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 32 results
1.

CRY-BARs: Versatile light-gated molecular tools for the remodeling of membrane architectures.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HEK293T primary mouse cortical neurons Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Transgene expression Neuronal activity control
bioRxiv, 17 Mar 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.01.28.478241 Link to full text
Abstract: BAR (Bin, Amphiphysin and Rvs) protein domains are responsible for the generation of membrane curvature and represent a critical mechanical component of cellular functions. Thus, BAR domains have great potential as components of membrane-remodeling tools for cell biologists. In this work, we describe the design and implementation of a family of versatile light-gated I-BAR domain containing tools (CRY-BARs) with applications in the remodeling of membrane architectures and the control of cellular dynamics. By taking advantage of the intrinsic membrane binding propensity of the I-BAR domain, CRY-BARs can be used for spatial and temporal control of cellular processes that require induction of membrane protrusions. Using cell lines and primary neuron cultures, we demonstrate that the CRY-BAR optogenetic tool reports membrane dynamic changes associated with cellular activity. Moreover, we provide evidence that Ezrin acts as a relay between the plasma membrane and the actin cytoskeleton and therefore is an important mediator of switch function. Overall, CRY-BARs hold promise as a useful addition to the optogenetic toolkit to study membrane remodeling in live cells.
2.

Spatial and temporal control of expression with light-gated LOV-LexA.

blue AsLOV2 D. melanogaster in vivo Schneider 2 Transgene expression Neuronal activity control
bioRxiv, 19 Oct 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.10.19.465021 Link to full text
Abstract: The ability to drive expression of exogenous genes in different tissues and cell types, under control of specific enhancers, has catapulted discovery in biology. While many enhancers drive expression broadly, several genetic tricks have been developed to obtain access to isolated cell types. However, studies of topographically organized neuropiles, such as the optic lobe in fruit flies, have raised the need for a system that can access subsets of cells within a single neuron type, a feat currently dependent on stochastic flip-out methods. To access the same subsets of cells consistently across flies, we developed LOV-LexA, a light-gated expression system based on the bacterial LexA transcription factor and the plant-derived LOV photosensitive domain. Expression of LOV-Lex in larval fat body as well as pupal and adult neurons enables spatial and temporal control of expression of transgenes under LexAop sequences with blue light. The LOV-LexA tool thus provides another layer of intersectional genetics, allowing for light-controlled genetic access to the same subsets of cells within an expression pattern across individual flies.
3.

Light-regulated voltage-gated potassium channels for acute interrogation of channel function in neurons and behavior.

blue VfAU1-LOV CHO-K1 Cos-7 HEK293 Jurkat mouse CGN Xenopus oocytes Neuronal activity control
PLoS ONE, 23 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0248688 Link to full text
Abstract: Voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels regulate the membrane potential and conductance of excitable cells to control the firing rate and waveform of action potentials. Even though Kv channels have been intensely studied for over 70 year, surprisingly little is known about how specific channels expressed in various neurons and their functional properties impact neuronal network activity and behavior in vivo. Although many in vivo genetic manipulations of ion channels have been tried, interpretation of these results is complicated by powerful homeostatic plasticity mechanisms that act to maintain function following perturbations in excitability. To better understand how Kv channels shape network function and behavior, we have developed a novel optogenetic technology to acutely regulate Kv channel expression with light by fusing the light-sensitive LOV domain of Vaucheria frigida Aureochrome 1 to the N-terminus of the Kv1 subunit protein to make an Opto-Kv1 channel. Recording of Opto-Kv1 channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes, mammalian cells, and neurons show that blue light strongly induces the current expression of Opto-Kv1 channels in all systems tested. We also find that an Opto-Kv1 construct containing a dominant-negative pore mutation (Opto-Kv1(V400D)) can be used to down-regulate Kv1 currents in a blue light-dependent manner. Finally, to determine whether Opto-Kv1 channels can elicit light-dependent behavioral effect in vivo, we targeted Opto-Kv1 (V400D) expression to Kv1.3-expressing mitral cells of the olfactory bulb in mice. Exposure of the bulb to blue light for 2-3 hours produced a significant increase in sensitivity to novel odors after initial habituation to a similar odor, comparable to behavioral changes seen in Kv1.3 knockout animals. In summary, we have developed novel photoactivatable Kv channels that provide new ways to interrogate neural circuits in vivo and to examine the roles of normal and disease-causing mutant Kv channels in brain function and behavior.
4.

