Showing 1 - 25 of 68 results
Optogenetic tools for manipulation of cyclic nucleotides, functionally coupled to CNG-channels.
The cyclic nucleotides cAMP and cGMP are ubiquitous second messengers that regulate numerous biological processes. Malfunctional cNMP signalling is linked to multiple diseases and thus is an important target in pharmaceutical research. The existing optogenetic toolbox in C. elegans is restricted to soluble adenylyl cyclases, the membrane-bound Blastocladiella emersonii CyclOp and hyperpolarising rhodopsins, yet missing are membrane-bound photoactivatable adenylyl cyclases and hyperpolarisers based on K+ -currents.
Optogenetic Modification of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Enables Controllable Twitching Motility and Host Infection.
Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) is an important secondary messenger that controls carbon metabolism, type IVa pili biogenesis, and virulence in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Precise manipulation of bacterial intracellular cAMP levels may enable tunable control of twitching motility or virulence, and optogenetic tools are attractive because they afford excellent spatiotemporal resolution and are easy to operate. Here, we developed an engineered P. aeruginosa strain (termed pactm) with light-dependent intracellular cAMP levels through introducing a photoactivated adenylate cyclase gene (bPAC) into bacteria. On blue light illumination, pactm displayed a 15-fold increase in the expression of the cAMP responsive promoter and an 8-fold increase in its twitching activity. The skin lesion area of nude mouse in a subcutaneous infection model after 2-day pactm inoculation was increased 14-fold by blue light, making pactm suitable for applications in controllable bacterial host infection. In addition, we achieved directional twitching motility of pactm colonies through localized light illumination, which will facilitate the studies of contact-dependent interactions between microbial species.
Endosomal cAMP production broadly impacts the cellular phosphoproteome.
Endosomal signaling from G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) has emerged as a novel paradigm with important pharmacological and physiological implications. Yet, our knowledge of the functional consequences of activating intracellular GPCRs is incomplete. To address this gap, we combined an optogenetic approach for site-specific generation of the prototypical second messenger cyclic AMP (cAMP) with unbiased mass spectrometry-based analysis of phosphoproteomic effects. We identified 218 unique, high-confidence sites whose phosphorylation is either increased or decreased in response to cAMP production. We next determined that cAMP produced from endosomes led to more robust changes in phosphorylation than cAMP produced from the plasma membrane. Remarkably, this was true for the entire repertoire of identified targets, and irrespective of their annotated sub-cellular localization. Furthermore, we identified a particularly strong endosome bias for a subset of proteins that are dephosphorylated in response to cAMP. Through bioinformatics analysis, we established these targets as putative substrates for protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), and we propose compartmentalized activation of PP2A-B56δ as the likely underlying mechanism. Altogether, our study extends the concept that endosomal signaling is a significant functional contributor to cellular responsiveness by establishing a unique role for localized cAMP production in defining categorically distinct phosphoresponses.
Biphasic Response of Protein Kinase A to Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate Triggers Distinct Epithelial Phenotypes.
Despite the large diversity of the proteins involved in cellular signaling, many intracellular signaling pathways converge onto one of only dozens of small molecule second messengers. Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), one of these second messengers, is known to regulate activity of both Protein Kinase A (PKA) and the Extracellular Regulated Kinase (ERK), among other signaling pathways. In its role as an important cellular signaling hub, intracellular cAMP concentration has long been assumed to monotonically regulate its known effectors. Using an optogenetic tool that can introduce precise amounts of cAMP in MDCKI cells, we identify genes whose expression changes biphasically with monotonically increasing cAMP levels. By examining the behavior of PKA and ERK1/2 in the same dose regime, we find that these kinases also respond biphasically to increasing cAMP levels, with opposite phases. We reveal that this behavior results from an elaborate integration by PKA of many cellular signals triggered by cAMP. In addition to the direct activation of PKA, cAMP also modulates the activity of p38 and ERK, which then converge to inhibit PKA. These interactions and their ensuing biphasic PKA profile have important physiological repercussions, influencing the ability of MDCKI cells to proliferate and form acini. Our data, supported by computational modeling, synthesize a set of network interconnections involving PKA and other important signaling pathways into a model that demonstrates how cells can capitalize on signal integration to create a diverse set of responses to cAMP concentration and produce complex input-output relationships.
