Showing 1 - 16 of 16 results
Achieving tight control of a photoactivatable Cre recombinase gene switch: new design strategies and functional characterization in mammalian cells and rodent.
A common mechanism for inducibly controlling protein function relies on reconstitution of split protein fragments using chemical or light-induced dimerization domains. A protein is split into fragments that are inactive on their own, but can be reconstituted after dimerization. As many split proteins retain affinity for their complementary half, maintaining low activity in the absence of an inducer remains a challenge. Here, we systematically explore methods to achieve tight regulation of inducible proteins that are effective despite variation in protein expression level. We characterize a previously developed split Cre recombinase (PA-Cre2.0) that is reconstituted upon light-induced CRY2-CIB1 dimerization, in cultured cells and in vivo in rodent brain. In culture, PA-Cre2.0 shows low background and high induced activity over a wide range of expression levels, while in vivo the system also shows low background and sensitive response to brief light inputs. The consistent activity stems from fragment compartmentalization that shifts localization toward the cytosol. Extending this work, we exploit nuclear compartmentalization to generate light-and-chemical regulated versions of Cre recombinase. This work demonstrates in vivo functionality of PA-Cre2.0, describes new approaches to achieve tight inducible control of Cre DNA recombinase, and provides general guidelines for further engineering and application of split protein fragments.
Advances in optogenetic regulation of gene expression in mammalian cells using cryptochrome 2 (CRY2).
Synthetic regulation of gene expression provides a powerful approach to reprogram molecular and cellular processes and test the function of specific genes and gene products. In the last decade, optogenetic systems that allow light-dependent gene regulation have become valuable tools, providing tight spatiotemporal control of protein levels. Here we discuss and build on recent optogenetic approaches for regulating gene expression in mammalian cells using cryptochrome 2 (CRY2), a photoreceptor protein from Arabidopsis. We provide detailed protocols for using light to manipulate activity of a CRY2-based engineered photoactivatable Cre DNA recombinase, and to induce or disrupt transcription factor function. In addition, we provide instructions and software for building an inexpensive Rasberry-Pi-based programable LED device for optogenetic experiments, delivering pulsed light with customized control of illumination duration, frequency, and intensity.
Photodimerization systems for regulating protein-protein interactions with light.
Optogenetic dimerizers are modular domains that can be utilized in a variety of versatile ways to modulate cellular biochemistry. Because of their modularity, many applications using these tools can be easily transferred to new targets without extensive engineering. While a number of photodimerizer systems are currently available, the field remains nascent, with new optimizations for existing systems and new approaches to regulating biological function continuing to be introduced at a steady pace.
Analysis of the CaMKIIα and β splice-variant distribution among brain regions reveals isoform-specific differences in holoenzyme formation.
Four CaMKII isoforms are encoded by distinct genes, and alternative splicing within the variable linker-region generates additional diversity. The α and β isoforms are largely brain-specific, where they mediate synaptic functions underlying learning, memory and cognition. Here, we determined the α and β splice-variant distribution among different mouse brain regions. Surprisingly, the nuclear variant αB was detected in all regions, and even dominated in hypothalamus and brain stem. For CaMKIIβ, the full-length variant dominated in most regions (with higher amounts of minor variants again seen in hypothalamus and brain stem). The mammalian but not fish CaMKIIβ gene lacks exon v3Nthat encodes the nuclear localization signal in αB, but contains three exons not found in the CaMKIIα gene (exons v1, v4, v5). While skipping of exons v1 and/or v5 generated the minor splice-variants β', βe and βe', essentially all transcripts contained exon v4. However, we instead detected another minor splice-variant (now termed βH), which lacks part of the hub domain that mediates formation of CaMKII holoenzymes. Surprisingly, in an optogenetic cellular assay of protein interactions, CaMKIIβH was impaired for binding to the β hub domain, but still bound CaMKIIα. This provides the first indication for isoform-specific differences in holoenzyme formation.
Engineering genetically-encoded tools for optogenetic control of protein activity.
Optogenetic tools offer fast and reversible control of protein activity with subcellular spatial precision. In the past few years, remarkable progress has been made in engineering photoactivatable systems regulating the activity of cellular proteins. In this review, we discuss general strategies in designing and optimizing such optogenetic tools and highlight recent advances in the field, with specific focus on applications regulating protein catalytic activity.
Bidirectional approaches for optogenetic regulation of gene expression in mammalian cells using Arabidopsis cryptochrome 2.