SynaptoPAC, an optogenetic tool for induction of presynaptic plasticity.

blue bPAC (BlaC) mouse hippocampal slices ND7/23 rat dentate gyrus granule neurons rat hippocampal neurons Neuronal activity control
J Neurochem, 22 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1111/jnc.15210 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic manipulations have transformed neuroscience in recent years. While sophisticated tools now exist for controlling the firing patterns of neurons, it remains challenging to optogenetically define the plasticity state of individual synapses. A variety of synapses in the mammalian brain express presynaptic long-term potentiation (LTP) upon elevation of presynaptic cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), but the molecular expression mechanisms as well as the impact of presynaptic LTP on network activity and behavior are not fully understood. In order to establish optogenetic control of presynaptic cAMP levels and thereby presynaptic potentiation, we developed synaptoPAC, a presynaptically targeted version of the photoactivated adenylyl cyclase bPAC. In cultures of hippocampal granule cells of Wistar rats, activation of synaptoPAC with blue light increased action potential-evoked transmission, an effect not seen in hippocampal cultures of non-granule cells. In acute brain slices of C57BL/6N mice, synaptoPAC activation immediately triggered a strong presynaptic potentiation at mossy fiber synapses in CA3, but not at Schaffer collateral synapses in CA1. Following light-triggered potentiation, mossy fiber transmission decreased within 20 min, but remained enhanced still after 30 min. The optogenetic potentiation altered the short-term plasticity dynamics of release, reminiscent of presynaptic LTP. Our work establishes synaptoPAC as an optogenetic tool that enables acute light-controlled potentiation of transmitter release at specific synapses in the brain, facilitating studies of the role of presynaptic potentiation in network function and animal behavior in an unprecedented manner. Read the Editorial Highlight for this article on page 270.
5.

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.

blue bPAC (BlaC) mouse hippocampal slices Immediate control of second messengers Neuronal activity control
Front Neural Circuits, 3 Jun 2020 DOI: 10.3389/fncir.2020.00024 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.
6.

Optogenetic control of excitatory post-synaptic differentiation through neuroligin-1 tyrosine phosphorylation.

blue VfAU1-LOV Cos-7 mouse hippocampal slices Cell differentiation Neuronal activity control
Elife, 23 Apr 2020 DOI: 10.7554/elife.52027 Link to full text
Abstract: Neuroligins (Nlgns) are adhesion proteins mediating trans-synaptic contacts in neurons. However, conflicting results around their role in synaptic differentiation arise from the various techniques used to manipulate Nlgn expression level. Orthogonally to these approaches, we triggered here the phosphorylation of endogenous Nlgn1 in CA1 mouse hippocampal neurons using a photoactivatable tyrosine kinase receptor (optoFGFR1). Light stimulation for 24 hr selectively increased dendritic spine density and AMPA-receptor-mediated EPSCs in wild-type neurons, but not in Nlgn1 knock-out neurons or when endogenous Nlgn1 was replaced by a non-phosphorylatable mutant (Y782F). Moreover, light stimulation of optoFGFR1 partially occluded LTP in a Nlgn1-dependent manner. Combined with computer simulations, our data support a model by which Nlgn1 tyrosine phosphorylation promotes the assembly of an excitatory post-synaptic scaffold that captures surface AMPA receptors. This optogenetic strategy highlights the impact of Nlgn1 intracellular signaling in synaptic differentiation and potentiation, while enabling an acute control of these mechanisms.
7.