Nanobody-directed targeting of optogenetic tools to study signaling in the primary cilium.
Compartmentalization of cellular signaling forms the molecular basis of cellular behavior. The primary cilium constitutes a subcellular compartment that orchestrates signal transduction independent from the cell body. Ciliary dysfunction causes severe diseases, termed ciliopathies. Analyzing ciliary signaling has been challenging due to the lack of tools investigate ciliary signaling. Here, we describe a nanobody-based targeting approach for optogenetic tools in mammalian cells and in vivo in zebrafish to specifically analyze ciliary signaling and function. Thereby, we overcome the loss of protein function observed after fusion to ciliary targeting sequences. We functionally localized modifiers of cAMP signaling, the photo-activated adenylate cyclase bPAC and the light-activated phosphodiesterase LAPD, and the cAMP biosensor mlCNBD-FRET to the cilium. Using this approach, we studied the contribution of spatial cAMP signaling in controlling cilia length. Combining optogenetics with nanobody-based targeting will pave the way to the molecular understanding of ciliary function in health and disease.
Optogenetic Manipulation of Postsynaptic cAMP Using a Novel Transgenic Mouse Line Enables Synaptic Plasticity and Enhances Depolarization Following Tetanic Stimulation in the Hippocampal Dentate Gyrus.
cAMP is a positive regulator tightly involved in certain types of synaptic plasticity and related memory functions. However, its spatiotemporal roles at the synaptic and neural circuit levels remain elusive. Using a combination of a cAMP optogenetics approach and voltage-sensitive dye (VSD) imaging with electrophysiological recording, we define a novel capacity of postsynaptic cAMP in enabling dentate gyrus long-term potentiation (LTP) and depolarization in acutely prepared murine hippocampal slices. To manipulate cAMP levels at medial perforant path to granule neuron (MPP-DG) synapses by light, we generated transgenic (Tg) mice expressing photoactivatable adenylyl cyclase (PAC) in DG granule neurons. Using these Tg(CMV-Camk2a-RFP/bPAC)3Koka mice, we recorded field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs) from MPP-DG synapses and found that photoactivation of PAC during tetanic stimulation enabled synaptic potentiation that persisted for at least 30 min. This form of LTP was induced without the need for GABA receptor blockade that is typically required for inducing DG plasticity. The paired-pulse ratio (PPR) remained unchanged, indicating the cAMP-dependent LTP was likely postsynaptic. By employing fast fluorescent voltage-sensitive dye (VSD: di-4-ANEPPS) and fluorescence imaging, we found that photoactivation of the PAC actuator enhanced the intensity and extent of dentate gyrus depolarization triggered following tetanic stimulation. These results demonstrate that the elevation of cAMP in granule neurons is capable of rapidly enhancing synaptic strength and neuronal depolarization. The powerful actions of cAMP are consistent with this second messenger having a critical role in the regulation of synaptic function.
Light-powered Escherichia coli cell division for chemical production.
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.
Optogenetic manipulation of calcium signals in single T cells in vivo.
By offering the possibility to manipulate cellular functions with spatiotemporal control, optogenetics represents an attractive tool for dissecting immune responses. However, applying these approaches to single cells in vivo remains particularly challenging for immune cells that are typically located in scattering tissues. Here, we introduce an improved calcium actuator with sensitivity allowing for two-photon photoactivation. Furthermore, we identify an actuator/reporter combination that permits the simultaneous manipulation and visualization of calcium signals in individual T cells in vivo. With this strategy, we document the consequences of defined patterns of calcium signals on T cell migration, adhesion, and chemokine release. Manipulation of individual immune cells in vivo should open new avenues for establishing the functional contribution of single immune cells engaged in complex reactions.
