Showing 1 - 25 of 189 results
Optogenetic manipulation of neuronal and cardiomyocyte functions in zebrafish using microbial rhodopsins and adenylyl cyclases.
Even though microbial photosensitive proteins have been used for optogenetics, their use should be optimized to precisely control cell and tissue functions in vivo. We exploited GtCCR4 and KnChR, cation channelrhodopsins from algae, BeGC1, a guanylyl cyclase rhodopsin from a fungus, and photoactivated adenylyl cyclases (PACs) from cyanobacteria (OaPAC) or bacteria (bPAC), to control cell functions in zebrafish. Optical activation of GtCCR4 and KnChR in the hindbrain reticulospinal V2a neurons, which are involved in locomotion, induced swimming behavior at relatively short latencies, whereas activation of BeGC1 or PACs achieved it at long latencies. Activation of GtCCR4 and KnChR in cardiomyocytes induced cardiac arrest, whereas activation of bPAC gradually induced bradycardia. KnChR activation led to an increase in intracellular Ca2+ in the heart, suggesting that depolarization caused cardiac arrest. These data suggest that these optogenetic tools can be used to reveal the function and regulation of zebrafish neurons and cardiomyocytes.
Opto-RhoGEFs, an optimized optogenetic toolbox to reversibly control Rho GTPase activity on a global to subcellular scale, enabling precise control over vascular endothelial barrier strength.
The inner layer of blood vessels consists of endothelial cells, which form the physical barrier between blood and tissue. This vascular barrier is tightly regulated and is defined by cell-cell contacts through adherens and tight junctions. To investigate the signaling that regulates vascular barrier strength, we focused on Rho GTPases, regulators of the actin cytoskeleton and known to control junction integrity. To manipulate Rho GTPase signaling in a temporal and spatial manner we applied optogenetics. Guanine-nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) domains from ITSN1, TIAM1, and p63RhoGEF, activating Cdc42, Rac, and Rho, respectively, were integrated into the optogenetic recruitment tool improved light-induced dimer (iLID). This tool allows for Rho GTPase activation at the subcellular level in a reversible and non-invasive manner by recruiting a GEF to a specific area at the plasma membrane, The membrane tag of iLID was optimized and a HaloTag was applied to gain more flexibility for multiplex imaging. The resulting optogenetically recruitable RhoGEFs (Opto-RhoGEFs) were tested in an endothelial cell monolayer and demonstrated precise temporal control of vascular barrier strength by a cell-cell overlap-dependent, VE-cadherin-independent, mechanism. Furthermore, Opto-RhoGEFs enabled precise optogenetic control in endothelial cells over morphological features such as cell size, cell roundness, local extension, and cell contraction. In conclusion, we have optimized and applied the optogenetic iLID GEF recruitment tool, that is Opto-RhoGEFs, to study the role of Rho GTPases in the vascular barrier of the endothelium and found that membrane protrusions at the junction region can rapidly increase barrier integrity independent of VE-cadherin.
Mechanosensitive dynamics of lysosomes along microtubules regulate leader cell emergence in collective cell migration.
Collective cell migration during embryonic development, wound healing, and cancer metastasis entails the emergence of leader cells at the migration front. These cells with conspicuous lamellipodial structures provide directional guidance to the collective. Despite their physiological relevance, the mechanisms underlying the emergence of leader cells remain elusive. Here we report that in diverse model systems for wound healing, including cultured epithelial monolayer, Drosophila embryo, and mouse embryonic skin, leader cells display a peripheral accumulation of lysosomes. This accumulation appears essential for leader cell emergence, involves lysosomal movement along microtubules, and depends on the actomyosin contractility-generated cellular forces. Peripheral lysosomes associate with inactive Rac1 molecules to remove them from the leading periphery, which increases local Rac1-activity, triggering actin polymerization and promoting lamellipodium formation. Taken together, we demonstrate that beyond their catabolic role, lysosomes act as the intracellular platform that links mechanical and biochemical signals to control the emergence of leader cells.
Optogenetic dissection of RET signaling reveals robust activation of ERK and enhanced filopodia-like protrusions of regenerating axons.
