Curated Optogenetic Publication Database

Search precisely and efficiently by using the advantage of the hand-assigned publication tags that allow you to search for papers involving a specific trait, e.g. a particular optogenetic switch or a host organism.

Showing 1 - 25 of 30 results

Optogenetic Control of Myocardin‐Related Transcription Factor A Subcellular Localization and Transcriptional Activity Steers Membrane Blebbing and Invasive Cancer Cell Motility.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293 HeLa NIH/3T3 Endogenous gene expression
Adv Biol, 8 Feb 2021 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.202000208 Link to full text
Abstract: The myocardin‐related transcription factor A (MRTF‐A) controls the transcriptional activity of the serum response factor (SRF) in a tightly controlled actin‐dependent manner. In turn, MRTF‐A is crucial for many actin‐dependent processes including adhesion, migration, and contractility and has emerged as novel targets for anti‐tumor strategies. MRTF‐A rapidly shuttles between cytoplasmic and nuclear compartment via dynamic actin interactions within its N‐terminal RPEL domain. Here, optogenetics is used to spatiotemporally control MRTF‐A nuclear localization by blue light using the light‐oxygen‐voltage‐sensing domain 2‐domain based system LEXY (light‐inducible nuclear export system). It is found that light‐regulated nuclear export of MRTF‐A occurs within 10–20 min. Importantly, MRTF‐A‐LEXY shuttling is independent of perturbations of actin dynamics. Furthermore, light‐regulation of MRTF‐A‐LEXY is reversible and repeatable for several cycles of illumination and its subcellular localization correlates with SRF transcriptional activity. As a consequence, optogenetic control of MRTF‐A subcellular localization determines subsequent cytoskeletal dynamics such as non‐apoptotic plasma membrane blebbing as well as invasive tumor‐cell migration through 3D collagen matrix. This data demonstrate robust optogenetic regulation of MRTF as a powerful tool to control SRF‐dependent transcription as well as cell motile behavior.

Optical regulation of endogenous RhoA reveals switching of cellular responses by signal amplitude.

blue cyan CRY2/CIB1 Dronpa145K/N pdDronpa1 TULIP HEK293A rat hippocampal neurons U-87 MG Endogenous gene expression
bioRxiv, 7 Feb 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.05.430013 Link to full text
Abstract: Precise control of the timing and amplitude of protein activity in living cells can explain how cells compute responses to complex biochemical stimuli. The small GTPase RhoA can promote either focal adhesion (FA) growth or cell edge retraction, but how a cell chooses between these opposite outcomes is poorly understood. Here, we developed a photoswitchable RhoA guanine exchange factor (psRhoGEF) to obtain precise optical control of endogenous RhoA activity. We find that low levels of RhoA activation by psRhoGEF induces edge retraction and FA disassembly, while high levels of RhoA activation induces both FA growth and disassembly. We observed that mDia-induced Src activation at FAs occurs preferentially at lower levels of RhoA activation. Strikingly, inhibition of Src causes a switch from FA disassembly to growth. Thus, rheostatic control of RhoA activation reveals how cells use signal amplitude and biochemical context to select between alternative responses to a single biochemical signal.

Design and Characterization of Rapid Optogenetic Circuits for Dynamic Control in Yeast Metabolic Engineering.

blue EL222 S. cerevisiae Transgene expression Endogenous gene expression
ACS Synth Biol, 24 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.0c00305 Link to full text
Abstract: The use of optogenetics in metabolic engineering for light-controlled microbial chemical production raises the prospect of utilizing control and optimization techniques routinely deployed in traditional chemical manufacturing. However, such mechanisms require well-characterized, customizable tools that respond fast enough to be used as real-time inputs during fermentations. Here, we present OptoINVRT7, a new rapid optogenetic inverter circuit to control gene expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The circuit induces gene expression in only 0.6 h after switching cells from light to darkness, which is at least 6 times faster than previous OptoINVRT optogenetic circuits used for chemical production. In addition, we introduce an engineered inducible GAL1 promoter (PGAL1-S), which is stronger than any constitutive or inducible promoter commonly used in yeast. Combining OptoINVRT7 with PGAL1-S achieves strong and light-tunable levels of gene expression with as much as 132.9 ± 22.6-fold induction in darkness. The high performance of this new optogenetic circuit in controlling metabolic enzymes boosts production of lactic acid and isobutanol by more than 50% and 15%, respectively. The strength and controllability of OptoINVRT7 and PGAL1-S open the door to applying process control tools to engineered metabolisms to improve robustness and yields in microbial fermentations for chemical production.