Interneurons Regulate Locomotion Quiescence via Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate Signaling During Stress-Induced Sleep in Caenorhabditis elegans.

red IlaC C. elegans in vivo Immediate control of second messengers Neuronal activity control
Genetics, 10 Jul 2019 DOI: 10.1534/genetics.119.302293 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.
8.

A Photoactivatable Botulinum Neurotoxin for Inducible Control of Neurotransmission.

blue CRY2/CIB1 iLID C. elegans in vivo HEK293T primary rat hippocampal neurons Control of vesicular transport Neuronal activity control
Neuron, 28 Jan 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.01.002 Link to full text
Abstract: Regulated secretion is critical for diverse biological processes ranging from immune and endocrine signaling to synaptic transmission. Botulinum and tetanus neurotoxins, which specifically proteolyze vesicle fusion proteins involved in regulated secretion, have been widely used as experimental tools to block these processes. Genetic expression of these toxins in the nervous system has been a powerful approach for disrupting neurotransmitter release within defined circuitry, but their current utility in the brain and elsewhere remains limited by lack of spatial and temporal control. Here we engineered botulinum neurotoxin B so that it can be activated with blue light. We demonstrate the utility of this approach for inducibly disrupting excitatory neurotransmission, providing a first-in-class optogenetic tool for persistent, light-triggered synaptic inhibition. In addition to blocking neurotransmitter release, this approach will have broad utility for conditionally disrupting regulated secretion of diverse bioactive molecules, including neuropeptides, neuromodulators, hormones, and immune molecules. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
9.

Noninvasive optical activation of Flp recombinase for genetic manipulation in deep mouse brain regions.

blue CRY2/CIB1 Magnets HEK293T mouse in vivo Nucleic acid editing Neuronal activity control
Nat Commun, 18 Jan 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-08282-8 Link to full text
Abstract: Spatiotemporal control of gene expression or labeling is a valuable strategy for identifying functions of genes within complex neural circuits. Here, we develop a highly light-sensitive and efficient photoactivatable Flp recombinase (PA-Flp) that is suitable for genetic manipulation in vivo. The highly light-sensitive property of PA-Flp is ideal for activation in deep mouse brain regions by illumination with a noninvasive light-emitting diode. In addition, PA-Flp can be extended to the Cre-lox system through a viral vector as Flp-dependent Cre expression platform, thereby activating both Flp and Cre. Finally, we demonstrate that PA-Flp-dependent, Cre-mediated Cav3.1 silencing in the medial septum increases object-exploration behavior in mice. Thus, PA-Flp is a noninvasive, highly efficient, and easy-to-use optogenetic module that offers a side-effect-free and expandable genetic manipulation tool for neuroscience research.
10.

Potassium channel-based optogenetic silencing.

blue bPAC (BlaC) HEK293 mouse hippocampal slices mouse in vivo ND7/23 primary mouse hippocampal neurons rabbit cardiomyocytes zebrafish in vivo Immediate control of second messengers Neuronal activity control
Nat Commun, 5 Nov 2018 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07038-8 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics enables manipulation of biological processes with light at high spatio-temporal resolution to control the behavior of cells, networks, or even whole animals. In contrast to the performance of excitatory rhodopsins, the effectiveness of inhibitory optogenetic tools is still insufficient. Here we report a two-component optical silencer system comprising photoactivated adenylyl cyclases (PACs) and the small cyclic nucleotide-gated potassium channel SthK. Activation of this 'PAC-K' silencer by brief pulses of low-intensity blue light causes robust and reversible silencing of cardiomyocyte excitation and neuronal firing. In vivo expression of PAC-K in mouse and zebrafish neurons is well tolerated, where blue light inhibits neuronal activity and blocks motor responses. In combination with red-light absorbing channelrhodopsins, the distinct action spectra of PACs allow independent bimodal control of neuronal activity. PAC-K represents a reliable optogenetic silencer with intrinsic amplification for sustained potassium-mediated hyperpolarization, conferring high operational light sensitivity to the cells of interest.
11.

