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 89 results

Stress pathway outputs are encoded by pH-dependent phase separation of its components.

blue CRY2clust HEK293 Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 26 Feb 2024 DOI: 10.1101/2024.02.24.581896 Link to full text
Abstract: Signal processing by intracellular kinases control near all biological processes but how precise functions of signal pathways evolve with changed cellular contexts is poorly understood. Functional specificity of c-Jun N-terminal Kinases (JNK) activated in response to a broad range of pathological and physiological stimuli are partly encoded by signal strength. Here we reveal that intracellular pH (pHi) is a significant component of the JNK regulatory network and defines JNK signal response to precise stimuli. We showed that nuanced fluctuations in physiological pHi regulates JNK activity in response to cell stress. Interestingly, the relationship between pHi and JNK activity was dependent on specific stimuli and upstream kinases involved in pathway activation. Cytosolic alkalinisation promoted phase transition of upstream ASK1 to augment JNK activation. While increased pHi similarly induced JNK2 to form condensates, this led to attenuated JNK activity. Mathematical modelling of feedback signalling incorporating pHi and differential contribution by JNK2 and ASK1 condensates was sufficient to delineate the strength of JNK signal response to specific stimuli. This new knowledge of pHi regulation with consideration of JNK2 and ASK1 contribution to signal transduction may delineate oncogenic versus tumour suppressive functions of the JNK pathway and cancer cell drug responses.

Asymmetric oligomerization state and sequence patterning can tune multiphase condensate miscibility.

blue iLID S. cerevisiae U-2 OS Organelle manipulation
Nat Chem, 21 Feb 2024 DOI: 10.1038/s41557-024-01456-6 Link to full text
Abstract: Endogenous biomolecular condensates, composed of a multitude of proteins and RNAs, can organize into multiphasic structures with compositionally distinct phases. This multiphasic organization is generally understood to be critical for facilitating their proper biological function. However, the biophysical principles driving multiphase formation are not completely understood. Here we use in vivo condensate reconstitution experiments and coarse-grained molecular simulations to investigate how oligomerization and sequence interactions modulate multiphase organization in biomolecular condensates. We demonstrate that increasing the oligomerization state of an intrinsically disordered protein results in enhanced immiscibility and multiphase formation. Interestingly, we find that oligomerization tunes the miscibility of intrinsically disordered proteins in an asymmetric manner, with the effect being more pronounced when the intrinsically disordered protein, exhibiting stronger homotypic interactions, is oligomerized. Our findings suggest that oligomerization is a flexible biophysical mechanism that cells can exploit to tune the internal organization of biomolecular condensates and their associated biological functions.

Interplay of condensation and chromatin binding underlies BRD4 targeting.

blue iLID U-2 OS Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 7 Feb 2024 DOI: 10.1101/2024.02.07.579384 Link to full text
Abstract: Nuclear compartments form via biomolecular phase separation, mediated through multivalent properties of biomolecules concentrated within condensates. Certain compartments are associated with specific chromatin regions, including transcriptional initiation condensates, which are composed of transcription factors and transcriptional machinery, and form at acetylated regions including enhancer and promoter loci. While protein self-interactions, especially within low-complexity and intrinsically disordered regions, are known to mediate condensation, the role of substrate-binding interactions in regulating the formation and function of biomolecular condensates is under-explored. Here, utilizing live-cell experiments in parallel with coarse-grained simulations, we investigate how chromatin interaction of the transcription factor BRD4 modulates its condensate formation. We find that both kinetic and thermodynamic properties of BRD4 condensation are affected by chromatin binding: nucleation rate is sensitive to BRD4-chromatin interactions, providing an explanation for the selective formation of BRD4 condensates at acetylated chromatin regions, and thermodynamically, multivalent acetylated chromatin sites provide a platform for BRD4 clustering below the concentration required for off-chromatin condensation. This provides a molecular and physical explanation of the relationship between nuclear condensates and epigenetically modified chromatin that results in their mutual spatiotemporal regulation, suggesting that epigenetic modulation is an important mechanism by which the cell targets transcriptional condensates to specific chromatin loci.