Optogenetic investigation of BMP target gene expression diversity.

blue VfAU1-LOV zebrafish in vivo Endogenous gene expression Developmental processes
Elife, 11 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.7554/elife.58641 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Nucleated transcriptional condensates amplify gene expression.

blue CRY2olig NIH/3T3 Endogenous gene expression Organelle manipulation
Nat Cell Biol, 14 Sep 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41556-020-00578-6 Link to full text
Abstract: Membraneless organelles or condensates form through liquid-liquid phase separation1-4, which is thought to underlie gene transcription through condensation of the large-scale nucleolus5-7 or in smaller assemblies known as transcriptional condensates8-11. Transcriptional condensates have been hypothesized to phase separate at particular genomic loci and locally promote the biomolecular interactions underlying gene expression. However, there have been few quantitative biophysical tests of this model in living cells, and phase separation has not yet been directly linked with dynamic transcriptional outputs12,13. Here, we apply an optogenetic approach to show that FET-family transcriptional regulators exhibit a strong tendency to phase separate within living cells, a process that can drive localized RNA transcription. We find that TAF15 has a unique charge distribution among the FET family members that enhances its interactions with the C-terminal domain of RNA polymerase II. Nascent C-terminal domain clusters at primed genomic loci lower the energetic barrier for nucleation of TAF15 condensates, which in turn further recruit RNA polymerase II to drive transcriptional output. These results suggest that positive feedback between interacting transcriptional components drives localized phase separation to amplify gene expression.

Optogenetic control of the lac operon for bacterial chemical and protein production.

blue YtvA E. coli Transgene expression Endogenous gene expression
Nat Chem Biol, 7 Sep 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41589-020-0639-1 Link to full text
Abstract: Control of the lac operon with isopropyl β-D-1-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG) has been used to regulate gene expression in Escherichia coli for countless applications, including metabolic engineering and recombinant protein production. However, optogenetics offers unique capabilities, such as easy tunability, reversibility, dynamic induction strength and spatial control, that are difficult to obtain with chemical inducers. We have developed a series of circuits for optogenetic regulation of the lac operon, which we call OptoLAC, to control gene expression from various IPTG-inducible promoters using only blue light. Applying them to metabolic engineering improves mevalonate and isobutanol production by 24% and 27% respectively, compared to IPTG induction, in light-controlled fermentations scalable to at least two-litre bioreactors. Furthermore, OptoLAC circuits enable control of recombinant protein production, reaching yields comparable to IPTG induction but with easier tunability of expression. OptoLAC circuits are potentially useful to confer light control over other cell functions originally designed to be IPTG-inducible.

Light-powered Escherichia coli cell division for chemical production.

blue red BphS EL222 E. coli Cell cycle control Endogenous gene expression Immediate control of second messengers Multichromatic
Nat Commun, 8 May 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-16154-3 Link to full text
Abstract: Cell division can perturb the metabolic performance of industrial microbes. The C period of cell division starts from the initiation to the termination of DNA replication, whereas the D period is the bacterial division process. Here, we first shorten the C and D periods of E. coli by controlling the expression of the ribonucleotide reductase NrdAB and division proteins FtsZA through blue light and near-infrared light activation, respectively. It increases the specific surface area to 3.7 μm-1 and acetoin titer to 67.2 g·L-1. Next, we prolong the C and D periods of E. coli by regulating the expression of the ribonucleotide reductase NrdA and division protein inhibitor SulA through blue light activation-repression and near-infrared (NIR) light activation, respectively. It improves the cell volume to 52.6 μm3 and poly(lactate-co-3-hydroxybutyrate) titer to 14.31 g·L-1. Thus, the optogenetic-based cell division regulation strategy can improve the efficiency of microbial cell factories.