A light-gated potassium channel for sustained neuronal inhibition.

blue AsLOV2 Cos-7 HEK293T rat hippocampal neurons rat in vivo zebrafish in vivo Neuronal activity control
Nat Methods, 30 Oct 2018 DOI: 10.1038/s41592-018-0186-9 Link to full text
Abstract: Currently available inhibitory optogenetic tools provide short and transient silencing of neurons, but they cannot provide long-lasting inhibition because of the requirement for high light intensities. Here we present an optimized blue-light-sensitive synthetic potassium channel, BLINK2, which showed good expression in neurons in three species. The channel is activated by illumination with low doses of blue light, and in our experiments it remained active over (tens of) minutes in the dark after the illumination was stopped. This activation caused long periods of inhibition of neuronal firing in ex vivo recordings of mouse neurons and impaired motor neuron response in zebrafish in vivo. As a proof-of-concept application, we demonstrated that in a freely moving rat model of neuropathic pain, the activation of a small number of BLINK2 channels caused a long-lasting (>30 min) reduction in pain sensation.
12.

Synthetic Light-Activated Ion Channels for Optogenetic Activation and Inhibition.

blue bPAC (BlaC) D. melanogaster in vivo rat hippocampal neurons Xenopus oocytes Immediate control of second messengers Neuronal activity control
Front Neurosci, 2 Oct 2018 DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00643 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic manipulation of cells or living organisms became widely used in neuroscience following the introduction of the light-gated ion channel channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2). ChR2 is a non-selective cation channel, ideally suited to depolarize and evoke action potentials in neurons. However, its calcium (Ca2+) permeability and single channel conductance are low and for some applications longer-lasting increases in intracellular Ca2+ might be desirable. Moreover, there is need for an efficient light-gated potassium (K+) channel that can rapidly inhibit spiking in targeted neurons. Considering the importance of Ca2+ and K+ in cell physiology, light-activated Ca2+-permeant and K+-specific channels would be welcome additions to the optogenetic toolbox. Here we describe the engineering of novel light-gated Ca2+-permeant and K+-specific channels by fusing a bacterial photoactivated adenylyl cyclase to cyclic nucleotide-gated channels with high permeability for Ca2+ or for K+, respectively. Optimized fusion constructs showed strong light-gated conductance in Xenopus laevis oocytes and in rat hippocampal neurons. These constructs could also be used to control the motility of Drosophila melanogaster larvae, when expressed in motoneurons. Illumination led to body contraction when motoneurons expressed the light-sensitive Ca2+-permeant channel, and to body extension when expressing the light-sensitive K+ channel, both effectively and reversibly paralyzing the larvae. Further optimization of these constructs will be required for application in adult flies since both constructs led to eclosion failure when expressed in motoneurons.
13.

Discovery of long-range inhibitory signaling to ensure single axon formation.

blue LOVTRAP Cos-7 HeLa primary mouse hippocampal neurons Neuronal activity control
Nat Commun, 26 Jun 2017 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-00044-2 Link to full text
Abstract: A long-standing question in neurodevelopment is how neurons develop a single axon and multiple dendrites from common immature neurites. Long-range inhibitory signaling from the growing axon is hypothesized to prevent outgrowth of other immature neurites and to differentiate them into dendrites, but the existence and nature of this inhibitory signaling remains unknown. Here, we demonstrate that axonal growth triggered by neurotrophin-3 remotely inhibits neurite outgrowth through long-range Ca2+ waves, which are delivered from the growing axon to the cell body. These Ca2+ waves increase RhoA activity in the cell body through calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase I. Optogenetic control of Rho-kinase combined with computational modeling reveals that active Rho-kinase diffuses to growing other immature neurites and inhibits their outgrowth. Mechanistically, calmodulin-dependent protein kinase I phosphorylates a RhoA-specific GEF, GEF-H1, whose phosphorylation enhances its GEF activity. Thus, our results reveal that long-range inhibitory signaling mediated by Ca2+ wave is responsible for neuronal polarization.Emerging evidence suggests that gut microbiota influences immune function in the brain and may play a role in neurological diseases. Here, the authors offer in vivo evidence from a Drosophila model that supports a role for gut microbiota in modulating the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
14.

