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 60 results

Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein forms nuclear condensates and regulates alternative splicing.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HEK293 Organelle manipulation
Nat Commun, 25 Jun 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-31220-8 Link to full text
Abstract: The diverse functions of WASP, the deficiency of which causes Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS), remain poorly defined. We generated three isogenic WAS models using patient induced pluripotent stem cells and genome editing. These models recapitulated WAS phenotypes and revealed that WASP deficiency causes an upregulation of numerous RNA splicing factors and widespread altered splicing. Loss of WASP binding to splicing factor gene promoters frequently leads to aberrant epigenetic activation. WASP interacts with dozens of nuclear speckle constituents and constrains SRSF2 mobility. Using an optogenetic system, we showed that WASP forms phase-separated condensates that encompasses SRSF2, nascent RNA and active Pol II. The role of WASP in gene body condensates is corroborated by ChIPseq and RIPseq. Together our data reveal that WASP is a nexus regulator of RNA splicing that controls the transcription of splicing factors epigenetically and the dynamics of the splicing machinery through liquid-liquid phase separation.

Integration of light and temperature sensing by liquid-liquid phase separation of phytochrome B.

blue red CRY2/CRY2 PhyB/PIF3 HEK293T Organelle manipulation
Mol Cell, 12 Jun 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2022.05.026 Link to full text
Abstract: Light and temperature in plants are perceived by a common receptor, phytochrome B (phyB). How phyB distinguishes these signals remains elusive. Here, we report that phyB spontaneously undergoes phase separation to assemble liquid-like droplets. This capacity is driven by its C terminus through self-association, whereas the intrinsically disordered N-terminal extension (NTE) functions as a biophysical modulator of phase separation. Light exposure triggers a conformational change to subsequently alter phyB condensate assembly, while temperature sensation is directly mediated by the NTE to modulate the phase behavior of phyB droplets. Multiple signaling components are selectively incorporated into phyB droplets to form concentrated microreactors, allowing switch-like control of phyB signaling activity through phase transitions. Therefore, light and temperature cues are separately read out by phyB via allosteric changes and spontaneous phase separation, respectively. We provide a conceptual framework showing how the distinct but highly correlated physical signals are interpreted and sorted by one receptor.

PPARγ phase separates with RXRα at PPREs to regulate target gene expression.

blue CRY2olig HEK293T NIH/3T3 Organelle manipulation
Cell Discov, 26 Apr 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41421-022-00388-0 Link to full text
Abstract: Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-γ is a key transcription activator controlling adipogenesis and lipid metabolism. PPARγ binds PPAR response elements (PPREs) as the obligate heterodimer with retinoid X receptor (RXR) α, but exactly how PPARγ orchestrates the transcriptional response is unknown. This study demonstrates that PPARγ forms phase-separated droplets in vitro and solid-like nuclear condensates in cell, which is intriguingly mediated by its DNA binding domain characterized by the zinc finger motif. Furthermore, PPARγ forms nuclear condensates at PPREs sites through phase separation to compartmentalize its heterodimer partner RXRα to initiate PPARγ-specific transcriptional activation. Finally, using an optogenetic approach, the enforced formation of PPARγ/RXRα condensates leads to preferential enrichment at PPREs sites and significantly promotes the expression of PPARγ target genes. These results define a novel mechanism by which PPARγ engages the phase separation principles for efficient and specific transcriptional activation.

Optical control of protein delivery and partitioning in the nucleolus.

blue AsLOV2 CRY2/CRY2 HeLa Organelle manipulation
Nucleic Acids Res, 23 Mar 2022 DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkac191 Link to full text
Abstract: The nucleolus is a subnuclear membraneless compartment intimately involved in ribosomal RNA synthesis, ribosome biogenesis and stress response. Multiple optogenetic devices have been developed to manipulate nuclear protein import and export, but molecular tools tailored for remote control over selective targeting or partitioning of cargo proteins into subnuclear compartments capable of phase separation are still limited. Here, we report a set of single-component photoinducible nucleolus-targeting tools, designated pNUTs, to enable rapid and reversible nucleoplasm-to-nucleolus shuttling, with the half-lives ranging from milliseconds to minutes. pNUTs allow both global protein infiltration into nucleoli and local delivery of cargoes into the outermost layer of the nucleolus, the granular component. When coupled with the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)-associated C9ORF72 proline/arginine-rich dipeptide repeats, pNUTs allow us to photomanipulate poly-proline-arginine nucleolar localization, perturb nucleolar protein nucleophosmin 1 and suppress nascent protein synthesis. pNUTs thus expand the optogenetic toolbox by permitting light-controllable interrogation of nucleolar functions and precise induction of ALS-associated toxicity in cellular models.

