Showing 1 - 25 of 55 results
Selective induction of programmed cell death using synthetic biology tools.
Regulated cell death (RCD) controls the removal of dispensable, infected or malignant cells, and is thus essential for development, homeostasis and immunity of multicellular organisms. Over the last years different forms of RCD have been described (among them apoptosis, necroptosis, pyroptosis and ferroptosis), and the cellular signaling pathways that control their induction and execution have been characterized at the molecular level. It has also become apparent that different forms of RCD differ in their capacity to elicit inflammation or an immune response, and that RCD pathways show a remarkable plasticity. Biochemical and genetic studies revealed that inhibition of a given pathway often results in the activation of back-up cell death mechanisms, highlighting close interconnectivity based on shared signaling components and the assembly of multivalent signaling platforms that can initiate different forms of RCD. Due to this interconnectivity and the pleiotropic effects of 'classical' cell death inducers, it is challenging to study RCD pathways in isolation. This has led to the development of tools based on synthetic biology that allow the targeted induction of RCD using chemogenetic or optogenetic methods. Here we discuss recent advances in the development of such toolset, highlighting their advantages and limitations, and their application for the study of RCD in cells and animals.
Fluorogenesis: Inducing Fluorescence in a Non-Fluorescent Protein Through Photoinduced Chromophore Transfer of a Genetically Encoded Chromophore.
Fluorescent proteins, while essential for bioimaging, are limited to visualizing cellular localization without offering additional functionality. We report for the first time a strategy to expand the chemical, structural, and functional diversity of fluorescent proteins by harnessing light to induce red fluorescence in a previously non-fluorescent protein. We accomplish this by inducing the transfer of the genetically encoded chromophore from a photocleavable protein (PhoCl1) to a non-fluorescent kinase (MjRibK) inducing red fluorescence in the latter. We have employed analytical and spectroscopic techniques to validate the presence of red fluorescence in MjRibK. Furthermore, molecular dynamics simulations were carried out to investigate the amino acid residues of MjRibK involved in the generation of red fluorescence. Finally, we demonstrate the ability of the red fluorescent MjRibK to operate as a cyclable high-temperature sensor. We anticipate that this light-induced chromophore transfer strategy will open new possibilities for developing multifunctional genetically encoded fluorescent sensors.
Precise modulation of embryonic development through optogenetics.
The past decade has witnessed enormous progress in optogenetics, which uses photo-sensitive proteins to control signal transduction in live cells and animals. The ever-increasing amount of optogenetic tools, however, could overwhelm the selection of appropriate optogenetic strategies. In this work, we summarize recent progress in this emerging field and highlight the application of opsin-free optogenetics in studying embryonic development, focusing on new insights gained into optical induction of morphogenesis, cell polarity, cell fate determination, tissue differentiation, neuronal regeneration, synaptic plasticity, and removal of cells during development.
A doxycycline- and light-inducible Cre recombinase mouse model for optogenetic genome editing.
The experimental need to engineer the genome both in time and space, has led to the development of several photoactivatable Cre recombinase systems. However, the combination of inefficient and non-intentional background recombination has prevented thus far the wide application of these systems in biological and biomedical research. Here, we engineer an optimized photoactivatable Cre recombinase system that we refer to as doxycycline- and light-inducible Cre recombinase (DiLiCre). Following extensive characterization in cancer cell and organoid systems, we generate a DiLiCre mouse line, and illustrated the biological applicability of DiLiCre for light-induced mutagenesis in vivo and positional cell-tracing by intravital microscopy. These experiments illustrate how newly formed HrasV12 mutant cells follow an unnatural movement towards the interfollicular dermis. Together, we develop an efficient photoactivatable Cre recombinase mouse model and illustrate how this model is a powerful genome-editing tool for biological and biomedical research.
Light-regulated gene expression in Bacteria: Fundamentals, advances, and perspectives.