Temporally precise labeling and control of neuromodulatory circuits in the mammalian brain.

blue CRY2/CIB1 iLID HEK293T mouse in vivo primary rat hippocampal neurons Transgene expression Neuronal activity control
Nat Methods, 3 Apr 2017 DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.4234 Link to full text
Abstract: Few tools exist to visualize and manipulate neurons that are targets of neuromodulators. We present iTango, a light- and ligand-gated gene expression system based on a light-inducible split tobacco etch virus protease. Cells expressing the iTango system exhibit increased expression of a marker gene in the presence of dopamine and blue-light exposure, both in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrated the iTango system in a behaviorally relevant context, by inducing expression of optogenetic tools in neurons under dopaminergic control during a behavior of interest. We thereby gained optogenetic control of these behaviorally relevant neurons. We applied the iTango system to decipher the roles of two classes of dopaminergic neurons in the mouse nucleus accumbens in a sensitized locomotor response to cocaine. Thus, the iTango platform allows for control of neuromodulatory circuits in a genetically and functionally defined manner with spatial and temporal precision.
15.

Kinetics of Endogenous CaMKII Required for Synaptic Plasticity Revealed by Optogenetic Kinase Inhibitor.

blue AsLOV2 HeLa in vitro mouse in vivo rat hippocampal neurons rat hippocampal slices Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Neuronal activity control
Neuron, 16 Mar 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.02.036 Link to full text
Abstract: Elucidating temporal windows of signaling activity required for synaptic and behavioral plasticity is crucial for understanding molecular mechanisms underlying these phenomena. Here, we developed photoactivatable autocamtide inhibitory peptide 2 (paAIP2), a genetically encoded, light-inducible inhibitor of CaMKII activity. The photoactivation of paAIP2 in neurons for 1-2 min during the induction of LTP and structural LTP (sLTP) of dendritic spines inhibited these forms of plasticity in hippocampal slices of rodents. However, photoactivation ∼1 min after the induction did not affect them, suggesting that the initial 1 min of CaMKII activation is sufficient for inducing LTP and sLTP. Furthermore, the photoactivation of paAIP2 expressed in amygdalar neurons of mice during an inhibitory avoidance task revealed that CaMKII activity during, but not after, training is required for the memory formation. Thus, we demonstrated that paAIP2 is useful to elucidate the temporal window of CaMKII activation required for synaptic plasticity and learning.
16.

Fast cAMP Modulation of Neurotransmission via Neuropeptide Signals and Vesicle Loading.

blue bPAC (BlaC) C. elegans in vivo Immediate control of second messengers Neuronal activity control
Curr Biol, 2 Feb 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.055 Link to full text
Abstract: Cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling augments synaptic transmission, but because many targets of cAMP and protein kinase A (PKA) may be involved, mechanisms underlying this pathway remain unclear. To probe this mechanism, we used optogenetic stimulation of cAMP signaling by Beggiatoa-photoactivated adenylyl cyclase (bPAC) in Caenorhabditis elegans motor neurons. Behavioral, electron microscopy (EM), and electrophysiology analyses revealed cAMP effects on both the rate and on quantal size of transmitter release and led to the identification of a neuropeptidergic pathway affecting quantal size. cAMP enhanced synaptic vesicle (SV) fusion by increasing mobilization and docking/priming. cAMP further evoked dense core vesicle (DCV) release of neuropeptides, in contrast to channelrhodopsin (ChR2) stimulation. cAMP-evoked DCV release required UNC-31/Ca(2+)-dependent activator protein for secretion (CAPS). Thus, DCVs accumulated in unc-31 mutant synapses. bPAC-induced neuropeptide signaling acts presynaptically to enhance vAChT-dependent SV loading with acetylcholine, thus causing increased miniature postsynaptic current amplitudes (mPSCs) and significantly enlarged SVs.
17.

