Showing 1 - 25 of 42 results
High levels of Dorsal transcription factor downregulate, not promote, snail expression by regulating enhancer action.
In Drosophila embryos, genes expressed along the dorsal-ventral axis are responsive to concentration of the Dorsal (Dl) transcription factor, which varies in space; however, levels of this morphogen also build over time. Since expression of high-threshold Dl target genes such as snail (sna) is supported before Dl levels peak, it is unclear what role increasing levels have if any. Here we investigated action of two enhancers that control sna expression in embryos, demonstrating using genome editing that Dl binding sites within one enhancer located promoter proximally, sna.prox, can limit the ability of the other distally-located enhancer, sna.dis, to increase sna levels. In addition, MS2-MCP live imaging was used to study sna transcription rate in wildtype, dl heterozygote, and a background in which a photo-sensitive degron is fused to Dl (dl-BLID). The results demonstrate that, when Dl levels are high, Dl acts through sna.prox to limit the activity of sna.dis and thereby influence sna transcription rate. In contrast, when Dl levels are kept low using dl-BLID, sna.prox positively influences sna transcription rate. Collectively, our data support the view that Dl’s effect on gene expression changes over time, switching from promoting sna expression at low concentration to dampening sna expression at high concentration by regulating enhancer interactions. We propose this differential action of the Dl morphogen is likely supported by occupancy of this factor first to high and then low affinity binding sites over time as Dl levels rise to coordinate action of these two co-acting enhancers.
Physically asymmetric division of the C. elegans zygote ensures invariably successful embryogenesis.
Asymmetric divisions that yield daughter cells of different sizes are frequent during early embryogenesis, but the importance of such a physical difference for successful development remains poorly understood. Here, we investigated this question using the first division of C. elegans embryos, which yields a large AB cell and a small P1 cell. We equalized AB and P1 sizes using acute genetic inactivation or optogenetic manipulation of the spindle positioning protein LIN-5. We uncovered that only some embryos tolerated equalization, and that there was a size asymmetry threshold for viability. Cell lineage analysis of equalized embryos revealed an array of defects, including faster cell cycle progression in P1 descendants, as well as defects in cell positioning, division orientation and cell fate. Moreover, equalized embryos were more susceptible to external compression. Overall, we conclude that unequal first cleavage is essential for invariably successful embryonic development of C. elegans.
Spatiotemporal sensitivity of embryonic heart specification to FGFR signaling in Drosophila.
Development of the Drosophila embryonic mesoderm is controlled through both internal and external inputs to the mesoderm. One such factor is Heartless (Htl), a Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor (FGFR) expressed in the mesoderm. Htl is involved in shaping the mesoderm at both early and later stages during embryogenesis. How Htl expression levels and timing of signaling affect mesoderm morphogenesis after spreading remains elusive. We have developed an optogenetic tool (Opto-htl) to control the activation of Htl signaling with precise spatiotemporal resolution in vivo. We find that the embryo is most sensitive to Htl over-activation within a developmental window of ~4 hours ranging from late stage 10 until early stage 13, which corresponds to early stages of heart morphogenesis. Opto-htl restores heart cells in htl mutants upon light activation, independent of its role in early mesoderm shaping events. We also successfully generated spatially distinct regions of Htl activity in the mesoderm using light-sheet microscopy. The developing tissue was unable to correct for the ensuing asymmetries in cell fate. Overall, Opto-htl is a powerful tool for studying spatiotemporal regulation of Htl signaling during embryogenesis.
Rho1 activation recapitulates early gastrulation events in the ventral, but not dorsal, epithelium of Drosophila embryos.
Ventral furrow formation, the first step in Drosophila gastrulation, is a well-studied example of tissue morphogenesis. Rho1 is highly active in a subset of ventral cells and is required for this morphogenetic event. However, it is unclear whether spatially patterned Rho1 activity alone is sufficient to recapitulate all aspects of this morphogenetic event, including anisotropic apical constriction and coordinated cell movements. Here, using an optogenetic probe that rapidly and robustly activates Rho1 in Drosophila tissues, we show that Rho1 activity induces ectopic deformations in the dorsal and ventral epithelia of Drosophila embryos. These perturbations reveal substantial differences in how ventral and dorsal cells, both within and outside the zone of Rho1 activation, respond to spatially and temporally identical patterns of Rho1 activation. Our results demonstrate that an asymmetric zone of Rho1 activity is not sufficient to recapitulate ventral furrow formation and reveal that additional, ventral-specific factors contribute to the cell- and tissue-level behaviors that emerge during ventral furrow formation.