A rich get richer effect governs intracellular condensate size distributions.

blue iLID U-2 OS Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 10 Mar 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.03.08.483545 Link to full text
Abstract: Phase separation of biomolecules into condensates has emerged as a ubiquitous mechanism for intracellular organization and impacts many intracellular processes, including reaction pathways through clustering of enzymes and their intermediates. Precise and rapid spatiotemporal control of reactions by condensates requires tuning of their sizes. However, the physical processes that govern the distribution of condensate sizes remain unclear. Here, we utilize a combination of synthetic and native condensates to probe the underlying physical mechanisms determining condensate size. We find that both native nuclear speckles and FUS condensates formed with the synthetic Corelet system obey an exponential size distribution, which can be recapitulated in Monte Carlo simulations of fast nucleation followed by coalescence. By contrast, pathological aggregation of cytoplasmic Huntingtin polyQ protein exhibits a power-law size distribution, with an exponent of −1.41 ± 0.02. These distinct behaviors reflect the relative importance of nucleation and coalescence kinetics: introducing continuous condensate nucleation into the Monte Carlo coarsening simulations gives rise to polyQ-like power-law behavior. We demonstrate that the emergence of power-law distributions under continuous nucleation reflects a “rich get richer” effect, whose extent may play a general role in the determination of condensate size distributions.

Spatio-temporal, optogenetic control of gene expression in organoids.

blue CRY2/CIB1 Magnets HEK293T human IPSCs Developmental processes Organelle manipulation Nucleic acid editing
bioRxiv, 9 Feb 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2021.09.26.461850 Link to full text
Abstract: Organoids derived from stem cells become increasingly important to study human development and to model disease. However, methods are needed to control and study spatio-temporal patterns of gene expression in organoids. To this aim, we combined optogenetics and gene perturbation technologies to activate or knock-down RNA of target genes, at single-cell resolution and in programmable spatio-temporal patterns. To illustrate the usefulness of our approach, we locally activated Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) signaling in an organoid model for human neurodevelopment. High-resolution spatial transcriptomic and single-cell analyses showed that this local induction was sufficient to generate stereotypically patterned organoids in three dimensions and revealed new insights into SHH’s contribution to gene regulation in neurodevelopment. With this study, we propose optogenetic perturbations in combination with spatial transcriptomics as a powerful technology to reprogram and study cell fates and tissue patterning in organoids.

WNK kinases sense molecular crowding and rescue cell volume via phase separation.

blue CRY2olig HEK293 Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 11 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.01.10.475707 Link to full text
Abstract: When challenged by hypertonicity, dehydrated cells must defend their volume to survive. This process requires the phosphorylation-dependent regulation of SLC12 cation chloride transporters by WNK kinases, but how these kinases are activated by cell shrinkage remains unknown. Within seconds of cell exposure to hypertonicity, WNK1 concentrates into membraneless droplets, initiating a phosphorylation-dependent signal that drives net ion influx via the SLC12 cotransporters to rescue volume. The formation of WNK1 condensates is driven by its intrinsically disordered C-terminus, whose evolutionarily conserved signatures are necessary for efficient phase separation and volume recovery. This disorder-encoded phase behavior occurs within physiological constraints and is activated in vivo by molecular crowding rather than changes in cell size. This allows WNK1 to bypass a strengthened ionic milieu that favors kinase inactivity and reclaim cell volume through condensate-mediated signal amplification. Thus, WNK kinases are physiological crowding sensors that phase separate to coordinate a cell volume rescue response.