Optogenetic Control of Synaptic Composition and Function.

blue CRY2/CIB1 rat hippocampal neurons Neuronal activity control
Neuron, 26 Jan 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.12.037 Link to full text
Abstract: The molecular composition of the postsynaptic membrane is sculpted by synaptic activity. During synaptic plasticity at excitatory synapses, numerous structural, signaling, and receptor molecules concentrate at the postsynaptic density (PSD) to regulate synaptic strength. We developed an approach that uses light to tune the abundance of specific molecules in the PSD. We used this approach to investigate the relationship between the number of AMPA-type glutamate receptors in the PSD and synaptic strength. Surprisingly, adding more AMPA receptors to excitatory contacts had little effect on synaptic strength. Instead, we observed increased excitatory input through the apparent addition of new functional sites. Our data support a model where adding AMPA receptors is sufficient to activate synapses that had few receptors to begin with, but that additional remodeling events are required to strengthen established synapses. More broadly, this approach introduces the precise spatiotemporal control of optogenetics to the molecular control of synaptic function.
18.

Regulation of neural gene transcription by optogenetic inhibition of the RE1-silencing transcription factor.

blue AsLOV2 HeLa Neuro-2a primary mouse cortical neurons Cell differentiation Endogenous gene expression Neuronal activity control
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 23 Dec 2015 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1507355112 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics provides new ways to activate gene transcription; however, no attempts have been made as yet to modulate mammalian transcription factors. We report the light-mediated regulation of the repressor element 1 (RE1)-silencing transcription factor (REST), a master regulator of neural genes. To tune REST activity, we selected two protein domains that impair REST-DNA binding or recruitment of the cofactor mSin3a. Computational modeling guided the fusion of the inhibitory domains to the light-sensitive Avena sativa light-oxygen-voltage-sensing (LOV) 2-phototrophin 1 (AsLOV2). By expressing AsLOV2 chimeras in Neuro2a cells, we achieved light-dependent modulation of REST target genes that was associated with an improved neural differentiation. In primary neurons, light-mediated REST inhibition increased Na(+)-channel 1.2 and brain-derived neurotrophic factor transcription and boosted Na(+) currents and neuronal firing. This optogenetic approach allows the coordinated expression of a cluster of genes impinging on neuronal activity, providing a tool for studying neuronal physiology and correcting gene expression changes taking place in brain diseases.
19.

Optogenetic Control of Gene Expression in Drosophila.

blue CRY2/CIB1 D. melanogaster in vivo Schneider 2 Transgene expression Neuronal activity control
PLoS ONE, 18 Sep 2015 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138181 Link to full text
Abstract: To study the molecular mechanism of complex biological systems, it is important to be able to artificially manipulate gene expression in desired target sites with high precision. Based on the light dependent binding of cryptochrome 2 and a cryptochrome interacting bHLH protein, we developed a split lexA transcriptional activation system for use in Drosophila that allows regulation of gene expression in vivo using blue light or two-photon excitation. We show that this system offers high spatiotemporal resolution by inducing gene expression in tissues at various developmental stages. In combination with two-photon excitation, gene expression can be manipulated at precise sites in embryos, potentially offering an important tool with which to examine developmental processes.
20.

