Showing 51 - 72 of 72 results
Cyclic Stiffness Modulation of Cell‐Laden Protein–Polymer Hydrogels in Response to User‐Specified Stimuli Including Light.
Although mechanical signals presented by the extracellular matrix are known to regulate many essential cell functions, the specific effects of these interactions, particularly in response to dynamic and heterogeneous cues, remain largely unknown. Here, a modular semisynthetic approach is introduced to create protein–polymer hydrogel biomaterials that undergo reversible stiffening in response to user‐specified inputs. Employing a novel dual‐chemoenzymatic modification strategy, fusion protein‐based gel crosslinkers are created that exhibit stimuli‐dependent intramolecular association. Linkers based on calmodulin yield calcium‐sensitive materials, while those containing the photosensitive light, oxygen, and voltage sensing domain 2 (LOV2) protein give phototunable constructs whose moduli can be cycled on demand with spatiotemporal control about living cells. These unique materials are exploited to demonstrate the significant role that cyclic mechanical loading plays on fibroblast‐to‐myofibroblast transdifferentiation in 3D space. The moduli‐switchable materials should prove useful for studies in mechanobiology, providing new avenues to probe and direct matrix‐driven changes in 4D cell physiology.
Light-Induced Printing of Protein Structures on Membranes in Vitro.
Reconstituting functional modules of biological systems in vitro is an important yet challenging goal of bottom-up synthetic biology, in particular with respect to their precise spatiotemporal regulation. One of the most desirable external control parameters for the engineering of biological systems is visible light, owing to its specificity and ease of defined application in space and time. Here we engineered the PhyB-PIF6 system to spatiotemporally target proteins by light onto model membranes and thus sequentially guide protein pattern formation and structural assembly in vitro from the bottom up. We show that complex micrometer-sized protein patterns can be printed on time scales of seconds, and the pattern density can be precisely controlled by protein concentration, laser power, and activation time. Moreover, when printing self-assembling proteins such as the bacterial cytoskeleton protein FtsZ, the targeted assembly into filaments and large-scale structures such as artificial rings can be accomplished. Thus, light mediated sequential protein assembly in cell-free systems represents a promising approach to hierarchically building up the next level of complexity toward a minimal cell.
Reversible hydrogels with tunable mechanical properties for optically controlling cell migration.
Synthetic hydrogels are widely used as biomimetic in vitro model systems to understand how cells respond to complex microenvironments. The mechanical properties of hydrogels are deterministic for many cellular behaviors, including cell migration, spreading, and differentiation. However, it remains a major challenge to engineer hydrogels that recapture the dynamic mechanical properties of native extracellular matrices. Here, we provide a new hydrogel platform with spatiotemporally tunable mechanical properties to assay and define cellular behaviors under light. The change in the mechanical properties of the hydrogel is effected by a photo-induced switch of the cross-linker fluorescent protein, Dronpa145N, between the tetrameric and monomeric states, which causes minimal changes to the chemical properties of the hydrogel. The mechanical properties can be rapidly and reversibly tuned for multiple cycles using visible light, as confirmed by rheological measurements and atomic force microscopybased nano-indentation. We further demonstrated real-time and reversible modulation of cell migration behaviors on the hydrogels through photo-induced stiffness switching, with minimal invasion to the cultured cells. Hydrogels with a programmable mechanical history and a spatially defined mechanical hierarchy might serve as an ideal model system to better understand complex cellular functions.
Generic and reversible opto-trapping of biomolecules.
Molecular traps can control activity and abundance of many biological factors. Here, we report the development of a generic opto-trap to reversibly bind and release biomolecules with high spatiotemporal control by illumination with noninvasive and cell-compatible red and far-red light. We use the Arapidopsis thaliana photoreceptor phytochrome B to regulate the release of diverse proteins from a variety of material scaffolds. Fusion of a short 100 amino acids "PIF-tag", derived from the phytochrome interacting factor 6, renders arbitrary molecules opto-trap-compatible. Reversible opto-trapping of target molecules enables novel possibilities for future developments in diagnostics, therapeutics and basic research.
