Showing 1 - 9 of 9 results
Enlightening Allostery: Designing Switchable Proteins by Photoreceptor Fusion.
Optogenetics harnesses natural photoreceptors to non-invasively control selected processes in cells with previously unmet spatiotemporal precision. Linking the activity of a protein of choice to the conformational state of a photosensor domain through allosteric coupling represents a powerful method for engineering light-responsive proteins. It enables the design of compact and highly potent single-component optogenetic systems with fast on- and off-switching kinetics. However, designing protein-photoreceptor chimeras, in which structural changes of the photoreceptor are effectively propagated to the fused effector protein, is a challenging engineering problem and often relies on trial and error. Here, recent advances in the design and application of optogenetic allosteric switches are reviewed. First, an overview of existing optogenetic tools based on inducible allostery is provided and their utility for cell biology applications is highlighted. Focusing on light-oxygen-voltage domains, a widely applied class of small blue light sensors, the available strategies for engineering light-dependent allostery are presented and their individual advantages and limitations are highlighted. Finally, high-throughput screening technologies based on comprehensive insertion libraries, which could accelerate the creation of stimulus-responsive receptor-protein chimeras for use in optogenetics and beyond, are discussed.
Optogenetics and CRISPR: A New Relationship Built to Last.
Since the breakthrough discoveries that CRISPR-Cas9 nucleases can be easily programmed and employed to induce targeted double-strand breaks in mammalian cells, the gene editing field has grown exponentially. Today, CRISPR technologies based on engineered class II CRISPR effectors facilitate targeted modification of genes and RNA transcripts. Moreover, catalytically impaired CRISPR-Cas variants can be employed as programmable DNA binding domains and used to recruit effector proteins, such as transcriptional regulators, epigenetic modifiers or base-modifying enzymes, to selected genomic loci. The juxtaposition of CRISPR and optogenetics enables spatiotemporally confined and highly dynamic genome perturbations in living cells and animals and holds unprecedented potential for biology and biomedicine.Here, we provide an overview of the state-of-the-art methods for light-control of CRISPR effectors. We will detail the plethora of exciting applications enabled by these systems, including spatially confined genome editing, timed activation of endogenous genes, as well as remote control of chromatin-chromatin interactions. Finally, we will discuss limitations of current optogenetic CRISPR tools and point out routes for future innovation in this emerging field.
Light-Inducible CRISPR Labeling.
CRISPR labeling is a powerful technique to study the chromatin architecture in live cells. In CRISPR labeling, a catalytically dead CRISPR-Cas9 mutant is employed as programmable DNA-binding domain to recruit fluorescent proteins to selected genomic loci. The fluorescently labeled loci can then be identified as fluorescent spots and tracked over time by microscopy. A limitation of this approach is the lack of temporal control of the labeling process itself: Cas9 binds to the g(uide)RNA-complementary target loci as soon as it is expressed. The decoration of the genome with Cas9 molecules will, however, interfere with gene regulation and-possibly-affect the genome architecture itself. The ability to switch on and off Cas9 DNA binding in CRISPR labeling experiments would thus be important to enable more precise interrogations of the chromatin spatial organization and dynamics and could further be used to study Cas9 DNA binding kinetics directly in living human cells.Here, we describe a detailed protocol for light-inducible CRISPR labeling. Our method employs CASANOVA, an engineered, optogenetic anti-CRISPR protein, which efficiently traps the Streptococcus pyogenes (Spy)Cas9 in the dark, but permits Cas9 DNA targeting upon illumination with blue light. Using telomeres as exemplary target loci, we detail the experimental steps required for inducible CRISPR labeling with CASANOVA. We also provide instructions on how to analyze the resulting microscopy data in a fully automated fashion.
Optogenetic control of Neisseria meningitidis Cas9 genome editing using an engineered, light-switchable anti-CRISPR protein.
Optogenetic control of CRISPR-Cas9 systems has significantly improved our ability to perform genome perturbations in living cells with high precision in time and space. As new Cas orthologues with advantageous properties are rapidly being discovered and engineered, the need for straightforward strategies to control their activity via exogenous stimuli persists. The Cas9 from Neisseria meningitidis (Nme) is a particularly small and target-specific Cas9 orthologue, and thus of high interest for in vivo genome editing applications. Here, we report the first optogenetic tool to control NmeCas9 activity in mammalian cells via an engineered, light-dependent anti-CRISPR (Acr) protein. Building on our previous Acr engineering work, we created hybrids between the NmeCas9 inhibitor AcrIIC3 and the LOV2 blue light sensory domain from Avena sativa. Two AcrIIC3-LOV2 hybrids from our collection potently blocked NmeCas9 activity in the dark, while permitting robust genome editing at various endogenous loci upon blue light irradiation. Structural analysis revealed that, within these hybrids, the LOV2 domain is located in striking proximity to the Cas9 binding surface. Together, our work demonstrates optogenetic regulation of a type II-C CRISPR effector and might suggest a new route for the design of optogenetic Acrs.