Using split protein reassembly strategy to optically control PLD enzymatic activity.

blue CRY2/CIB1 iLID HEK293T HeLa Signaling cascade control Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 30 Jan 2024 DOI: 10.1101/2024.01.27.577557 Link to full text
Abstract: Phospholipase D (PLD) and phosphatidic acid (PA) play a spatio-temporal role in regulating diverse cellular activities. Although current methodologies enable optical control of the subcellular localization of PLD and by which influence local PLD enzyme activity, the overexpression of PLD elevates the basal PLD enzyme activity and further leads to increased PA levels in cells. In this study, we employed a split protein reassembly strategy and optogenetic techniques to modify superPLD (a PLDPMF variant with a high basal activity). We splited this variants into two HKD domains and fused these domains with optogenetic elements and by which we achieved light-mediated dimerization of the two HKD proteins and then restored the PLD enzymatic activity.

Rapid and reversible dissolution of biomolecular condensates using light-controlled recruitment of a solubility tag.

blue iLID HEK293T NIH/3T3 Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 17 Jan 2024 DOI: 10.1101/2024.01.16.575860 Link to full text
Abstract: Biomolecular condensates are broadly implicated in both normal cellular regulation and disease. Consequently, several chemical biology and optogenetic approaches have been developed to induce phase separation of a protein of interest. However, few tools are available to perform the converse function—dissolving a condensate of interest on demand. Such a tool would aid in testing whether the condensate plays specific functional roles, a major question in cell biology and drug development. Here we report an optogenetic approach to selectively dissolve a condensate of interest in a reversible and spatially controlled manner. We show that light-gated recruitment of maltose-binding protein (MBP), a commonly used solubilizing domain in protein purification, results in rapid and controlled dissolution of condensates formed from proteins of interest. Our optogenetic MBP-based dissolution strategy (OptoMBP) is rapid, reversible, and can be spatially controlled with subcellular precision. We also provide a proof-of-principle application of OptoMBP, showing that disrupting condensation of the oncogenic fusion protein FUS-CHOP results in reversion of FUS-CHOP driven transcriptional changes. We envision that the OptoMBP system could be broadly useful for disrupting constitutive protein condensates to probe their biological functions.

A platform to induce and mature biomolecular condensates using chemicals and light.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CRY2olig Cos-7 Organelle manipulation
Nat Chem Biol, 8 Jan 2024 DOI: 10.1038/s41589-023-01520-1 Link to full text
Abstract: Biomolecular condensates are membraneless compartments that impart spatial and temporal organization to cells. Condensates can undergo maturation, transitioning from dynamic liquid-like states into solid-like states associated with neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Huntington's disease. Despite their important roles, many aspects of condensate biology remain incompletely understood, requiring tools for acutely manipulating condensate-relevant processes within cells. Here we used the BCL6 BTB domain and its ligands BI-3802 and BI-3812 to create a chemical genetic platform, BTBolig, allowing inducible condensate formation and dissolution. We also developed optogenetic and chemical methods for controlled induction of condensate maturation, where we surprisingly observed recruitment of chaperones into the condensate core and formation of dynamic biphasic condensates. Our work provides insights into the interaction of condensates with proteostasis pathways and introduces a suite of chemical-genetic approaches to probe the role of biomolecular condensates in health and disease.

Regulatable assembly of synthetic microtubule architectures using engineered MAP-IDR condensates.

blue CRY2/CRY2 PixD/PixE NIH/3T3 Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 6 Dec 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.03.14.532644 Link to full text
Abstract: Microtubules filaments are assembled into higher-order structures and machines critical for cellular processes using microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs). However, the design of synthetic MAPs that direct the formation of new structures in cells is challenging, as nanoscale biochemical activities must be organized across micron length-scales. Here we develop synthetic MAP-IDR condensates (synMAPs) that provide tunable and regulatable assembly of higher-order microtubule structures in vitro and in mammalian cells. synMAPs harness a small microtubule-binding domain from oligodendrocytes (TPPP) whose activity can be synthetically rewired by interaction with condensate-forming IDR sequences. This combination allows synMAPs to self-organize multivalent structures that bind and bridge microtubules into synthetic architectures. Regulating the connection between the microtubule-binding and condensate-forming components allows synMAPs to act as nodes in more complex cytoskeletal circuits in which the formation and dynamics of the microtubule structure can be controlled by small molecules or cell-signaling inputs. By systematically testing a panel of synMAP circuit designs, we define a two-level control scheme for dynamic assembly of microtubule architectures at the nanoscale (via microtubule-binding) and microscale (via condensate formation). synMAPs provide a compact and rationally engineerable starting point for the design of more complex microtubule architectures and cellular machines.