RET (REarranged during Transfection) is a receptor tyrosine kinase that transduces various external stimuli into biological functions, such as survival and differentiation, in neurons. In the current study, we developed an optogenetic tool for modulating RET signaling, termed optoRET, combining the cytosolic region of human RET with a blue-light-inducible homo-oligomerizing protein. By varying the duration of photoactivation, we were able to dynamically modulate RET signaling. Activation of optoRET recruited Grb2 (growth factor receptor-bound protein 2) and stimulated AKT and ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) in cultured neurons, evoking robust and efficient ERK activation. By locally activating the distal part of the neuron, we were able to retrogradely transduce the AKT and ERK signal to the soma and trigger formation of filopodia-like F-actin structures at stimulated regions through Cdc42 (cell division control 42) activation. Importantly, we successfully modulated RET signaling in dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra in the mouse brain. Collectively, optoRET has the potential to be developed as a future therapeutic intervention, modulating RET downstream signaling with light.
Optogenetic control of Wnt signaling models cell-intrinsic embryogenic patterning using 2D human pluripotent stem cell culture.
In embryonic stem cell (ESC) models for early development, spatially and temporally varying patterns of signaling and cell types emerge spontaneously. However, mechanistic insight into this dynamic self-organization is limited by a lack of methods for spatiotemporal control of signaling, and the relevance of signal dynamics and cell-to-cell variability to pattern emergence remains unknown. Here, we combine optogenetic stimulation, imaging, and transcriptomic approaches to study self-organization of human ESCs (hESC) in two-dimensional (2D) culture. Morphogen dynamics were controlled via optogenetic activation of canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling (optoWnt), which drove broad transcriptional changes and mesendoderm differentiation at high efficiency (>99% cells). When activated within cell subpopulations, optoWnt induced cell self-organization into distinct epithelial and mesenchymal domains, mediated by changes in cell migration, an epithelial to mesenchymal-like transition, and TGF-β signaling. Furthermore, we demonstrate that such optogenetic control of cell subpopulations can be used to uncover signaling feedback mechanisms between neighboring cell types. These findings reveal that cell-to-cell variability in Wnt signaling is sufficient to generate tissue-scale patterning and establish an hESC model system for investigating feedback mechanisms relevant to early human embryogenesis.
Concept and considerations of a medical device: the active noise cancelling incubator.
An increasingly 24/7 connected and urbanised world has created a silent pandemic of noise-induced hearing loss. Ensuring survival to children born (extremely) preterm is crucial. The incubator is a closed medical device, modifying the internal climate, and thus providing an environment for the child, as safe, warm, and comfortable as possible. While sound outside the incubator is managed and has decreased over the years, managing the noise inside the incubator is still a challenge.
A cytokinetic ring-driven cell rotation achieves Hertwig’s rule in early development.
Cells tend to divide along the direction in which they are longest, as famously stated by Oscar Hertwig in 1884 in his long axis rule. The orientation of the mitotic spindle determines the cell division axis, and the long axis rule is usually ensured by forces stemming from microtubules. Pulling on the spindle from the cell cortex can give rise to unstable behaviors, and we here set out to understand how the long axis rule is realized in early embryonic divisions where cortical pulling forces are prevalent. We focus on early C. elegans development, where we compressed embryos to reveal that cortical pulling forces favor an alignment of the spindle with the short axis of the cell. Strikingly, we find that this misalignment is corrected by an actomyosin-based mechanism that rotates the entire cell, including the mitotic spindle. We uncover that myosin-driven contractility in the cytokinetic ring generates inward forces that align it with the short axis, and thereby the spindle with the long axis. A theoretical model together with experiments using slightly compressed mouse zygotes suggest that a constricting cytokinetic ring can ensure the long axis rule in cells that are free to rotate inside a confining structure, thereby generalizing the underlying principle.
Cell protrusions and contractions generate long-range membrane tension propagation.
