Curated Optogenetic Publication Database

Search precisely and efficiently by using the advantage of the hand-assigned publication tags that allow you to search for papers involving a specific trait, e.g. a particular optogenetic switch or a host organism.

Showing 1 - 25 of 76 results

Optophysiology: Illuminating cell physiology with optogenetics.

blue cyan green near-infrared red UV violet BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Physiol Rev, 24 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1152/physrev.00021.2021 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics combines light and genetics to enable precise control of living cells, tissues, and organisms with tailored functions. Optogenetics has the advantages of noninvasiveness, rapid responsiveness, tunable reversibility, and superior spatiotemporal resolution. Following the initial discovery of microbial opsins as light-actuated ion channels, a plethora of naturally occurring or engineered photoreceptors or photosensitive domains that respond to light at varying wavelengths has ushered in the next chapter of optogenetics. Through protein engineering and synthetic biology approaches, genetically encoded photoswitches can be modularly engineered into protein scaffolds or host cells to control a myriad of biological processes, as well as to enable behavioral control and disease intervention in vivo. Here, we summarize these optogenetic tools on the basis of their fundamental photochemical properties to better inform the chemical basis and design principles. We also highlight exemplary applications of opsin-free optogenetics in dissecting cellular physiology (designated "optophysiology") and describe the current progress, as well as future trends, in wireless optogenetics, which enables remote interrogation of physiological processes with minimal invasiveness. This review is anticipated to spark novel thoughts on engineering next-generation optogenetic tools and devices that promise to accelerate both basic and translational studies.

Towards translational optogenetics.

blue cyan red UV Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Nat Biomed Eng, 13 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41551-021-00829-3 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics is widely used to interrogate the neural circuits underlying disease and has most recently been harnessed for therapeutic applications. The optogenetic toolkit consists of light-responsive proteins that modulate specific cellular functions, vectors for the delivery of the transgenes that encode the light-responsive proteins to targeted cellular populations, and devices for the delivery of light of suitable wavelengths at effective fluence rates. A refined toolkit with a focus towards translational uses would include efficient and safer viral and non-viral gene-delivery vectors, increasingly red-shifted photoresponsive proteins, nanomaterials that efficiently transduce near-infrared light deep into tissue, and wireless implantable light-delivery devices that allow for spatiotemporally precise interventions at clinically relevant tissue depths. In this Review, we examine the current optogenetics toolkit and the most notable preclinical and translational uses of optogenetics, and discuss future methodological and translational developments and bottlenecks.

Optogenetic approaches in biotechnology and biomaterials.

blue cyan green near-infrared red violet BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Trends Biotechnol, 11 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2021.12.007 Link to full text
Abstract: Advances in genetic engineering, combined with the development of optical technologies, have allowed optogenetics to broaden its area of possible applications in recent years. However, the application of optogenetic tools in industry, including biotechnology and the production of biomaterials, is still limited, because each practical task requires the engineering of a specific optogenetic system. In this review, we discuss recent advances in the use of optogenetic tools in the production of biofuels and valuable chemicals, the synthesis of biomedical and polymer materials, and plant agrobiology. We also offer a comprehensive analysis of the properties and industrial applicability of light-controlled and other smart biomaterials. These data allow us to outline the prospects for the future use of optogenetics in bioindustry.

Engineering Photoresponsive Ligand Tethers for Mechanical Regulation of Stem Cells.

cyan pdDronpa1 in vitro Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Cell differentiation Extracellular optogenetics
Adv Mater, 24 Sep 2021 DOI: 10.1002/adma.202105765 Link to full text
Abstract: Regulating stem cell functions by precisely controlling the nanoscale presentation of bioactive ligands has a substantial impact on tissue engineering and regenerative medicine but remains a major challenge. Here it is shown that bioactive ligands can become mechanically "invisible" by increasing their tether lengths to the substrate beyond a critical length, providing a way to regulate mechanotransduction without changing the biochemical conditions. Building on this finding, light switchable tethers are rationally designed, whose lengths can be modulated reversibly by switching a light-responsive protein, pdDronpa, in between monomer and dimer states. This allows the regulation of the adhesion, spreading, and differentiation of stem cells by light on substrates of well-defined biochemical and physical properties. Spatiotemporal regulation of differential cell fates on the same substrate is further demonstrated, which may represent an important step toward constructing complex organoids or mini tissues by spatially defining the mechanical cues of the cellular microenvironment with light.