Focal adhesion-derived liquid-liquid phase separations regulate mRNA translation.

blue CRY2/CRY2 MCF7 Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 22 Nov 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.11.22.568289 Link to full text
Abstract: Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) has emerged as a major organizing principle in cells. Recent work showed that multiple components of integrin-mediated focal adhesions including p130Cas can form LLPS, which govern adhesion dynamics and related cell behaviors. In this study, we found that the focal adhesion protein p130Cas drives formation of structures with the characteristics of LLPS that bud from focal adhesions into the cytoplasm. Condensing concentrated cytoplasm around p130Cas-coated beads allowed their isolation, which were enriched in a subset of focal adhesion proteins, mRNAs and RNA binding proteins, including those implicated in inhibiting mRNA translation. Plating cells on very high concentrations of fibronectin to induce large focal adhesions inhibited message translation which required p130Cas and correlated with droplet formation. Photo-induction of p130Cas condensates using the Cry2 system also reduced translation. These results identify a novel regulatory mechanism in which high adhesion limits message translation via induction of p130Cas-dependent cytoplasmic LLPS. This mechanism may contribute to the quiescent state of very strongly adhesive myofibroblasts and senescent cells.

Critical capillary waves of biomolecular condensates.

blue iLID U-2 OS Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 5 Nov 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.10.29.564316 Link to full text
Abstract: Membraneless compartments known as biomolecular condensates are thought to form through liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS). When forces are applied to the fluid interfaces of these condensates, surface fluctuation are generated, a phenomenon known as capillary waves. The spatiotemporal dynamics of these fluctuations, characterized by the amplitude and velocity, reflect the physical properties of condensates. Moreover, unraveling the nature of fluctuations near the critical point is crucial for understanding the universal physical underpinnings of phase transitions. Although fluid condensate interfaces are ubiquitous within living cells, little is known about their surface fluctuations. Here, we quantify the interface fluctuations of light-induced synthetic and endogenous nuclear condensates, including nucleoli and nuclear speckles, in real and Fourier space. Measured fluctuations align with a theory assuming thermal driving, which enables measurement of surface tension and effective viscosity. The surface tensions fall within the range of 10−6 to 10−5 N/m for all tested condensates; in contrast, we find significant difference of fluctuation velocities, highlighting much higher viscosity of nucleoli ∼ 104 Pa·s, compared to synthetic condensates and nuclear speckles. We further find that the interface fluctuations become enhanced and slower as the system nears the critical point. These findings elucidate key aspects of intracellular condensate properties, and suggest that the critical trend of surface tension is more consistent with theoretical predictions by the mean-field model than those by the 3D Ising model.

Engineering Material Properties of Transcription Factor Condensates to Control Gene Expression in Mammalian Cells and Mice.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CRY2/CRY2 CRY2olig HEK293T U-2 OS Transgene expression Endogenous gene expression Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 16 Oct 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.10.16.562453 Link to full text
Abstract: Phase separation of biomolecules into condensates is a key mechanism in the spatiotemporal organization of biochemical processes in cells. However, the impact of the material properties of biomolecular condensates on important processes, such as the control of gene expression, remains largely elusive. Here, we systematically tune the material properties of optogenetically induced transcription factor condensates and probe their impact on the activation of target promoters. We demonstrate that rather liquid condensates correlate with increased gene expression levels, whereas a gradual transition to more stiff condensates converts otherwise activating transcription factors into dominant negative inhibitors. We demonstrate the general nature of these findings in mammalian cells and mice, as well as by using different synthetic and natural transcription factors. We observe these effects for both transgenic and cell-endogenous promoters. Our findings provide a novel materials-based layer in the control of gene expression, which opens novel opportunities in (opto-)genetic engineering and synthetic biology.

An optogenetic method for the controlled release of single molecules.

violet PhoCl CHO-K1 CV-1 EL4 HEK293T Signaling cascade control Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 17 Sep 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.09.16.557871 Link to full text
Abstract: We developed a system for optogenetic release of single molecules in live cells. We confined soluble and transmembrane proteins to the Golgi apparatus via a photocleavable protein and released them by short pulses of light. Our method allows for the controlled delivery of functional proteins to cytosol and plasma membrane in amounts compatible with single molecule imaging, greatly simplifying access to single molecule microscopy of any protein in live cells. Furthermore, we could reconstitute cellular functions such as ion conductance by delivering BK and VRAC ion channels to the plasma membrane. Finally, we could induce NF-kB signaling in T-Lymphoblasts stimulated by IL-1 by controlled release of a signaling protein that had been knocked-out in the same cells. We observed light induced formation of functional inflammatory signaling complexes that could trigger IKK phosphorylation in single cells. We thus developed an optogenetic method for the reconstitution and investigation of cellular function at the single molecule level.

