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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.
Far-red light-activated human islet-like designer cells enable sustained fine-tuned secretion of insulin for glucose control.
Diabetes affects almost half a billion people, and all individuals with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and a large portion of individuals with type 2 diabetes rely on self-administration of the peptide hormone insulin to achieve glucose control. However, this treatment modality has cumbersome storage and equipment requirements and is susceptible to fatal user error. Here, reasoning that a cell-based therapy could be coupled to an external induction circuit for blood glucose control, as a proof of concept we developed far-red light (FRL)-activated human islet-like designer (FAID) cells and demonstrated how FAID cell implants achieved safe and sustained glucose control in diabetic model mice. Specifically, by introducing a FRL-triggered optogenetic device into human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), which we encapsulated in poly-(l-lysine)-alginate and implanted subcutaneously under the dorsum of T1D model mice, we achieved FRL illumination-inducible secretion of insulin that yielded improvements in glucose tolerance and sustained blood glucose control over traditional insulin glargine treatment. Moreover, the FAID cell implants attenuated both oxidative stress and development of multiple diabetes-related complications in kidneys. This optogenetics-controlled "living cell factory" platform could be harnessed to develop multiple synthetic designer therapeutic cells to achieve long-term yet precisely controllable drug delivery.
Smartphone-controlled optogenetically engineered cells enable semiautomatic glucose homeostasis in diabetic mice.
With the increasingly dominant role of smartphones in our lives, mobile health care systems integrating advanced point-of-care technologies to manage chronic diseases are gaining attention. Using a multidisciplinary design principle coupling electrical engineering, software development, and synthetic biology, we have engineered a technological infrastructure enabling the smartphone-assisted semiautomatic treatment of diabetes in mice. A custom-designed home server SmartController was programmed to process wireless signals, enabling a smartphone to regulate hormone production by optically engineered cells implanted in diabetic mice via a far-red light (FRL)-responsive optogenetic interface. To develop this wireless controller network, we designed and implanted hydrogel capsules carrying both engineered cells and wirelessly powered FRL LEDs (light-emitting diodes). In vivo production of a short variant of human glucagon-like peptide 1 (shGLP-1) or mouse insulin by the engineered cells in the hydrogel could be remotely controlled by smartphone programs or a custom-engineered Bluetooth-active glucometer in a semiautomatic, glucose-dependent manner. By combining electronic device-generated digital signals with optogenetically engineered cells, this study provides a step toward translating cell-based therapies into the clinic.