Numerous photoreceptors and genetic circuits emerged over the past two decades and now enable the light-dependent i.e., optogenetic, regulation of gene expression in bacteria. Prompted by light cues in the near-ultraviolet to near-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum, gene expression can be up- or downregulated stringently, reversibly, non-invasively, and with precision in space and time. Here, we survey the underlying principles, available options, and prominent examples of optogenetically regulated gene expression in bacteria. While transcription initiation and elongation remain most important for optogenetic intervention, other processes e.g., translation and downstream events, were also rendered light-dependent. The optogenetic control of bacterial expression predominantly employs but three fundamental strategies: light-sensitive two-component systems, oligomerization reactions, and second-messenger signaling. Certain optogenetic circuits moved beyond the proof-of-principle and stood the test of practice. They enable unprecedented applications in three major areas. First, light-dependent expression underpins novel concepts and strategies for enhanced yields in microbial production processes. Second, light-responsive bacteria can be optogenetically stimulated while residing within the bodies of animals, thus prompting the secretion of compounds that grant health benefits to the animal host. Third, optogenetics allows the generation of precisely structured, novel biomaterials. These applications jointly testify to the maturity of the optogenetic approach and serve as blueprints bound to inspire and template innovative use cases of light-regulated gene expression in bacteria. Researchers pursuing these lines can choose from an ever-growing, versatile, and efficient toolkit of optogenetic circuits.
Optogenetic Protein Cleavage in Zebrafish Embryos.
A wide array of optogenetic tools is available that allow for precise spatiotemporal control over many cellular processes. These tools have been especially popular among zebrafish researchers who take advantage of the embryo's transparency. However, photocleavable optogenetic proteins have not been utilized in zebrafish. We demonstrate successful optical control of protein cleavage in embryos using PhoCl, a photocleavable fluorescent protein. This optogenetic tool offers temporal and spatial control over protein cleavage events, which we demonstrate in light-triggered protein translocation and apoptosis.
Shedding light on current trends in molecular optogenetics.
Molecular optogenetics is a highly dynamic research field. In the past two years, the field was characterized by the development of new allosteric switches as well as the forward integration of optogenetics research towards application. Further, two areas of research have significantly gathered momentum, the use of optogenetics to control liquid-liquid phase separation as well as the application of optogenetic tools in the extracellular space. Here, we review these areas and discuss future directions.
Illuminating bacterial behaviors with optogenetics.
Optogenetic approaches enable light-mediated control of cellular activities using genetically encoded photoreceptors. While optogenetic technology is already well established in neuroscience and fundamental research, the implementation of optogenetic tools in bacteriology is still emerging. Engineered bacteria with the specific optogenetic system that function at the transcriptional or post-translational level can sense and respond to light, allowing optogenetic control of bacterial behaviors. In this review, we give a brief overview of available optogenetic systems, including their mode of action, classification, and engineering strategies, and focus on optogenetic control of bacterial behaviors with the highlight of strategies for use of optogenetic systems.
Recent advances in cellular optogenetics for photomedicine.
Since the successful introduction of exogenous photosensitive proteins, channelrhodopsin, to neurons, optogenetics has enabled substantial understanding of profound brain function by selectively manipulating neural circuits. In an optogenetic system, optical stimulation can be precisely delivered to brain tissue to achieve regulation of cellular electrical activity with unprecedented spatio-temporal resolution in living organisms. In recent years, the development of various optical actuators and novel light-delivery techniques has greatly expanded the scope of optogenetics, enabling the control of other signal pathways in non-neuronal cells for different biomedical applications, such as phototherapy and immunotherapy. This review focuses on the recent advances in optogenetic regulation of cellular activities for photomedicine. We discuss emerging optogenetic tools and light-delivery platforms, along with a survey of optogenetic execution in mammalian and microbial cells.
Engineering of optogenetic devices for biomedical applications in mammalian synthetic biology.
Gene- and cell-based therapies are the next frontiers in the field of medicine. Both are transformative and innovative therapies; however, a lack of safety data limits the translation of such promising technologies to the clinic. Improving the safety and promoting the clinical translation of these therapies can be achieved by tightly regulating the release and delivery of therapeutic outputs. In recent years, the rapid development of optogenetic technology has provided opportunities to develop precision-controlled gene- and cell-based therapies, in which light is introduced to precisely and spatiotemporally manipulate the behaviour of genes and cells. This review focuses on the development of optogenetic tools and their applications in biomedicine, including photoactivated genome engineering and phototherapy for diabetes and tumours. The prospects and challenges of optogenetic tools for future clinical applications are also discussed.
Point (S-to-G) Mutations in the W(S/G)GE Motif in Red/Green Cyanobacteriochrome GAF Domains Enhance Thermal Reversion Rates.
