Showing 1 - 9 of 9 results
A time-dependent role for the transcription factor CREB in neuronal allocation to an engram underlying a fear memory revealed using a novel in vivo optogenetic tool to modulate CREB function.
The internal representation of an experience is thought to be encoded by long-lasting physical changes to the brain ("engrams") (Josselyn et al. Nat Rev Neurosci 16:521-534, 2015; Josselyn et al. J Neurosci 37:4647-4657, 2017; Schacter. 2001; Tonegawa et al. Neuron 87:918-931, 2015). Previously, we (Han et al. Science 316:457-460, 2007) and others (Zhou et al. Nat Neurosci 12:1438-1443, 2009) showed within the lateral amygdala (LA), a region critical for auditory conditioned fear, eligible neurons compete against one other for allocation to an engram. Neurons with relatively higher function of the transcription factor CREB were more likely to be allocated to the engram. In these studies, though, CREB function was artificially increased for several days before training. Precisely when increased CREB function is important for allocation remains an unanswered question. Here, we took advantage of a novel optogenetic tool (opto-DN-CREB) (Ali et al. Chem Biol 22:1531-1539, 2015) to gain spatial and temporal control of CREB function in freely behaving mice. We found increasing CREB function in a small, random population of LA principal neurons in the minutes-hours, but not 24 h, before training was sufficient to enhance memory, likely because these neurons were preferentially allocated to the underlying engram. However, similarly increasing CREB activity in a small population of random LA neurons immediately after training disrupted subsequent memory retrieval, likely by disrupting the precise spatial and temporal patterns of offline post-training neuronal activity and/or function required for consolidation. These findings reveal the importance of the timing of CREB activity in regulating allocation and subsequent memory retrieval, and further, highlight the potential of optogenetic approaches to control protein function with temporal specificity in behaving animals.
Detection of Incorporation of p-Coumaric Acid into Photoactive Yellow Protein Variants in Vivo.
We report the design and characterization of photoactive yellow protein (PYP)-blue fluorescent protein (mTagBFP) fusion constructs that permit the direct assay of reconstitution and function of the PYP domain. These constructs allow for in vivo testing of co-expression systems for enzymatic production of the p-coumaric acid-based PYP chromophore, via the action of tyrosine ammonia lyase and p-coumaroyl-CoA ligase (pCL or 4CL). We find that different 4CL enzymes can function to reconstitute PYP, including 4CL from Arabidopsis thaliana that can produce ∼100% holo-PYP protein under optimal conditions. mTagBFP fusion constructs additionally enable rapid analysis of effects of mutations on PYP photocycles. We use this mTagBFP fusion strategy to demonstrate in vivo reconstitution of several PYP-based optogenetic tools in Escherichia coli via a biosynthesized chromophore, an important step for the use of these optogenetic tools in vivo in diverse hosts.
A yeast system for discovering optogenetic inhibitors of eukaryotic translation initiation.
The precise spatiotemporal regulation of protein synthesis is essential for many complex biological processes such as memory formation, embryonic development and tumor formation. Current methods used to study protein synthesis offer only a limited degree of spatiotemporal control. Optogenetic methods, in contrast, offer the prospect of controlling protein synthesis non-invasively within minutes and with a spatial scale as small as a single synapse. Here, we present a hybrid yeast system where growth depends on the activity of human eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) that is suitable for screening optogenetic designs for the down-regulation of protein synthesis. We used this system to screen a diverse initial panel of 15 constructs designed to couple a light switchable domain (PYP, RsLOV, LOV, Dronpa) to 4EBP2 (eukaryotic initiation factor 4E binding protein 2), a native inhibitor of translation initiation. We identified cLIPS1 (circularly permuted LOV inhibitor of protein synthesis 1), a fusion of a segment of 4EBP2 and a circularly permuted version of the LOV2 domain from Avena sativa, as a photo-activated inhibitor of translation. Adapting the screen for higher throughput, we tested small libraries of cLIPS1 variants and found cLIPS2, a construct with an improved degree of optical control. We show that these constructs can both inhibit translation in yeast harboring a human eIF4E in vivo, and bind human eIF4E in vitro in a light-dependent manner. This hybrid yeast system thus provides a convenient way for discovering optogenetic constructs that can regulate of human eIF4E-depednednt translation initiation in a mechanistically defined manner.
Discovering selective binders for photoswitchable proteins using phage display.
Nature provides an array of proteins that change conformation in response to light. The discovery of a complementary array of proteins that bind only the light-state or dark-state conformation of their photoactive partner proteins would allow each light-switchable protein to be used as an optogenetic tool to control protein-protein interactions. However, as many photoactive proteins have no known binding partner, the advantages of optogenetic control - precise spatial and temporal resolution - are currently restricted to a few well-defined natural systems. In addition, the affinities and kinetics of native interactions are often sub-optimal and are difficult to engineer in the absence of any structural information. We report a phage display strategy using a small scaffold protein that can be used to discover new binding partners for both light and dark states of a given light-switchable protein. We used our approach to generate binding partners that interact specifically with the light state or the dark state conformation of two light-switchable proteins: PYP, a test case for a protein with no known partners, and AsLOV2 a well-characterized protein. We show that these novel light-switchable protein-protein interactions can function in living cells to control subcellular localization processes.