Membrane tension is thought to be a long-range integrator of cell physiology. Membrane tension has been proposed to enable cell polarity during migration through front-back coordination and long-range protrusion competition. These roles necessitate effective tension transmission across the cell. However, conflicting observations have left the field divided as to whether cell membranes support or resist tension propagation. This discrepancy likely originates from the use of exogenous forces that may not accurately mimic endogenous forces. We overcome this complication by leveraging optogenetics to directly control localized actin-based protrusions or actomyosin contractions while simultaneously monitoring the propagation of membrane tension using dual-trap optical tweezers. Surprisingly, actin-driven protrusions and actomyosin contractions both elicit rapid global membrane tension propagation, whereas forces applied to cell membranes alone do not. We present a simple unifying mechanical model in which mechanical forces that engage the actin cortex drive rapid, robust membrane tension propagation through long-range membrane flows.
OptoCRISPRi-HD: Engineering a Bacterial Green-Light-Activated CRISPRi System with a High Dynamic Range.
The ability to modulate gene expression is crucial for studying gene function and programming cell behaviors. Combining the reliability of CRISPRi and the precision of optogenetics, the optoCRISPRi technique is emerging as an advanced tool for live-cell gene regulation. Since previous versions of optoCRISPRi often exhibit no more than a 10-fold dynamic range due to the leakage activity, they are not suitable for targets that are sensitive to such leakage or critical for cell growth. Here, we describe a green-light-activated CRISPRi system with a high dynamic range (40 fold) and the flexibility of changing targets in Escherichia coli. Our optoCRISPRi-HD system can efficiently repress essential genes, nonessential genes, or inhibit the initiation of DNA replication. Providing a regulative system with high resolution over space-time and extensive targets, our study would facilitate further research involving complex gene networks, metabolic flux redirection, or bioprinting.
Actuation of single downstream nodes in growth factor network steers immune cell migration.
Ras signaling is typically associated with cell growth, but not direct regulation of motility or polarity. By optogenetically targeting different nodes in the Ras/PI3K/Akt network in differentiated human HL-60 neutrophils, we abruptly altered protrusive activity, bypassing the chemoattractant receptor/G-protein network. First, global recruitment of active KRas4B/HRas isoforms or a RasGEF, RasGRP4, immediately increased spreading and random motility. Second, activating Ras at the cell rear generated new protrusions, reversed pre-existing polarity, and steered sustained migration in neutrophils or murine RAW 264.7 macrophages. Third, recruiting a RasGAP, RASAL3, to cell fronts extinguished protrusions and changed migration direction. Remarkably, persistent RASAL3 recruitment at stable fronts abrogated directed migration in three different chemoattractant gradients. Fourth, local recruitment of the Ras-mTORC2 effector, Akt, in neutrophils or Dictyostelium amoebae generated new protrusions and rearranged pre-existing polarity. Overall, these optogenetic effects were mTORC2-dependent but relatively independent of PI3K. Thus, receptor-independent, local activations of classical growth-control pathways directly control actin assembly, cell shape, and migration modes.
Mechanosensitive stem cell fate choice is instructed by dynamic fluctuations in activation of Rho GTPases.
During the intricate process by which cells give rise to tissues, embryonic and adult stem cells are exposed to diverse mechanical signals from the extracellular matrix (ECM) that influence their fate. Cells can sense these cues in part through dynamic generation of protrusions, modulated and controlled by cyclic activation of Rho GTPases. However, it remains unclear how extracellular mechanical signals regulate Rho GTPase activation dynamics and how such rapid, transient activation dynamics are integrated to yield long-term, irreversible cell fate decisions. Here, we report that ECM stiffness cues alter not only the magnitude but also the temporal frequency of RhoA and Cdc42 activation in adult neural stem cells (NSCs). Using optogenetics to control the frequency of RhoA and Cdc42 activation, we further demonstrate that these dynamics are functionally significant, where high- vs. low-frequency activation of RhoA and Cdc42 drives astrocytic vs. neuronal differentiation, respectively. In addition, high-frequency Rho GTPase activation induces sustained phosphorylation of the TGFβ pathway effector SMAD1, which in turn drives the astrocytic differentiation. By contrast, under low-frequency Rho GTPase stimulation, cells fail to accumulate SMAD1 phosphorylation and instead undergo neurogenesis. Our findings reveal the temporal patterning of Rho GTPase signaling and the resulting accumulation of an SMAD1 signal as a critical mechanism through which ECM stiffness cues regulate NSC fate.
Rab8, Rab11, and Rab35 coordinate lumen and cilia formation during zebrafish left-right organizer development.