Optogenetic investigation of BMP target gene expression diversity.
Signaling molecules activate distinct patterns of gene expression to coordinate embryogenesis, but how spatiotemporal expression diversity is generated is an open question. In zebrafish, a BMP signaling gradient patterns the dorsal-ventral axis. We systematically identified target genes responding to BMP and found that they have diverse spatiotemporal expression patterns. Transcriptional responses to optogenetically delivered high- and low-amplitude BMP signaling pulses indicate that spatiotemporal expression is not fully defined by different BMP signaling activation thresholds. Additionally, we observed negligible correlations between spatiotemporal expression and transcription kinetics for the majority of analyzed genes in response to BMP signaling pulses. In contrast, spatial differences between BMP target genes largely collapsed when FGF and Nodal signaling were inhibited. Our results suggest that, similar to other patterning systems, combinatorial signaling is likely to be a major driver of spatial diversity in BMP-dependent gene expression in zebrafish.
Mechanical competition alters the cellular interpretation of an endogenous genetic programme.
The intrinsic genetic programme of a cell is not sufficient to explain all of the cell’s activities. External mechanical stimuli are increasingly recognized as determinants of cell behaviour. In the epithelial folding event that constitutes the beginning of gastrulation in Drosophila, the genetic programme of the future mesoderm leads to the establishment of a contractile actomyosin network that triggers apical constriction of cells, and thereby, furrow formation. However, some cells do not constrict but instead stretch, even though they share the same genetic programme as their constricting neighbours. We show here that tissue-wide interactions force these cells to expand even when an otherwise sufficient amount of apical, active actomyosin is present. Models based on contractile forces and linear stress-strain responses are not sufficient to reproduce experimental observations, but simulations in which cells behave as ductile materials with non-linear mechanical properties do. Our models show that this behaviour is a general emergent property of supracellular actomyosin networks, in accordance with our experimental observations of actin reorganisation within stretching cells.
Optogenetic Rescue of a Patterning Mutant.
Animal embryos are patterned by a handful of highly conserved inductive signals. Yet, in most cases, it is unknown which pattern features (i.e., spatial gradients or temporal dynamics) are required to support normal development. An ideal experiment to address this question would be to "paint" arbitrary synthetic signaling patterns on "blank canvas" embryos to dissect their requirements. Here, we demonstrate exactly this capability by combining optogenetic control of Ras/extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) signaling with the genetic loss of the receptor tyrosine-kinase-driven terminal signaling patterning in early Drosophila embryos. Blue-light illumination at the embryonic termini for 90 min was sufficient to rescue normal development, generating viable larvae and fertile adults from an otherwise lethal terminal signaling mutant. Optogenetic rescue was possible even using a simple, all-or-none light input that reduced the gradient of Erk activity and eliminated spatiotemporal differences in terminal gap gene expression. Systematically varying illumination parameters further revealed that at least three distinct developmental programs are triggered at different signaling thresholds and that the morphogenetic movements of gastrulation are robust to a 3-fold variation in the posterior pattern width. These results open the door to controlling tissue organization with simple optical stimuli, providing new tools to probe natural developmental processes, create synthetic tissues with defined organization, or directly correct the patterning errors that underlie developmental defects.
Requirement of Irf6 and Esrp1/2 in frontonasal and palatal epithelium to regulate craniofacial and palate morphogenesis in mouse and zebrafish.