Blue Light-Directed Cell Migration, Aggregation, and Patterning.

blue EL222 E. coli Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Endogenous gene expression
J Mol Biol, 2 Apr 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2020.03.029 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Rapid Dynamics of Signal-Dependent Transcriptional Repression by Capicua.

blue iLID D. melanogaster in vivo Endogenous gene expression Developmental processes
Dev Cell, 26 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2020.02.004 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Engineering light-controllable CAR T cells for cancer immunotherapy.

blue AsLOV2 CRY2/CIB1 HEK293T human T cells Jurkat mouse in vivo Endogenous gene expression
Sci Adv, 19 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay9209 Link to full text
Abstract: T cells engineered to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) can recognize and engage with target cancer cells with redirected specificity for cancer immunotherapy. However, there is a lack of ideal CARs for solid tumor antigens, which may lead to severe adverse effects. Here, we developed a light-inducible nuclear translocation and dimerization (LINTAD) system for gene regulation to control CAR T activation. We first demonstrated light-controllable gene expression and functional modulation in human embryonic kidney 293T and Jurkat T cell lines. We then improved the LINTAD system to achieve optimal efficiency in primary human T cells. The results showed that pulsed light stimulations can activate LINTAD CAR T cells with strong cytotoxicity against target cancer cells, both in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, our LINTAD system can serve as an efficient tool to noninvasively control gene activation and activate inducible CAR T cells for precision cancer immunotherapy.

Optogenetic control of mRNA localization and translation in live cells.

blue CRY2/CIB1 HeLa NIH/3T3 rat hippocampal neurons Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Endogenous gene expression
Nat Cell Biol, 17 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41556-020-0468-1 Link to full text
Abstract: Despite efforts to visualize the spatio-temporal dynamics of single messenger RNAs, the ability to precisely control their function has lagged. This study presents an optogenetic approach for manipulating the localization and translation of specific mRNAs by trapping them in clusters. This clustering greatly amplified reporter signals, enabling endogenous RNA-protein interactions to be clearly visualized in single cells. Functionally, this sequestration reduced the ability of mRNAs to access ribosomes, markedly attenuating protein synthesis. A spatio-temporally resolved analysis indicated that sequestration of endogenous β-actin mRNA attenuated cell motility through the regulation of focal-adhesion dynamics. These results suggest a mechanism highlighting the indispensable role of newly synthesized β-actin protein for efficient cell migration. This platform may be broadly applicable for use in investigating the spatio-temporal activities of specific mRNAs in various biological processes.

A time-dependent role for the transcription factor CREB in neuronal allocation to an engram underlying a fear memory revealed using a novel in vivo optogenetic tool to modulate CREB function.

blue PYP HEK293T mouse in vivo primary mouse hippocampal neurons Endogenous gene expression
Neuropsychopharmacology, 14 Dec 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41386-019-0588-0 Link to full text
Abstract: The internal representation of an experience is thought to be encoded by long-lasting physical changes to the brain ("engrams") (Josselyn et al. Nat Rev Neurosci 16:521-534, 2015; Josselyn et al. J Neurosci 37:4647-4657, 2017; Schacter. 2001; Tonegawa et al. Neuron 87:918-931, 2015). Previously, we (Han et al. Science 316:457-460, 2007) and others (Zhou et al. Nat Neurosci 12:1438-1443, 2009) showed within the lateral amygdala (LA), a region critical for auditory conditioned fear, eligible neurons compete against one other for allocation to an engram. Neurons with relatively higher function of the transcription factor CREB were more likely to be allocated to the engram. In these studies, though, CREB function was artificially increased for several days before training. Precisely when increased CREB function is important for allocation remains an unanswered question. Here, we took advantage of a novel optogenetic tool (opto-DN-CREB) (Ali et al. Chem Biol 22:1531-1539, 2015) to gain spatial and temporal control of CREB function in freely behaving mice. We found increasing CREB function in a small, random population of LA principal neurons in the minutes-hours, but not 24 h, before training was sufficient to enhance memory, likely because these neurons were preferentially allocated to the underlying engram. However, similarly increasing CREB activity in a small population of random LA neurons immediately after training disrupted subsequent memory retrieval, likely by disrupting the precise spatial and temporal patterns of offline post-training neuronal activity and/or function required for consolidation. These findings reveal the importance of the timing of CREB activity in regulating allocation and subsequent memory retrieval, and further, highlight the potential of optogenetic approaches to control protein function with temporal specificity in behaving animals.