A novel SATB1 protein isoform with different biophysical properties.

blue CRY2/CRY2 mouse T cells NIH/3T3 Organelle manipulation
Front Cell Dev Biol, 11 Aug 2023 DOI: 10.3389/fcell.2023.1242481 Link to full text
Abstract: Intra-thymic T cell development is coordinated by the regulatory actions of SATB1 genome organizer. In this report, we show that SATB1 is involved in the regulation of transcription and splicing, both of which displayed deregulation in Satb1 knockout murine thymocytes. More importantly, we characterized a novel SATB1 protein isoform and described its distinct biophysical behavior, implicating potential functional differences compared to the commonly studied isoform. SATB1 utilized its prion-like domains to transition through liquid-like states to aggregated structures. This behavior was dependent on protein concentration as well as phosphorylation and interaction with nuclear RNA. Notably, the long SATB1 isoform was more prone to aggregate following phase separation. Thus, the tight regulation of SATB1 isoforms expression levels alongside with protein post-translational modifications, are imperative for SATB1's mode of action in T cell development. Our data indicate that deregulation of these processes may also be linked to disorders such as cancer.

Optogenetic strategies for optimizing the performance of biosensors of membrane phospholipids in live cells.

blue cpLOV2 CRY2/CIB1 CRY2/CRY2 LOVTRAP HEK293T HeLa Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 4 Aug 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.08.03.551799 Link to full text
Abstract: High-performance biosensors are crucial for elucidating the spatiotemporal regulatory roles and dynamics of membrane lipids, but there is a lack of improvement strategies for biosensors with low sensitivity and low-content substrates detection. Here we developed universal optogenetic strategies to improve a set of membrane biosensors by trapping them into specific region and further reducing the background signal, or by optically-controlled phase separation for membrane lipids detection and tracking. These improved biosensors were superior to typical tools and light simulation would enhance their detection performance and resolution, which might contribute to the design and optimization of other biosensors.

RNA G-quadruplexes forming scaffolds for alpha-synuclein aggregation lead to progressive neurodegeneration.

blue CRY2olig mouse in vivo Neuro-2a primary mouse cortical neurons Cell death Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 11 Jul 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.07.10.548322 Link to full text
Abstract: Synucleinopathies, including Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and multiple system atrophy, are primarily neurodegenerative diseases with progressive decline in motor function. Aggregates composed of alpha-synuclein, which are known as Lewy bodies, are a neuropathological hallmark of synucleinopathies; their pathogenesis has been attributed to neuronal loss owing to intracellular alpha-synuclein accumulation. However, the mechanism of alpha-synuclein aggregation remains unclear. Here we show that the RNA G-quadruplexes assembly forms scaffolds for alpha-synuclein aggregation, thereby contributing to neurodegeneration. RNA G-quadruplexes undergo phase separation and form scaffolds for co-aggregation with & alpha-synuclein. Upon pathogenic alpha-synuclein seeds-induced cellular stress and an optogenetic assembly of RNA G-quadruplexes, phase-separated RNA G-quadruplexes served as scaffolds for & alpha-synuclein phase transition, and the co-aggregates initiated synaptic dysfunction and Parkinsonism in mice. Treatment with 5-aminolevulinic acid and protoporphyrin IX, which prevents RNA G-quadruplexes phase separation, attenuates alpha-synuclein phase transition, neurodegeneration, and motor deficits in synucleinopathy model mice. Together, the RNA G-quadruplexes assembly accelerates alpha-synuclein phase transition and aggregation owing to intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis, thereby contributing to the pathogenesis of synucleinopathies.

