Showing 1 - 25 of 137 results
Coupling between protrusion dynamics and polarized trafficking steers persistent cell migration.
Migrating cells present a variety of paths, from non-persistent random walks to highly directional trajectories. While random movement can be easily explained by an intrinsic basal activity of the cell, persistent movement requires the cell to be stably polarized. It remains unclear how this is achieved from the regulation of underlying subcellular processes. In the context of mesenchymal migration, the ability of cells to migrate persistently over several hours require a mechanism stabilizing their protruding activity at their front. Here, we address this mechanism using human RPE1 cell line as our model. We measure, manipulate, and quantitatively perturb cell protrusive activity of the cortex as well as intracellular organization of the endomembrane trafficking system using dynamic micropatterning, pharmacological and trafficking assays, optogenetics and live-cell imaging with tracking. First, we demonstrate that the Nucleus-Golgi axis aligns with the direction of migration and its alignment with the protrusive activity leads to efficient cell movement. Then, using low doses of Nocodazole to disrupt internal cell organization, we show that long-lived polarity breaks down and migration becomes random. Next, we indicate that a flow of vesicles is directed towards the protrusive activity with a delay of 20 min. Eventually, by applying a sustained optogenetic activation, we prove that a localized Cdc42 gradient is able to orient the Nucleus-Golgi axis over a couple of hours. Taken together, our results suggest that the internal polarity axis, provided by the polarized trafficking of vesicles, is stabilizing the protrusive activity of the cell, while the protrusive activity biases this polarity axis. Using a novel minimal physical model, we show that this feedback is sufficient by itself to recapitulate the quantitative properties of cell migration in the timescale of hours. Our work highlights the importance of the coupling between high-level cellular functions in stabilizing the direction of migration over long timescales.
Multiple Sclerosis-Associated hnRNPA1 Mutations Alter hnRNPA1 Dynamics and Influence Stress Granule Formation.
Evidence indicates that dysfunctional heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNPA1; A1) contributes to the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis. Understanding molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis may result in novel therapies that attenuate neurodegeneration, thereby improving the lives of MS patients with multiple sclerosis. Using an in vitro, blue light induced, optogenetic protein expression system containing the optogene Cryptochrome 2 and a fluorescent mCherry reporter, we examined the effects of multiple sclerosis-associated somatic A1 mutations (P275S and F281L) in A1 localization, cluster kinetics and stress granule formation in real-time. We show that A1 mutations caused cytoplasmic mislocalization, and significantly altered the kinetics of A1 cluster formation/dissociation, and the quantity and size of clusters. A1 mutations also caused stress granule formation to occur more quickly and frequently in response to blue light stimulation. This study establishes a live cell optogenetics imaging system to probe localization and association characteristics of A1. It also demonstrates that somatic mutations in A1 alter its function and promote stress granule formation, which supports the hypothesis that A1 dysfunction may exacerbate neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis.
Single-component optogenetic tools for inducible RhoA GTPase signaling.
We created optogenetic tools to control RhoA GTPase, a central regulator of actin organization and actomyosin contractility. RhoA GTPase, or its upstream activating GEF effectors, were fused to BcLOV4, a photoreceptor that can be dynamically recruited to the plasma membrane by a light-regulated protein-lipid electrostatic interaction with the inner leaflet. Direct membrane recruitment of these effectors induced potent contractile signaling sufficient to separate adherens junctions in response to as little as one pulse of blue light. Cytoskeletal morphology changes were dependent on the alignment of the spatially patterned stimulation with the underlying cell polarization. RhoA-mediated cytoskeletal activation induced YAP nuclear localization within minutes and subsequent mechanotransduction, verified by YAP-TEAD transcriptional activity. These single-component tools, which do not require protein binding partners, offer spatiotemporally precise control over RhoA signaling that will advance the study of its diverse regulatory roles in cell migration, morphogenesis, and cell cycle maintenance.
Optogenetic manipulation of cellular communication using engineered myosin motors.