CeLINC, a fluorescence-based protein-protein interaction assay in Caenorhabditis elegans.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CRY2olig C. elegans in vivo Organelle manipulation
Genetics, 10 Dec 2021 DOI: 10.1093/genetics/iyab163 Link to full text
Abstract: Interactions among proteins are fundamental for life and determining whether two particular proteins physically interact can be essential for fully understanding a protein's function. We present Caenorhabditis elegans light-induced coclustering (CeLINC), an optical binary protein-protein interaction assay to determine whether two proteins interact in vivo. Based on CRY2/CIB1 light-dependent oligomerization, CeLINC can rapidly and unambiguously identify protein-protein interactions between pairs of fluorescently tagged proteins. A fluorescently tagged bait protein is captured using a nanobody directed against the fluorescent protein (GFP or mCherry) and brought into artificial clusters within the cell. Colocalization of a fluorescently tagged prey protein in the cluster indicates a protein interaction. We tested the system with an array of positive and negative reference protein pairs. Assay performance was extremely robust with no false positives detected in the negative reference pairs. We then used the system to test for interactions among apical and basolateral polarity regulators. We confirmed interactions seen between PAR-6, PKC-3, and PAR-3, but observed no physical interactions among the basolateral Scribble module proteins LET-413, DLG-1, and LGL-1. We have generated a plasmid toolkit that allows use of custom promoters or CRY2 variants to promote flexibility of the system. The CeLINC assay is a powerful and rapid technique that can be widely applied in C. elegans due to the universal plasmids that can be used with existing fluorescently tagged strains without need for additional cloning or genetic modification of the genome.

Formation of nuclear condensates by the Mediator complex subunit Med15 in mammalian cells.

blue CRY2/CRY2 NIH/3T3 Organelle manipulation
BMC Biol, 17 Nov 2021 DOI: 10.1186/s12915-021-01178-y Link to full text
Abstract: The Mediator complex is an evolutionarily conserved multi-subunit protein complex that plays major roles in transcriptional activation and is essential for cell growth, proliferation, and differentiation. Recent studies revealed that some Mediator subunits formed nuclear condensates that may facilitate enhancer-promoter interactions and gene activation. The assembly, regulation, and functions of these nuclear condensates remain to be further understood.

Aberrant Phase Separation of FUS Leads to Lysosome Sequestering and Acidification.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HEK293 Organelle manipulation
Front Cell Dev Biol, 22 Oct 2021 DOI: 10.3389/fcell.2021.716919 Link to full text
Abstract: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that leads to the death of upper and lower motor neurons. While most cases of ALS are sporadic, some of the familial forms of the disease are caused by mutations in the gene encoding for the RNA-binding protein FUS. Under physiological conditions, FUS readily phase separates into liquid-like droplets in vivo and in vitro. ALS-associated mutations interfere with this process and often result in solid-like aggregates rather than fluid condensates. Yet, whether cells recognize and triage aberrant condensates remains poorly understood, posing a major barrier to the development of novel ALS treatments. Using a combination of ALS-associated FUS mutations, optogenetic manipulation of FUS condensation, chemically induced stress, and pH-sensitive reporters of organelle acidity, we systematically characterized the cause-effect relationship between the material state of FUS condensates and the sequestering of lysosomes. From our data, we can derive three conclusions. First, regardless of whether we use wild-type or mutant FUS, expression levels (i.e., high concentrations) play a dominant role in determining the fraction of cells having soluble or aggregated FUS. Second, chemically induced FUS aggregates recruit LAMP1-positive structures. Third, mature, acidic lysosomes accumulate only at FUS aggregates but not at liquid-condensates. Together, our data suggest that lysosome-degradation machinery actively distinguishes between fluid and solid condensates. Unraveling these aberrant interactions and testing strategies to manipulate the autophagosome-lysosome axis provides valuable clues for disease intervention.

Defunctionalizing Intracellular Organelles with Genetically-Encoded Molecular Tools Based on Engineered Phospholipase A/Acyltransferases (PLAATs).

blue iLID Cos-7 Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 10 Oct 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.10.10.463806 Link to full text
Abstract: Organelles vitally achieve multifaceted functions to maintain cellular homeostasis. Genetic and pharmacological approaches to manipulate individual organelles are powerful in probing their physiological roles. However, many of them are either slow in action, limited to certain organelles, or rely on toxic agents. Here, we designed a generalizable molecular tool utilizing phospholipase A/acyltransferases (PLAATs) for rapid induction of organelle defunctionalization via remodeling of the membrane phospholipid composition. In particular, we identified a minimal, fully catalytic PLAAT with no unfavorable side effects. Chemically-induced translocation of the engineered PLAAT to the mitochondria surface resulted in their rapid deformation in a phospholipase activity dependent manner, followed by loss of luminal proteins as well as dissipated membrane potential, thus invalidating the functionality. To demonstrate wide applicability, we then adapted the molecular tool in peroxisomes, and observed leakage of matrix-resident functional proteins. The technique was compatible with optogenetic control, viral delivery and operation in primary neuronal cultures. Due to such versatility, the PLAAT strategy should present a novel utility in organelle biology of diverse contexts.