Applications of Upconversion Nanoparticles in Cellular Optogenetics.

blue cyan green Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Review
Acta Biomater, 27 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2021.08.035 Link to full text
Abstract: Upconversion-mediated optogenetics is an emerging powerful technique to remotely control and manipulate the deep-tissue protein functions and signaling pathway activation. This technique uses lanthanide upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) as light transducers and through near-infrared light to indirectly activate the traditional optogenetic proteins. With the merits of high spatiotemporal resolution and minimal invasiveness, this technique enables cell-type specific manipulation of cellular activities in deep tissues as well as in living animals. In this review, we introduce the latest development of optogenetic modules and UCNPs, with emphasis on the integration of UCNPs with cellular optogenetics and their biomedical applications on the control of neural/brain activity, cancer therapy and cardiac optogenetics in vivo. Furthermore, we analyze the current developed strategies to optimize and advance the upconversion-mediated optogenetics and discuss the remaining challenges of its further applications in biomedical study and clinical translational research. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Optogenetics harnesses photoactivatable proteins to optically stimulate and control intracellular activities. UCNPs-mediated NIR-activatable optogenetics uses lanthanide upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) as light transducers and utilizes near-infrared (NIR) light to indirectly activate the traditional optogenetic proteins. The integration of UCNPs with cellular optogenetics has showed great promise in biomedical applications in regulating neural/brain activity, cancer therapy and cardiac optogenetics in vivo. The evolution and optimization of functional UCNPs and the discovery and engineering of novel optogenetic modules would both contribute to the advance of such unique hybrid technology, which may lead to discoveries in biomedical research and provide new treatments for human diseases.

A guide to the optogenetic regulation of endogenous molecules.

blue cyan near-infrared Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Nat Methods, 26 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41592-021-01240-1 Link to full text
Abstract: Genetically encoded tools for the regulation of endogenous molecules (RNA, DNA elements and protein) are needed to study and control biological processes with minimal interference caused by protein overexpression and overactivation of signaling pathways. Here we focus on light-controlled optogenetic tools (OTs) that allow spatiotemporally precise regulation of gene expression and protein function. To control endogenous molecules, OTs combine light-sensing modules from natural photoreceptors with specific protein or nucleic acid binders. We discuss OT designs and group OTs according to the principles of their regulation. We outline characteristics of OT performance, discuss considerations for their use in vivo and review available OTs and their applications in cells and in vivo. Finally, we provide a brief outlook on the development of OTs.

Advanced Optogenetic-Based Biosensing and Related Biomaterials.

blue cyan near-infrared red violet Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins Phytochromes Review
Materials (Basel), 26 Jul 2021 DOI: 10.3390/ma14154151 Link to full text
Abstract: The ability to stimulate mammalian cells with light, brought along by optogenetic control, has significantly broadened our understanding of electrically excitable tissues. Backed by advanced (bio)materials, it has recently paved the way towards novel biosensing concepts supporting bio-analytics applications transversal to the main biomedical stream. The advancements concerning enabling biomaterials and related novel biosensing concepts involving optogenetics are reviewed with particular focus on the use of engineered cells for cell-based sensing platforms and the available toolbox (from mere actuators and reporters to novel multifunctional opto-chemogenetic tools) for optogenetic-enabled real-time cellular diagnostics and biosensor development. The key advantages of these modified cell-based biosensors concern both significantly faster (minutes instead of hours) and higher sensitivity detection of low concentrations of bioactive/toxic analytes (below the threshold concentrations in classical cellular sensors) as well as improved standardization as warranted by unified analytic platforms. These novel multimodal functional electro-optical label-free assays are reviewed among the key elements for optogenetic-based biosensing standardization. This focused review is a potential guide for materials researchers interested in biosensing based on light-responsive biomaterials and related analytic tools.

Optogenetic approaches for understanding homeostatic and degenerative processes in Drosophila.

blue cyan near-infrared red BLUF domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Cell Mol Life Sci, 7 Jul 2021 DOI: 10.1007/s00018-021-03836-4 Link to full text
Abstract: Many organs and tissues have an intrinsic ability to regenerate from a dedicated, tissue-specific stem cell pool. As organisms age, the process of self-regulation or homeostasis begins to slow down with fewer stem cells available for tissue repair. Tissues become more fragile and organs less efficient. This slowdown of homeostatic processes leads to the development of cellular and neurodegenerative diseases. In this review, we highlight the recent use and future potential of optogenetic approaches to study homeostasis. Optogenetics uses photosensitive molecules and genetic engineering to modulate cellular activity in vivo, allowing precise experiments with spatiotemporal control. We look at applications of this technology for understanding the mechanisms governing homeostasis and degeneration as applied to widely used model organisms, such as Drosophila melanogaster, where other common tools are less effective or unavailable.