Cells achieve highly efficient and accurate communication through cellular projections such as neurites and filopodia, yet there is a lack of genetically encoded tools that can selectively manipulate their composition and dynamics. Here, we present a versatile optogenetic toolbox of artificial multi-headed myosin motors that can move bidirectionally within long cellular extensions and allow for the selective transport of GFP-tagged cargo with light. Utilizing these engineered motors, we could transport bulky transmembrane receptors and organelles as well as actin remodellers to control the dynamics of both filopodia and neurites. Using an optimized in vivo imaging scheme, we further demonstrate that, upon limb amputation in axolotls, a complex array of filopodial extensions is formed. We selectively modulated these filopodial extensions and showed that they re-establish a Sonic Hedgehog signalling gradient during regeneration. Considering the ubiquitous existence of actin-based extensions, this toolbox shows the potential to manipulate cellular communication with unprecedented accuracy.
Control of SRC molecular dynamics encodes distinct cytoskeletal responses by specifying signaling pathway usage.
Upon activation by different transmembrane receptors, the same signaling protein can induce distinct cellular responses. A way to decipher the mechanisms of such pleiotropic signaling activity is to directly manipulate the decision-making activity that supports the selection between distinct cellular responses. We developed an optogenetic probe (optoSRC) to control SRC signaling, an example of a pleiotropic signaling node, and we demonstrated its ability to generate different acto-adhesive structures (lamellipodia or invadosomes) upon distinct spatio-temporal control of SRC kinase activity. The occurrence of each acto-adhesive structure was simply dictated by the dynamics of optoSRC nanoclusters in adhesive sites, which were dependent on the SH3 and Unique domains of the protein. The different decision-making events regulated by optoSRC dynamics induced distinct downstream signaling pathways, which we characterized using time-resolved proteomic and network analyses. Collectively, by manipulating the molecular mobility of SRC kinase activity, these experiments reveal the pleiotropy-encoding mechanism of SRC signaling.
Optogenetic control of PRC1 reveals its role in chromosome alignment on the spindle by overlap length-dependent forces.
During metaphase, chromosome position at the spindle equator is regulated by the forces exerted by kinetochore microtubules and polar ejection forces. However, the role of forces arising from mechanical coupling of sister kinetochore fibers with bridging fibers in chromosome alignment is unknown. Here we develop an optogenetic approach for acute removal of PRC1 to partially disassemble bridging fibers and show that they promote chromosome alignment. Tracking of the plus-end protein EB3 revealed longer antiparallel overlaps of bridging microtubules upon PRC1 removal, which was accompanied by misaligned and lagging kinetochores. Kif4A/kinesin-4 and Kif18A/kinesin-8 were found within the bridging fiber and largely lost upon PRC1 removal, suggesting that these proteins regulate the overlap length of bridging microtubules. We propose that PRC1-mediated crosslinking of bridging microtubules and recruitment of kinesins to the bridging fiber promotes chromosome alignment by overlap length-dependent forces transmitted to the associated kinetochore fibers.
Single-Protein Tracking to Study Protein Interactions During Integrin-Based Migration.
Cell migration is a complex biophysical process which involves the coordination of molecular assemblies including integrin-dependent adhesions, signaling networks and force-generating cytoskeletal structures incorporating both actin polymerization and myosin activity. During the last decades, proteomic studies have generated impressive protein-protein interaction maps, although the subcellular location, duration, strength, sequence, and nature of these interactions are still concealed. In this chapter we describe how recent developments in superresolution microscopy (SRM) and single-protein tracking (SPT) start to unravel protein interactions and actions in subcellular molecular assemblies driving cell migration.
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.
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.
Dynamic centriolar localization of Polo and Centrobin in early mitosis primes centrosome asymmetry.
Centrosomes, the main microtubule organizing centers (MTOCs) of metazoan cells, contain an older "mother" and a younger "daughter" centriole. Stem cells either inherit the mother or daughter-centriole-containing centrosome, providing a possible mechanism for biased delivery of cell fate determinants. However, the mechanisms regulating centrosome asymmetry and biased centrosome segregation are unclear. Using 3D-structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM) and live-cell imaging, we show in fly neural stem cells (neuroblasts) that the mitotic kinase Polo and its centriolar protein substrate Centrobin (Cnb) accumulate on the daughter centriole during mitosis, thereby generating molecularly distinct mother and daughter centrioles before interphase. Cnb's asymmetric localization, potentially involving a direct relocalization mechanism, is regulated by Polo-mediated phosphorylation, whereas Polo's daughter centriole enrichment requires both Wdr62 and Cnb. Based on optogenetic protein mislocalization experiments, we propose that the establishment of centriole asymmetry in mitosis primes biased interphase MTOC activity, necessary for correct spindle orientation.
