multicolor cell-signaling experiments. The light-controlled dimerizer and red-light-activated receptor tyrosine kinases will prove useful to regulate a variety of cellular processes with light.
Light-induced nuclear export reveals rapid dynamics of epigenetic modifications.
We engineered a photoactivatable system for rapidly and reversibly exporting proteins from the nucleus by embedding a nuclear export signal in the LOV2 domain from phototropin 1. Fusing the chromatin modifier Bre1 to the photoswitch, we achieved light-dependent control of histone H2B monoubiquitylation in yeast, revealing fast turnover of the ubiquitin mark. Moreover, this inducible system allowed us to dynamically monitor the status of epigenetic modifications dependent on H2B ubiquitylation.
The Timing of Raf/ERK and AKT Activation in Protecting PC12 Cells against Oxidative Stress.
Acute brain injuries such as ischemic stroke or traumatic brain injury often cause massive neural death and irreversible brain damage with grave consequences. Previous studies have established that a key participant in the events leading to neural death is the excessive production of reactive oxygen species. Protecting neuronal cells by activating their endogenous defense mechanisms is an attractive treatment strategy for acute brain injuries. In this work, we investigate how the precise timing of the Raf/ERK and the AKT pathway activation affects their protective effects against oxidative stress. For this purpose, we employed optogenetic systems that use light to precisely and reversibly activate either the Raf/ERK or the AKT pathway. We find that preconditioning activation of the Raf/ERK or the AKT pathway immediately before oxidant exposure provides significant protection to cells. Notably, a 15-minute transient activation of the Raf/ERK pathway is able to protect PC12 cells against oxidant strike that is applied 12 hours later, while the transient activation of the AKT pathway fails to protect PC12 cells in such a scenario. On the other hand, if the pathways are activated after the oxidative insult, i.e. postconditioning, the AKT pathway conveys greater protective effect than the Raf/ERK pathway. We find that postconditioning AKT activation has an optimal delay period of 2 hours. When the AKT pathway is activated 30min after the oxidative insult, it exhibits very little protective effect. Therefore, the precise timing of the pathway activation is crucial in determining its protective effect against oxidative injury. The optogenetic platform, with its precise temporal control and its ability to activate specific pathways, is ideal for the mechanistic dissection of intracellular pathways in protection against oxidative stress.
Illuminating Cell Signaling with Near-Infrared Light-Responsive Nanomaterials.
The regulation of cellular signaling in vivo has been a challenging task owing to the lack of effective methods for tunable control of the amplitude, location, and duration of cell-signaling events at a deep-tissue level. In this issue of ACS Nano, an intriguing paper by Ambrosone et al. demonstrates that deep-tissue-penetrating near-infrared (NIR) light can be used to control the Wnt/β-catenin-signaling pathway in a single-cell organism (Hydra) by utilizing microcapsules that contain plasmonic gold nanoparticles. In parallel, in recent work, we proposed upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) as NIR-light-activatable "wireless" optogenetic tools, and we showed their ability to modulate cell signaling pathways in both mammalian cells and mice. We believe that these interesting NIR-light-responsive nanotechnologies will open new avenues for both basic research and clinical applications.
Optogenetic activation reveals distinct roles of PIP3 and Akt in adipocyte insulin action.
Glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4; also known as SLC2A4) resides on intracellular vesicles in muscle and adipose cells, and translocates to the plasma membrane in response to insulin. The phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt signaling pathway plays a major role in GLUT4 translocation; however, a challenge has been to unravel the potentially distinct contributions of PI3K and Akt (of which there are three isoforms, Akt1-Akt3) to overall insulin action. Here, we describe new optogenetic tools based on CRY2 and the N-terminus of CIB1 (CIBN). We used these 'Opto' modules to activate PI3K and Akt selectively in time and space in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. We validated these tools using biochemical assays and performed live-cell kinetic analyses of IRAP-pHluorin translocation (IRAP is also known as LNPEP and acts as a surrogate marker for GLUT4 here). Strikingly, Opto-PIP3 largely mimicked the maximal effects of insulin stimulation, whereas Opto-Akt only partially triggered translocation. Conversely, drug-mediated inhibition of Akt only partially dampened the translocation response of Opto-PIP3 In spatial optogenetic studies, focal targeting of Akt to a region of the cell marked the sites where IRAP-pHluorin vesicles fused, supporting the idea that local Akt-mediated signaling regulates exocytosis. Taken together, these results indicate that PI3K and Akt play distinct roles, and that PI3K stimulates Akt-independent pathways that are important for GLUT4 translocation.