Capicua is a fast-acting transcriptional brake.

cyan pdDronpa1 D. melanogaster in vivo Endogenous gene expression
Curr Biol, 15 Jun 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.05.061 Link to full text
Abstract: Even though transcriptional repressors are studied with ever-increasing molecular resolution, the temporal aspects of gene repression remain poorly understood. Here, we address the dynamics of transcriptional repression by Capicua (Cic), which is essential for normal development and is commonly mutated in human cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.1,2 We report the speed limit for Cic-dependent gene repression based on live imaging and optogenetic perturbations in the early Drosophila embryo, where Cic was originally discovered.3 Our measurements of Cic concentration and intranuclear mobility, along with real-time monitoring of the activity of Cic target genes, reveal remarkably fast transcriptional repression within minutes of removing an optogenetic de-repressive signal. In parallel, quantitative analyses of transcriptional bursting of Cic target genes support a repression mechanism providing a fast-acting brake on burst generation. This work sets quantitative constraints on potential mechanisms for gene regulation by Cic.

Synthetic biology as driver for the biologization of materials sciences.

blue cyan red UV BLUF domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Mater Today Bio, 26 May 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.mtbio.2021.100115 Link to full text
Abstract: Materials in nature have fascinating properties that serve as a continuous source of inspiration for materials scientists. Accordingly, bio-mimetic and bio-inspired approaches have yielded remarkable structural and functional materials for a plethora of applications. Despite these advances, many properties of natural materials remain challenging or yet impossible to incorporate into synthetic materials. Natural materials are produced by living cells, which sense and process environmental cues and conditions by means of signaling and genetic programs, thereby controlling the biosynthesis, remodeling, functionalization, or degradation of the natural material. In this context, synthetic biology offers unique opportunities in materials sciences by providing direct access to the rational engineering of how a cell senses and processes environmental information and translates them into the properties and functions of materials. Here, we identify and review two main directions by which synthetic biology can be harnessed to provide new impulses for the biologization of the materials sciences: first, the engineering of cells to produce precursors for the subsequent synthesis of materials. This includes materials that are otherwise produced from petrochemical resources, but also materials where the bio-produced substances contribute unique properties and functions not existing in traditional materials. Second, engineered living materials that are formed or assembled by cells or in which cells contribute specific functions while remaining an integral part of the living composite material. We finally provide a perspective of future scientific directions of this promising area of research and discuss science policy that would be required to support research and development in this field.

Optogenetic Approaches for the Spatiotemporal Control of Signal Transduction Pathways.

blue cyan green red Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Int J Mol Sci, 18 May 2021 DOI: 10.3390/ijms22105300 Link to full text
Abstract: Biological signals are sensed by their respective receptors and are transduced and processed by a sophisticated intracellular signaling network leading to a signal-specific cellular response. Thereby, the response to the signal depends on the strength, the frequency, and the duration of the stimulus as well as on the subcellular signal progression. Optogenetic tools are based on genetically encoded light-sensing proteins facilitating the precise spatiotemporal control of signal transduction pathways and cell fate decisions in the absence of natural ligands. In this review, we provide an overview of optogenetic approaches connecting light-regulated protein-protein interaction or caging/uncaging events with steering the function of signaling proteins. We briefly discuss the most common optogenetic switches and their mode of action. The main part deals with the engineering and application of optogenetic tools for the control of transmembrane receptors including receptor tyrosine kinases, the T cell receptor and integrins, and their effector proteins. We also address the hallmarks of optogenetics, the spatial and temporal control of signaling events.