Interaction of tau with HNRNPA2B1 and N6-methyladenosine RNA mediates the progression of tauopathy.

blue CRY2olig HEK293T Neuro-2a primary mouse cortical neurons SH-SY5Y Organelle manipulation
Mol Cell, 20 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2021.07.038 Link to full text
Abstract: The microtubule-associated protein tau oligomerizes, but the actions of oligomeric tau (oTau) are unknown. We have used Cry2-based optogenetics to induce tau oligomers (oTau-c). Optical induction of oTau-c elicits tau phosphorylation, aggregation, and a translational stress response that includes stress granules and reduced protein synthesis. Proteomic analysis identifies HNRNPA2B1 as a principle target of oTau-c. The association of HNRNPA2B1 with endogenous oTau was verified in neurons, animal models, and human Alzheimer brain tissues. Mechanistic studies demonstrate that HNRNPA2B1 functions as a linker, connecting oTau with N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modified RNA transcripts. Knockdown of HNRNPA2B1 prevents oTau or oTau-c from associating with m6A or from reducing protein synthesis and reduces oTau-induced neurodegeneration. Levels of m6A and the m6A-oTau-HNRNPA2B1 complex are increased up to 5-fold in the brains of Alzheimer subjects and P301S tau mice. These results reveal a complex containing oTau, HNRNPA2B1, and m6A that contributes to the integrated stress response of oTau.

Rab11 endosomes coordinate centrosome number and movement following mitotic exit.

blue CRY2/CIB1 zebrafish in vivo Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 11 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.08.11.455966 Link to full text
Abstract: The last stage of cell division involves two daughter cells remaining interconnected by a cytokinetic bridge that is cleaved in a process called abscission. During pre-abscission, we identified that the centrosome moves in a Rab11-dependent manner towards the cytokinetic bridge in human cells grown in culture and in an in vivo vertebrate model, Danio rerio (zebrafish). Rab11-endosomes are dynamically organized in a Rab11-GTP dependent manner at the centrosome during pre-abscission and this organization is required for the centrosome protein, pericentrin, to be enriched at the centrosome. Using zebrafish embryos, we found that reduction in pericentrin expression or optogenetically disrupting Rab11-endosome function inhibited centrosome movement towards the cytokinetic bridge and abscission resulting in daughter cells prone to being binucleated and/or having supernumerary centrosomes. These studies suggest that Rab11-endosomes contribute to centrosome function during pre-abscission by regulating pericentrin organization resulting in appropriate centrosome movement towards the cytokinetic bridge and subsequent abscission.

SATB1 undergoes isoform-specific phase transitions in T cells.

blue CRY2/CRY2 NIH/3T3 Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 11 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.08.11.455932 Link to full text
Abstract: Intracellular space is demarcated into functional membraneless organelles and nuclear bodies via the process of phase separation. Phase transitions are involved in many functions linked to such bodies as well as in gene expression regulation and other cellular processes. In this work we describe how the genome organizer SATB1 utilizes its prion-like domains to undergo phase transitions. We have identified two SATB1 isoforms with distinct biophysical behavior and showed how phosphorylation and interaction with nuclear RNA, impact their phase transitions. Moreover, we show that SATB1 is associated with transcription and splicing, both of which evinced deregulation in Satb1 knockout mice. Thus, the tight regulation of different SATB1 isoforms levels and their post-translational modifications are imperative for SATB1’s physiological roles in T cell development while their deregulation may be linked to disorders such as cancer.

Designer membraneless organelles sequester native factors for control of cell behavior.

violet PhoCl S. cerevisiae Organelle manipulation
Nat Chem Biol, 2 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41589-021-00840-4 Link to full text
Abstract: Subcellular compartmentalization of macromolecules increases flux and prevents inhibitory interactions to control biochemical reactions. Inspired by this functionality, we sought to build designer compartments that function as hubs to regulate the flow of information through cellular control systems. We report a synthetic membraneless organelle platform to control endogenous cellular activities through sequestration and insulation of native proteins. We engineer and express a disordered protein scaffold to assemble micron-size condensates and recruit endogenous clients via genomic tagging with high-affinity dimerization motifs. By relocalizing up to 90% of targeted enzymes to synthetic condensates, we efficiently control cellular behaviors, including proliferation, division and cytoskeletal organization. Further, we demonstrate multiple strategies for controlled cargo release from condensates to switch cells between functional states. These synthetic organelles offer a powerful and generalizable approach to modularly control cell decision-making in a variety of model systems with broad applications for cellular engineering.