Directed evolution improves the catalytic efficiency of TEV protease.

blue AsLOV2 CRY2/CIB1 HEK293T rat cortical neurons S. cerevisiae Endogenous gene expression
Nat Methods, 9 Dec 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41592-019-0665-7 Link to full text
Abstract: Tobacco etch virus protease (TEV) is one of the most widely used proteases in biotechnology because of its exquisite sequence specificity. A limitation, however, is its slow catalytic rate. We developed a generalizable yeast-based platform for directed evolution of protease catalytic properties. Protease activity is read out via proteolytic release of a membrane-anchored transcription factor, and we temporally regulate access to TEV's cleavage substrate using a photosensory LOV domain. By gradually decreasing light exposure time, we enriched faster variants of TEV over multiple rounds of selection. Our TEV-S153N mutant (uTEV1Δ), when incorporated into the calcium integrator FLARE, improved the signal/background ratio by 27-fold, and enabled recording of neuronal activity in culture with 60-s temporal resolution. Given the widespread use of TEV in biotechnology, both our evolved TEV mutants and the directed-evolution platform used to generate them could be beneficial across a wide range of applications.

LADL: light-activated dynamic looping for endogenous gene expression control.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CRY2olig mESCs Epigenetic modification Endogenous gene expression
Nat Methods, 24 Jun 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41592-019-0436-5 Link to full text
Abstract: Mammalian genomes are folded into tens of thousands of long-range looping interactions. The cause-and-effect relationship between looping and genome function is poorly understood, and the extent to which loops are dynamic on short time scales remains an unanswered question. Here, we engineer a new class of synthetic architectural proteins for directed rearrangement of the three-dimensional genome using blue light. We target our light-activated-dynamic-looping (LADL) system to two genomic anchors with CRISPR guide RNAs and induce their spatial colocalization via light-induced heterodimerization of cryptochrome 2 and a dCas9-CIBN fusion protein. We apply LADL to redirect a stretch enhancer (SE) away from its endogenous Klf4 target gene and to the Zfp462 promoter. Using single-molecule RNA-FISH, we demonstrate that de novo formation of the Zfp462-SE loop correlates with a modest increase in Zfp462 expression. LADL facilitates colocalization of genomic loci without exogenous chemical cofactors and will enable future efforts to engineer reversible and oscillatory loops on short time scales.

Engineering Optogenetic Control of Endogenous p53 Protein Levels.

blue AsLOV2 HCT116 Endogenous gene expression
Appl Sci, 21 May 2019 DOI: 10.3390/app9102095 Link to full text
Abstract: The transcription factor p53 is a stress sensor that turns specific sets of genes on to allow the cell to respond to the stress depending on its severity and type. p53 is classified as tumor suppressor because its function is to maintain genome integrity promoting cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, or senescence to avoid proliferation of cells with damaged DNA. While in many human cancers the p53 gene is itself mutated, there are some in which the dysfunction of the p53 pathway is caused by the overexpression of negative regulators of p53, such as Mdm2, that keep it at low levels at all times. Here we develop an optogenetic approach to control endogenous p53 levels with blue light. Specifically, we control the nuclear localization of the Mmd2-binding PMI peptide using the light-inducible export system LEXY. In the dark, the PMI-LEXY fusion is nuclear and binds to Mdm2, consenting to p53 to accumulate and transcribe the target gene p21. Blue light exposure leads to the export of the PMI-LEXY fusion into the cytosol, thereby Mdm2 is able to degrade p53 as in the absence of the peptide. This approach may be useful to study the effect of localized p53 activation within a tissue or organ.

Continued Activity of the Pioneer Factor Zelda Is Required to Drive Zygotic Genome Activation.

blue CRY2/CRY2 D. melanogaster in vivo Endogenous gene expression
Mol Cell, 9 Feb 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2019.01.014 Link to full text
Abstract: Reprogramming cell fate during the first stages of embryogenesis requires that transcriptional activators gain access to the genome and remodel the zygotic transcriptome. Nonetheless, it is not clear whether the continued activity of these pioneering factors is required throughout zygotic genome activation or whether they are only required early to establish cis-regulatory regions. To address this question, we developed an optogenetic strategy to rapidly and reversibly inactivate the master regulator of genome activation in Drosophila, Zelda. Using this strategy, we demonstrate that continued Zelda activity is required throughout genome activation. We show that Zelda binds DNA in the context of nucleosomes and suggest that this allows Zelda to occupy the genome despite the rapid division cycles in the early embryo. These data identify a powerful strategy to inactivate transcription factor function during development and suggest that reprogramming in the embryo may require specific, continuous pioneering functions to activate the genome.