βH-spectrin is required for ratcheting apical pulsatile constrictions during tissue invagination.
Actomyosin-mediated apical constriction drives a wide range of morphogenetic processes. Activation of myosin-II initiates pulsatile cycles of apical constrictions followed by either relaxation or stabilization (ratcheting) of the apical surface. While relaxation leads to dissipation of contractile forces, ratcheting is critical for the generation of tissue-level tension and changes in tissue shape. How ratcheting is controlled at the molecular level is unknown. Here, we show that the actin crosslinker βH-spectrin is upregulated at the apical surface of invaginating mesodermal cells during Drosophila gastrulation. βH-spectrin forms a network of filaments which co-localize with medio-apical actomyosin fibers, in a process that depends on the mesoderm-transcription factor Twist and activation of Rho signaling. βH-spectrin knockdown results in non-ratcheted apical constrictions and inhibition of mesoderm invagination, recapitulating twist mutant embryos. βH-spectrin is thus a key regulator of apical ratcheting during tissue invagination, suggesting that actin cross-linking plays a critical role in this process.
Nanobody-directed targeting of optogenetic tools to study signaling in the primary cilium.
Compartmentalization of cellular signaling forms the molecular basis of cellular behavior. The primary cilium constitutes a subcellular compartment that orchestrates signal transduction independent from the cell body. Ciliary dysfunction causes severe diseases, termed ciliopathies. Analyzing ciliary signaling has been challenging due to the lack of tools investigate ciliary signaling. Here, we describe a nanobody-based targeting approach for optogenetic tools in mammalian cells and in vivo in zebrafish to specifically analyze ciliary signaling and function. Thereby, we overcome the loss of protein function observed after fusion to ciliary targeting sequences. We functionally localized modifiers of cAMP signaling, the photo-activated adenylate cyclase bPAC and the light-activated phosphodiesterase LAPD, and the cAMP biosensor mlCNBD-FRET to the cilium. Using this approach, we studied the contribution of spatial cAMP signaling in controlling cilia length. Combining optogenetics with nanobody-based targeting will pave the way to the molecular understanding of ciliary function in health and disease.
Long-Range Optogenetic Control of Axon Guidance Overcomes Developmental Boundaries and Defects.
Axons connect neurons together, establishing the wiring architecture of neuronal networks. Axonal connectivity is largely built during embryonic development through highly constrained processes of axon guidance, which have been extensively studied. However, the inability to control axon guidance, and thus neuronal network architecture, has limited investigation of how axonal connections influence subsequent development and function of neuronal networks. Here, we use zebrafish motor neurons expressing a photoactivatable Rac1 to co-opt endogenous growth cone guidance machinery to precisely and non-invasively direct axon growth using light. Axons can be guided over large distances, within complex environments of living organisms, overriding competing endogenous signals and redirecting axons across potent repulsive barriers to construct novel circuitry. Notably, genetic axon guidance defects can be rescued, restoring functional connectivity. These data demonstrate that intrinsic growth cone guidance machinery can be co-opted to non-invasively build new connectivity, allowing investigation of neural network dynamics in intact living organisms.
CofActor: A light- and stress-gated optogenetic clustering tool to study disease-associated cytoskeletal dynamics in living cells.
