Showing 1 - 8 of 8 results
Single-component optogenetic tools for inducible RhoA GTPase signaling.
We created optogenetic tools to control RhoA GTPase, a central regulator of actin organization and actomyosin contractility. RhoA GTPase, or its upstream activating GEF effectors, were fused to BcLOV4, a photoreceptor that can be dynamically recruited to the plasma membrane by a light-regulated protein-lipid electrostatic interaction with the inner leaflet. Direct membrane recruitment of these effectors induced potent contractile signaling sufficient to separate adherens junctions in response to as little as one pulse of blue light. Cytoskeletal morphology changes were dependent on the alignment of the spatially patterned stimulation with the underlying cell polarization. RhoA-mediated cytoskeletal activation induced YAP nuclear localization within minutes and subsequent mechanotransduction, verified by YAP-TEAD transcriptional activity. These single-component tools, which do not require protein binding partners, offer spatiotemporally precise control over RhoA signaling that will advance the study of its diverse regulatory roles in cell migration, morphogenesis, and cell cycle maintenance.
Optogenetic Rac1 engineered from membrane lipid-binding RGS-LOV for inducible lamellipodia formation.
We report the construction of a single-component optogenetic Rac1 (opto-Rac1) to control actin polymerization by dynamic membrane recruitment. Opto-Rac1 is a fusion of wildtype human Rac1 small GTPase to the C-terminal region of BcLOV4, a LOV (light-oxygen-voltage) photoreceptor that rapidly binds the plasma membrane upon blue-light activation via a direct electrostatic interaction with anionic membrane phospholipids. Translocation of the fused wildtype Rac1 effector permits its activation by GEFs (guanine nucleotide exchange factors) and consequent actin polymerization and lamellipodia formation, unlike in existing single-chain systems that operate by allosteric photo-switching of constitutively active Rac1 or the heterodimerization-based (i.e. two-component) membrane recruitment of a Rac1-activating GEF. Opto-Rac1 induction of lamellipodia formation was spatially restricted to the patterned illumination field and was efficient, requiring sparse stimulation duty ratios of ∼1-2% (at the sensitivity threshold for flavin photocycling) to cause significant changes in cell morphology. This work exemplifies how the discovery of LOV proteins of distinct signal transmission modes can beget new classes of optogenetic tools for controlling cellular function.
Synthetic cell-like membrane interfaces for probing dynamic protein-lipid interactions.
The ability to rapidly screen interactions between proteins and membrane-like interfaces would aid in establishing the structure-function of protein-lipid interactions, provide a platform for engineering lipid-interacting protein tools, and potentially inform the signaling mechanisms and dynamics of membrane-associated proteins. Here, we describe the preparation and application of water-in-oil (w/o) emulsions with lipid-stabilized droplet interfaces that emulate the plasma membrane inner leaflet with tunable composition. Fluorescently labeled proteins are easily visualized in these synthetic cell-like droplets on an automated inverted fluorescence microscope, thus allowing for both rapid screening of relative binding and spatiotemporally resolved analyses of for example, protein-interface association and dissociation dynamics and competitive interactions, using commonplace instrumentation. We provide protocols for droplet formation, automated imaging assays and analysis, and the production of the positive control protein BcLOV4, a natural photoreceptor with a directly light-regulated interaction with anionic membrane phospholipids that is useful for optogenetic membrane recruitment.
Optically inducible membrane recruitment and signaling systems.
Optical induction of intracellular signaling by membrane-associated and integral membrane proteins allows spatiotemporally precise control over second messenger signaling and cytoskeletal rearrangements that are important to cell migration, development, and proliferation. Optogenetic membrane recruitment of a protein-of-interest to control its signaling by altering subcellular localization is a versatile means to these ends. Here, we summarize the signaling characteristics and underlying structure-function of RGS-LOV photoreceptors as single-component membrane recruitment tools that rapidly, reversibly, and efficiently carry protein cargo from the cytoplasm to the plasma membrane by a light-regulated electrostatic interaction with the membrane itself. We place the technology-relevant features of these recently described natural photosensory proteins in context of summarized protein engineering and design strategies for optically controlling membrane protein signaling.
An Open-Source Plate Reader.