Enhanced intrinsic CYP3A4 activity in human hepatic C3A cells with optically controlled CRISPR/dCas9 activator complex.

blue CRY2/CIB1 C3A Endogenous gene expression
Integr Biol (Camb), 6 Dec 2018 DOI: 10.1039/c8ib00109j Link to full text
Abstract: Human hepatic C3A cells have been applied in bioartificial liver development, although these cells display low intrinsic cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) enzyme activity. We aimed to enhance CYP3A4 enzyme activity of C3A cells utilizing CRISPR gene editing technology. We designed two CYP3A4 expression enhanced systems applying clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) gene technology: a CRISPR-on activation system including dCas9-VP64-GFP and two U6-sgRNA-mCherry elements, and a light-controlled CRISPR-on activation system combining our CRISPR-on activation system with an optical control system to facilitate regulation of CYP3A4 expression for various applications. Results of enzymatic activity assays displayed increased CYP3A4 activity in C3A cells expressing the CRISPR-on activation system compared with C3A cells. In addition, CYP3A4 activity increased in C3A cells expressing the light-controlled CRISPR-on activation system under blue light radiation compared with C3A cells. Notably, there was no statistical difference in the increase of CYP3A4 protein amounts induced by these two methods. After expansion in culture, C3A cells with the light-controlled CRISPR-on activation system exhibited no statistical difference in CYP3A4 mRNA levels between generations. Our findings provide a method to stably enhance functional gene expression in bioartificial liver cells with the potential for large-scale cell expansion.

Engineered anti-CRISPR proteins for optogenetic control of CRISPR-Cas9.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293T U-2 OS Epigenetic modification Endogenous gene expression Nucleic acid editing
Nat Methods, 30 Oct 2018 DOI: 10.1038/s41592-018-0178-9 Link to full text
Abstract: Anti-CRISPR proteins are powerful tools for CRISPR-Cas9 regulation; the ability to precisely modulate their activity could facilitate spatiotemporally confined genome perturbations and uncover fundamental aspects of CRISPR biology. We engineered optogenetic anti-CRISPR variants comprising hybrids of AcrIIA4, a potent Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 inhibitor, and the LOV2 photosensor from Avena sativa. Coexpression of these proteins with CRISPR-Cas9 effectors enabled light-mediated genome and epigenome editing, and revealed rapid Cas9 genome targeting in human cells.

Synthetic far-red light-mediated CRISPR-dCas9 device for inducing functional neuronal differentiation.

blue red BphS CRY2/CIB1 HEK293 mouse in vivo Cell differentiation Endogenous gene expression Immediate control of second messengers
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2 Jul 2018 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1802448115 Link to full text
Abstract: The ability to control the activity of CRISPR-dCas9 with precise spatiotemporal resolution will enable tight genome regulation of user-defined endogenous genes for studying the dynamics of transcriptional regulation. Optogenetic devices with minimal phototoxicity and the capacity for deep tissue penetration are extremely useful for precise spatiotemporal control of cellular behavior and for future clinic translational research. Therefore, capitalizing on synthetic biology and optogenetic design principles, we engineered a far-red light (FRL)-activated CRISPR-dCas9 effector (FACE) device that induces transcription of exogenous or endogenous genes in the presence of FRL stimulation. This versatile system provides a robust and convenient method for precise spatiotemporal control of endogenous gene expression and also has been demonstrated to mediate targeted epigenetic modulation, which can be utilized to efficiently promote differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells into functional neurons by up-regulating a single neural transcription factor, NEUROG2 This FACE system might facilitate genetic/epigenetic reprogramming in basic biological research and regenerative medicine for future biomedical applications.

Rewiring Calcium Signaling for Precise Transcriptional Reprogramming.

blue AsLOV2 LOVTRAP HEK293T HeLa Endogenous gene expression Immediate control of second messengers
ACS Synth Biol, 6 Mar 2018 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.7b00467 Link to full text
Abstract: Tools capable of modulating gene expression in living organisms are very useful for interrogating the gene regulatory network and controlling biological processes. The catalytically inactive CRISPR/Cas9 (dCas9), when fused with repressive or activating effectors, functions as a versatile platform to reprogram gene transcription at targeted genomic loci. However, without temporal control, the application of these reprogramming tools will likely cause off-target effects and lack strict reversibility. To overcome this limitation, we report herein the development of a chemical or light-inducible transcriptional reprogramming device that combines photoswitchable genetically encoded calcium actuators with dCas9 to control gene expression. By fusing an engineered Ca2+-responsive NFAT fragment with dCas9 and transcriptional coactivators, we harness the power of light to achieve photoinducible transcriptional reprogramming in mammalian cells. This synthetic system (designated CaRROT) can also be used to document calcium-dependent activity in mammals after exposure to ligands or chemicals that would elicit calcium response inside cells.