Light-induced condensates show accumulation-prone and less dynamic properties in the nucleus compared to the cytoplasm.

blue CRY2olig Neuro-2a Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 23 Jun 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.06.07.544154 Link to full text
Abstract: Biomolecular condensates, including membraneless organelles, are ubiquitously observed in subcellular compartments. However, the accumulation and dynamic properties of arbitrarily in-duced condensates remain elusive. Here, we show the size, amount, and dynamic properties of subcellular condensates using various fluorescence spectroscopic imaging analyses. Spatial image correlation spectroscopy showed that the size of blue-light-induced condensates of cryptochrome 2-derived oligomerization tag (CRY2olig) tagged with a red fluorescent protein in the nucleus was not different from that in the cytoplasm. Fluorescence intensity measurements showed that the condensates in the nucleus were more prone to accumulation than those in the cytoplasm. Sin-gle-particle tracking analysis showed that the condensates in the nucleus are predisposed to be stationary dynamics compared to those in the cytoplasm. Therefore, the subcellular compartment may, in part, affect the characteristics of self-recruitment of biomolecules in the condensates and their movement property.

Sequence- and structure-specific RNA oligonucleotide binding attenuates heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 dysfunction.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HEK293T Organelle manipulation
Front Mol Biosci, 22 Jun 2023 DOI: 10.3389/fmolb.2023.1178439 Link to full text
Abstract: The RNA binding protein heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 (A1) regulates RNA metabolism, which is crucial to maintaining cellular homeostasis. A1 dysfunction mechanistically contributes to reduced cell viability and loss, but molecular mechanisms of how A1 dysfunction affects cell viability and loss, and methodologies to attenuate its dysfunction, are lacking. Utilizing in silico molecular modeling and an in vitro optogenetic system, this study examined the consequences of RNA oligonucleotide (RNAO) treatment on attenuating A1 dysfunction and its downstream cellular effects. In silico and thermal shift experiments revealed that binding of RNAOs to the RNA Recognition Motif 1 of A1 is stabilized by sequence- and structure-specific RNAO-A1 interactions. Using optogenetics to model A1 cellular dysfunction, we show that sequence- and structure-specific RNAOs significantly attenuated abnormal cytoplasmic A1 self-association kinetics and A1 cytoplasmic clustering. Downstream of A1 dysfunction, we demonstrate that A1 clustering affects the formation of stress granules, activates cell stress, and inhibits protein translation. With RNAO treatment, we show that stress granule formation is attenuated, cell stress is inhibited, and protein translation is restored. This study provides evidence that sequence- and structure-specific RNAO treatment attenuates A1 dysfunction and its downstream effects, thus allowing for the development of A1-specific therapies that attenuate A1 dysfunction and restore cellular homeostasis.

mRNA condensation fluidizes the cytoplasm.

blue CRY2/CRY2 U-2 OS Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 31 May 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.05.30.542963 Link to full text
Abstract: The intracellular environment is packed with macromolecules of mesoscale size, and this crowded milieu significantly influences cell physiology. When exposed to stress, mRNAs released after translational arrest condense with RNA binding proteins, resulting in the formation of membraneless RNA protein (RNP) condensates known as processing bodies (P-bodies) and stress granules (SGs). However, the impact of the assembly of these condensates on the biophysical properties of the crowded cytoplasmic environment remains unclear. Here, we find that upon exposure to stress, polysome collapse and condensation of mRNAs increases mesoscale particle diffusivity in the cytoplasm. Increased mesoscale diffusivity is required for the efficient formation of Q-bodies, membraneless organelles that coordinate degradation of misfolded peptides that accumulate during stress. Additionally, we demonstrate that polysome collapse and stress granule formation has a similar effect in mammalian cells, fluidizing the cytoplasm at the mesoscale. We find that synthetic, light-induced RNA condensation is sufficient to fluidize the cytoplasm, demonstrating a causal effect of RNA condensation. Together, our work reveals a new functional role for stress-induced translation inhibition and formation of RNP condensates in modulating the physical properties of the cytoplasm to effectively respond to stressful conditions.

Interaction between PI3K and the VDAC2 channel tethers Ras-PI3K-positive endosomes to mitochondria and promotes endosome maturation.

blue CRY2/CRY2 A-431 Organelle manipulation Transgene expression
Cell Rep, 11 Mar 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2023.112229 Link to full text
Abstract: Intracellular organelles of mammalian cells communicate with one another during various cellular processes. The functions and molecular mechanisms of such interorganelle association remain largely unclear, however. We here identify voltage-dependent anion channel 2 (VDAC2), a mitochondrial outer membrane protein, as a binding partner of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), a regulator of clathrin-independent endocytosis downstream of the small GTPase Ras. VDAC2 tethers endosomes positive for the Ras-PI3K complex to mitochondria in response to cell stimulation with epidermal growth factor and promotes clathrin-independent endocytosis, as well as endosome maturation at membrane association sites. With an optogenetics system to induce mitochondrion-endosome association, we find that, in addition to its structural role in such association, VDAC2 is functionally implicated in the promotion of endosome maturation. The mitochondrion-endosome association thus plays a role in the regulation of clathrin-independent endocytosis and endosome maturation.