A photosensitive degron enables acute light-induced protein degradation in the nervous system.

blue AtLOV2 miniSOG C. elegans in vivo Neuronal activity control
Curr Biol, 31 Aug 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.07.040 Link to full text
Abstract: Acutely inducing degradation enables studying the function of essential proteins. Available techniques target proteins post-translationally, via ubiquitin or by fusing destabilizing domains (degrons), and in some cases degradation is controllable by small molecules. Yet, they are comparably slow, possibly inducing compensatory changes, and do not allow localized protein depletion. The photosensitizer miniature singlet oxygen generator (miniSOG), fused to proteins of interest, provides fast light-induced protein destruction, e.g. affecting neurotransmission within minutes, but the reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated also affect proteins nearby, causing multifaceted phenotypes. A photosensitive degron (psd), recently developed and characterized in yeast, only targets the protein it is fused to, acting quickly as it is ubiquitin-independent, and the B-LID light-inducible degron was similarly shown to affect protein abundance in zebrafish. We implemented the psd in Caenorhabditis elegans and compared it to miniSOG. The psd effectively caused protein degradation within one hour of low intensity blue light (30 μW/mm(2)). Targeting synaptotagmin (SNT-1::tagRFP::psd), required for efficient neurotransmission, reduced locomotion within 15 minutes of illumination and within one hour behavior and miniature postsynaptic currents (mPSCs) were affected almost to the same degree seen in snt-1 mutants. Thus, psd effectively photo-degrades specific proteins, quickly inducing loss-of-function effects without affecting bystander proteins.
21.

Optogenetics. Engineering of a light-gated potassium channel.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293T S. cerevisiae Xenopus oocytes zebrafish in vivo Neuronal activity control
Science, 7 May 2015 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa2787 Link to full text
Abstract: The present palette of opsin-based optogenetic tools lacks a light-gated potassium (K(+)) channel desirable for silencing of excitable cells. Here, we describe the construction of a blue-light-induced K(+) channel 1 (BLINK1) engineered by fusing the plant LOV2-Jα photosensory module to the small viral K(+) channel Kcv. BLINK1 exhibits biophysical features of Kcv, including K(+) selectivity and high single-channel conductance but reversibly photoactivates in blue light. Opening of BLINK1 channels hyperpolarizes the cell to the K(+) equilibrium potential. Ectopic expression of BLINK1 reversibly inhibits the escape response in light-exposed zebrafish larvae. BLINK1 therefore provides a single-component optogenetic tool that can establish prolonged, physiological hyperpolarization of cells at low light intensities.
22.

Engineering adenylate cyclases regulated by near-infrared window light.

red IlaC C. elegans in vivo E. coli in vitro Immediate control of second messengers Neuronal activity control
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 30 Jun 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1324301111 Link to full text
Abstract: Bacteriophytochromes sense light in the near-infrared window, the spectral region where absorption by mammalian tissues is minimal, and their chromophore, biliverdin IXα, is naturally present in animal cells. These properties make bacteriophytochromes particularly attractive for optogenetic applications. However, the lack of understanding of how light-induced conformational changes control output activities has hindered engineering of bacteriophytochrome-based optogenetic tools. Many bacteriophytochromes function as homodimeric enzymes, in which light-induced conformational changes are transferred via α-helical linkers to the rigid output domains. We hypothesized that heterologous output domains requiring homodimerization can be fused to the photosensory modules of bacteriophytochromes to generate light-activated fusions. Here, we tested this hypothesis by engineering adenylate cyclases regulated by light in the near-infrared spectral window using the photosensory module of the Rhodobacter sphaeroides bacteriophytochrome BphG1 and the adenylate cyclase domain from Nostoc sp. CyaB1. We engineered several light-activated fusion proteins that differed from each other by approximately one or two α-helical turns, suggesting that positioning of the output domains in the same phase of the helix is important for light-dependent activity. Extensive mutagenesis of one of these fusions resulted in an adenylate cyclase with a sixfold photodynamic range. Additional mutagenesis produced an enzyme with a more stable photoactivated state. When expressed in cholinergic neurons in Caenorhabditis elegans, the engineered adenylate cyclase affected worm behavior in a light-dependent manner. The insights derived from this study can be applied to the engineering of other homodimeric bacteriophytochromes, which will further expand the optogenetic toolset.
23.