Generation of Optogenetically Modified Adenovirus Vector for Spatiotemporally Controllable Gene Therapy.

blue CRY2/CIB1 mouse in vivo PC-3 Endogenous gene expression
ACS Chem Biol, 12 Jan 2018 DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.7b01058 Link to full text
Abstract: Gene therapy is expected to be utilized for the treatment of various diseases. However, the spatiotemporal resolution of current gene therapy technology is not high enough. In this study, we generated a new technology for spatiotemporally controllable gene therapy. We introduced optogenetic and CRISPR/Cas9 techniques into a recombinant adenovirus (Ad) vector, which is widely used in clinical trials and exhibits high gene transfer efficiency, to generate an illumination-dependent spatiotemporally controllable gene regulation system (designated the Opt/Cas-Ad system). We generated an Opt/Cas-Ad system that could regulate a potential tumor suppressor gene, and we examined the effectiveness of this system in cancer treatment using a xenograft tumor model. With the Opt/Cas-Ad system, highly selective tumor treatment could be performed by illuminating the tumor. In addition, Opt/Cas-Ad system-mediated tumor treatment could be stopped simply by turning off the light. We believe that our Opt/Cas-Ad system can enhance both the safety and effectiveness of gene therapy.

Modulation of cyclic nucleotide-mediated cellular signaling and gene expression using photoactivated adenylyl cyclase as an optogenetic tool.

blue bPAC (BlaC) NgPAC D. discoideum HEK293T Endogenous gene expression Developmental processes Immediate control of second messengers
Sci Rep, 21 Sep 2017 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-12162-4 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

CRISPR-Cas9-based photoactivatable transcription systems to induce neuronal differentiation.

blue CRY2/CIB1 Magnets HEK293T HeLa human fetal fibroblasts human IPSCs Cell differentiation Endogenous gene expression
Nat Methods, 11 Sep 2017 DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.4430 Link to full text
Abstract: Our improved CRISPR-Cas9-based photoactivatable transcription systems, CPTS2.0 and Split-CPTS2.0, enable high blue-light-inducible activation of endogenous target genes in various human cell lines. We achieved reversible activation of target genes with CPTS2.0 and induced neuronal differentiation in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by upregulating NEUROD1 with Split-CPTS2.0.

Decoding temporal interpretation of the morphogen Bicoid in the early Drosophila embryo.

blue CRY2/CRY2 D. melanogaster in vivo Endogenous gene expression Developmental processes
Elife, 10 Jul 2017 DOI: 10.7554/elife.26258 Link to full text
Abstract: Morphogen gradients provide essential spatial information during development. Not only the local concentration but also duration of morphogen exposure is critical for correct cell fate decisions. Yet, how and when cells temporally integrate signals from a morphogen remains unclear. Here, we use optogenetic manipulation to switch off Bicoid-dependent transcription in the early Drosophila embryo with high temporal resolution, allowing time-specific and reversible manipulation of morphogen signalling. We find that Bicoid transcriptional activity is dispensable for embryonic viability in the first hour after fertilization, but persistently required throughout the rest of the blastoderm stage. Short interruptions of Bicoid activity alter the most anterior cell fate decisions, while prolonged inactivation expands patterning defects from anterior to posterior. Such anterior susceptibility correlates with high reliance of anterior gap gene expression on Bicoid. Therefore, cell fates exposed to higher Bicoid concentration require input for longer duration, demonstrating a previously unknown aspect of Bicoid decoding.

Optogenetic control of nuclear protein export.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293T HeLa Hepa1-6 Endogenous gene expression
Nat Commun, 8 Feb 2016 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10624 Link to full text
Abstract: Active nucleocytoplasmic transport is a key mechanism underlying protein regulation in eukaryotes. While nuclear protein import can be controlled in space and time with a portfolio of optogenetic tools, protein export has not been tackled so far. Here we present a light-inducible nuclear export system (LEXY) based on a single, genetically encoded tag, which enables precise spatiotemporal control over the export of tagged proteins. A constitutively nuclear, chromatin-anchored LEXY variant expands the method towards light inhibition of endogenous protein export by sequestering cellular CRM1 receptors. We showcase the utility of LEXY for cell biology applications by regulating a synthetic repressor as well as human p53 transcriptional activity with light. LEXY is a powerful addition to the optogenetic toolbox, allowing various novel applications in synthetic and cell biology.
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