Optogenetic tools allow regulation of cellular processes with light, which can be delivered with spatiotemporal resolution. In previous work, we used cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) and CIB1, Arabidopsis proteins that interact upon light illumination, to regulate transcription with light in yeast. While adopting this approach to regulate transcription in mammalian cells, we observed light-dependent redistribution and clearing of CRY2-tethered proteins within the nucleus. The nuclear clearing phenotype was dependent on the presence of a dimerization domain contained within the CRY2-fused transcriptional activators. We used this knowledge to develop two different approaches to regulate cellular protein levels with light: a system using CRY2 and CIB1 to induce protein expression with light through stimulation of transcription, and a system using CRY2 and a LOV-fused degron to simultaneously block transcription and deplete protein levels with light. These tools will allow precise, bi-directional control of gene expression in a variety of cells and model systems.
Optimized second-generation CRY2-CIB dimerizers and photoactivatable Cre recombinase.
Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 (AtCRY2), a light-sensitive photosensory protein, was previously adapted for use in controlling protein-protein interactions through light-dependent binding to a partner protein, CIB1. While the existing CRY2-CIB dimerization system has been used extensively for optogenetic applications, some limitations exist. Here, we set out to optimize function of the CRY2-CIB system by identifying versions of CRY2-CIB that are smaller, show reduced dark interaction, and maintain longer or shorter signaling states in response to a pulse of light. We describe minimal functional CRY2 and CIB1 domains maintaining light-dependent interaction and new signaling mutations affecting AtCRY2 photocycle kinetics. The latter work implicates an α13-α14 turn motif within plant CRYs whose perturbation alters signaling-state lifetime. Using a long-lived L348F photocycle mutant, we engineered a second-generation photoactivatable Cre recombinase, PA-Cre2.0, that shows five-fold improved dynamic range, allowing robust recombination following exposure to a single, brief pulse of light.
Optical Control of Peroxisomal Trafficking.
The blue-light-responsive LOV2 domain of Avena sativa phototropin1 (AsLOV2) has been used to regulate activity and binding of diverse protein targets with light. Here, we used AsLOV2 to photocage a peroxisomal targeting sequence, allowing light regulation of peroxisomal protein import. We generated a protein tag, LOV-PTS1, that can be appended to proteins of interest to direct their import to the peroxisome with light. This method provides a means to inducibly trigger peroxisomal protein trafficking in specific cells at user-defined times.
Photo-activatable Cre recombinase regulates gene expression in vivo.
Techniques allowing precise spatial and temporal control of gene expression in the brain are needed. Herein we describe optogenetic approaches using a photo-activatable Cre recombinase (PA-Cre) to stably modify gene expression in the mouse brain. Blue light illumination for 12 hours via optical fibers activated PA-Cre in the hippocampus, a deep brain structure. Two-photon illumination through a thinned skull window for 100 minutes activated PA-Cre within a sub-millimeter region of cortex. Light activation of PA-Cre may allow permanent gene modification with improved spatiotemporal precision compared to standard methods.
Benchmarking of optical dimerizer systems.
Optical dimerizers are a powerful new class of optogenetic tools that allow light-inducible control of protein-protein interactions. Such tools have been useful for regulating cellular pathways and processes with high spatiotemporal resolution in live cells, and a growing number of dimerizer systems are available. As these systems have been characterized by different groups using different methods, it has been difficult for users to compare their properties. Here, we set about to systematically benchmark the properties of four optical dimerizer systems, CRY2/CIB1, TULIPs, phyB/PIF3, and phyB/PIF6. Using a yeast transcriptional assay, we find significant differences in light sensitivity and fold-activation levels between the red light regulated systems but similar responses between the CRY2/CIB and TULIP systems. Further comparison of the ability of the CRY2/CIB1 and TULIP systems to regulate a yeast MAPK signaling pathway also showed similar responses, with slightly less background activity in the dark observed with CRY2/CIB. In the process of developing this work, we also generated an improved blue-light-regulated transcriptional system using CRY2/CIB in yeast. In addition, we demonstrate successful application of the CRY2/CIB dimerizers using a membrane-tethered CRY2, which may allow for better local control of protein interactions. Taken together, this work allows for a better understanding of the capacities of these different dimerization systems and demonstrates new uses of these dimerizers to control signaling and transcription in yeast.
