Showing 1 - 6 of 6 results
A programmable protease-based protein secretion platform for therapeutic applications.
Cell-based therapies represent potent enabling technologies in biomedical science. However, current genetic control systems for engineered-cell therapies are predominantly based on the transcription or translation of therapeutic outputs. Here we report a protease-based rapid protein secretion system (PASS) that regulates the secretion of pretranslated proteins retained in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) owing to an ER-retrieval signal. Upon cleavage by inducible proteases, these proteins are secreted. Three PASS variants (chemPASS, antigenPASS and optoPASS) are developed. With chemPASS, we demonstrate the reversal of hyperglycemia in diabetic mice within minutes via drug-induced insulin secretion. AntigenPASS-equipped cells recognize the tumor antigen and secrete granzyme B and perforin, inducing targeted cell apoptosis. Finally, results from mouse models of diabetes, hypertension and inflammatory pain demonstrate light-induced, optoPASS-mediated therapeutic peptide secretion within minutes, conferring anticipated therapeutic benefits. PASS is a flexible platform for rapid delivery of therapeutic proteins that can facilitate the development and adoption of cell-based precision therapies.
Engineering Material Properties of Transcription Factor Condensates to Control Gene Expression in Mammalian Cells and Mice.
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-Controlled Cell Reprogramming System for Driving Cell Fate and Light-Responsive Chimeric Mice.
Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) hold great promise for cell-based therapies, disease modeling, and drug discovery. Classic somatic cell reprogramming to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) is often achieved based on overexpression of transcription factors (TFs). However, this process is limited by side effect of overexpressed TFs and unpredicted targeting of TFs. Pinpoint control over endogenous TFs expression can provide the ability to reprogram cell fate and tissue function. Here, a light-inducible cell reprogramming (LIRE) system is developed based on a photoreceptor protein cryptochrome system and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/nuclease-deficient CRISPR-associated protein 9 for induced PSCs reprogramming. This system enables remote, non-invasive optogenetical regulation of endogenous Sox2 and Oct4 loci to reprogram mouse embryonic fibroblasts into iPSCs (iPSCLIRE ) under light-emitting diode-based illumination. iPSCLIRE cells can be efficiently differentiated into different cells by upregulating a corresponding TF. iPSCLIRE cells are used for blastocyst injection and optogenetic chimeric mice are successfully generated, which enables non-invasive control of user-defined endogenous genes in vivo, providing a valuable tool for facile and traceless controlled gene expression studies and genetic screens in mice. This LIRE system offers a remote, traceless, and non-invasive approach for cellular reprogramming and modeling of complex human diseases in basic biological research and regenerative medicine applications.
A far-red light-inducible CRISPR-Cas12a platform for remote-controlled genome editing and gene activation.
The CRISPR-Cas12a has been harnessed as a powerful tool for manipulating targeted gene expression. The possibility to manipulate the activity of CRISPR-Cas12a with a more precise spatiotemporal resolution and deep tissue permeability will enable targeted genome engineering and deepen our understanding of the gene functions underlying complex cellular behaviors. However, currently available inducible CRISPR-Cas12a systems are limited by diffusion, cytotoxicity, and poor tissue permeability. Here, we developed a far-red light (FRL)–inducible CRISPR-Cas12a (FICA) system that can robustly induce gene editing in mammalian cells, and an FRL-inducible CRISPR-dCas12a (FIdCA) system based on the protein-tagging system SUperNova (SunTag) that can be used for gene activation under light-emitting diode–based FRL. Moreover, we show that the FIdCA system can be deployed to activate target genes in mouse livers. These results demonstrate that these systems developed here provide robust and efficient platforms for programmable genome manipulation in a noninvasive and spatiotemporal fashion.
A small and highly sensitive red/far-red optogenetic switch for applications in mammals.
Optogenetic technologies have transformed our ability to precisely control biological processes in time and space. Yet, current eukaryotic optogenetic systems are limited by large or complex optogenetic modules, long illumination times, low tissue penetration or slow activation and deactivation kinetics. Here, we report a red/far-red light-mediated and miniaturized Δphytochrome A (ΔPhyA)-based photoswitch (REDMAP) system based on the plant photoreceptor PhyA, which rapidly binds the shuttle protein far-red elongated hypocotyl 1 (FHY1) under illumination with 660-nm light with dissociation occurring at 730 nm. We demonstrate multiple applications of REDMAP, including dynamic on/off control of the endogenous Ras/Erk mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade and control of epigenetic remodeling using a REDMAP-mediated CRISPR-nuclease-deactivated Cas9 (CRISPR-dCas9) (REDMAPcas) system in mice. We also demonstrate the utility of REDMAP tools for in vivo applications by activating the expression of transgenes delivered by adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) or incorporated into cells in microcapsules implanted into mice, rats and rabbits illuminated by light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Further, we controlled glucose homeostasis in type 1 diabetic (T1D) mice and rats using REDMAP to trigger insulin expression. REDMAP is a compact and sensitive tool for the precise spatiotemporal control of biological activities in animals with applications in basic biology and potentially therapy.
Liquid-liquid phase separation of light-inducible transcription factors increases transcription activation in mammalian cells and mice.
Light-inducible gene switches represent a key strategy for the precise manipulation of cellular events in fundamental and applied research. However, the performance of widely used gene switches is limited due to low tissue penetrance and possible phototoxicity of the light stimulus. To overcome these limitations, we engineer optogenetic synthetic transcription factors to undergo liquid-liquid phase separation in close spatial proximity to promoters. Phase separation of constitutive and optogenetic synthetic transcription factors was achieved by incorporation of intrinsically disordered regions. Supported by a quantitative mathematical model, we demonstrate that engineered transcription factor droplets form at target promoters and increase gene expression up to fivefold. This increase in performance was observed in multiple mammalian cells lines as well as in mice following in situ transfection. The results of this work suggest that the introduction of intrinsically disordered domains is a simple yet effective means to boost synthetic transcription factor activity.