Mechanical Frustration of Phase Separation in the Cell Nucleus by Chromatin.

blue iLID U-2 OS Organelle manipulation
Phys Rev Lett, 25 Jun 2021 DOI: 10.1103/physrevlett.126.258102 Link to full text
Abstract: Liquid-liquid phase separation is a fundamental mechanism underlying subcellular organization. Motivated by the striking observation that optogenetically generated droplets in the nucleus display suppressed coarsening dynamics, we study the impact of chromatin mechanics on droplet phase separation. We combine theory and simulation to show that cross-linked chromatin can mechanically suppress droplets' coalescence and ripening, as well as quantitatively control their number, size, and placement. Our results highlight the role of the subcellular mechanical environment on condensate regulation.

TOR signaling regulates liquid phase separation of the SMN complex governing snRNP biogenesis.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HeLa Signaling cascade control Organelle manipulation
Cell Rep, 22 Jun 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109277 Link to full text
Abstract: The activity of the SMN complex in promoting the assembly of pre-mRNA processing UsnRNPs correlates with condensation of the complex in nuclear Cajal bodies. While mechanistic details of its activity have been elucidated, the molecular basis for condensation remains unclear. High SMN complex phosphorylation suggests extensive regulation. Here, we report on systematic siRNA-based screening for modulators of the capacity of SMN to condense in Cajal bodies and identify mTOR and ribosomal protein S6 kinase β-1 as key regulators. Proteomic analysis reveals TOR-dependent phosphorylations in SMN complex subunits. Using stably expressed or optogenetically controlled phospho mutants, we demonstrate that serine 49 and 63 phosphorylation of human SMN controls the capacity of the complex to condense in Cajal bodies via liquid-liquid phase separation. Our findings link SMN complex condensation and UsnRNP biogenesis to cellular energy levels and suggest modulation of TOR signaling as a rational concept for therapy of the SMN-linked neuromuscular disorder spinal muscular atrophy.

Positive feedback between the T cell kinase Zap70 and its substrate LAT acts as a clustering-dependent signaling switch.

blue CRY2/CRY2 iLID HEK293T Jurkat NIH/3T3 SYF Signaling cascade control Organelle manipulation
Cell Rep, 22 Jun 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109280 Link to full text
Abstract: Protein clustering is pervasive in cell signaling, yet how signaling from higher-order assemblies differs from simpler forms of molecular organization is still poorly understood. We present an optogenetic approach to switch between oligomers and heterodimers with a single point mutation. We apply this system to study signaling from the kinase Zap70 and its substrate linker for activation of T cells (LAT), proteins that normally form membrane-localized condensates during T cell activation. We find that fibroblasts expressing synthetic Zap70:LAT clusters activate downstream signaling, whereas one-to-one heterodimers do not. We provide evidence that clusters harbor a positive feedback loop among Zap70, LAT, and Src-family kinases that binds phosphorylated LAT and further activates Zap70. Finally, we extend our optogenetic approach to the native T cell signaling context, where light-induced LAT clustering is sufficient to drive a calcium response. Our study reveals a specific signaling function for protein clusters and identifies a biochemical circuit that robustly senses protein oligomerization state.

Light-inducible deformation of mitochondria in live cells.

blue CRY2/CIB1 iLID TULIP 3T3-L1 Cos-7 HeLa U-2 OS Organelle manipulation
Cell Chem Biol, 8 Jun 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2021.05.015 Link to full text
Abstract: Mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, are dynamic organelles that undergo constant morphological changes. Increasing evidence indicates that mitochondria morphologies and functions can be modulated by mechanical cues. However, the mechano-sensing and -responding properties of mitochondria and the relation between mitochondrial morphologies and functions are unclear due to the lack of methods to precisely exert mechano-stimulation on and deform mitochondria inside live cells. Here, we present an optogenetic approach that uses light to induce deformation of mitochondria by recruiting molecular motors to the outer mitochondrial membrane via light-activated protein-protein hetero-dimerization. Mechanical forces generated by motor proteins distort the outer membrane, during which the inner mitochondrial membrane can also be deformed. Moreover, this optical method can achieve subcellular spatial precision and be combined with different optical dimerizers and molecular motors. This method presents a mitochondria-specific mechano-stimulator for studying mitochondria mechanobiology and the interplay between mitochondria shapes and functions.