Optical control of the Ca2+ concentration in a live specimen with a genetically encoded Ca2+-releasing molecular tool.

blue AsLOV2 C. elegans in vivo HeLa in vitro Immediate control of second messengers Neuronal activity control
ACS Chem Biol, 24 Mar 2014 DOI: 10.1021/cb400849n Link to full text
Abstract: Calcium ion (Ca2+) is an important second messenger implicated in the control of many different cellular processes in living organisms. Ca2+ is typically studied by direct visualization using chemically or genetically encoded indicators. A complementary, and perhaps more useful, approach involves direct manipulation of Ca2+ concentration; tools for this exist but are rather poorly developed compared to the indicators at least. Here, we report a photoactivatable Ca2+-releasing protein, photoactivatable Ca2+ releaser (PACR), made by the insertion of a photosensitive protein domain (LOV2) into a Ca2+ binding protein (calmodulin fused with the M13 peptide). As the PACR is genetically encoded, and unlike conventional optical control tools (e.g., channel rhodopsin) not membrane bound, we are able to restrict expression within the cell, to allow subcellular perturbation of Ca2+ levels. In whole animals, we are able to control the behavior of Caenorhabditis elegans with light by expressing the PACR only in the touch neuron.
24.

RasGRF2 Rac-GEF activity couples NMDA receptor calcium flux to enhanced synaptic transmission.

blue AsLOV2 rat hippocampal neurons Neuronal activity control
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 12 Aug 2013 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1304340110 Link to full text
Abstract: Dendritic spines are the primary sites of excitatory synaptic transmission in the vertebrate brain, and the morphology of these actin-rich structures correlates with synaptic function. Here we demonstrate a unique method for inducing spine enlargement and synaptic potentiation in dispersed hippocampal neurons, and use this technique to identify a coordinator of these processes; Ras-specific guanine nucleotide releasing factor 2 (RasGRF2). RasGRF2 is a dual Ras/Rac guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) that is known to be necessary for long-term potentiation in situ. Contrary to the prevailing assumption, we find RasGRF2's Rac-GEF activity to be essential for synaptic potentiation by using a molecular replacement strategy designed to dissociate Rac- from Ras-GEF activities. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Rac1 activity itself is sufficient to rapidly modulate postsynaptic strength by using a photoactivatable derivative of this small GTPase. Because Rac1 is a major actin regulator, our results support a model where the initial phase of long-term potentiation is driven by the cytoskeleton.
25.

Optogenetic inhibition of synaptic release with chromophore-assisted light inactivation (CALI).

blue miniSOG C. elegans in vivo rat cortical neurons rat hippocampal neurons rat hippocampal slices Control of vesicular transport Neuronal activity control
Neuron, 24 Jul 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.05.022 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic techniques provide effective ways of manipulating the functions of selected neurons with light. In the current study, we engineered an optogenetic technique that directly inhibits neurotransmitter release. We used a genetically encoded singlet oxygen generator, miniSOG, to conduct chromophore assisted light inactivation (CALI) of synaptic proteins. Fusions of miniSOG to VAMP2 and synaptophysin enabled disruption of presynaptic vesicular release upon illumination with blue light. In cultured neurons and hippocampal organotypic slices, synaptic release was reduced up to 100%. Such inhibition lasted >1 hr and had minimal effects on membrane electrical properties. When miniSOG-VAMP2 was expressed panneuronally in Caenorhabditis elegans, movement of the worms was reduced after illumination, and paralysis was often observed. The movement of the worms recovered overnight. We name this technique Inhibition of Synapses with CALI (InSynC). InSynC is a powerful way to silence genetically specified synapses with light in a spatially and temporally precise manner.
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