Rewiring Multidomain Protein Switches: Transforming a Fluorescent Zn(2+) Sensor into a Light-Responsive Zn(2+) Binding Protein.
Protein-based sensors and switches provide attractive tools for the real-time monitoring and control of molecular processes in complex biological environments. Fluorescent sensor proteins have been developed for a wide variety of small molecules, but the construction of genetically encoded light-responsive ligand binding proteins remains mostly unexplored. Here we present a generic approach to reengineer a previously developed FRET-based Zn(2+) sensor into a light-activatable Zn(2+) binding protein using a design strategy based on mutually exclusive domain interactions. These so-called VividZn proteins consist of two light-responsive Vivid domains that homodimerize upon illumination with blue light, thus preventing the binding of Zn(2+) between two Zn(2+) binding domains, Atox1 and WD4. Following optimization of the linker between WD4 and the N-terminus of one of the Vivid domains, VividZn variants were obtained that show a 9- to 55-fold decrease in Zn(2+) affinity upon illumination, which is fully reversible following dark adaptation. The Zn(2+) affinities of the switch could be rationally tuned between 1 pM and 2 nM by systematic variation of linker length and mutation of one of the Zn(2+) binding residues. Similarly, introduction of mutations in the Vivid domains allowed tuning of the switching kinetics between 10 min and 7 h. Low expression levels in mammalian cells precluded the demonstration of light-induced perturbation of cytosolic Zn(2+) levels. Nonetheless, our results firmly establish the use of intramolecular Vivid dimerization as an attractive light-sensitive input module to rationally engineer light-responsive protein switches based on mutually exclusive domain interactions.
Optimized second-generation CRY2-CIB dimerizers and photoactivatable Cre recombinase.
Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 (AtCRY2), a light-sensitive photosensory protein, was previously adapted for use in controlling protein-protein interactions through light-dependent binding to a partner protein, CIB1. While the existing CRY2-CIB dimerization system has been used extensively for optogenetic applications, some limitations exist. Here, we set out to optimize function of the CRY2-CIB system by identifying versions of CRY2-CIB that are smaller, show reduced dark interaction, and maintain longer or shorter signaling states in response to a pulse of light. We describe minimal functional CRY2 and CIB1 domains maintaining light-dependent interaction and new signaling mutations affecting AtCRY2 photocycle kinetics. The latter work implicates an α13-α14 turn motif within plant CRYs whose perturbation alters signaling-state lifetime. Using a long-lived L348F photocycle mutant, we engineered a second-generation photoactivatable Cre recombinase, PA-Cre2.0, that shows five-fold improved dynamic range, allowing robust recombination following exposure to a single, brief pulse of light.
Optogenetic oligomerization of Rab GTPases regulates intracellular membrane trafficking.
Intracellular membrane trafficking, which is involved in diverse cellular processes, is dynamic and difficult to study in a spatiotemporal manner. Here we report an optogenetic strategy, termed light-activated reversible inhibition by assembled trap of intracellular membranes (IM-LARIAT), that uses various Rab GTPases combined with blue-light-induced hetero-interaction between cryptochrome 2 and CIB1. In this system, illumination induces a rapid and reversible intracellular membrane aggregation that disrupts the dynamics and functions of the targeted membrane. We applied IM-LARIAT to specifically perturb several Rab-mediated trafficking processes, including receptor transport, protein sorting and secretion, and signaling initiated from endosomes. We finally used this tool to reveal different functions of local Rab5-mediated and Rab11-mediated membrane trafficking in growth cones and soma of young hippocampal neurons. Our results show that IM-LARIAT is a versatile tool that can be used to dissect spatiotemporal functions of intracellular membranes in diverse systems.
Manipulating leukocyte interactions in vivo through optogenetic chemokine release.
Light-mediated release of signaling ligands, such as chemoattractants, growth factors, and cytokines is an attractive strategy for investigation and therapeutic targeting of leukocyte communication and immune responses. We introduce a versatile optogenetic method to control ligand secretion, combining UV-conditioned endoplasmic reticulum-to-Golgi trafficking and a furin-processing step. As proof of principle, we achieved light-triggered chemokine secretion and demonstrated that a brief pulse of chemokine release can mediate a rapid flux of leukocyte contacts with target cells in vitro and in vivo. This approach opens new possibilities for dynamic investigation of leukocyte communication in vivo and may confer the potential to control the local release of soluble mediators in the context of immune cell therapies.