Synthetic Protein Condensates That Inducibly Recruit and Release Protein Activity in Living Cells.

blue LOVTRAP HeLa Signaling cascade control Organelle manipulation
J Am Chem Soc, 23 Apr 2021 DOI: 10.1021/jacs.0c12375 Link to full text
Abstract: Compartmentation of proteins into biomolecular condensates or membraneless organelles formed by phase separation is an emerging principle for the regulation of cellular processes. Creating synthetic condensates that accommodate specific intracellular proteins on demand would have various applications in chemical biology, cell engineering, and synthetic biology. Here, we report the construction of synthetic protein condensates capable of recruiting and/or releasing proteins of interest in living mammalian cells in response to a small molecule or light. By a modular combination of a tandem fusion of two oligomeric proteins, which forms phase-separated synthetic protein condensates in cells, with a chemically induced dimerization tool, we first created a chemogenetic protein condensate system that can rapidly recruit target proteins from the cytoplasm to the condensates by addition of a small-molecule dimerizer. We next coupled the protein-recruiting condensate system with an engineered proximity-dependent protease, which gave a second protein condensate system wherein target proteins previously expressed inside the condensates are released into the cytoplasm by small-molecule-triggered protease recruitment. Furthermore, an optogenetic condensate system that allows reversible release and sequestration of protein activity in a repeatable manner using light was constructed successfully. These condensate systems were applicable to control protein activity and cellular processes such as membrane ruffling and ERK signaling in a time scale of minutes. This proof-of-principle work provides a new platform for chemogenetic and optogenetic control of protein activity in mammalian cells and represents a step toward tailor-made engineering of synthetic protein condensate-based soft materials with various functionalities for biological and biomedical applications.

Optogenetic delivery of trophic signals in a genetic model of Parkinson's disease.

blue VfAU1-LOV D. melanogaster in vivo HEK293 SH-SY5Y Signaling cascade control Organelle manipulation
PLoS Genet, 15 Apr 2021 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1009479 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics has been harnessed to shed new mechanistic light on current and future therapeutic strategies. This has been to date achieved by the regulation of ion flow and electrical signals in neuronal cells and neural circuits that are known to be affected by disease. In contrast, the optogenetic delivery of trophic biochemical signals, which support cell survival and are implicated in degenerative disorders, has never been demonstrated in an animal model of disease. Here, we reengineered the human and Drosophila melanogaster REarranged during Transfection (hRET and dRET) receptors to be activated by light, creating one-component optogenetic tools termed Opto-hRET and Opto-dRET. Upon blue light stimulation, these receptors robustly induced the MAPK/ERK proliferative signaling pathway in cultured cells. In PINK1B9 flies that exhibit loss of PTEN-induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1), a kinase associated with familial Parkinson's disease (PD), light activation of Opto-dRET suppressed mitochondrial defects, tissue degeneration and behavioral deficits. In human cells with PINK1 loss-of-function, mitochondrial fragmentation was rescued using Opto-dRET via the PI3K/NF-кB pathway. Our results demonstrate that a light-activated receptor can ameliorate disease hallmarks in a genetic model of PD. The optogenetic delivery of trophic signals is cell type-specific and reversible and thus has the potential to inspire novel strategies towards a spatio-temporal regulation of tissue repair.

A modular tool to query and inducibly disrupt biomolecular condensates.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CRY2olig Cos-7 HEK293T Organelle manipulation
Nat Commun, 22 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22096-1 Link to full text
Abstract: Dynamic membraneless compartments formed by protein condensates have multifunctional roles in cellular biology. Tools that inducibly trigger condensate formation have been useful for exploring their cellular function, however, there are few tools that provide inducible control over condensate disruption. To address this need we developed DisCo (Disassembly of Condensates), which relies on the use of chemical dimerizers to inducibly recruit a ligand to the condensate-forming protein, triggering condensate dissociation. We demonstrate use of DisCo to disrupt condensates of FUS, associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and to prevent formation of polyglutamine-containing huntingtin condensates, associated with Huntington's disease. In addition, we combined DisCo with a tool to induce condensates with light, CRY2olig, achieving bidirectional control of condensate formation and disassembly using orthogonal inputs of light and rapamycin. Our results demonstrate a method to manipulate condensate states that will have broad utility, enabling better understanding of the biological role of condensates in health and disease.