Orofacial clefts are among the most common human congenital malformations. Irf6 and Esrp1 are two key genes important for palate development, conserved across vertebrates. In the zebrafish, we found that irf6 regulates the expression of esrp1. Using RNAscope, we detailed overlapping Irf6 and Esrp1/2 gene expression in mouse and zebrafish embryonic oral epithelium and periderm. Genetic disruption of irf6 and esrp1/2 in the zebrafish resulted in cleft of the anterior neurocranium (ANC). In the esrp1/2 zebrafish mutant, cleft of the lip formed and appeared to tether into the ANC cleft. Lineage tracing of the anterior cranial neural crest cells revealed that cleft of the ANC resulted not from migration defect, but from impaired chondrogenesis. Molecular analysis of the aberrant cells interrupting ANC fusion revealed that this cell population espresses sox10 and irf6 and is adjacent to cells expressing epithelial krt4 and mesenchymal col1a1 genes. Detailed morphogenetic analysis of mouse Irf6 mutant revealed mesenchymal defects not observed in the Esrp1/2 mutant. Analysis of breeding compound Irf6;Esrp1;Esrp2 mutant suggests that these genes interact where the triple mutant is not observed. Taken together, these studies highlight the complementary analysis of Irf6 and Esrp1/2 in mouse and zebrafish models and captured an unique aberrant embryonic cell population that contributes to cleft pathogenesis. Future work characterizing this unqiue sox10+, irf6+ cell population will yield additional insight into cleft pathogenesis.
Early But Not Delayed Optogenetic RAF Activation Promotes Astrocytogenesis in Mouse Neural Progenitors.
The RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway promotes gliogenesis but the kinetic role of RAF1, a key RAF kinase, in the induction of astrocytogenesis remains to be elucidated. To address this challenge, we determine the temporal functional outcome of RAF1 during mouse neural progenitor cell differentiation using an optogenetic RAF1 system (OptoRAF1). OptoRAF1 allows for reversible activation of the RAF/MEK/ERK pathway via plasma membrane recruitment of RAF1 based on blue light-sensitive protein dimerizer CRY2/CIB1. We found that early light-induced OptoRAF1 activation in neural progenitor cells promotes cell proliferation and increased expression of glial markers and glia-enriched genes. However, delayed OptoRAF1 activation in differentiated neural progenitor had little effect on glia marker expression, suggesting that RAF1 is required to promote astrocytogenesis only within a short time window. In addition, activation of OptoRAF1 did not have a significant effect on neurogenesis, but was able to promote neuronal neurite growth.
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.
Twist-dependent ratchet functioning downstream from Dorsal revealed using a light-inducible degron.
Graded transcription factors are pivotal regulators of embryonic patterning, but whether their role changes over time is unclear. A light-regulated protein degradation system was used to assay temporal dependence of the transcription factor Dorsal in dorsal-ventral axis patterning of Drosophila embryos. Surprisingly, the high-threshold target gene snail only requires Dorsal input early but not late when Dorsal levels peak. Instead, late snail expression can be supported by action of the Twist transcription factor, specifically, through one enhancer, sna.distal This study demonstrates that continuous input is not required for some Dorsal targets and downstream responses, such as twist, function as molecular ratchets.
A Generalizable Optogenetic Strategy to Regulate Receptor Tyrosine Kinases during Vertebrate Embryonic Development.
Ligand-independent activation of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) allows for dissecting out the receptor-specific signaling outcomes from the pleiotropic effects of the ligands. In this regard, RTK intracellular domains (ICD) are of interest due to their ability to recapitulate signaling activity in a ligand-independent manner when fused to chemical and optical dimerizing domains. A common strategy for synthetic activation of RTKs involves membrane tethering of dimerizer-RTK ICD fusions. Depending on the intrinsic signaling capacity, however, this approach could entail undesirable baseline signaling activity in the absence of stimulus, thereby diminishing the system's sensitivity. Here, we observed toxicity in early Xenopus laevis embryos when using such a conventional optogenetic design for the fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR). To surpass this challenge, we developed a cytoplasm-to-membrane translocation approach, where FGFR ICD is recruited from the cytoplasm to the plasma membrane by light, followed by its subsequent activation via homo-association. This strategy results in the optical activation of FGFR with low background activity and high sensitivity, which allows for the light-mediated formation of ectopic tail-like structure in developing Xenopus laevis embryos. We further generalized this strategy by developing optogenetic platforms to control three neurotrophic tropomyosin receptor kinases, TrkA, TrkB, and TrkC. We envision that these ligand-independent optogenetic RTKs will provide useful toolsets for the delineation of signaling sub-circuits in developing vertebrate embryos.
Application of optogenetic Amyloid-β distinguishes between metabolic and physical damage in neurodegeneration.