Cyanobacteriochromes (CBCRs) are photoreceptors consisting of single or tandem GAF (cGMP-phosphodiesterase/adenylate cyclase/FhlA) domains that bind bilin chromophores. Canonical red/green CBCR GAF domains are a well-characterized subgroup of the expanded red/green CBCR GAF domain family that binds phycocyanobilin (PCB) and converts between a thermally stable red-absorbing Pr state and a green-absorbing Pg state. The rate of thermal reversion from Pg to Pr varies widely among canonical red/green CBCR GAF domains, with half-lives ranging from days to seconds. Since the thermal reversion rate is an important parameter for the application of CBCR GAF domains as optogenetic tools, the molecular factors controlling the thermal reversion rate are of particular interest. Here, we report that point mutations in a well-conserved W(S/G)GE motif alter reversion rates in canonical red/green CBCR GAF domains in a predictable manner. Specifically, S-to-G mutations enhance thermal reversion rates, while the reverse, G-to-S mutations slow thermal reversion. Despite the distance (>10 Å) of the mutation site from the chromophore, molecular dynamics simulations and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analyses suggest that the presence of a glycine residue allows the formation of a water bridge that alters the conformational dynamics of chromophore-interacting residues, leading to enhanced Pg to Pr thermal reversion.
Optogenetics for transcriptional programming and genetic engineering.
Optogenetics combines genetics and biophotonics to enable noninvasive control of biological processes with high spatiotemporal precision. When engineered into protein machineries that govern the cellular information flow as depicted in the central dogma, multiple genetically encoded non-opsin photosensory modules have been harnessed to modulate gene transcription, DNA or RNA modifications, DNA recombination, and genome engineering by utilizing photons emitting in the wide range of 200-1000 nm. We present herein generally applicable modular strategies for optogenetic engineering and highlight latest advances in the broad applications of opsin-free optogenetics to program transcriptional outputs and precisely manipulate the mammalian genome, epigenome, and epitranscriptome. We also discuss current challenges and future trends in opsin-free optogenetics, which has been rapidly evolving to meet the growing needs in synthetic biology and genetics research.
Extracellular Optogenetics at the Interface of Synthetic Biology and Materials Science.
We review fundamental mechanisms and applications of OptoGels: hydrogels with light-programmable properties endowed by photoswitchable proteins ("optoproteins") found in nature. Light, as the primary source of energy on earth, has driven evolution to develop highly-tuned functionalities, such as phototropism and circadian entrainment. These functions are mediated through a growing family of optoproteins that respond to the entire visible spectrum ranging from ultraviolet to infrared by changing their structure to transmit signals inside of cells. In a recent series of articles, engineers and biochemists have incorporated optoproteins into a variety of extracellular systems, endowing them with photocontrollability. While other routes exist for dynamically controlling material properties, light-sensitive proteins have several distinct advantages, including precise spatiotemporal control, reversibility, substrate selectivity, as well as biodegradability and biocompatibility. Available conjugation chemistries endow OptoGels with a combinatorially large design space determined by the set of optoproteins and polymer networks. These combinations result in a variety of tunable material properties. Despite their potential, relatively little of the OptoGel design space has been explored. Here, we aim to summarize innovations in this emerging field and highlight potential future applications of these next generation materials. OptoGels show great promise in applications ranging from mechanobiology, to 3D cell and organoid engineering, and programmable cell eluting materials.
The expanding role of split protein complementation in opsin-free optogenetics.
A comprehensive understanding of signaling mechanisms helps interpret fundamental biological processes and restore cell behavior from pathological conditions. Signaling outcome depends not only on the activity of each signaling component but also on their dynamic interaction in time and space, which remains challenging to probe by biochemical and cell-based assays. Opsin-based optogenetics has transformed neural science research with its spatiotemporal modulation of the activity of excitable cells. Motivated by this advantage, opsin-free optogenetics extends the power of light to a larger spectrum of signaling molecules. This review summarizes commonly used opsin-free optogenetic strategies, presents a historical overview of split protein complementation, and highlights the adaptation of split protein recombination as optogenetic sensors and actuators.
Optogenetics Illuminates Applications in Microbial Engineering.