Booster, a Red-Shifted Genetically Encoded Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) Biosensor Compatible with Cyan Fluorescent Protein/Yellow Fluorescent Protein-Based FRET Biosensors and Blue Light-Responsive Optogenetic Tools.
Genetically encoded Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based biosensors have been developed for the visualization of signaling molecule activities. Currently, most of them are comprised of cyan and yellow fluorescent proteins (CFP and YFP), precluding the use of multiple FRET biosensors within a single cell. Moreover, the FRET biosensors based on CFP and YFP are incompatible with the optogenetic tools that operate at blue light. To overcome these problems, here, we have developed FRET biosensors with red-shifted excitation and emission wavelengths. We chose mKOκ and mKate2 as the favorable donor and acceptor pair by calculating the Förster distance. By optimizing the order of fluorescent proteins and modulatory domains of the FRET biosensors, we developed a FRET biosensor backbone named "Booster". The performance of the protein kinase A (PKA) biosensor based on the Booster backbone (Booster-PKA) was comparable to that of AKAR3EV, a previously developed FRET biosensor comprising CFP and YFP. For the proof of concept, we first showed simultaneous monitoring of activities of two protein kinases with Booster-PKA and ERK FRET biosensors based on CFP and YFP. Second, we showed monitoring of PKA activation by Beggiatoa photoactivated adenylyl cyclase, an optogenetic generator of cyclic AMP. Finally, we presented PKA activity in living tissues of transgenic mice expressing Booster-PKA. Collectively, the results demonstrate the effectiveness and versatility of Booster biosensors as an imaging tool in vitro and in vivo.
Optogenetic engineering to probe the molecular choreography of STIM1-mediated cell signaling.
Genetically encoded photoswitches have enabled spatial and temporal control of cellular events to achieve tailored functions in living cells, but their applications to probe the structure-function relations of signaling proteins are still underexplored. We illustrate herein the incorporation of various blue light-responsive photoreceptors into modular domains of the stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1) to manipulate protein activity and faithfully recapitulate STIM1-mediated signaling events. Capitalizing on these optogenetic tools, we identify the molecular determinants required to mediate protein oligomerization, intramolecular conformational switch, and protein-target interactions. In parallel, we have applied these synthetic devices to enable light-inducible gating of calcium channels, conformational switch, dynamic protein-microtubule interactions and assembly of membrane contact sites in a reversible manner. Our optogenetic engineering approach can be broadly applied to aid the mechanistic dissection of cell signaling, as well as non-invasive interrogation of physiological processes with high precision.
An optogenetic tool for induced protein stabilization based on the Phaeodactylum tricornutum aureochrome 1a LOV domain.
Control of cellular events by optogenetic tools is a powerful approach to manipulate cellular functions in a minimally invasive manner. A common problem posed by the application of optogenetic tools is to tune the activity range to be physiologically relevant. Here, we characterized a photoreceptor of the light-oxygen-voltage domain family of Phaeodactylum tricornutum aureochrome 1a (AuLOV) as a tool for increasing protein stability under blue light conditions in budding yeast. Structural studies of AuLOVwt, the variants AuLOVM254 and AuLOVW349 revealed alternative dimer association modes for the dark state, which differ from previously reported AuLOV dark state structures. Rational design of AuLOV-dimer interface mutations resulted in an optimized optogenetic tool that we fused to the photoactivatable adenylyl cyclase from Beggiatoa sp.. This synergistic light-regulation approach using two photoreceptors resulted in an optimized, photoactivatable adenylyl cyclase with a cyclic AMP production activity that matches the physiological range of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Overall, we enlarged the optogenetic toolbox for yeast and demonstrated the importance of fine-tuning the optogenetic tool activity for successful application in cells.
Non-invasive optical control of endogenous Ca2+ channels in awake mice.
