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Optogenetic control of small GTPases reveals RhoA mediates intracellular calcium signaling.
Rho/Ras family small GTPases are known to regulate numerous cellular processes, including cytoskeletal reorganization, cell proliferation, and cell differentiation. These processes are also controlled by Ca2+, and consequently, crosstalk between these signals is considered likely. However, systematic quantitative evaluation has not yet been reported. To fill this gap, we constructed optogenetic tools to control the activity of small GTPases (RhoA, Rac1, Cdc42, Ras, Rap, and Ral) using an improved light-inducible dimer system (iLID). We characterized these optogenetic tools with genetically encoded red fluorescence intensity-based small GTPase biosensors and confirmed these optogenetic tools' specificities. Using these optogenetic tools, we investigated calcium mobilization immediately after small GTPase activation. Unexpectedly, we found that a transient intracellular calcium elevation was specifically induced by RhoA activation in RPE1 and HeLa cells. RhoA activation also induced transient intracellular calcium elevation in MDCK and HEK293T cells, suggesting that generally RhoA induces calcium signaling. Interestingly, the molecular mechanisms linking RhoA activation to calcium increases were shown to be different among the different cell types: In RPE1 and HeLa cells, RhoA activated phospholipase C epsilon (PLCε) at the plasma membrane, which in turn induced Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The RhoA-PLCε axis induced calcium-dependent NFAT nuclear translocation, suggesting it does activate intracellular calcium signaling. Conversely, in MDCK and HEK293T cells, RhoA-ROCK-myosin II axis induced the calcium transients. These data suggest universal coordination of RhoA and calcium signaling in cellular processes, such as cellular contraction and gene expression.
Optogenetic manipulation of intracellular calcium by BACCS promotes differentiation of MC3T3-E1 cells.
Bone remodeling is maintained through the balance between bone formation by osteoblasts and bone resorption by osteoclasts. Previous studies suggested that intracellular Ca2+ signaling plays an important role in the differentiation of osteoblasts; however, the molecular mechanism of Ca2+ signaling in the differentiation of osteoblasts remains unclear. To elucidate the effect of Ca2+ signaling in osteoblasts, we employed an optogenetic tool, blue light-activated Ca2+ channel switch (BACCS). BACCS was used to spatiotemporally control intracellular Ca2+ with blue light stimulation. MC3T3-E1 cells, which have been used as a model of differentiation from preosteoblast to osteoblast, were promoted to differentiate by BACCS expression and rhythmical blue light stimulation. The results indicated that intracellular Ca2+ change from the outside of the cells can regulate signaling for differentiation of MC3T3-E1 cells. Our findings provide evidence that Ca2+ could cause osteoblast differentiation.
Light generation of intracellular Ca(2+) signals by a genetically encoded protein BACCS.
Ca(2+) signals are highly regulated in a spatiotemporal manner in numerous cellular physiological events. Here we report a genetically engineered blue light-activated Ca(2+) channel switch (BACCS), as an optogenetic tool for generating Ca(2+) signals. BACCS opens Ca(2+)-selective ORAI ion channels in response to light. A BACCS variant, dmBACCS2, combined with Drosophila Orai, elevates the Ca(2+) concentration more rapidly, such that Ca(2+) elevation in mammalian cells is observed within 1 s on light exposure. Using BACCSs, we successfully control cellular events including NFAT-mediated gene expression. In the mouse olfactory system, BACCS mediates light-dependent electrophysiological responses. Furthermore, we generate BACCS mutants, which exhibit fast and slow recovery of intracellular Ca(2+). Thus, BACCSs are a useful optogenetic tool for generating temporally various intracellular Ca(2+) signals with a large dynamic range, and will be applicable to both in vitro and in vivo studies.
Optogenetic control of PIP3: PIP3 is sufficient to induce the actin-based active part of growth cones and is regulated via endocytosis.
Phosphatidylinositol-3,4,5-trisphosphate (PIP3) is highly regulated in a spatiotemporal manner and plays multiple roles in individual cells. However, the local dynamics and primary functions of PIP3 in developing neurons remain unclear because of a lack of techniques for manipulating PIP3 spatiotemporally. We addressed this issue by combining optogenetic control and observation of endogenous PIP3 signaling. Endogenous PIP3 was abundant in actin-rich structures such as growth cones and "waves", and PIP3-rich plasma membranes moved actively within growth cones. To study the role of PIP3 in developing neurons, we developed a PI3K photoswitch that can induce production of PIP3 at specific locations upon blue light exposure. We succeeded in producing PIP3 locally in mouse hippocampal neurons. Local PIP3 elevation at neurite tips did not induce neurite elongation, but it was sufficient to induce the formation of filopodia and lamellipodia. Interestingly, ectopic PIP3 elevation alone activated membranes to form actin-based structures whose behavior was similar to that of growth-cone-like "waves". We also found that endocytosis regulates effective PIP3 concentration at plasma membranes. These results revealed the local dynamics and primary functions of PIP3, providing fundamental information about PIP3 signaling in neurons.