Optogenetics has been used in a variety of microbial engineering applications, such as chemical and protein production, studies of cell physiology, and engineered microbe-host interactions. These diverse applications benefit from the precise spatiotemporal control that light affords, as well as its tunability, reversibility, and orthogonality. This combination of unique capabilities has enabled a surge of studies in recent years investigating complex biological systems with completely new approaches. We briefly describe the optogenetic tools that have been developed for microbial engineering, emphasizing the scientific advancements that they have enabled. In particular, we focus on the unique benefits and applications of implementing optogenetic control, from bacterial therapeutics to cybergenetics. Finally, we discuss future research directions, with special attention given to the development of orthogonal multichromatic controls. With an abundance of advantages offered by optogenetics, the future is bright in microbial engineering. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Volume 13 is October 2022. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
Optophysiology: Illuminating cell physiology with optogenetics.
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.
Optogenetic approaches in biotechnology and biomaterials.
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.
Gasdermin D pores are dynamically regulated by local phosphoinositide circuitry.
Gasdermin D forms large, ~21 nm diameter pores in the plasma membrane to drive the cell death program pyroptosis. These pores are thought to be permanently open, and the resultant osmotic imbalance is thought to be highly damaging. Yet some cells mitigate and survive pore formation, suggesting an undiscovered layer of regulation over the function of these pores. However, no methods exist to directly reveal these mechanistic details. Here, we combine optogenetic tools, live cell fluorescence biosensing, and electrophysiology to demonstrate that gasdermin pores display phosphoinositide-dependent dynamics. We quantify repeated and fast opening-closing of these pores on the tens of seconds timescale, visualize the dynamic pore geometry, and identify the signaling that controls dynamic pore activity. The identification of this circuit allows pharmacological tuning of pyroptosis and control of inflammatory cytokine release by living cells.
Toward Multiplexed Optogenetic Circuits.
Owing to its ubiquity and easy availability in nature, light has been widely employed to control complex cellular behaviors. Light-sensitive proteins are the foundation to such diverse and multilevel adaptive regulations in a large range of organisms. Due to their remarkable properties and potential applications in engineered systems, exploration and engineering of natural light-sensitive proteins have significantly contributed to expand optogenetic toolboxes with tailor-made performances in synthetic genetic circuits. Progressively, more complex systems have been designed in which multiple photoreceptors, each sensing its dedicated wavelength, are combined to simultaneously coordinate cellular responses in a single cell. In this review, we highlight recent works and challenges on multiplexed optogenetic circuits in natural and engineered systems for a dynamic regulation breakthrough in biotechnological applications.
Gigavalent display of proteins on monodisperse polyacrylamide hydrogels as a versatile modular platform for functional assays and protein engineering.
The robust modularity of biological components that are assembled into complex functional systems is central to synthetic biology. Here we apply modular “plug and play” design principles to a microscale solid phase protein display system that enables protein purification and functional assays for biotherapeutics. Specifically, we capture protein molecules from cell lysates on polyacrylamide hydrogel display beads (‘PHD beads’), made in microfluidic droplet generators. These monodisperse PHD beads are decorated with predefined amounts of anchors, methacrylate-PEG-benzylguanine (BG) and methacrylate-PEG-chloroalkane (CA). Anchors form covalent bonds with fusion proteins bearing cognate tag recognition (SNAP and Halo-tags) in specific, orthogonal and stable fashion. Given that these anchors are copolymerised throughout the 3D structure of the beads, proteins are also distributed across the entire bead sphere, allowing attachment of ∼109 protein molecules per bead (Ø 20 μm). This mode of attachment reaches a higher density than possible on widely used surface-modified beads, and additionally mitigates surface effects that often complicate studies with proteins on beads. We showcase a diverse array of protein modules that enable the secondary capture of proteins, either non-covalently (IgG and SUMO-tag) or covalently (SpyCatcher, SpyTag, SnpCatcher and SnpTag). Proteins can be displayed in their monomeric forms, but also reformatted as a multivalent display (using secondary capture modules that create branches) to test the contributions of avidity and multivalency towards protein function. Finally, controlled release of modules by irradiation of light is achieved by incorporating the photocleavable protein PhoCl: irradiation severs the displayed protein from the solid support, so that functional assays can be carried out in solution. As a demonstration of the utility of valency engineering, an antibody drug screen is performed, in which an anti-TRAIL-R1 scFv protein is released into solution as monomers-hexamers, showing a ∼50-fold enhanced potency in the pentavalent format. The ease of protein purification on solid support, quantitative control over presentation and release of proteins and choice of valency make this experimental format a versatile, modular platform for large scale functional analysis of proteins, in bioassays of protein-protein interactions, enzymatic catalysis and bacteriolysis.