An optimized optogenetic clustering tool for probing protein interaction and function.
The Arabidopsis photoreceptor cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) was previously used as an optogenetic module, allowing spatiotemporal control of cellular processes with light. Here we report the development of a new CRY2-derived optogenetic module, 'CRY2olig', which induces rapid, robust, and reversible protein oligomerization in response to light. Using this module, we developed a novel protein interaction assay, Light-Induced Co-clustering, that can be used to interrogate protein interaction dynamics in live cells. In addition to use probing protein interactions, CRY2olig can also be used to induce and reversibly control diverse cellular processes with spatial and temporal resolution. Here we demonstrate disrupting clathrin-mediated endocytosis and promoting Arp2/3-mediated actin polymerization with light. These new CRY2-based approaches expand the growing arsenal of optogenetic strategies to probe cellular function.
Tools for controlling protein interactions using light.
Genetically encoded actuators that allow control of protein-protein interactions using light, termed 'optical dimerizers', are emerging as new tools for experimental biology. In recent years, numerous new and versatile dimerizer systems have been developed. Here we discuss the design of optical dimerizer experiments, including choice of a dimerizer system, photoexcitation sources, and the coordinate use of imaging reporters. We provide detailed protocols for experiments using two dimerization systems we previously developed, CRY2/CIB and UVR8/UVR8, for use in controlling transcription, protein localization, and protein secretion using light. Additionally, we provide instructions and software for constructing a pulse-controlled LED device for use in experiments requiring extended light treatments.
Optogenetic control of cell function using engineered photoreceptors.
Over the past decades, there has been growing recognition that light can provide a powerful stimulus for biological interrogation. Light-actuated tools allow manipulation of molecular events with ultra-fine spatial and fast temporal resolution, as light can be rapidly delivered and focused with sub-micrometre precision within cells. While light-actuated chemicals such as photolabile 'caged' compounds have been in existence for decades, the use of genetically encoded natural photoreceptors for optical control of biological processes has recently emerged as a powerful new approach with several advantages over traditional methods. Here, we review recent advances using light to control basic cellular functions and discuss the engineering challenges that lie ahead for improving and expanding the ever-growing optogenetic toolkit.
Light-mediated control of DNA transcription in yeast.
A variety of methods exist for inducible control of DNA transcription in yeast. These include the use of native yeast promoters or regulatory elements that are responsive to small molecules such as galactose, methionine, and copper, or engineered systems that allow regulation by orthogonal small molecules such as estrogen. While chemically regulated systems are easy to use and can yield high levels of protein expression, they often provide imprecise control over protein levels. Moreover, chemically regulated systems can affect many other proteins and pathways in yeast, activating signaling pathways or physiological responses. Here, we describe several methods for light mediated control of DNA transcription in vivo in yeast. We describe methodology for using a red light and phytochrome dependent system to induce transcription of genes under GAL1 promoter control, as well as blue light/cryptochrome dependent systems to control transcription of genes under GAL1 promoter or LexA operator control. Light is dose dependent, inexpensive to apply, easily delivered, and does not interfere with cellular pathways, and thus has significant advantages over chemical systems.
Manipulating cellular processes using optical control of protein-protein interactions.
Tools for optical control of proteins offer an unprecedented level of spatiotemporal control over biological processes, adding a new layer of experimental opportunity. While use of light-activated cation channels and anion pumps has already revolutionized neurobiology, an emerging class of more general optogenetic tools may have similar transformative effects. These tools consist of light-dependent protein interaction modules that allow control of target protein interactions and localization with light. Such tools are modular and can be applied to regulate a wide variety of biological activities. This chapter reviews the different properties of light-induced dimerization systems, based on plant phytochromes, cryptochromes, and light-oxygen-voltage domain proteins, exploring advantages and limitations of the different systems and practical considerations related to their use. Potential applications of these tools within the neurobiology field, including light control of various signaling pathways, neuronal activity, and DNA recombination and transcription, are discussed.
Rapid blue-light-mediated induction of protein interactions in living cells.
Dimerizers allowing inducible control of protein-protein interactions are powerful tools for manipulating biological processes. Here we describe genetically encoded light-inducible protein-interaction modules based on Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 and CIB1 that require no exogenous ligands and dimerize on blue-light exposure with subsecond time resolution and subcellular spatial resolution. We demonstrate the utility of this system by inducing protein translocation, transcription and Cre recombinase-mediated DNA recombination using light.