Directly light-regulated binding of RGS-LOV photoreceptors to anionic membrane phospholipids.
We report natural light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) photoreceptors with a blue light-switched, high-affinity (KD ∼ 10-7 M), and direct electrostatic interaction with anionic phospholipids. Membrane localization of one such photoreceptor, BcLOV4 from Botrytis cinerea, is directly coupled to its flavin photocycle, and is mediated by a polybasic amphipathic helix in the linker region between the LOV sensor and its C-terminal domain of unknown function (DUF), as revealed through a combination of bioinformatics, computational protein modeling, structure-function studies, and optogenetic assays in yeast and mammalian cell line expression systems. In model systems, BcLOV4 rapidly translocates from the cytosol to plasma membrane (∼1 second). The reversible electrostatic interaction is nonselective among anionic phospholipids, exhibiting binding strengths dependent on the total anionic content of the membrane without preference for a specific headgroup. The in vitro and cellular responses were also observed with a BcLOV4 homolog and thus are likely to be general across the dikarya LOV class, whose members are associated with regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS) domains. Natural photoreceptors are not previously known to directly associate with membrane phospholipids in a light-dependent manner, and thus this work establishes both a photosensory signal transmission mode and a single-component optogenetic tool with rapid membrane localization kinetics that approaches the diffusion limit.
Reversible Social Self-Sorting of Colloidal Cell-Mimics with Blue Light Switchable Proteins.
Towards the bottom-up assembly of synthetic cells from molecular building blocks it is an ongoing challenge to assemble micrometer sized compartments that host different processes into precise multicompartmental assemblies, also called prototissues. The difficulty lies in controlling interactions between different compartments dynamically both in space and time, as these interactions determine how they organize with respect to each other and how they work together. In this study, we have been able to control the self-assembly and social self-sorting of four different types of colloids, which we use as a model for synthetic cells, into two separate families with visible light. For this purpose we used two photoswitchable protein pairs (iLID/Nano and nHagHigh/pMagHigh) that both reversibly heterodimerize upon blue light exposure and dissociate from each other in the dark. These photoswitchable proteins provide non-invasive, dynamic and reversible remote control under biocompatible conditions over the self-assembly process with unprecedented spatial and temporal precision. In addition, each protein pair brings together specifically two different types of colloids. The orthogonality of the two protein pairs enables social self-sorting of a four component mixture into two distinct families of colloidal aggregates with controlled arrangements. These results will ultimately pave the way for the bottom-up assembly of multicompartment synthetic prototissues of a higher complexity, enabling us to control precisely and dynamically the organization of different compartments in space and time.
Independent Control over Multiple Cell Types in Space and Time Using Orthogonal Blue and Red Light Switchable Cell Interactions.
Independent control over multiple cell–material interactions with high spatiotemporal resolution is a key for many biomedical applications and understanding cell biology, as different cell types can perform different tasks in a multicellular context. In this study, the binding of two different cell types to materials is orthogonally controlled with blue and red light providing independent regulation in space and time. Cells expressing the photoswitchable protein cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) on cell surface bind to N‐truncated CRY‐interacting basic helix–loop–helix protein 1 (CIBN)‐immobilized substrates under blue light and cells expressing the photoswitchable protein phytochrome B (PhyB ) on cell surface bind to phytochrome interaction factor 6 (PIF6)‐immobilized substrates under red light, respectively. These light‐switchable cell interactions provide orthogonal and noninvasive control using two wavelengths of visible light. Moreover, both cell–material interactions are dynamically switched on under light and reversible in the dark. The specificity of the CRY2/CIBN and PhyB/PIF6 interactions and their response to different wavelengths of light allow selectively activating the binding of one cell type with blue and the other cell type with red light in the presence of the other cell type.
Synthetic Biology Makes Polymer Materials Count.