DIAPH3 condensates formed by liquid-liquid phase separation act as a regulatory hub for stress-induced actin cytoskeleton remodeling.

blue CRY2olig HeLa Organelle manipulation
Cell Rep, 10 Jan 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.111986 Link to full text
Abstract: Membraneless condensates, such as stress granules (SGs) and processing bodies (P-bodies), have attracted wide attention due to their unique feature of rapid response to stress without first requiring nuclear feedback. In this study, we identify diaphanous-related formin 3 (DIAPH3), an actin nucleator, as a scaffold protein to initiate liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) and form abundant cytosolic phase-separated DIAPH3 granules (D-granules) in mammalian cells such as HeLa, HEK293, and fibroblasts under various stress conditions. Neither mRNAs nor known stress-associated condensate markers, such as G3BP1, G3BP2, and TIA1 for SGs and DCP1A for P-bodies, are detected in D-granules. Using overexpression and knockout of DIAPH3, pharmacological interventions, and optogenetics, we further demonstrate that stress-induced D-granules spatially sequester DIAPH3 within the condensation to inhibit the assembly of actin filaments in filopodia. This study reveals that D-granules formed by LLPS act as a regulatory hub for actin cytoskeletal remodeling in response to stress.

Golgi screen identifies the RhoGEF Solo as a novel regulator of RhoB and endocytic transport.

blue CRY2/CIB1 HeLa Organelle manipulation
Traffic, 23 Dec 2022 DOI: 10.1111/tra.12880 Link to full text
Abstract: The control of intracellular membrane trafficking by Rho GTPases is central to cellular homeostasis. How specific guanine nucleotide exchange factors and GTPase-activating proteins locally balance GTPase activation in this process is nevertheless largely unclear. By performing a microscopy-based RNAi screen, we here identify the RhoGEF protein Solo as a functional counterplayer of DLC3, a RhoGAP protein with established roles in membrane trafficking. Biochemical, imaging and optogenetics assays further uncover Solo as a novel regulator of endosomal RhoB. Remarkably, we find that Solo and DLC3 control not only the activity, but also total protein levels of RhoB in an antagonistic manner. Together, the results of our study uncover the first functionally connected RhoGAP-RhoGEF pair at endomembranes, placing Solo and DLC3 at the core of endocytic trafficking.

Rapid and reversible optogenetic silencing of synaptic transmission by clustering of synaptic vesicles.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CRY2olig C. elegans in vivo primary mouse hippocampal neurons zebrafish in vivo Control of vesicular transport Organelle manipulation
Nat Commun, 19 Dec 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-35324-z Link to full text
Abstract: Acutely silencing specific neurons informs about their functional roles in circuits and behavior. Existing optogenetic silencers include ion pumps, channels, metabotropic receptors, and tools that damage the neurotransmitter release machinery. While the former hyperpolarize the cell, alter ionic gradients or cellular biochemistry, the latter allow only slow recovery, requiring de novo synthesis. Thus, tools combining fast activation and reversibility are needed. Here, we use light-evoked homo-oligomerization of cryptochrome CRY2 to silence synaptic transmission, by clustering synaptic vesicles (SVs). We benchmark this tool, optoSynC, in Caenorhabditis elegans, zebrafish, and murine hippocampal neurons. optoSynC clusters SVs, observable by electron microscopy. Locomotion silencing occurs with tauon ~7.2 s and recovers with tauoff ~6.5 min after light-off. optoSynC can inhibit exocytosis for several hours, at very low light intensities, does not affect ion currents, biochemistry or synaptic proteins, and may further allow manipulating different SV pools and the transfer of SVs between them.