Optical regulation of endogenous RhoA reveals selection of cellular responses by signal amplitude.

blue cyan CRY2/CIB1 Dronpa145K/N pdDronpa1 TULIP HEK293A rat hippocampal neurons U-87 MG Signaling cascade control Endogenous gene expression
bioRxiv, 14 May 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.05.430013 Link to full text
Abstract: How protein signaling networks respond to different input strengths is an important but poorly understood problem in cell biology. For example, the small GTPase RhoA regulates both focal adhesion (FA) growth or disassembly, but whether RhoA serves as a switch selecting between cellular outcomes, or if outcomes are simply modulated by additional factors in the cell, is not clear. Here, we develop a photoswitchable RhoA guanine exchange factor, psRhoGEF, to precisely control endogenous RhoA activity. We also develop a FRET-based biosensor to allow visualization of RhoA activity together with psRhoGEF control. Using these new optical tools, we discover that low levels of RhoA activation preferentially induce FA disassembly in a Src-dependent manner, while high levels induce both FA growth and disassembly in a ROCK-dependent manner. Thus, rheostatic control of RhoA activation with photoswitchable RhoGEF reveals that cells can use signal amplitude to produce multiple responses to a single biochemical signal.

Signaling, Deconstructed: Using Optogenetics to Dissect and Direct Information Flow in Biological Systems.

blue cyan green near-infrared red UV violet BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Annu Rev Biomed Eng, 15 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.1146/annurev-bioeng-083120-111648 Link to full text
Abstract: Cells receive enormous amounts of information from their environment. How they act on this information-by migrating, expressing genes, or relaying signals to other cells-comprises much of the regulatory and self-organizational complexity found across biology. The "parts list" involved in cell signaling is generally well established, but how do these parts work together to decode signals and produce appropriate responses? This fundamental question is increasingly being addressed with optogenetic tools: light-sensitive proteins that enable biologists to manipulate the interaction, localization, and activity state of proteins with high spatial and temporal precision. In this review, we summarize how optogenetics is being used in the pursuit of an answer to this question, outlining the current suite of optogenetic tools available to the researcher and calling attention to studies that increase our understanding of and improve our ability to engineer biology. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering, Volume 23 is June 2021. Please see for revised estimates.

Synthetic Biological Approaches for Optogenetics and Tools for Transcriptional Light‐Control in Bacteria.

blue cyan green near-infrared red UV violet BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Adv Biol, 9 Feb 2021 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.202000256 Link to full text
Abstract: Light has become established as a tool not only to visualize and investigate but also to steer biological systems. This review starts by discussing the unique features that make light such an effective control input in biology. It then gives an overview of how light‐control came to progress, starting with photoactivatable compounds and leading up to current genetic implementations using optogenetic approaches. The review then zooms in on optogenetics, focusing on photosensitive proteins, which form the basis for optogenetic engineering using synthetic biological approaches. As the regulation of transcription provides a highly versatile means for steering diverse biological functions, the focus of this review then shifts to transcriptional light regulators, which are presented in the biotechnologically highly relevant model organism Escherichia coli.

Steering Molecular Activity with Optogenetics: Recent Advances and Perspectives.

blue cyan green near-infrared red UV violet BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Adv Biol, 14 Jan 2021 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.202000180 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics utilizes photosensitive proteins to manipulate the localization and interaction of molecules in living cells. Because light can be rapidly switched and conveniently confined to the sub‐micrometer scale, optogenetics allows for controlling cellular events with an unprecedented resolution in time and space. The past decade has witnessed an enormous progress in the field of optogenetics within the biological sciences. The ever‐increasing amount of optogenetic tools, however, can overwhelm the selection of appropriate optogenetic strategies. Considering that each optogenetic tool may have a distinct mode of action, a comparative analysis of the current optogenetic toolbox can promote the further use of optogenetics, especially by researchers new to this field. This review provides such a compilation that highlights the spatiotemporal accuracy of current optogenetic systems. Recent advances of optogenetics in live cells and animal models are summarized, the emerging work that interlinks optogenetics with other research fields is presented, and exciting clinical and industrial efforts to employ optogenetic strategy toward disease intervention are reported.

Optogenetics: The Art of Illuminating Complex Signaling Pathways.

blue cyan red Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Physiology (Bethesda), 1 Jan 2021 DOI: 10.1152/physiol.00022.2020 Link to full text
Abstract: Dissection of cell signaling requires tools that can mimic spatiotemporal dynamics of individual pathways in living cells. Optogenetic methods enable manipulation of signaling processes with precise timing and local control. In this review, we describe recent optogenetic approaches for regulation of cell signaling, highlight their advantages and limitations, and discuss examples of their application.