Synthetic biology applies engineering concepts to build cellular systems that perceive and process information. This is achieved by assembling genetic modules according to engineering design principles. Recent advance in the field has contributed optogenetic switches for controlling diverse biological functions in response to light. Here, the concept is introduced to apply synthetic biology switches and design principles for the synthesis of multi-input-processing materials. This is exemplified by the synthesis of a materials system that counts light pulses. Guided by a quantitative mathematical model, functional synthetic biology-derived modules are combined into a polymer framework resulting in a biohybrid materials system that releases distinct output molecules specific to the number of input light pulses detected. Further demonstration of modular extension yields a light pulse-counting materials system to sequentially release different enzymes catalyzing a multistep biochemical reaction. The resulting smart materials systems can provide novel solutions as integrated sensors and actuators with broad perspectives in fundamental and applied research.
Cell-free optogenetic gene expression system.
Optogenetic tools provide a new and efficient way to dynamically program gene expression with unmatched spatiotemporal precision. To date, its vast potential remains untapped in the field of cell-free synthetic biology, largely due to the lack of simple and efficient light-switchable systems. Here, to bridge the gap between cell-free systems and optogenetics, we studied our previously engineered one component-based blue light-inducible Escherichia coli promoter in a cell-free environment through experimental characterization and mathematical modelling. We achieved >10-fold dynamic expression and demonstrated rapid and reversible activation of target gene to generate oscillatory waveform. Deterministic model developed was able to recapitulate the system behaviour and helped to provide quantitative insights to optimize dynamic response. This in vitro optogenetic approach could be a powerful new high-throughput screening technology for rapid prototyping of complex biological networks in both space and time without the need for chemical induction.
Dynamic blue light-switchable protein patterns on giant unilamellar vesicles.
The blue light-dependent interaction between the proteins iLID and Nano allows recruiting and patterning proteins on GUV membranes, which thereby capture key features of patterns observed in nature. This photoswitchable protein interaction provides non-invasive, reversible and dynamic control over protein patterns of different sizes with high specificity and spatiotemporal resolution.
Optically controlled reversible protein hydrogels based on photoswitchable fluorescent protein Dronpa.
Exploiting the optically controlled association and dissociation behavior of a photoswitchable fluorescent protein, Dronpa145N, here we demonstrate the engineering of an optically switchable reversible protein hydrogel using Dronpa145N-based protein building blocks. Our results open the possibility to optically tune the mechanical, chemical and structural properties of protein hydrogels.
Blue Light Switchable Bacterial Adhesion as a Key Step toward the Design of Biofilms.
The control of where and when bacteria adhere to a substrate is a key step toward controlling the formation and organization in biofilms. This study shows how we engineer bacteria to adhere specifically to substrates with high spatial and temporal control under blue light, but not in the dark, by using photoswitchable interaction between nMag and pMag proteins. For this, we express pMag proteins on the surface of E. coli so that the bacteria can adhere to substrates with immobilized nMag protein under blue light. These adhesions are reversible in the dark and can be repeatedly turned on and off. Further, the number of bacteria that can adhere to the substrate as well as the attachment and detachment dynamics are adjustable by using different point mutants of pMag and altering light intensity. Overall, the blue light switchable bacteria adhesions offer reversible, tunable and bioorthogonal control with exceptional spatial and temporal resolution. This enables us to pattern bacteria on substrates with great flexibility.
Photocontrolled reversible self-assembly of dodecamer nitrilase.
Naturally photoswitchable proteins act as a powerful tool for the spatial and temporal control of biological processes by inducing the formation of a photodimerizer. In this study, a method for the precise and reversible inducible self-assembly of dodecamer nitrilase in vivo (in Escherichia coli) and in vitro (in a cell-free solution) was developed by means of the photoswitch-improved light-inducible dimer (iLID) system which could induce protein-protein dimerization.
B12-dependent photoresponsive protein hydrogels for controlled stem cell/protein release.
Thanks to the precise control over their structural and functional properties, genetically engineered protein-based hydrogels have emerged as a promising candidate for biomedical applications. Given the growing demand for creating stimuli-responsive "smart" hydrogels, here we show the synthesis of entirely protein-based photoresponsive hydrogels by covalently polymerizing the adenosylcobalamin (AdoB12)-dependent photoreceptor C-terminal adenosylcobalamin binding domain (CarHC) proteins using genetically encoded SpyTag-SpyCatcher chemistry under mild physiological conditions. The resulting hydrogel composed of physically self-assembled CarHC polymers exhibited a rapid gel-sol transition on light exposure, which enabled the facile release/recovery of 3T3 fibroblasts and human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) from 3D cultures while maintaining their viability. A covalently cross-linked CarHC hydrogel was also designed to encapsulate and release bulky globular proteins, such as mCherry, in a light-dependent manner. The direct assembly of stimuli-responsive proteins into hydrogels represents a versatile strategy for designing dynamically tunable materials.