The brains of Alzheimer's Disease patients show a decrease in brain mass and a preponderance of extracellular Amyloid-β plaques. These plaques are formed by aggregation of polypeptides that are derived from the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP). Amyloid-β plaques are thought to play either a direct or an indirect role in disease progression, however the exact role of aggregation and plaque formation in the aetiology of Alzheimer's Disease is subject to debate as the biological effects of soluble and aggregated Amyloid-β peptides are difficult to separate in vivo. To investigate the consequences of formation of Amyloid-β oligomers in living tissues, we developed a fluorescently tagged, optogenetic Amyloid-β peptide that oligomerizes rapidly in the presence of blue light. We applied this system to the crucial question of how intracellular Amyloid-β oligomers underlie the pathologies of Alzheimer's Disease. We use Drosophila, C. elegans and D. rerio to show that, although both expression and induced oligomerization of Amyloid-β were detrimental to lifespan and healthspan, we were able to separate the metabolic and physical damage caused by light-induced Amyloid-β oligomerization from Amyloid-β expression alone. The physical damage caused by Amyloid-β oligomers also recapitulated the catastrophic tissue loss that is a hallmark of late AD. We show that the lifespan deficit induced by Amyloid-β oligomers was reduced with Li+ treatment. Our results present the first model to separate different aspects of disease progression.
Cytokinetic bridge triggers de novo lumen formation in vivo.
Multicellular rosettes are transient epithelial structures that serve as intermediates during diverse organ formation. We have identified a unique contributor to rosette formation in zebrafish Kupffer's vesicle (KV) that requires cell division, specifically the final stage of mitosis termed abscission. KV utilizes a rosette as a prerequisite before forming a lumen surrounded by ciliated epithelial cells. Our studies identify that KV-destined cells remain interconnected by cytokinetic bridges that position at the rosette's center. These bridges act as a landmark for directed Rab11 vesicle motility to deliver an essential cargo for lumen formation, CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator). Here we report that premature bridge cleavage through laser ablation or inhibiting abscission using optogenetic clustering of Rab11 result in disrupted lumen formation. We present a model in which KV mitotic cells strategically place their cytokinetic bridges at the rosette center, where Rab11-associated vesicles transport CFTR to aid in lumen establishment.
Rapid Dynamics of Signal-Dependent Transcriptional Repression by Capicua.
Optogenetic perturbations, live imaging, and time-resolved ChIP-seq assays in Drosophila embryos were used to dissect the ERK-dependent control of the HMG-box repressor Capicua (Cic), which plays critical roles in development and is deregulated in human spinocerebellar ataxia and cancers. We established that Cic target genes are activated before significant downregulation of nuclear localization of Cic and demonstrated that their activation is preceded by fast dissociation of Cic from the regulatory DNA. We discovered that both Cic-DNA binding and repression are rapidly reinstated in the absence of ERK activation, revealing that inductive signaling must be sufficiently sustained to ensure robust transcriptional response. Our work provides a quantitative framework for the mechanistic analysis of dynamics and control of transcriptional repression in development.
Cell and tissue manipulation with ultrashort infrared laser pulses in light-sheet microscopy.
Three-dimensional live imaging has become an indispensable technique in the fields of cell, developmental and neural biology. Precise spatio-temporal manipulation of biological entities is often required for a deeper functional understanding of the underlying biological process. Here we present a home-built integrated framework and optical design that combines three-dimensional light-sheet imaging over time with precise spatio-temporal optical manipulations induced by short infrared laser pulses. We demonstrate their potential for sub-cellular ablation of neurons and nuclei, tissue cauterization and optogenetics by using the Drosophila melanogaster and zebrafish model systems.
Optical activation of TrkB receptors.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), via activation of tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB), plays a critical role in neuronal proliferation, differentiation, survival, and death. Dysregulation of TrkB signaling is implicated in neurodegenerative disorders and cancers. Precise activation of TrkB receptors with spatial and temporal resolution is greatly desired to study the dynamic nature of TrkB signaling and its role in related diseases. Here we develop different optogenetic approaches that use light to activate TrkB receptors. Utilizing the photosensitive protein Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 (CRY2), the light-inducible homo-interaction of the intracellular domain of TrkB (iTrkB) in the cytosol or on the plasma membrane is able to induce the activation of downstream MAPK/ERK and PI3K/Akt signaling as well as the neurite outgrowth of PC12 cells. Moreover, we prove that such strategies are generalizable to other optical homo-dimerizers by demonstrating the optical TrkB activation based on the light-oxygen-voltage domain of aureochrome 1 from Vaucheria frigida. The results open up new possibilities of many other optical platforms to activate TrkB receptors to fulfill customized needs. By comparing all the different strategies, we find that the CRY2-integrated approach to achieve light-induced cell membrane recruitment and homo-interaction of iTrkB is most efficient in activating TrkB receptors. The optogenetic strategies presented are promising tools to investigate BDNF/TrkB signaling with tight spatial and temporal control.