Optogenetic approaches for controlling Ca2+ channels provide powerful means for modulating diverse Ca2+-specific biological events in space and time. However, blue light-responsive photoreceptors are, in principle, considered inadequate for deep tissue stimulation unless accompanied by optic fiber insertion. Here, we present an ultra-light-sensitive optogenetic Ca2+ modulator, named monSTIM1 encompassing engineered cryptochrome2 for manipulating Ca2+ signaling in the brain of awake mice through non-invasive light delivery. Activation of monSTIM1 in either excitatory neurons or astrocytes of mice brain is able to induce Ca2+-dependent gene expression without any mechanical damage in the brain. Furthermore, we demonstrate that non-invasive Ca2+ modulation in neurons can be sufficiently and effectively translated into changes in behavioral phenotypes of awake mice.
Primary Cilia Signaling Promotes Axonal Tract Development and Is Disrupted in Joubert Syndrome-Related Disorders Models.
Appropriate axonal growth and connectivity are essential for functional wiring of the brain. Joubert syndrome-related disorders (JSRD), a group of ciliopathies in which mutations disrupt primary cilia function, are characterized by axonal tract malformations. However, little is known about how cilia-driven signaling regulates axonal growth and connectivity. We demonstrate that the deletion of related JSRD genes, Arl13b and Inpp5e, in projection neurons leads to de-fasciculated and misoriented axonal tracts. Arl13b deletion disrupts the function of its downstream effector, Inpp5e, and deregulates ciliary-PI3K/AKT signaling. Chemogenetic activation of ciliary GPCR signaling and cilia-specific optogenetic modulation of downstream second messenger cascades (PI3K, AKT, and AC3) commonly regulated by ciliary signaling receptors induce rapid changes in axonal dynamics. Further, Arl13b deletion leads to changes in transcriptional landscape associated with dysregulated PI3K/AKT signaling. These data suggest that ciliary signaling acts to modulate axonal connectivity and that impaired primary cilia signaling underlies axonal tract defects in JSRD.
Optogenetic modulation of a catalytic biofilm for biotransformation of indole into tryptophan.
In green chemical synthesis, biofilms as biocatalysts have shown great promise. Efficient biofilm-mediated biocatalysis requires the modulation of biofilm formation. Optogenetic tools are ideal for controlling biofilms, as light is non-invasive, easily controllable and cost-efficient. In this study, we employed a near infrared (NIR) light-responsive gene circuit to modulate the cellular level of c-di-GMP, a central regulator of the prokaryote biofilm lifestyle, which allows us to regulate biofilm formation using NIR light. By applying the engineered biofilm to catalyze the biotransformation of indole into tryptophan in submerged biofilm reactors, we showed that NIR light enhanced biofilm formation to result in ~ 30% increase in tryptophan yield, which demonstrates the feasibility of applying light to modulate the formation and performance of catalytic biofilms for chemical production. The c-di-GMP targeted optogenetic approach for modulating catalytic biofilm we have demonstrated here would allow the wide application for further biofilm-mediated biocatalysis.
Amelioration of Diabetes in a Murine Model upon Transplantation of Pancreatic β-Cells with Optogenetic Control of Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate.
Pharmacological augmentation of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS), for example, to overcome insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes is linked to suboptimal regulation of blood sugar. Cultured β-cells and islets expressing a photoactivatable adenylyl cyclase (PAC) are amenable to GSIS potentiation with light. However, whether PAC-mediated enhancement of GSIS can improve the diabetic state remains unknown. To this end, β-cells were engineered with stable PAC expression that led to over 2-fold greater GSIS upon exposure to blue light while there were no changes in the absence of glucose. Moreover, the rate of oxygen consumption was unaltered despite the photoinduced elevation of GSIS. Transplantation of these cells into streptozotocin-treated mice resulted in improved glucose tolerance, lower hyperglycemia, and higher plasma insulin when subjected to illumination. Embedding optogenetic networks in β-cells for physiologically relevant control of GSIS will enable novel solutions potentially overcoming the shortcomings of current treatments for diabetes.
Compartmentalized cAMP Generation by Engineered Photoactivated Adenylyl Cyclases.
