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Aberrant Phase Separation of FUS Leads to Lysosome Sequestering and Acidification.
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.
SynaptoPAC, an optogenetic tool for induction of presynaptic plasticity.
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.
Potassium channel-based optogenetic silencing.
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.
Optogenetic Tools for Subcellular Applications in Neuroscience.
The ability to study cellular physiology using photosensitive, genetically encoded molecules has profoundly transformed neuroscience. The modern optogenetic toolbox includes fluorescent sensors to visualize signaling events in living cells and optogenetic actuators enabling manipulation of numerous cellular activities. Most optogenetic tools are not targeted to specific subcellular compartments but are localized with limited discrimination throughout the cell. Therefore, optogenetic activation often does not reflect context-dependent effects of highly localized intracellular signaling events. Subcellular targeting is required to achieve more specific optogenetic readouts and photomanipulation. Here we first provide a detailed overview of the available optogenetic tools with a focus on optogenetic actuators. Second, we review established strategies for targeting these tools to specific subcellular compartments. Finally, we discuss useful tools and targeting strategies that are currently missing from the optogenetics repertoire and provide suggestions for novel subcellular optogenetic applications.