An essential process during Danio rerio's left-right organizer (Kupffer's Vesicle, KV) formation is the formation of a motile cilium by developing KV cells which extends into the KV lumen. Beating of motile cilia within the KV lumen directs fluid flow to establish the embryo's left-right axis. However, the timepoint at which KV cells start to form cilia and how cilia formation is coordinated with KV lumen formation have not been examined. We identified that nascent KV cells form cilia at their centrosomes at random intracellular positions that then move towards a forming apical membrane containing cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). Using optogenetic clustering approaches, we found that Rab35 positive membranes recruit Rab11 to modulate CFTR delivery to the apical membrane, which is required for lumen opening, and subsequent cilia extension into the lumen. Once the intracellular cilia reach the CFTR positive apical membrane, Arl13b-positive cilia extend and elongate in a Rab8 dependent manner into the forming lumen once the lumen reaches an area of 300 μm2. These studies demonstrate the need to acutely coordinate Rab8, Rab11, and Rab35-mediated membrane trafficking events to ensure appropriate timing in lumen and cilia formation during KV development.
Focal adhesions are controlled by microtubules through local contractility regulation.
Microtubules regulate cell polarity and migration by local activation of focal adhesion turnover, but the mechanism of this process is insufficiently understood. Molecular complexes containing KANK family proteins connect microtubules with the major component of focal adhesions, talin. Local optogenetic activation of KANK1-mediated links which promoted microtubule targeting to individual focal adhesion resulting in its centripetal sliding and rapid disassembly. The sliding is preceded by a local increase of traction force due to accumulation of myosin-II and actin in the proximity of the focal adhesion. Knockdown of Rho activator GEF-H1 prevented development of traction force and abolished sliding and disassembly of focal adhesion upon KANK activation. Other players participating in microtubule-driven KANK-dependent focal adhesion disassembly include kinases ROCK and PAK, as well as microtubules/focal adhesions associated proteins Kinesin-1, APC and αTAT. Finally, we propose a physical model of a microtubule-driven focal adhesion disruption involving local GEF-H1/RhoA/ROCK dependent activation of contractility which is consistent with experimental data.
Development and Application of an Optogenetic Manipulation System to Suppress Actomyosin Activity in Ciona Epidermis.
Studying the generation of biomechanical force and how this force drives cell and tissue morphogenesis is challenging for understanding the mechanical mechanisms underlying embryogenesis. Actomyosin has been demonstrated to be the main source of intracellular force generation that drives membrane and cell contractility, thus playing a vital role in multi-organ formation in ascidian Ciona embryogenesis. However, manipulation of actomyosin at the subcellular level is impossible in Ciona because of the lack of technical tools and approaches. In this study, we designed and developed a myosin light chain phosphatase fused with a light-oxygen-voltage flavoprotein from Botrytis cinerea (MLCP-BcLOV4) as an optogenetics tool to control actomyosin contractility activity in the Ciona larva epidermis. We first validated the light-dependent membrane localization and regulatory efficiency on mechanical forces of the MLCP-BcLOV4 system as well as the optimum light intensity that activated the system in HeLa cells. Then, we applied the optimized MLCP-BcLOV4 system in Ciona larval epidermal cells to realize the regulation of membrane elongation at the subcellular level. Moreover, we successfully applied this system on the process of apical contraction during atrial siphon invagination in Ciona larvae. Our results showed that the activity of phosphorylated myosin on the apical surface of atrial siphon primordium cells was suppressed and apical contractility was disrupted, resulting in the failure of the invagination process. Thus, we established an effective technique and system that provide a powerful approach in the study of the biomechanical mechanisms driving morphogenesis in marine organisms.
Mechanosensitive mTORC2 independently coordinates leading and trailing edge polarity programs during neutrophil migration.