Because small-molecule activators of adenylyl cyclases (AC) affect ACs cell-wide, it is challenging to explore the signaling consequences of AC activity emanating from specific intracellular compartments. We explored this issue using a series of engineered, optogenetic, spatially restricted, photoactivable adenylyl cyclases (PACs) positioned at the plasma membrane (PM), the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM), and the nucleus (Nu). The biochemical consequences of brief photostimulation of PAC is primarily limited to the intracellular site occupied by the PAC. By contrast, sustained photostimulation results in distal cAMP signaling. Prolonged cAMP generation at the OMM profoundly stimulates nuclear protein kinase (PKA) activity. We have found that phosphodiesterases 3 (OMM and PM) and 4 (PM) modulate proximal (local) cAMP-triggered activity, whereas phosphodiesterase 4 regulates distal cAMP activity as well as the migration of PKA's catalytic subunit into the nucleus.
Using a Robust and Sensitive GFP-Based cGMP Sensor for Real Time Imaging in Intact Caenorhabditis elegans.
cGMP plays a role in sensory signaling and plasticity by regulating ion channels, phosphodiesterases and kinases. Studies that primarily used genetic and biochemical tools suggest that cGMP is spatiotemporally regulated in multiple sensory modalities. FRET- and GFP-based cGMP sensors were developed to visualize cGMP in primary cell culture and Caenorhabditis elegans to corroborate these findings. While a FRET-based sensor has been used in an intact animal to visualize cGMP, the requirement of a multiple emission system limits its ability to be used on its own as well as with other fluorophores. Here, we demonstrate that a C. elegans codon-optimized version of the cpEGFP-based cGMP sensor FlincG3 can be used to visualize rapidly changing cGMP levels in living, behaving C. elegans We coexpressed FlincG3 with the blue light-activated guanylyl cyclases BeCyclOp and bPGC in body wall muscles and found that the rate of change in FlincG3 fluorescence correlated with the rate of cGMP production by each cyclase. Furthermore, we show that FlincG3 responds to cultivation temperature, NaCl concentration changes and sodium dodecyl sulfate in the sensory neurons AFD, ASEL/R and PHB, respectively. Intriguingly, FlincG3 fluorescence in ASEL and ASER decreased in response to a NaCl concentration upstep and downstep, respectively, which is opposite in sign to the coexpressed calcium sensor jRGECO1a and previously published calcium recordings. These results illustrate that FlincG3 can be used to report rapidly changing cGMP levels in an intact animal and that the reporter can potentially reveal unexpected spatiotemporal landscapes of cGMP in response to stimuli.
Revisiting and Redesigning Light-Activated Cyclic-Mononucleotide Phosphodiesterases.
As diffusible second messengers, cyclic nucleoside monophosphates (cNMPs) relay and amplify molecular signals in myriad cellular pathways. The triggering of downstream physiological responses often requires defined cNMP gradients in time and space, generated through the concerted action of nucleotidyl cyclases and phosphodiesterases (PDEs). In an approach denoted optogenetics, sensory photoreceptors serve as genetically encoded, light-responsive actuators to enable the noninvasive, reversible, and spatiotemporally precise control of manifold cellular processes, including cNMP metabolism. Although nature provides efficient photoactivated nucleotidyl cyclases, light-responsive PDEs are scarce. Through modular recombination of a bacteriophytochrome photosensor and the effector of human PDE2A, we previously generated the light-activated, cNMP-specific PDE LAPD. By pursuing parallel design strategies, we here report a suite of derivative PDEs with enhanced amplitude and reversibility of photoactivation. Opposite to LAPD, far-red light completely reverts prior activation by red light in several PDEs. These improved PDEs thus complement photoactivated nucleotidyl cyclases and extend the sensitivity of optogenetics to red and far-red light. More generally, our study informs future efforts directed at designing bacteriophytochrome photoreceptors.
Interneurons Regulate Locomotion Quiescence via Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate Signaling During Stress-Induced Sleep in Caenorhabditis elegans.