Optogenetic activation of axon guidance receptors controls direction of neurite outgrowth.
Growth cones of extending axons navigate to correct targets by sensing a guidance cue gradient via membrane protein receptors. Although most signaling mechanisms have been clarified using an in vitro approach, it is still difficult to investigate the growth cone behavior in complicated extracellular environment of living animals due to the lack of tools. We develop a system for the light-dependent activation of a guidance receptor, Deleted in Colorectal Cancer (DCC), using Arabidopsis thaliana Cryptochrome 2, which oligomerizes upon blue-light absorption. Blue-light illumination transiently activates DCC via its oligomerization, which initiates downstream signaling in the illuminated subcellular region. The extending axons are attracted by illumination in cultured chick dorsal root ganglion neurons. Moreover, light-mediated navigation of the growth cones is achieved in living Caenorhabditis elegans. The photo-manipulation system is applicable to investigate the relationship between the growth cone behavior and its surrounding environment in living tissue.
Optogenetically controlled RAF to characterize BRAF and CRAF protein kinase inhibitors.
Here, we applied optoRAF, an optogenetic tool for light-controlled clustering and activation of RAF proteins that mimics the natural occurring RAS-mediated dimerization. This versatile tool allows studying the effect on BRAF and CRAF homodimer- as well as heterodimer-induced RAF signaling. Vemurafenib and dabrafenib are two clinically approved inhibitors for BRAF that efficiently suppress the kinase activity of oncogenic BRAF (V600E). However in wild-type BRAF expressing cells, BRAF inhibitors can exert paradoxical activation of wild-type CRAF. Using optoRAF, vemurafenib was identified as paradoxical activator of BRAF and CRAF homo- and heterodimers. Dabrafenib enhanced activity of light-stimulated CRAF at low dose and inhibited CRAF signaling at high dose. Moreover, dabrafenib increased the protein level of CRAF proteins but not of BRAF proteins. Increased CRAF levels correlate with elevated RAF signaling in a dabrafenib-dependent manner, independent of light activation.
Chromophore Structure of Photochromic Fluorescent Protein Dronpa: Acid-Base Equilibrium of Two Cis Configurations.
Dronpa is a novel photochromic fluorescent protein that exhibits fast response to light. The present article is the first report of the resonance and preresonance Raman spectra of Dronpa. We used the intensity and frequency of Raman bands to determine the structure of the Dronpa chromophore in two thermally stable photochromic states. The acid-base equilibrium in one photochromic state was observed by spectroscopic pH titration. The Raman spectra revealed that the chromophore in this state shows a protonation/deprotonation transition with a pKa of 5.2 ± 0.3 and maintains the cis configuration. The observed resonance Raman bands showed that the other photochromic state of the chromophore is in a trans configuration. The results demonstrate that Raman bands selectively enhanced for the chromophore yield valuable information on the molecular structure of the chromophore in photochromic fluorescent proteins after careful elimination of the fluorescence background.
Library-Aided Probing of Linker Determinants in Hybrid Photoreceptors.
Signaling proteins comprise interaction and effector modules connected by linkers. Throughout evolution, these recurring modules have multiply been recombined to produce the present-day plethora of signaling proteins. Likewise, modular recombination lends itself to the engineering of hybrid signal receptors, whose functionality hinges on linker topology, sequence, and length. Often, numerous linkers must be assessed to obtain functional receptors. To expedite linker optimization, we devised the PATCHY strategy (primer-aided truncation for the creation of hybrid proteins) for the facile construction of hybrid gene libraries with defined linker distributions. Empowered by PATCHY, we engineered photoreceptors whose signal response was governed by linker length: whereas blue-light-repressed variants possessed linkers of 7n or 7n+5 residues, variants with 7n+1 residues were blue-light-activated. Related natural receptors predominantly displayed linker lengths of 7n and 7n+5 residues but rarely of 7n+1 residues. PATCHY efficiently explores linker sequence space to yield functional hybrid proteins including variants transcending the natural repertoire of signaling proteins.