The hallmarks of neurodegenerative diseases, including neural fibrils, reactive oxygen species (ROS), and cofilin-actin rods, present numerous challenges in the development of in vivo diagnostic tools. Biomarkers such as amyloid β (Aβ) fibrils and Tau tangles in Alzheimer's disease (AD) are accessible only via invasive cerebrospinal fluid assays, and ROS can be fleeting and challenging to monitor in vivo. Although remaining a challenge for in vivo detection, the protein-protein interactions underlying these disease-specific biomarkers present opportunities for the engineering of in vitro pathology-sensitive biosensors. These tools can be useful for investigating early-stage events in neurodegenerative diseases in both cellular and animal models and may lead to clinically useful reagents. Here, we report a light- and cellular stress-gated protein switch based on cofilin-actin rod formation, occurring in stressed neurons in the AD brain and following ischemia. By coupling the stress-sensitive cofilin-actin interaction with the light-responsive Cry2-CIB blue-light switch, referred to hereafter as the "CofActor," we accomplished both light- and energetic/oxidative stress-gated control of this interaction. Site-directed mutagenesis of both cofilin and actin revealed residues critical for sustaining or abrogating the light- and stress-gated response. Of note, the switch response varied, depending on whether cellular stress was generated via glycolytic inhibition or by both glycolytic inhibition and azide-induced ATP depletion. We also demonstrate light- and cellular stress-gated switch function in cultured hippocampal neurons. CofActor holds promise for the tracking of early-stage events in neurodegeneration and for investigating actin's interactions with other proteins during cellular stress.
CLIC4 is a cytokinetic cleavage furrow protein that regulates cortical cytoskeleton stability during cell division.
During mitotic cell division, the actomyosin cytoskeleton undergoes several dynamic changes that play key roles in progression through mitosis. Although the regulators of cytokinetic ring formation and contraction are well established, proteins that regulate cortical stability during anaphase and telophase have been understudied. Here, we describe a role for CLIC4 in regulating actin and actin regulators at the cortex and cytokinetic cleavage furrow during cytokinesis. We first describe CLIC4 as a new component of the cytokinetic cleavage furrow that is required for successful completion of mitotic cell division. We also demonstrate that CLIC4 regulates the remodeling of the sub-plasma-membrane actomyosin network within the furrow by recruiting MST4 kinase (also known as STK26) and regulating ezrin phosphorylation. This work identifies and characterizes new molecular players involved in regulating cortex stiffness and blebbing during the late stages of cytokinetic furrowing.
The Proline-rich Domain Promotes Tau Liquid Liquid Phase Separation in Cells.
Tau protein in vitro can undergo liquid liquid phase separation (LLPS); however, observations of this phase transition in living cells are limited. To investigate protein state transitions in living cells we found that Cry2 can optogentically increase the association of full lengh tau with microtubules. To probe this mechanism, we identified tau domains that drive tau clustering on microtubules in living cells. The polyproline rich domain (PRD) drives LLPS and does so under the control of phosphorylation. These readily observable cytoplasmic condensates underwent fusion and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching consistent with the ability of the PRD to undergo LLPS in vitro. In absence of the MTBD, the tau PRD co-condensed with EB1, a regulator of plus-end microtubule dynamic instability. The specific domain properties of the MTBD and PRD serve distinct but mutually complementary roles that utilize LLPS in a cellular context to implement emergent functionalities that scale their relationship from binding alpha-beta tubulin heterodimers to the larger proportions of microtubules.
Optogenetic stimulation of phosphoinositides reveals a critical role of primary cilia in eye pressure regulation.
Glaucoma is a group of progressive optic neuropathies that cause irreversible vision loss. Although elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is associated with the development and progression of glaucoma, the mechanisms for its regulation are not well understood. Here, we have designed CIBN/CRY2-based optogenetic constructs to study phosphoinositide regulation within distinct subcellular compartments. We show that stimulation of CRY2-OCRL, an inositol 5-phosphatase, increases aqueous humor outflow and lowers IOP in vivo, which is caused by a calcium-dependent actin rearrangement of the trabecular meshwork cells. Phosphoinositide stimulation also rescues defective aqueous outflow and IOP in a Lowe syndrome mouse model but not in IFT88fl/fl mice that lack functional cilia. Thus, our study is the first to use optogenetics to regulate eye pressure and demonstrate that tight regulation of phosphoinositides is critical for aqueous humor homeostasis in both normal and diseased eyes.
Nano-positioning and tubuline conformation determine transport of mitochondria along microtubules.