By acting both upstream of and downstream from biochemical organizers of the cytoskeleton, physical forces function as central integrators of cell shape and movement. Here we use a combination of genetic, pharmacological, and optogenetic perturbations to probe the role of the conserved mechanosensitive mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2) programs in neutrophil polarity and motility. We find that the tension-based inhibition of leading-edge signals (Rac, F-actin) that underlies protrusion competition is gated by the kinase-independent role of the complex, whereas the regulation of RhoA and myosin II-based contractility at the trailing edge depend on mTORC2 kinase activity. mTORC2 is essential for spatial and temporal coordination of the front and back polarity programs for persistent migration under confinement. This mechanosensory pathway integrates multiple upstream signals, and we find that membrane stretch synergizes with biochemical co-input phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate to robustly amplify mTORC2 activation. Our results suggest that different signaling arms of mTORC2 regulate spatially and molecularly divergent cytoskeletal programs for efficient coordination of neutrophil shape and movement.
Crosstalk between Rac and Rho GTPase activity mediated by Arhgef11 and Arhgef12 coordinates cell protrusion-retraction cycles.
Rho GTPase crosstalk is thought to play a key role in the spatio-temporal coordination of cytoskeletal dynamics during cell migration. Here, we directly investigated crosstalk between the major Rho GTPases Rho, Rac and Cdc42 by combining acute activity perturbation with activity measurements in individual, mammalian cells. As expected for their proposed mutual inhibition, we confirmed that Rho inhibits Rac activity. However, surprisingly, we found that Rac strongly stimulates Rho activity. We hypothesized that this crosstalk might play a role in mediating the tight spatio-temporal coupling between cell protrusions and retractions that are typically observed during mesenchymal cell migration. Using new, improved activity sensors for endogenous Rho GTPases, we find that Rac activation is tightly and precisely coupled to local cell protrusions, followed by Rho activation during retraction. In a screen for potential crosstalk mediators, we find that a subset of the Rho activating Lbc-type GEFs, in particular Arhgef11 and Arhgef12, are enriched at transient cell protrusions and retractions. Furthermore, via an optogenetic approach, we show that these Lbc GEFs are recruited to the plasma membrane by active Rac, suggesting that they might link cell protrusion and retraction by mediating Rac/Rho activity crosstalk. Indeed, depletion of these GEFs impaired cell protrusion-retraction dynamics, which was accompanied by an increase in migration directionality and reduced migration velocity. Thus, our study shows that Arhgef11 and Arhgef12 facilitate effective exploratory cell migration by coordinating the central cell morphogenic processes of cell protrusion and retraction by coupling the activity of the associated small GTPases Rac and Rho.
Cell size and actin architecture determine force generation in optogenetically activated cells.
Adherent cells use actomyosin contractility to generate mechanical force and to sense the physical properties of their environment, with dramatic consequences for migration, division, differentiation, and fate. However, the organization of the actomyosin system within cells is highly variable, with its assembly and function being controlled by small GTPases from the Rho family. To understand better how activation of these regulators translates into cell-scale force generation in the context of different physical environments, here we combine recent advances in non-neuronal optogenetics with micropatterning and traction force microscopy on soft elastic substrates. We find that, after whole-cell RhoA activation by the CRY2/CIBN optogenetic system with a short pulse of 100 ms, single cells contract on a minute timescale in proportion to their original traction force, before returning to their original tension setpoint with near perfect precision, on a longer timescale of several minutes. To decouple the biochemical and mechanical elements of this response, we introduce a mathematical model that is parametrized by fits to the dynamics of the substrate deformation energy. We find that the RhoA response builds up quickly on a timescale of 20 s, but decays slowly on a timescale of 50 s. The larger the cells and the more polarized their actin cytoskeleton, the more substrate deformation energy is generated. RhoA activation starts to saturate if optogenetic pulse length exceeds 50 ms, revealing the intrinsic limits of biochemical activation. Together our results suggest that adherent cells establish tensional homeostasis by the RhoA system, but that the setpoint and the dynamics around it are strongly determined by cell size and the architecture of the actin cytoskeleton, which both are controlled by the extracellular environment.
Rac negative feedback links local PIP3 rate-of-change to dynamic control of neutrophil guidance.
To migrate efficiently, neutrophils must polarize their cytoskeletal regulators along a single axis of motion. This polarization process is thought to be mediated through local positive feedback that amplifies leading edge signals and global negative feedback that enables sites of positive feedback to compete for dominance. Though this two-component model efficiently establishes cell polarity, it has potential limitations, including a tendency to “lock” onto a particular direction, limiting the ability of cells to reorient. We use spatially-defined optogenetic control of a leading edge organizer (PI3K) to probe how cells balance “decisiveness” needed to polarize in a single direction with the flexibility needed to respond to new cues. Underlying this balancing act is a local Rac inhibitor that destabilizes the leading edge to promote exploration. We show that this local inhibitor enables cells to process input signal dynamics, linking front stability and orientation to local temporal increases in input signals.