Engineered anti-CRISPR proteins for optogenetic control of CRISPR-Cas9.
Anti-CRISPR proteins are powerful tools for CRISPR-Cas9 regulation; the ability to precisely modulate their activity could facilitate spatiotemporally confined genome perturbations and uncover fundamental aspects of CRISPR biology. We engineered optogenetic anti-CRISPR variants comprising hybrids of AcrIIA4, a potent Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 inhibitor, and the LOV2 photosensor from Avena sativa. Coexpression of these proteins with CRISPR-Cas9 effectors enabled light-mediated genome and epigenome editing, and revealed rapid Cas9 genome targeting in human cells.
Controlling Cells with Light and LOV.
Optogenetics is a powerful method for studying dynamic processes in living cells and has advanced cell biology research over the recent past. Key to the successful application of optogenetics is the careful design of the light‐sensing module, typically employing a natural or engineered photoreceptor that links the exogenous light input to the cellular process under investigation. Light–oxygen–voltage (LOV) domains, a highly diverse class of small blue light sensors, have proven to be particularly versatile for engineering optogenetic input modules. These can function via diverse modalities, including inducible allostery, protein recruitment, dimerization, or dissociation. This study reviews recent advances in the development of LOV domain‐based optogenetic tools and their application for studying and controlling selected cellular functions. Focusing on the widely employed LOV2 domain from Avena sativa phototropin‐1, this review highlights the broad spectrum of engineering opportunities that can be explored to achieve customized optogenetic regulation. Finally, major bottlenecks in the development of optogenetic methods are discussed and strategies to overcome these with recent synthetic biology approaches are pointed out.
Optogenetic Control of Nuclear Protein Import in Living Cells Using Light-Inducible Nuclear Localization Signals (LINuS).
Many biological processes are regulated by the timely import of specific proteins into the nucleus. The ability to spatiotemporally control the nuclear import of proteins of interest therefore allows study of their role in a given biological process as well as controlling this process in space and time. The light-inducible nuclear localization signal (LINuS) was developed based on a natural plant photoreceptor that reversibly triggers the import of proteins of interest into the nucleus with blue light. Each LINuS is a small, genetically encoded domain that is fused to the protein of interest at the N or C terminus. These protocols describe how to carry out initial microscopy-based screening to assess which LINuS variant works best with a protein of interest. © 2016 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Optogenetic control of nuclear protein export.
Active nucleocytoplasmic transport is a key mechanism underlying protein regulation in eukaryotes. While nuclear protein import can be controlled in space and time with a portfolio of optogenetic tools, protein export has not been tackled so far. Here we present a light-inducible nuclear export system (LEXY) based on a single, genetically encoded tag, which enables precise spatiotemporal control over the export of tagged proteins. A constitutively nuclear, chromatin-anchored LEXY variant expands the method towards light inhibition of endogenous protein export by sequestering cellular CRM1 receptors. We showcase the utility of LEXY for cell biology applications by regulating a synthetic repressor as well as human p53 transcriptional activity with light. LEXY is a powerful addition to the optogenetic toolbox, allowing various novel applications in synthetic and cell biology.
Engineering light-inducible nuclear localization signals for precise spatiotemporal control of protein dynamics in living cells.
The function of many eukaryotic proteins is regulated by highly dynamic changes in their nucleocytoplasmic distribution. The ability to precisely and reversibly control nuclear translocation would, therefore, allow dissecting and engineering cellular networks. Here we develop a genetically encoded, light-inducible nuclear localization signal (LINuS) based on the LOV2 domain of Avena sativa phototropin 1. LINuS is a small, versatile tag, customizable for different proteins and cell types. LINuS-mediated nuclear import is fast and reversible, and can be tuned at different levels, for instance, by introducing mutations that alter AsLOV2 domain photo-caging properties or by selecting nuclear localization signals (NLSs) of various strengths. We demonstrate the utility of LINuS in mammalian cells by controlling gene expression and entry into mitosis with blue light.