Correct spatiotemporal distribution of organelles and vesicles is crucial for healthy cell functioning and is regulated by intracellular transport mechanisms. Controlled transport of bulky mitochondria is especially important in polarized cells such as neurons that rely on these organelles to locally produce energy and buffer calcium. Mitochondrial transport requires and depends on microtubules which fill much of the available axonal space. How mitochondrial transport is affected by their position within the microtubule bundles is not known. Here, we found that anterograde transport, driven by kinesin motors, is susceptible to the molecular conformation of tubulin both in vitro and in vivo. Anterograde velocities negatively correlate with the density of elongated tubulin dimers, similar to GTP-tubulin, that are more straight and rigid. The impact of the tubulin conformation depends primarily on where a mitochondrion is positioned, either within or at the rim of microtubule bundle. Increasing elongated tubulin levels lowers the number of motile anterograde mitochondria within the microtubule bundle and increases anterograde transport speed at the microtubule bundle rim. We demonstrate that the increased kinesin step processivity on microtubules consisting of elongated dimers underlies increased mitochondrial dynamics. Our work indicates that the molecular conformation of tubulin controls mitochondrial motility and as such locally regulates the distribution of mitochondria along axons.
A Single-Objective Light-Sheet Microscope with 200 nm-Scale Resolution.
We present a single-objective light-sheet microscope, also known as an oblique-plane microscope,that uses a bespoke glass-tipped tertiary objective andimproves the resolution, field of view, usability, and stability over previous variants. Owing to its highnumerical aperture optics, thismicroscope achieves the highest lateral resolution in light-sheet fluorescence microscopy, and its axial resolution is similar to that of Lattice Light-Sheet Microscopy.Given this performance, wedemonstrate high-resolution imaging of clathrin-mediated endocytosis, vimentin, the endoplasmic reticulum, membrane dynamics, and natural killer cell-mediated cell death. Furthermore, we image biological phenomena that would be otherwise challenging or impossibleto performin a traditional light-sheet microscope geometry, includingcell migration through a confined space within a microfluidic device, photoactivation of PI3K, and diffusionofcytoplasmic rheologicaltracersat a volumetric rate of 14 Hz.
Combining optogenetics with sensitive FRET imaging to monitor local microtubule manipulations.
Optogenetic methods for switching molecular states in cells are increasingly prominent tools in life sciences. Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET)-based sensors can provide quantitative and sensitive readouts of altered cellular biochemistry, e.g. from optogenetics. However, most of the light-inducible domains respond to the same wavelength as is required for excitation of popular CFP/YFP-based FRET pairs, rendering the techniques incompatible with each other. In order to overcome this limitation, we red-shifted an existing CFP/YFP-based OP18 FRET sensor (COPY) by employing an sYFP2 donor and mScarlet-I acceptor. Their favorable quantum yield and brightness result in a red-shifted FRET pair with an optimized dynamic range, which could be further enhanced by an R125I point mutation that stimulates intramolecular interactions. The new sensor was named ROPY and it visualizes the interaction between the microtubule regulator stathmin/OP18 and free tubulin heterodimers. We show that through phosphorylation of the ROPY sensor, its tubulin sequestering ability can be locally regulated by photo-activatable Rac1 (PARac1), independent of the FRET readout. Together, ROPY and PARac1 provide spatiotemporal control over free tubulin levels. ROPY/PARac1-based optogenetic regulation of free tubulin levels allowed us to demonstrate that depletion of free tubulin prevents the formation of pioneer microtubules, while local upregulation of tubulin concentration allows localized microtubule extensions to support the lamellipodia.
Actin waves transport RanGTP to the neurite tip to regulate non-centrosomal microtubules in neurons.
Microtubule (MT) is the most abundant cytoskeleton in neurons and controls multiple facets of their development. While the MT-organizing center (MTOC) in mitotic cells is typically located at the centrosome, MTOC in neurons switches to non-centrosomal sites. A handful of cellular components have been shown to promote non-centrosomal MT (ncMT) formation in neurons, yet the regulation mechanism remains unknown. Here we demonstrate that the small GTPase Ran is a key regulator of ncMTs in neurons. Using an optogenetic tool that enables light-induced local production of RanGTP, we demonstrate that RanGTP promotes ncMT plus-end growth along the neurite. Additionally, we discovered that actin waves drive the anterograde transport of RanGTP. Pharmacological disruption of actin waves abolishes the enrichment of RanGTP and reduces growing ncMT plus-ends at the neurite tip. These observations identify a novel regulation mechanism of ncMTs and pinpoint an indirect connection between the actin and MT cytoskeletons in neurons.