Integrin-based adhesion compartmentalizes ALK3 of the BMPRII to control cell adhesion and migration.
The spatial organization of cell-surface receptors is fundamental for the coordination of biological responses to physical and biochemical cues of the extracellular matrix. How serine/threonine kinase receptors, ALK3-BMPRII, cooperate with integrins upon BMP2 to drive cell migration is unknown. Whether the dynamics between integrins and BMP receptors intertwine in space and time to guide adhesive processes is yet to be elucidated. We found that BMP2 stimulation controls the spatial organization of BMPRs by segregating ALK3 from BMPRII into β3 integrin-containing focal adhesions. The selective recruitment of ALK3 to focal adhesions requires β3 integrin engagement and ALK3 activation. BMP2 controls the partitioning of immobilized ALK3 within and outside focal adhesions according to single-protein tracking and super-resolution imaging. The spatial control of ALK3 in focal adhesions by optogenetics indicates that ALK3 acts as an adhesive receptor by eliciting cell spreading required for cell migration. ALK3 segregation from BMPRII in integrin-based adhesions is a key aspect of the spatio-temporal control of BMPR signaling.
Optogenetic control of apical constriction induces synthetic morphogenesis in mammalian tissues.
The emerging field of synthetic developmental biology proposes bottom-up approaches to examine the contribution of each cellular process to complex morphogenesis. However, the shortage of tools to manipulate three-dimensional (3D) shapes of mammalian tissues hinders the progress of the field. Here we report the development of OptoShroom3, an optogenetic tool that achieves fast spatiotemporal control of apical constriction in mammalian epithelia. Activation of OptoShroom3 through illumination in an epithelial Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cell sheet reduces the apical surface of the stimulated cells and causes displacements in the adjacent regions. Light-induced apical constriction provokes the folding of epithelial cell colonies on soft gels. Its application to murine and human neural organoids leads to thickening of neuroepithelia, apical lumen reduction in optic vesicles, and flattening in neuroectodermal tissues. These results show that spatiotemporal control of apical constriction can trigger several types of 3D deformation depending on the initial tissue context.
Spatiotemporal control of ERK pulse frequency coordinates fate decisions during mammary acinar morphogenesis.
The signaling events controlling proliferation, survival, and apoptosis during mammary epithelial acinar morphogenesis remain poorly characterized. By imaging single-cell ERK activity dynamics in MCF10A acini, we find that these fates depend on the average frequency of non-periodic ERK pulses. High pulse frequency is observed during initial acinus growth, correlating with rapid cell motility and proliferation. Subsequent decrease in motility correlates with lower ERK pulse frequency and quiescence. Later, during lumen formation, coordinated multicellular ERK waves emerge, correlating with high and low ERK pulse frequencies in outer surviving and inner dying cells, respectively. Optogenetic entrainment of ERK pulses causally connects high ERK pulse frequency with inner cell survival. Acini harboring the PIK3CA H1047R mutation display increased ERK pulse frequency and inner cell survival. Thus, fate decisions during acinar morphogenesis are coordinated by different spatiotemporal modalities of ERK pulse frequency.
CRY-BARs: Versatile light-gated molecular tools for the remodeling of membrane architectures.
BAR (Bin, Amphiphysin and Rvs) protein domains are responsible for the generation of membrane curvature and represent a critical mechanical component of cellular functions. Thus, BAR domains have great potential as components of membrane-remodeling tools for cell biologists. In this work, we describe the design and implementation of a family of versatile light-gated I-BAR (inverse-BAR) domain containing tools derived from the fusion of the A. thaliana Cryptochrome 2 photoreceptor and I-BAR protein domains ('CRY-BARs') with applications in the remodeling of membrane architectures and the control of cellular dynamics. By taking advantage of the intrinsic membrane binding propensity of the I-BAR domain, CRY-BARs can be used for spatial and temporal control of cellular processes that require induction of membrane protrusions. Using cell lines and primary neuron cultures, we demonstrate here that the CRY-BAR optogenetic tool evokes membrane dynamics changes associated with cellular activity. Moreover, we provide evidence that ezrin, an actin and PIP2 binding protein, acts as a relay between the plasma membrane and the actin cytoskeleton and therefore is an important mediator of switch function. Overall, we propose that CRY-BARs hold promise as a useful addition to the optogenetic toolkit to study membrane remodeling in live cells.