Modularly Built Synthetic Membraneless Organelles Enabling Targeted Protein Sequestration and Release.
Abstract not available.
The Red Edge: Bilin-Binding Photoreceptors as Optogenetic Tools and Fluorescence Reporters.
This review adds the bilin-binding phytochromes to the Chemical Reviews thematic issue "Optogenetics and Photopharmacology". The work is structured into two parts. We first outline the photochemistry of the covalently bound tetrapyrrole chromophore and summarize relevant spectroscopic, kinetic, biochemical, and physiological properties of the different families of phytochromes. Based on this knowledge, we then describe the engineering of phytochromes to further improve these chromoproteins as photoswitches and review their employment in an ever-growing number of different optogenetic applications. Most applications rely on the light-controlled complex formation between the plant photoreceptor PhyB and phytochrome-interacting factors (PIFs) or C-terminal light-regulated domains with enzymatic functions present in many bacterial and algal phytochromes. Phytochrome-based optogenetic tools are currently implemented in bacteria, yeast, plants, and animals to achieve light control of a wide range of biological activities. These cover the regulation of gene expression, protein transport into cell organelles, and the recruitment of phytochrome- or PIF-tagged proteins to membranes and other cellular compartments. This compilation illustrates the intrinsic advantages of phytochromes compared to other photoreceptor classes, e.g., their bidirectional dual-wavelength control enabling instant ON and OFF regulation. In particular, the long wavelength range of absorption and fluorescence within the "transparent window" makes phytochromes attractive for complex applications requiring deep tissue penetration or dual-wavelength control in combination with blue and UV light-sensing photoreceptors. In addition to the wide variability of applications employing natural and engineered phytochromes, we also discuss recent progress in the development of bilin-based fluorescent proteins.
Optogenetic strategies for the control of gene expression in yeasts.
Optogenetics involves the use of light to control cellular functions and has become increasingly popular in various areas of research, especially in the precise control of gene expression. While this technology is already well established in neurobiology and basic research, its use in bioprocess development is still emerging. Some optogenetic switches have been implemented in yeasts for different purposes, taking advantage of a wide repertoire of biological parts and relatively easy genetic manipulation. In this review, we cover the current strategies used for the construction of yeast strains to be used in optogenetically controlled protein or metabolite production, as well as the operational aspects to be considered for the scale-up of this type of process. Finally, we discuss the main applications of optogenetic switches in yeast systems and highlight the main advantages and challenges of bioprocess development considering future directions for this field.
Harnessing the power of fluorescence to characterize biomolecular condensates.
Biomolecular condensates are membrane-less cellular compartments that form via phase separation. They serve a multitude of functions in all types of cells. Important insights into the composition, architecture and dynamics of biomolecular condensates have been obtained by harnessing the power of fluorescence-based technologies. In this chapter, methods will be discussed for (1) fluorescent labelling of macromolecules, (2) spatial and temporal mapping and tracking of target molecules in cellular and in vitro settings, (3) controlling formation and dissolution of biomolecular condensates, and (4) fluorescence-based condensate-targeted drug discovery.
Designer membraneless organelles sequester native factors for control of cell behavior.
Subcellular compartmentalization of macromolecules increases flux and prevents inhibitory interactions to control biochemical reactions. Inspired by this functionality, we sought to build designer compartments that function as hubs to regulate the flow of information through cellular control systems. We report a synthetic membraneless organelle platform to control endogenous cellular activities through sequestration and insulation of native proteins. We engineer and express a disordered protein scaffold to assemble micron-size condensates and recruit endogenous clients via genomic tagging with high-affinity dimerization motifs. By relocalizing up to 90% of targeted enzymes to synthetic condensates, we efficiently control cellular behaviors, including proliferation, division and cytoskeletal organization. Further, we demonstrate multiple strategies for controlled cargo release from condensates to switch cells between functional states. These synthetic organelles offer a powerful and generalizable approach to modularly control cell decision-making in a variety of model systems with broad applications for cellular engineering.