Sleep is evolutionarily conserved, thus studying simple invertebrates such as Caenorhabditis elegans can provide mechanistic insight into sleep with single cell resolution. A conserved pathway regulating sleep across phylogeny involves cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), a ubiquitous second messenger that functions in neurons by activating protein kinase A (PKA). C. elegans sleep in response to cellular stress caused by environmental insults (stress-induced sleep (SIS)), a model for studying sleep during sickness. SIS is controlled by simple neural circuitry, thus allows for cellular dissection of cAMP signaling during sleep. We employed a red light activated adenylyl cyclase (AC), IlaC22, to identify cells involved in SIS regulation. We find that pan-neuronal activation of IlaC22 disrupts SIS through mechanisms independent of the cAMP response element binding protein (CREB). Activating IlaC22 in the single DVA interneuron, the paired RIF interneurons, and in the CEPsh glia identified these cells as wake-promoting. Using a cAMP biosensor, epac1-camps, we found that cAMP is decreased in the RIF and DVA interneurons by neuropeptidergic signaling from the ALA neuron. Ectopic over expression of sleep-promoting neuropeptides coded by flp-13 and flp-24, released from the ALA, reduced cAMP in the DVA and RIFs, respectively. Over expression of the wake-promoting neuropeptides coded by pdf-1 increased cAMP levels in the RIFs. Using a combination of optogenetic manipulation and in vivo imaging of cAMP we have identified wake-promoting neurons downstream of the neuropeptidergic output of the ALA. Our data suggest that sleep- and wake-promoting neuropeptides signal to reduce and heighten cAMP levels during sleep, respectively.
Cyclic Nucleotide-Specific Optogenetics Highlights Compartmentalization of the Sperm Flagellum into cAMP Microdomains.
Inside the female genital tract, mammalian sperm undergo a maturation process called capacitation, which primes the sperm to navigate across the oviduct and fertilize the egg. Sperm capacitation and motility are controlled by 3',5'-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). Here, we show that optogenetics, the control of cellular signaling by genetically encoded light-activated proteins, allows to manipulate cAMP dynamics in sperm flagella and, thereby, sperm capacitation and motility by light. To this end, we used sperm that express the light-activated phosphodiesterase LAPD or the photo-activated adenylate cyclase bPAC. The control of cAMP by LAPD or bPAC combined with pharmacological interventions provides spatiotemporal precision and allows to probe the physiological function of cAMP compartmentalization in mammalian sperm.
Engineering Adenylate Cyclase Activated by Near-Infrared Window Light for Mammalian Optogenetic Applications.
Light in the near-infrared optical window (NIRW) penetrates deep through mammalian tissues, including the skull and brain tissue. Here we engineered an adenylate cyclase (AC) activated by NIRW light (NIRW-AC) and suitable for mammalian applications. To accomplish this goal, we constructed fusions of several bacteriophytochrome photosensory and bacterial AC modules using guidelines for designing chimeric homodimeric bacteriophytochromes. One engineered NIRW-AC, designated IlaM5, has significantly higher activity at 37 °C, is better expressed in mammalian cells, and can mediate cAMP-dependent photoactivation of gene expression in mammalian cells, in favorable contrast to the NIRW-ACs engineered earlier. The ilaM5 gene expressed from an AAV vector was delivered into the ventral basal thalamus region of the mouse brain, resulting in the light-controlled suppression of the cAMP-dependent wave pattern of the sleeping brain known as spindle oscillations. Reversible spindle oscillation suppression was observed in sleeping mice exposed to light from an external light source. This study confirms the robustness of principles of homodimeric bacteriophytochrome engineering, describes a NIRW-AC suitable for mammalian optogenetic applications, and demonstrates the feasibility of controlling brain activity via NIRW-ACs using transcranial irradiation.
Pulsatile illumination for photobiology and optogenetics.