Strategies for the photo-control of endogenous protein activity.
Photo-controlled or 'optogenetic' effectors interfacing with endogenous protein machinery allow the roles of endogenous proteins to be probed. There are two main approaches being used to develop optogenetic effectors: (i) caging strategies using photo-controlled conformational changes, and (ii) protein relocalization strategies using photo-controlled protein-protein interactions. Numerous specific examples of these approaches have been reported and efforts to develop general methods for photo-control of endogenous proteins are a current focus. The development of improved screening and selection methods for photo-switchable proteins would advance the field.
Optogenetic Inhibitor of the Transcription Factor CREB.
Current approaches for optogenetic control of transcription do not mimic the activity of endogenous transcription factors, which act at numerous sites in the genome in a complex interplay with other factors. Optogenetic control of dominant negative versions of endogenous transcription factors provides a mechanism for mimicking the natural regulation of gene expression. Here we describe opto-DN-CREB, a blue-light-controlled inhibitor of the transcription factor CREB created by fusing the dominant negative inhibitor A-CREB to photoactive yellow protein (PYP). A light-driven conformational change in PYP prevents coiled-coil formation between A-CREB and CREB, thereby activating CREB. Optogenetic control of CREB function was characterized in vitro, in HEK293T cells, and in neurons where blue light enabled control of expression of the CREB targets NR4A2 and c-Fos. Dominant negative inhibitors exist for numerous transcription factors; linking these to optogenetic domains offers a general approach for spatiotemporal control of native transcriptional events.
Optical control of protein-protein interactions via blue light-induced domain swapping.
The design of new optogenetic tools for controlling protein function would be facilitated by the development of protein scaffolds that undergo large, well-defined structural changes upon exposure to light. Domain swapping, a process in which a structural element of a monomeric protein is replaced by the same element of another copy of the same protein, leads to a well-defined change in protein structure. We observe domain swapping in a variant of the blue light photoreceptor photoactive yellow protein in which a surface loop is replaced by a well-characterized protein-protein interaction motif, the E-helix. In the domain-swapped dimer, the E-helix sequence specifically binds a partner K-helix sequence, whereas in the monomeric form of the protein, the E-helix sequence is unable to fold into a binding-competent conformation and no interaction with the K-helix is seen. Blue light irradiation decreases the extent of domain swapping (from Kd = 10 μM to Kd = 300 μM) and dramatically enhances the rate, from weeks to <1 min. Blue light-induced domain swapping thus provides a novel mechanism for controlling of protein-protein interactions in which light alters both the stability and the kinetic accessibility of binding-competent states.
A circularly permuted photoactive yellow protein as a scaffold for photoswitch design.
Upon blue light irradiation, photoactive yellow protein (PYP) undergoes a conformational change that involves large movements at the N-terminus of the protein. We reasoned that this conformational change might be used to control other protein or peptide sequences if these were introduced as linkers connecting the N- and C-termini of PYP in a circular permutant. For such a design strategy to succeed, the circularly permuted PYP (cPYP) would have to fold normally and undergo a photocycle similar to that of the wild-type protein. We created a test cPYP by connecting the N- and C-termini of wild-type PYP (wtPYP) with a GGSGGSGG linker polypeptide and introducing new N- and C-termini at G115 and S114, respectively. Biophysical analysis indicated that this cPYP adopts a dark-state conformation much like wtPYP and undergoes wtPYP-like photoisomerization driven by blue light. However, thermal recovery of dark-state cPYP is ∼10-fold faster than that of wtPYP, so that very bright light is required to significantly populate the light state. Targeted mutations at M121E (M100 in wtPYP numbering) were found to enhance the light sensitivity substantially by lengthening the lifetime of the light state to ∼10 min. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), circular dichroism, and UV-vis analysis indicated that the M121E-cPYP mutant also adopts a dark-state structure like that of wtPYP, although protonated and deprotonated forms of the chromophore coexist, giving rise to a shoulder near 380 nm in the UV-vis absorption spectrum. Fluorine NMR studies with fluorotryptophan-labeled M121E-cPYP show that blue light drives large changes in conformational dynamics and leads to solvent exposure of Trp7 (Trp119 in wtPYP numbering), consistent with substantial rearrangement of the N-terminal cap structure. M121E-cPYP thus provides a scaffold that may allow a wider range of photoswitchable protein designs via replacement of the linker polypeptide with a target protein or peptide sequence.
A photoswitchable DNA-binding protein based on a truncated GCN4-photoactive yellow protein chimera.
Photo-controlled DNA-binding proteins promise to be useful tools for probing complex spatiotemporal patterns of gene expression in living organisms. Here we report a novel photoswitchable DNA-binding protein, GCN4(S)Δ25PYP, based on a truncated GCN4-photoactive yellow protein chimera. In contrast to previously reported designed photoswitchable proteins where DNA binding affinity is enhanced upon irradiation, GCN4(S)Δ25PYP dissociates from DNA when irradiated with blue light. In addition, the rate of thermal relaxation to the ground state, part of the PYP photocycle, is enhanced by DNA binding whereas in previous reported constructs it is slowed. The origins of this reversed photoactivity are analyzed in structural terms.