Optogenetic interrogation and control of cell signaling.

blue cyan green near-infrared red Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Curr Opin Biotechnol, 11 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.copbio.2020.07.007 Link to full text
Abstract: Signaling networks control the flow of information through biological systems and coordinate the chemical processes that constitute cellular life. Optogenetic actuators - genetically encoded proteins that undergo light-induced changes in activity or conformation - are useful tools for probing signaling networks over time and space. They have permitted detailed dissections of cellular proliferation, differentiation, motility, and death, and enabled the assembly of synthetic systems with applications in areas as diverse as photography, chemical synthesis, and medicine. In this review, we provide a brief introduction to optogenetic systems and describe their application to molecular-level analyses of cell signaling. Our discussion highlights important research achievements and speculates on future opportunities to exploit optogenetic systems in the study and assembly of complex biochemical networks.

Light control of RTK activity: from technology development to translational research.

blue cyan green red Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains pdDronpa Phytochromes Review
Chem Sci, 7 Sep 2020 DOI: 10.1039/d0sc03570j Link to full text
Abstract: Inhibition of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) by small molecule inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies is used to treat cancer. Conversely, activation of RTKs with their ligands, including growth factors and insulin, is used to treat diabetes and neurodegeneration. However, conventional therapies that rely on injection of RTK inhibitors or activators do not provide spatiotemporal control over RTK signaling, which results in diminished efficiency and side effects. Recently, a number of optogenetic and optochemical approaches have been developed that allow RTK inhibition or activation in cells and in vivo with light. Light irradiation can control RTK signaling non-invasively, in a dosed manner, with high spatio-temporal precision, and without the side effects of conventional treatments. Here we provide an update on the current state of the art of optogenetic and optochemical RTK technologies and the prospects of their use in translational studies and therapy.

Engineering Photosensory Modules of Non-Opsin-Based Optogenetic Actuators.

blue cyan near-infrared red violet Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Int J Mol Sci, 7 Sep 2020 DOI: 10.3390/ijms21186522 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic (photo-responsive) actuators engineered from photoreceptors are widely used in various applications to study cell biology and tissue physiology. In the toolkit of optogenetic actuators, the key building blocks are genetically encodable light-sensitive proteins. Currently, most optogenetic photosensory modules are engineered from naturally-occurring photoreceptor proteins from bacteria, fungi, and plants. There is a growing demand for novel photosensory domains with improved optical properties and light-induced responses to satisfy the needs of a wider variety of studies in biological sciences. In this review, we focus on progress towards engineering of non-opsin-based photosensory domains, and their representative applications in cell biology and physiology. We summarize current knowledge of engineering of light-sensitive proteins including light-oxygen-voltage-sensing domain (LOV), cryptochrome (CRY2), phytochrome (PhyB and BphP), and fluorescent protein (FP)-based photosensitive domains (Dronpa and PhoCl).

Lights up on organelles: Optogenetic tools to control subcellular structure and organization.

blue cyan near-infrared red UV BLUF domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Wiley Interdiscip Rev Syst Biol Med, 26 Jul 2020 DOI: 10.1002/wsbm.1500 Link to full text
Abstract: Since the neurobiological inception of optogenetics, light-controlled molecular perturbations have been applied in many scientific disciplines to both manipulate and observe cellular function. Proteins exhibiting light-sensitive conformational changes provide researchers with avenues for spatiotemporal control over the cellular environment and serve as valuable alternatives to chemically inducible systems. Optogenetic approaches have been developed to target proteins to specific subcellular compartments, allowing for the manipulation of nuclear translocation and plasma membrane morphology. Additionally, these tools have been harnessed for molecular interrogation of organelle function, location, and dynamics. Optogenetic approaches offer novel ways to answer fundamental biological questions and to improve the efficiency of bioengineered cell factories by controlling the assembly of synthetic organelles. This review first provides a summary of available optogenetic systems with an emphasis on their organelle-specific utility. It then explores the strategies employed for organelle targeting and concludes by discussing our perspective on the future of optogenetics to control subcellular structure and organization. This article is categorized under: Laboratory Methods and Technologies > Genetic/Genomic Methods Physiology > Physiology of Model Organisms Biological Mechanisms > Regulatory Biology Models of Systems Properties and Processes > Cellular Models.