Exosome engineering for efficient intracellular delivery of soluble proteins using optically reversible protein-protein interaction module.
Nanoparticle-mediated delivery of functional macromolecules is a promising method for treating a variety of human diseases. Among nanoparticles, cell-derived exosomes have recently been highlighted as a new therapeutic strategy for the in vivo delivery of nucleotides and chemical drugs. Here we describe a new tool for intracellular delivery of target proteins, named 'exosomes for protein loading via optically reversible protein-protein interactions' (EXPLORs). By integrating a reversible protein-protein interaction module controlled by blue light with the endogenous process of exosome biogenesis, we are able to successfully load cargo proteins into newly generated exosomes. Treatment with protein-loaded EXPLORs is shown to significantly increase intracellular levels of cargo proteins and their function in recipient cells in vitro and in vivo. These results clearly indicate the potential of EXPLORs as a mechanism for the efficient intracellular transfer of protein-based therapeutics into recipient cells and tissues.
Optogenetic Inhibitor of the Transcription Factor CREB.
Current approaches for optogenetic control of transcription do not mimic the activity of endogenous transcription factors, which act at numerous sites in the genome in a complex interplay with other factors. Optogenetic control of dominant negative versions of endogenous transcription factors provides a mechanism for mimicking the natural regulation of gene expression. Here we describe opto-DN-CREB, a blue-light-controlled inhibitor of the transcription factor CREB created by fusing the dominant negative inhibitor A-CREB to photoactive yellow protein (PYP). A light-driven conformational change in PYP prevents coiled-coil formation between A-CREB and CREB, thereby activating CREB. Optogenetic control of CREB function was characterized in vitro, in HEK293T cells, and in neurons where blue light enabled control of expression of the CREB targets NR4A2 and c-Fos. Dominant negative inhibitors exist for numerous transcription factors; linking these to optogenetic domains offers a general approach for spatiotemporal control of native transcriptional events.
Rational design of a photo-responsive UVR8-derived protein and a self-assembling peptide-protein conjugate for responsive hydrogel formation.
Responsive hydrogels hold great potential in controllable drug delivery, regenerative medicine, sensing, etc. We introduced in this study the first example of a photo-responsive protein for hydrogel formation. Based on the first example of the crystal structure of a photo-responsive protein, Arabidopsis thaliana protein UVR8, we designed and expressed its derived protein UVR8-1 with a hexa-peptide WRESAI. We also prepared supramolecular nanofibers with a TIP-1 protein at their surface. The simple mixing of these two components resulted in rapid hydrogel formation through the specific interactions between the protein TIP-1 and the peptide WRESAI. Since the protein could show a reversible dimer-monomer transformation, the resulting gels also showed a reversible gel-sol phase transition which was controlled by photo-irradiation. The photo-controllable gel-sol phase transition could be applied for protein delivery and cell separation.
Remote control of myosin and kinesin motors using light-activated gearshifting.
Cytoskeletal motors perform critical force generation and transport functions in eukaryotic cells. Engineered modifications of motor function provide direct tests of protein structure-function relationships and potential tools for controlling cellular processes or for harnessing molecular transport in artificial systems. Here, we report the design and characterization of a panel of cytoskeletal motors that reversibly change gears--speed up, slow down or switch directions--when exposed to blue light. Our genetically encoded structural designs incorporate a photoactive protein domain to enable light-dependent conformational changes in an engineered lever arm. Using in vitro motility assays, we demonstrate robust spatiotemporal control over motor function and characterize the kinetics of the optical gearshifting mechanism. We have used a modular approach to create optical gearshifting motors for both actin-based and microtubule-based transport.
Blue light-induced dimerization of a bacterial LOV-HTH DNA-binding protein.