Reversible Optogenetic Control of Growth Factor Signaling During Cell Differentiation and Vertebrate Embryonic Development.
To decipher the kinetic regulation of growth factor signaling outcomes, I will introduce our recently developed non-neuronal optogenetic strategies that enable reversible control of growth factor signaling during cell differentiation and embryonic development.
Signaling Dynamics Control Cell Fate in the Early Drosophila Embryo.
The Erk mitogen-activated protein kinase plays diverse roles in animal development. Its widespread reuse raises a conundrum: when a single kinase like Erk is activated, how does a developing cell know which fate to adopt? We combine optogenetic control with genetic perturbations to dissect Erk-dependent fates in the early Drosophila embryo. We find that Erk activity is sufficient to "posteriorize" 88% of the embryo, inducing gut endoderm-like gene expression and morphogenetic movements in all cells within this region. Gut endoderm fate adoption requires at least 1 h of signaling, whereas a 30-min Erk pulse specifies a distinct ectodermal cell type, intermediate neuroblasts. We find that the endoderm-ectoderm cell fate switch is controlled by the cumulative load of Erk activity, not the duration of a single pulse. The fly embryo thus harbors a classic example of dynamic control, where the temporal profile of Erk signaling selects between distinct physiological outcomes.
Downregulation of basal myosin-II is required for cell shape changes and tissue invagination.
Tissue invagination drives embryo remodeling and assembly of internal organs during animal development. While the role of actomyosin-mediated apical constriction in initiating inward folding is well established, computational models suggest relaxation of the basal surface as an additional requirement. However, the lack of genetic mutations interfering specifically with basal relaxation has made it difficult to test its requirement during invagination so far. Here we use optogenetics to quantitatively control myosin-II levels at the basal surface of invaginating cells during Drosophila gastrulation. We show that while basal myosin-II is lost progressively during ventral furrow formation, optogenetics allows the maintenance of pre-invagination levels over time. Quantitative imaging demonstrates that optogenetic activation prior to tissue bending slows down cell elongation and blocks invagination. Activation after cell elongation and tissue bending has initiated inhibits cell shortening and folding of the furrow into a tube-like structure. Collectively, these data demonstrate the requirement of myosin-II polarization and basal relaxation throughout the entire invagination process.
An Optogenetic approach to control protein localization during embryogenesis of the sea urchin.
Light inducible protein-protein interactions have been used to manipulate protein localization and function in the cell with utmost spatial and temporal precision. In this technical report, we use a recently developed optogenetic approach to manipulate protein localization in the developing sea urchin embryo. A photosensitive LOV domain from Avena sativa phototropin1 cages a small peptide that binds the engineered PDZ domain (ePDZ) upon blue light irradiation. Using this system, mCherry tagged proteins fused with the LOV domain were recruited to ectopic sub-cellular regions such as the membrane, microtubules, or actin by GFP tagged proteins fused with the ePDZ domain upon blue light irradiation within 1~3 minutes in the sea urchin embryo. The efficiency and speed of recruitment of each protein to its respective subcellular region appeared to be dependent on the power and duration of laser irradiation, as well as the respective level of affinity to the tagged location. Controlled laser irradiation allowed partial recruitment of the spindle to the membrane, and resulted in cell blebbing. Vasa, a cell cycle and germline factor that localizes on the spindle and enriches in the micromeres at 8-16 cell stage was recruited to ectopic sites, preventing normal enrichment. Continuous blue light activation with a regular blue aquarium light over two days of culture successfully induced LOV-ePDZ binding in the developing embryos, resulting in continued ectopic recruitment of Vasa and failure in gastrulation at Day 2. Although some cytotoxicity was observed with prolonged blue light irradiation, this optogenetic system provides a promising approach to test the sub-cellular activities of developmental factors, as well as to alter protein localization and development during embryogenesis.