Two Rac1 pools integrate the direction and coordination of collective cell migration.
Integration of collective cell direction and coordination is believed to ensure collective guidance for efficient movement. Previous studies demonstrated that chemokine receptors PVR and EGFR govern a gradient of Rac1 activity essential for collective guidance of Drosophila border cells, whose mechanistic insight is unknown. By monitoring and manipulating subcellular Rac1 activity, here we reveal two switchable Rac1 pools at border cell protrusions and supracellular cables, two important structures responsible for direction and coordination. Rac1 and Rho1 form a positive feedback loop that guides mechanical coupling at cables to achieve migration coordination. Rac1 cooperates with Cdc42 to control protrusion growth for migration direction, as well as to regulate the protrusion-cable exchange, linking direction and coordination. PVR and EGFR guide correct Rac1 activity distribution at protrusions and cables. Therefore, our studies emphasize the existence of a balance between two Rac1 pools, rather than a Rac1 activity gradient, as an integrator for the direction and coordination of collective cell migration.
Precise control of microtubule disassembly in living cells.
Microtubules tightly regulate various cellular activities. Our understanding of microtubules is largely based on experiments using microtubule-targeting agents, which, however, are insufficient to dissect the dynamic mechanisms of specific microtubule populations, due to their slow effects on the entire pool of microtubules. To overcome this technological limitation, we have used chemo and optogenetics to disassemble specific microtubule subtypes, including tyrosinated microtubules, primary cilia, mitotic spindles, and intercellular bridges, by rapidly recruiting engineered microtubule-cleaving enzymes onto target microtubules in a reversible manner. Using this approach, we show that acute microtubule disassembly swiftly halts vesicular trafficking and lysosomal dynamics. It also immediately triggers Golgi and ER reorganization and slows the fusion/fission of mitochondria without affecting mitochondrial membrane potential. In addition, cell rigidity is increased after microtubule disruption owing to increased contractile stress fibers. Microtubule disruption furthermore prevents cell division, but does not cause cell death during interphase. Overall, the reported tools facilitate detailed analysis of how microtubules precisely regulate cellular architecture and functions.
Spatiotemporal dynamics of membrane surface charge regulates cell polarity and migration.
During cell migration and polarization, hundreds of signal transduction and cytoskeletal components self-organize to generate localized protrusions. Although biochemical and genetic analyses have delineated many specific interactions, how the activation and localization of so many different molecules are spatiotemporally orchestrated at the subcellular level has remained unclear. Here we show that the regulation of negative surface charge on the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane plays an integrative role in the molecular interactions. Surface charge, or zeta potential, is transiently lowered at new protrusions and within cortical waves of Ras/PI3K/TORC2/F-actin network activation. Rapid alterations of inner leaflet anionic phospholipids, such as PI(4,5)P2, PI(3,4)P2, phosphatidylserine, and phosphatidic acid, collectively contribute to the surface charge changes. Abruptly reducing the surface charge by recruiting positively charged optogenetic actuators was sufficient to trigger the entire biochemical network, initiate de novo protrusions, and abrogate pre-existing polarity. These effects were blocked by genetic or pharmacological inhibitions of key signaling components such as Akt and PI3K/TORC2. Conversely, increasing the negative surface deactivated the network and locally suppressed chemoattractant-induced protrusions or subverted EGF-induced ERK activation. Computational simulations involving excitable biochemical networks demonstrated that slight changes in feedback loops, induced by recruitment of the actuators, could lead to outsized effects on system activation. We propose that key signaling network components act on, and are in turn acted upon, by surface charge, closing feedback loops which bring about the global-scale molecular self-organization required for spontaneous protrusion formation, cell migration, and polarity establishment.