Enhancing Mitochondrial Functions by Optogenetic Clustering.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HeLa human primary dermal fibroblasts MCF7 Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 23 Nov 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.11.22.517578 Link to full text
Abstract: Known as the powerhouses of cells, mitochondria and its dynamics are important for their functions in cells. Herein, an optogenetic method that controlling mitochondria to form the clusters was developed. The plasmid named CRY2PHR-mCherry-Miro1TM was designed for the optogenetic system. The photoactivable protein CRY2PHR was anchored to mitochondria, via the specific organelle-targeting transmembrane domain Miro1TM. Under blue light illumination, CRY2PHR can form the oligomerization, called puncta. With the illuminated time extended, the puncta can interact, and the mitochondria were found to form clustering with reversibility and spatiotemporal controllability. The mitochondrial functions were found to enhance after the formation of optogenetic mitochondrial clusters. This method presented here provides a way to control mitochondrial clustering and raise mitochondrial functions up.

Precision super-resolution cryo-correlative light and electron microscopy for rapid in situ structural analyses of optogenetically-positioned organelles.

blue CRY2/CIB1 PtK2 (NBL-5) Control of vesicular transport Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 23 Nov 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.11.22.516823 Link to full text
Abstract: Unambiguous targeting of cellular structures for in situ cryo-electron microscopy in the heterogeneous, dense, and compacted environment of the cytoplasm remains challenging. Here we have developed a novel cryogenic correlative light and electron microscopy (cryo- CLEM) workflow which combines thin cells grown on a mechanically defined substratum to rapidly analyse organelles and macromolecular complexes in the cell by cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET). We coupled these advancements with optogenetics to redistribute perinuclear-localised organelles to the cell periphery for cryo-ET. This reliable and robust workflow allows for fast in situ analyses without the requirement for cryo-focused ion beam milling. We have developed a protocol where cells can be frozen, imaged by cryo- fluorescence microscopy and ready for batch cryo-ET within a day.

Optogenetic Miro cleavage reveals direct consequences of real-time loss of function in Drosophila.

blue LOVTRAP D. melanogaster in vivo Schneider 2 Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 2 Oct 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.10.01.510462 Link to full text
Abstract: Miro GTPases control mitochondrial morphology, calcium homeostasis and regulate mitochondrial distribution by mediating their attachment to the kinesin and dynein motor complex. It is not clear, however, how Miro proteins spatially and temporally integrate their function as acute disruption of protein function has not been performed. To address this issue, we have developed an optogenetic loss of function 'Split-Miro' allele for precise control of Miro-dependent mitochondrial functions in Drosophila. Rapid optogenetic cleavage of Split-Miro leads to a striking rearrangement of the mitochondrial network, which is mediated by mitochondrial interaction with the microtubules. Unexpectedly, this treatment did not impact the ability of mitochondria to buffer calcium. While Split-Miro overexpression is sufficient to augment mitochondrial motility, sustained photocleavage shows Split-Miro is surprisingly dispensable to maintain elevated mitochondrial processivity. Furthermore, functional replacement of endogenous Miro with Split-Miro identifies its essential role in the regulation of locomotor activity in adult flies, demonstrating the feasibility of tuning animal behaviour by real-time loss of protein function.

Optogenetic control of GGGGCC repeat-containing RNA phase transition.

blue CRY2olig HEK293T Organelle manipulation
Fundam res, 9 Sep 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.fmre.2022.09.001 Link to full text
Abstract: The GGGGCC (G4C2) hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the C9ORF72 gene is a major cause of both hereditary amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and familial frontotemporal dementia. Recent studies have shown that G4C2 hexanucleotide repeat-containing RNA transcripts ((G4C2)n RNA) could go through liquid-liquid phase separation to form RNA foci, which may elicit neurodegeneration. However, the direct causality between these abnormal RNA foci and neuronal toxicity remains to be demonstrated. Here we introduce an optogenetic control system that can induce the assembly and phase separation of (G4C2)n RNA foci with blue light illumination in human cells, by fusing a specific (G4C2)n RNA binding protein as the linker domain to Cry2, a protein that oligomerizes in response to blue light. Our results demonstrate that a higher number of G4C2 repeats have the potential to be induced into more RNA foci in the cells. Both spontaneous and induced RNA foci display liquid-like properties according to FRAP measurements. Computational simulation shows strong consistency with the experimental results and supports the effect of our system to promote the propensity of (G4C2)n RNA towards phase separation. This system can thus be used to investigate whether (G4C2)n RNA foci would disrupt normal cellular processes and lead to pathological phenotypes relevant to repeat expansion disorders.
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