Guided morphogenesis through optogenetic activation of Rho signalling during early Drosophila embryogenesis.
During organismal development, cells undergo complex changes in shape whose causal relationship to individual morphogenetic processes remains unclear. The modular nature of such processes suggests that it should be possible to isolate individual modules, determine the minimum set of requirements sufficient to drive tissue remodeling, and re-construct morphogenesis. Here we use optogenetics to reconstitute epithelial folding in embryonic Drosophila tissues that otherwise would not undergo invagination. We show that precise spatial and temporal activation of Rho signaling is sufficient to trigger apical constriction and tissue folding. Induced furrows can occur at any position along the dorsal-ventral or anterior-posterior embryo axis in response to the spatial pattern and level of optogenetic activation. Thus, epithelial folding is a direct function of the spatio-temporal organization and strength of Rho signaling that on its own is sufficient to drive tissue internalization independently of any pre-determined condition or differentiation program associated with endogenous invagination processes.
Light-dependent cytoplasmic recruitment enhances the dynamic range of a nuclear import photoswitch.
Cellular signal transduction is often regulated at multiple steps in order to achieve more complex logic or precise control of a pathway. For instance, some signaling mechanisms couple allosteric activation with localization to achieve high signal to noise. Here, we create a system for light activated nuclear import that incorporates two levels of control. It consists of a nuclear import photoswitch, Light Activated Nuclear Shuttle (LANS), and a protein engineered to preferentially interact with LANS in the dark, Zdk2. First, Zdk2 is tethered to a location in the cytoplasm, which sequesters LANS in the dark. Second, LANS incorporates a nuclear localization signal (NLS) that is sterically blocked from binding to the nuclear import machinery in the dark. When activated with light, LANS both dissociates from its tethered location and exposes its NLS, which leads to nuclear accumulation. We demonstrate that this coupled system improves the dynamic range of LANS in mammalian cells, yeast, and C. elegans and provides tighter control of transcription factors that have been fused to LANS.
Coupling optogenetics and light-sheet microscopy, a method to study Wnt signaling during embryogenesis.
Optogenetics allows precise, fast and reversible intervention in biological processes. Light-sheet microscopy allows observation of the full course of Drosophila embryonic development from egg to larva. Bringing the two approaches together allows unparalleled precision into the temporal regulation of signaling pathways and cellular processes in vivo. To develop this method, we investigated the regulation of canonical Wnt signaling during anterior-posterior patterning of the Drosophila embryonic epidermis. Cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) from Arabidopsis Thaliana was fused to mCherry fluorescent protein and Drosophila β-catenin to form an easy to visualize optogenetic switch. Blue light illumination caused oligomerization of the fusion protein and inhibited downstream Wnt signaling in vitro and in vivo. Temporal inactivation of β-catenin confirmed that Wnt signaling is required not only for Drosophila pattern formation, but also for maintenance later in development. We anticipate that this method will be easily extendable to other developmental signaling pathways and many other experimental systems.
Modulation of cyclic nucleotide-mediated cellular signaling and gene expression using photoactivated adenylyl cyclase as an optogenetic tool.
Cyclic nucleotide signaling pathway plays a significant role in various biological processes such as cell growth, transcription, inflammation, in microbial pathogenesis, etc. Modulation of cyclic nucleotide levels by optogenetic tools has overcome certain limitations of studying transduction cascade by pharmacological agents and has allowed several ways to modulate biological processes in a spatiotemporal manner. Here, we have shown the optogenetic modulation of the cyclooxygenase 2 (Cox-2) gene expression and their downstream effector molecule (PGE2) in HEK-293T cells and the development process of Dictyostelium discoideum via modulating the cyclic nucleotide (cAMP) signaling pathway utilizing photoactivated adenylyl cyclases (PACs) as an optogenetic tool. Light-induced activation of PACs in HEK-293T cells increases the cAMP level that leads to activation of cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) transcription factor and further upregulates downstream Cox-2 gene expression and their downstream effector molecule prostaglandin E2. In D. discoideum, the light-regulated increase in cAMP level affects the starvation-induced developmental process. These PACs could modulate the cAMP levels in a light-dependent manner and have a potential to control gene expression and their downstream effector molecules with varying magnitude. It would enable one to utilize PAC as a tool to decipher cyclic nucleotide mediated signaling pathway regulations and their mechanism.