Genetically encoded photoswitching of actin assembly through the Cdc42-WASP-Arp2/3 complex pathway.
General methods to engineer genetically encoded, reversible, light-mediated control over protein function would be useful in many areas of biomedical research and technology. We describe a system that yields such photo-control over actin assembly. We fused the Rho family GTPase Cdc42 in its GDP-bound form to the photosensory domain of phytochrome B (PhyB) and fused the Cdc42 effector, the Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein (WASP), to the light-dependent PhyB-binding domain of phytochrome interacting factor 3 (Pif3). Upon red light illumination, the fusion proteins bind each other, activating WASP, and consequently stimulating actin assembly by the WASP target, the Arp2/3 complex. Binding and WASP activation are reversed by far-red illumination. Our approach, in which the biochemical specificity of the nucleotide switch in Cdc42 is overridden by the light-dependent PhyB-Pif3 interaction, should be generally applicable to other GTPase-effector pairs.
Estimation of the available free energy in a LOV2-J alpha photoswitch.
Protein photosensors are versatile tools for studying ligand-regulated allostery and signaling. Fundamental to these processes is the amount of energy that can be provided by a photosensor to control downstream signaling events. Such regulation is exemplified by the phototropins--plant serine/threonine kinases that are activated by blue light via conserved LOV (light, oxygen and voltage) domains. The core photosensor of oat phototropin 1 is a LOV domain that interacts in a light-dependent fashion with an adjacent alpha-helix (J alpha) to control kinase activity. We used solution NMR measurements to quantify the free energy of the LOV domain-J alpha-helix binding equilibrium in the dark and lit states. These data indicate that light shifts this equilibrium by approximately 3.8 kcal mol(-1), thus quantifying the energy available through LOV-J alpha for light-driven allosteric regulation. This study provides insight into the energetics of light sensing by phototropins and benchmark values for engineering photoswitchable systems based on the LOV-J alpha interaction.