Optogenetic Techniques for Manipulating and Sensing G Protein-Coupled Receptor Signaling.

blue cyan red UV BLUF domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Methods Mol Biol, 11 Jul 2020 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-0716-0755-8_2 Link to full text
Abstract: G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) form the largest class of membrane receptors in the mammalian genome with nearly 800 human genes encoding for unique subtypes. Accordingly, GPCR signaling is implicated in nearly all physiological processes. However, GPCRs have been difficult to study due in part to the complexity of their function which can lead to a plethora of converging or diverging downstream effects over different time and length scales. Classic techniques such as pharmacological control, genetic knockout and biochemical assays often lack the precision required to probe the functions of specific GPCR subtypes. Here we describe the rapidly growing set of optogenetic tools, ranging from methods for optical control of the receptor itself to optical sensing and manipulation of downstream effectors. These tools permit the quantitative measurements of GPCRs and their downstream signaling with high specificity and spatiotemporal precision.

Optogenetics and CRISPR: A New Relationship Built to Last.

blue cyan red Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Methods Mol Biol, 11 Jul 2020 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-0716-0755-8_18 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Non-neuromodulatory Optogenetic Tools in Zebrafish.

blue cyan green red BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Front Cell Dev Biol, 3 Jun 2020 DOI: 10.3389/fcell.2020.00418 Link to full text
Abstract: The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a popular vertebrate model organism to investigate molecular mechanisms driving development and disease. Due to its transparency at embryonic and larval stages, investigations in the living organism are possible with subcellular resolution using intravital microscopy. The beneficial optical characteristics of zebrafish not only allow for passive observation, but also active manipulation of proteins and cells by light using optogenetic tools. Initially, photosensitive ion channels have been applied for neurobiological studies in zebrafish to dissect complex behaviors on a cellular level. More recently, exciting non-neural optogenetic tools have been established to control gene expression or protein localization and activity, allowing for unprecedented non-invasive and precise manipulation of various aspects of cellular physiology. Zebrafish will likely be a vertebrate model organism at the forefront of in vivo application of non-neural optogenetic tools and pioneering work has already been performed. In this review, we provide an overview of non-neuromodulatory optogenetic tools successfully applied in zebrafish to control gene expression, protein localization, cell signaling, migration and cell ablation.

Lights, cytoskeleton, action: Optogenetic control of cell dynamics.

blue cyan red Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Curr Opin Cell Biol, 1 May 2020 DOI: 10.1016/ Link to full text
Abstract: Cell biology is moving from observing molecules to controlling them in real time, a critical step towards a mechanistic understanding of how cells work. Initially developed from light-gated ion channels to control neuron activity, optogenetics now describes any genetically encoded protein system designed to accomplish specific light-mediated tasks. Recent photosensitive switches use many ingenious designs that bring spatial and temporal control within reach for almost any protein or pathway of interest. This next generation optogenetics includes light-controlled protein-protein interactions and shape-shifting photosensors, which in combination with live microscopy enable acute modulation and analysis of dynamic protein functions in living cells. We provide a brief overview of various types of optogenetic switches. We then discuss how diverse approaches have been used to control cytoskeleton dynamics with light through Rho GTPase signaling, microtubule and actin assembly, mitotic spindle positioning and intracellular transport and highlight advantages and limitations of different experimental strategies.

Light-inducible generation of membrane curvature in live cells with engineered BAR domain proteins.

blue cyan iLID pdDronpa1 Cos-7 U-2 OS Organelle manipulation
ACS Synth Biol, 26 Mar 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.9b00516 Link to full text
Abstract: Nanoscale membrane curvature is now understood to play an active role in essential cellular processes such as endocytosis, exocytosis and actin dynamics. Previous studies have shown that membrane curvature can directly affect protein function and intracellular signaling. However, few methods are able to precisely manipulate membrane curvature in live cells. Here, we report the development of a new method of generating nanoscale membrane curvature in live cells that is controllable, reversible, and capable of precise spatial and temporal manipulation. For this purpose, we make use of BAR domain proteins, a family of well-studied membrane-remodeling and membrane-sculpting proteins. Specifically, we engineered two optogenetic systems, opto-FBAR and opto-IBAR, that allow light-inducible formation of positive and negative membrane curvature, respectively. Using opto-FBAR, blue light activation results in the formation of tubular membrane invaginations (positive curvature), controllable down to the subcellular level. Using opto-IBAR, blue light illumination results in the formation of membrane protrusions or filopodia (negative curvature). These systems present a novel approach for light-inducible manipulation of nanoscale membrane curvature in live cells.
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