Microplate readers are foundational instruments in ex-perimental biology and bioengineering that enable mul-tiplexed spectrophotometric measurements. To enhance their accessibility, we here report the design, construc-tion, validation, and benchmarking of an open-source microplate reader. The system features full-spectrum absorbance and fluorescence emission detection, in situ optogenetic stimulation, and stand-alone touch screen programming of automated assay protocols. The total system costs <$3500, a fraction of the cost of commer-cial plate readers, and can detect the fluorescence of common dyes down to ~10 nanomolar concentration. Functional capabilities were demonstrated in context of synthetic biology, optoge¬netics, and photosensory biol-ogy: by steady-state measurements of ligand-induced reporter gene expression in a model of bacterial quorum sensing, and by flavin photocycling kinetic measure-ments of a LOV (light-oxygen-voltage) domain photo-receptor used for optogenetic transcriptional activation. Fully detailed guides for assembling the device and au-tomating it using the custom Python-based API (Appli-cation Program Interface) are provided. This work con-tributes a key technology to the growing community-wide infrastructure of open-source biology-focused hardware, whose creation is facilitated by rapid proto-typing capabilities and low-cost electronics, optoelec-tronics, and microcomputers.
Directly light-regulated binding of RGS-LOV photoreceptors to anionic membrane phospholipids.
We report natural light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) photoreceptors with a blue light-switched, high-affinity (KD ∼ 10-7 M), and direct electrostatic interaction with anionic phospholipids. Membrane localization of one such photoreceptor, BcLOV4 from Botrytis cinerea, is directly coupled to its flavin photocycle, and is mediated by a polybasic amphipathic helix in the linker region between the LOV sensor and its C-terminal domain of unknown function (DUF), as revealed through a combination of bioinformatics, computational protein modeling, structure-function studies, and optogenetic assays in yeast and mammalian cell line expression systems. In model systems, BcLOV4 rapidly translocates from the cytosol to plasma membrane (∼1 second). The reversible electrostatic interaction is nonselective among anionic phospholipids, exhibiting binding strengths dependent on the total anionic content of the membrane without preference for a specific headgroup. The in vitro and cellular responses were also observed with a BcLOV4 homolog and thus are likely to be general across the dikarya LOV class, whose members are associated with regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS) domains. Natural photoreceptors are not previously known to directly associate with membrane phospholipids in a light-dependent manner, and thus this work establishes both a photosensory signal transmission mode and a single-component optogenetic tool with rapid membrane localization kinetics that approaches the diffusion limit.
Optogenetic inhibition of Gαq protein signaling reduces calcium oscillation stochasticity.
As fast terminators of G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling, regulators of G-protein signaling (RGS) serve critical roles in fine-tuning second messenger levels and, consequently, cellular responses to external stimuli. Here, we report the creation of an optogenetic RGS2 (opto-RGS2) that suppresses agonist-evoked calcium oscillations by the inactivation of Gαq protein. In this system, cryptochrome-mediated hetero-dimerization of the catalytic RGS2-box with its N-terminal amphipathic helix reconstitutes a functional membrane-localized complex that can dynamically suppress store-operated release of calcium. Engineered opto-RGS2 cell lines were used to establish the role of RGS2 as a key inhibitory feedback regulator of the stochasticity of the Gαq-mediated calcium spike timing. RGS2 reduced the stochasticity of carbachol-stimulated calcium oscillations, and the feedback inhibition was coupled to the global calcium elevation by calmodulin/RGS2 interactions. The identification of a critical negative feedback circuit exemplifies the utility of optogenetic approaches for interrogating RGS/GPCR biology and calcium encoding principles through temporally precise molecular gain-of-function.
Functional and topological diversity of LOV domain photoreceptors.
Light-oxygen-voltage sensitive (LOV) flavoproteins are ubiquitous photoreceptors that mediate responses to environmental cues. Photosensory inputs are transduced into signaling outputs via structural rearrangements in sensor domains that consequently modulate the activity of an effector domain or multidomain clusters. Establishing the diversity in effector function and sensor-effector topology will inform what signaling mechanisms govern light-responsive behaviors across multiple kingdoms of life and how these signals are transduced. Here, we report the bioinformatics identification of over 6,700 candidate LOV domains (including over 4,000 previously unidentified sequences from plants and protists), and insights from their annotations for ontological function and structural arrangements. Motif analysis identified the sensors from ∼42 million ORFs, with strong statistical separation from other flavoproteins and non-LOV members of the structurally related Per-aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator (ARNT)-Sim family. Conserved-domain analysis determined putative light-regulated function and multidomain topologies. We found that for certain effectors, sensor-effector linker length is discretized based on both phylogeny and the preservation of α-helical heptad repeats within an extended coiled-coil linker structure. This finding suggests that preserving sensor-effector orientation is a key determinant of linker length, in addition to ancestry, in LOV signaling structure-function. We found a surprisingly high prevalence of effectors with functions previously thought to be rare among LOV proteins, such as regulators of G protein signaling, and discovered several previously unidentified effectors, such as lipases. This work highlights the value of applying genomic and transcriptomic technologies to diverse organisms to capture the structural and functional variation in photosensory proteins that are vastly important in adaptation, photobiology, and optogenetics.