An optimized toolbox for the optogenetic control of intracellular transport.
Cellular functioning relies on active transport of organelles by molecular motors. To explore how intracellular organelle distributions affect cellular functions, several optogenetic approaches enable organelle repositioning through light-inducible recruitment of motors to specific organelles. Nonetheless, robust application of these methods in cellular populations without side effects has remained challenging. Here, we introduce an improved toolbox for optogenetic control of intracellular transport that optimizes cellular responsiveness and limits adverse effects. To improve dynamic range, we employed improved optogenetic heterodimerization modules and engineered a photosensitive kinesin-3, which is activated upon blue light-sensitive homodimerization. This opto-kinesin prevented motor activation before experimental onset, limited dark-state activation, and improved responsiveness. In addition, we adopted moss kinesin-14 for efficient retrograde transport with minimal adverse effects on endogenous transport. Using this optimized toolbox, we demonstrate robust reversible repositioning of (endogenously tagged) organelles within cellular populations. More robust control over organelle motility will aid in dissecting spatial cell biology and transport-related diseases.
Blue Light-Directed Cell Migration, Aggregation, and Patterning.
Bacterial motility is related to many cellular activities, such as cell migration, aggregation, and biofilm formations. The ability to control motility and direct the bacteria to certain location could be used to guide the bacteria in applications such as seeking for and killing pathogen, forming various population-level patterns, and delivering of drugs and vaccines. Currently, bacteria motility is mainly controlled by chemotaxis (prescribed chemical stimuli), which needs physical contact with the chemical inducer. This lacks the flexibility for pattern formation as it has limited spatial control. To overcome the limitations, we developed blue light-regulated synthetic genetic circuit to control bacterial directional motility, by taking the advantage that light stimulus can be delivered to cells in different patterns with precise spatial control. The circuit developed enables programmed Escherichia coli cells to increase directional motility and move away from the blue light, i.e., that negative phototaxis is utilized. This further allows the control of the cells to form aggregation with different patterns. Further, we showed that the circuit can be used to separate two different strains. The demonstrated ability of blue light-controllable gene circuits to regulate a CheZ expression could give researchers more means to control bacterial motility and pattern formation.
Implementing Optogenetic Modulation in Mechanotransduction.
Molecular optogenetic switch systems are extensively employed as a powerful tool to spatially and temporally modulate a variety of signal transduction processes in cells. However, the applications of such systems in mechanotransduction processes where the mechanosensing proteins are subject to mechanical forces of several piconewtons are poorly explored. In order to apply molecular optogenetic switch systems to mechanobiological studies, it is crucial to understand their mechanical stabilities which have yet to be quantified. In this work, we quantify a frequently used molecular optogenetic switch, iLID-nano, which is an improved light-induced dimerization between LOV2-SsrA and SspB. Our results show that the iLID-nano system can withstand forces up to 10 pN for seconds to tens of seconds that decrease as the force increases. The mechanical stability of the system suggests that it can be employed to modulate mechanotransduction processes that involve similar force ranges. We demonstrate the use of this system to control talin-mediated cell spreading and migration. Together, we establish the physical basis for utilizing the iLID-nano system in the direct control of intramolecular force transmission in cells during mechanotransduction processes.
ActuAtor, a molecular tool for generating force in living cells: Controlled deformation of intracellular structures.
Mechanical force underlies fundamental cell functions such as division, migration and differentiation. While physical probes and devices revealed cellular mechano-responses, how force is translated inside cells to exert output functions remains largely unknown, due to the limited techniques to manipulate force intracellularly. By engineering an ActA protein, an actin nucleation promoting factor derived from Listeria monocytogenes, and implementing this in protein dimerization paradigms, we developed a molecular tool termed ActuAtor, with which actin polymerization can be triggered at intended subcellular locations to generate constrictive force in a rapidly inducible manner. The ActuAtor operation led to striking deformation of target intracellular structures including mitochondria, Golgi apparatus, nucleus, and non-membrane-bound RNA granules. Based on functional analysis before and after organelle deformation, we found the form-function relationship of mitochondria to be generally marginal. The modular design and genetically-encoded nature enable wide applications of ActuAtor for studies of intracellular mechanobiology processes.