Living organisms exhibit a wide range of intrinsic adaptive responses to incident light. Likewise, in optogenetics, biological systems are tailored to initiate predetermined cellular processes upon light exposure. As genetically encoded, light-gated actuators, sensory photoreceptors are at the heart of these responses in both the natural and engineered scenarios. Upon light absorption, photoreceptors enter a series of generally rapid photochemical reactions leading to population of the light-adapted signaling state of the receptor. Notably, this state persists for a while before thermally reverting to the original dark-adapted resting state. As a corollary, the inactivation of photosensitive biological circuits upon light withdrawal can exhibit substantial inertia. Intermittent illumination of suitable pulse frequency can hence maintain the photoreceptor in its light-adapted state while greatly reducing overall light dose, thereby mitigating adverse side effects. Moreover, several photoreceptor systems may be actuated sequentially with a single light color if they sufficiently differ in their inactivation kinetics. Here, we detail the construction of programmable illumination devices for the rapid and parallelized testing of biological responses to diverse lighting regimes. As the technology is based on open electronics and readily available, inexpensive components, it can be adopted by most laboratories at moderate expenditure. As we exemplify for two use cases, the programmable devices enable the facile interrogation of diverse illumination paradigms and their application in optogenetics and photobiology.
Optogenetic control shows that kinetic proofreading regulates the activity of the T cell receptor.
The immune system distinguishes between self and foreign antigens. The kinetic proofreading (KPR) model proposes that T cells discriminate self from foreign ligands by the different ligand binding half-lives to the T cell receptor (TCR). It is challenging to test KPR as the available experimental systems fall short of only altering the binding half-lives and keeping other parameters of the interaction unchanged. We engineered an optogenetic system using the plant photoreceptor phytochrome B (PhyB) as a ligand to selectively control the dynamics of ligand binding to the TCR by light. This opto-ligand-TCR system was combined with the unique property of PhyB to continuously cycle between the binding and non-binding states under red light, with the light intensity determining the cycling rate and thus the binding duration. Mathematical modeling of our experimental datasets showed that indeed the ligand-TCR interaction half-life is the decisive factor for activating downstream TCR signaling, substantiating KPR.
Luminescence-activated nucleotide cyclase regulates spatial and temporal cAMP synthesis.
cAMP is a ubiquitous second messenger that regulates cellular proliferation, differentiation, attachment, migration, and several other processes. It has become increasingly evident that tight regulation of cAMP accumulation and localization confers divergent yet specific signaling to downstream pathways. Currently, few tools are available that have sufficient spatial and temporal resolution to study location-biased cAMP signaling. Here, we introduce a new fusion protein consisting of a light-activated adenylyl cyclase (bPAC) and luciferase (nLuc). This construct allows dual activation of cAMP production through temporally precise photostimulation or chronic chemical stimulation that can be fined-tuned to mimic physiological levels and duration of cAMP synthesis to trigger downstream events. By targeting this construct to different compartments, we show that cAMP produced in the cytosol and nucleus stimulates proliferation in thyroid cells. The bPAC-nLuc fusion construct adds a new reagent to the available toolkit to study cAMP-regulated processes in living cells.
Engineering a light-responsive, quorum quenching biofilm to mitigate biofouling on water purification membranes.
Quorum quenching (QQ) has been reported to be a promising approach for membrane biofouling control. Entrapment of QQ bacteria in porous matrices is required to retain them in continuously operated membrane processes and to prevent uncontrollable biofilm formation by the QQ bacteria on membrane surfaces. It would be more desirable if the formation and dispersal of biofilms by QQ bacteria could be controlled so that the QQ bacterial cells are self-immobilized, but the QQ biofilm itself still does not compromise membrane performance. In this study, we engineered a QQ bacterial biofilm whose growth and dispersal can be modulated by light through a dichromatic, optogenetic c-di-GMP gene circuit in which the bacterial cells sense near-infrared (NIR) light and blue light to adjust its biofilm formation by regulating the c-di-GMP level. We also demonstrated the potential application of the engineered light-responsive QQ biofilm in mitigating biofouling of water purification forward osmosis membranes. The c-di-GMP-targeted optogenetic approach for controllable biofilm development we have demonstrated here should prove widely applicable for designing other controllable biofilm-enabled applications such as biofilm-based biocatalysis.