With their utilization of light-driven allostery to control biochemical activities, photosensory proteins are of great interest as model systems and novel reagents for use by the basic science and engineering communities. One such protein, the light-activated EL222 transcription factor, from the marine bacterium Erythrobacter litoralis HTCC2594, is appealing for such studies, as it harnesses blue light to drive the reorientation of light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) sensory and helix-turn-helix (HTH) effector domains to allow photoactivation of gene transcription in natural and artificial systems. The protein conformational changes required for this process are not well understood, in part because of the relatively short lifetime of the EL222 photoexcited state (τ ∼ 29 s), which complicates its characterization via certain biophysical methods. Here we report how we have circumvented this limitation by creating an EL222 variant harboring V41I, L52I, A79Q, and V121I point mutations (AQTrip) that stabilizes the photoactivated state. Using the wild-type and AQTrip EL222 proteins, we have probed EL222 activation using a combination of solution scattering, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and electromobility shift assays. Size-exclusion chromatography and light scattering indicate that AQTrip oligomerizes in the absence of DNA and selects for an EL222 dimer-DNA complex in the presence of DNA substrates. These results are confirmed in wild-type EL222 with a high-affinity DNA-binding site that stabilizes the complex. NMR analyses of the EL222-DNA complex confirm a 2:1 stoichiometry in the presence of a previously characterized DNA substrate. Combined, these novel approaches have validated a key mechanistic step, whereby blue light induces EL222 dimerization through LOV and HTH interfaces.
Controlling the DNA cleavage activity of light-inducible chimeric endonucleases by bidirectional photoactivation.
A functional coupling of photosensory domains derived from photoreceptors to effector proteins is a promising strategy for engineering novel photoresponsive proteins in optogenetics. Here, we have fused the light-sensitive LOV2 domain from Avena sativa phototropin1 to the restriction enzyme PvuII to generate a genetically encoded, light-controllable endonuclease. By analyzing several LOV-PvuII fusion enzymes, variants were obtained that show a 3-fold difference in DNA cleavage activity, when illuminated with blue light or kept in the dark. The effect is fully reversible over multiple photocycles. Depending on the particular fusion interface, the LOV-PvuII variants obtained had a bidirectional polarity in photoactivation; i.e., increased DNA cleavage activity was observed either in the dark state, with a compact folded LOV domain, or in the blue light photoexcitation state, when the LOV domain is partially unfolded.
A photoswitchable DNA-binding protein based on a truncated GCN4-photoactive yellow protein chimera.
Photo-controlled DNA-binding proteins promise to be useful tools for probing complex spatiotemporal patterns of gene expression in living organisms. Here we report a novel photoswitchable DNA-binding protein, GCN4(S)Δ25PYP, based on a truncated GCN4-photoactive yellow protein chimera. In contrast to previously reported designed photoswitchable proteins where DNA binding affinity is enhanced upon irradiation, GCN4(S)Δ25PYP dissociates from DNA when irradiated with blue light. In addition, the rate of thermal relaxation to the ground state, part of the PYP photocycle, is enhanced by DNA binding whereas in previous reported constructs it is slowed. The origins of this reversed photoactivity are analyzed in structural terms.
Design and signaling mechanism of light-regulated histidine kinases.
Signal transduction proteins are organized into sensor (input) domains that perceive a signal and, in response, regulate the biological activity of effector (output) domains. We reprogrammed the input signal specificity of a normally oxygen-sensitive, light-inert histidine kinase by replacing its chemosensor domain by a light-oxygen-voltage photosensor domain. Illumination of the resultant fusion kinase YF1 reduced net kinase activity by approximately 1000-fold in vitro. YF1 also controls gene expression in a light-dependent manner in vivo. Signals are transmitted from the light-oxygen-voltage sensor domain to the histidine kinase domain via a 40 degrees -60 degrees rotational movement within an alpha-helical coiled-coil linker; light is acting as a rotary switch. These signaling principles are broadly applicable to domains linked by alpha-helices and to chemo- and photosensors. Conserved sequence motifs guide the rational design of light-regulated variants of histidine kinases and other proteins.