Multiple Sclerosis-Associated hnRNPA1 Mutations Alter hnRNPA1 Dynamics and Influence Stress Granule Formation.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HEK293T Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Organelle manipulation
Int J Mol Sci, 12 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.3390/ijms22062909 Link to full text
Abstract: Evidence indicates that dysfunctional heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNPA1; A1) contributes to the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis. Understanding molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis may result in novel therapies that attenuate neurodegeneration, thereby improving the lives of MS patients with multiple sclerosis. Using an in vitro, blue light induced, optogenetic protein expression system containing the optogene Cryptochrome 2 and a fluorescent mCherry reporter, we examined the effects of multiple sclerosis-associated somatic A1 mutations (P275S and F281L) in A1 localization, cluster kinetics and stress granule formation in real-time. We show that A1 mutations caused cytoplasmic mislocalization, and significantly altered the kinetics of A1 cluster formation/dissociation, and the quantity and size of clusters. A1 mutations also caused stress granule formation to occur more quickly and frequently in response to blue light stimulation. This study establishes a live cell optogenetics imaging system to probe localization and association characteristics of A1. It also demonstrates that somatic mutations in A1 alter its function and promote stress granule formation, which supports the hypothesis that A1 dysfunction may exacerbate neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis.

Biophysical and biochemical properties of Deup1 self-assemblies: a potential driver for deuterosome formation during multiciliogenesis.

blue CRY2clust HeLa Organelle manipulation
Biol Open, 3 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.1242/bio.056432 Link to full text
Abstract: The deuterosome is a non-membranous organelle involved in large-scale centriole amplification during multiciliogenesis. Deuterosomes are specifically assembled during the process of multiciliogenesis. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying deuterosome formation are poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the molecular properties of deuterosome protein 1 (Deup1), an essential protein involved in deuterosome assembly. We found that Deup1 has the ability to self-assemble into macromolecular condensates both in vitro and in cells. The Deup1-containing structures formed in multiciliogenesis and the Deup1 condensates self-assembled in vitro showed low turnover of Deup1, suggesting that Deup1 forms highly stable structures. Our biochemical analyses revealed that an increase of the concentration of Deup1 and a crowded molecular environment both facilitate Deup1 self-assembly. The self-assembly of Deup1 relies on its N-terminal region, which contains multiple coiled coil domains. Using an optogenetic approach, we demonstrated that self-assembly and the C-terminal half of Deup1 were sufficient to spatially compartmentalize centrosomal protein 152 (Cep152) and polo like kinase 4 (Plk4), master components for centriole biogenesis, in the cytoplasm. Collectively, the present data suggest that Deup1 forms the structural core of the deuterosome through self-assembly into stable macromolecular condensates.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.

Optimized Vivid-derived Magnets photodimerizers for subcellular optogenetics in mammalian cells.

blue Magnets Cos-7 HeLa Organelle manipulation
Elife, 11 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.7554/elife.63230 Link to full text
Abstract: Light-inducible dimerization protein modules enable precise temporal and spatial control of biological processes in non-invasive fashion. Among them, Magnets are small modules engineered from the Neurospora crassa photoreceptor Vivid by orthogonalizing the homodimerization interface into complementary heterodimers. Both Magnets components, which are well-tolerated as protein fusion partners, are photoreceptors requiring simultaneous photoactivation to interact, enabling high spatiotemporal confinement of dimerization with a single-excitation wavelength. However, Magnets require concatemerization for efficient responses and cell preincubation at 28oC to be functional. Here we overcome these limitations by engineering an optimized Magnets pair requiring neither concatemerization nor low temperature preincubation. We validated these 'enhanced' Magnets (eMags) by using them to rapidly and reversibly recruit proteins to subcellular organelles, to induce organelle contacts, and to reconstitute OSBP-VAP ER-Golgi tethering implicated in phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate transport and metabolism. eMags represent a very effective tool to optogenetically manipulate physiological processes over whole cells or in small subcellular volumes.
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