Showing 1 - 25 of 39 results
A cytokinetic ring-driven cell rotation achieves Hertwig’s rule in early development.
Cells tend to divide along the direction in which they are longest, as famously stated by Oscar Hertwig in 1884 in his long axis rule. The orientation of the mitotic spindle determines the cell division axis, and the long axis rule is usually ensured by forces stemming from microtubules. Pulling on the spindle from the cell cortex can give rise to unstable behaviors, and we here set out to understand how the long axis rule is realized in early embryonic divisions where cortical pulling forces are prevalent. We focus on early C. elegans development, where we compressed embryos to reveal that cortical pulling forces favor an alignment of the spindle with the short axis of the cell. Strikingly, we find that this misalignment is corrected by an actomyosin-based mechanism that rotates the entire cell, including the mitotic spindle. We uncover that myosin-driven contractility in the cytokinetic ring generates inward forces that align it with the short axis, and thereby the spindle with the long axis. A theoretical model together with experiments using slightly compressed mouse zygotes suggest that a constricting cytokinetic ring can ensure the long axis rule in cells that are free to rotate inside a confining structure, thereby generalizing the underlying principle.
Optogenetic inhibition of Gα signalling alters and regulates circuit functionality and early circuit formation.
Optogenetic techniques provide genetically targeted, spatially and temporally precise approaches to correlate cellular activities and physiological outcomes. In the nervous system, G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have essential neuromodulatory functions through binding extracellular ligands to induce intracellular signaling cascades. In this work, we develop and validate a new optogenetic tool that disrupt Gαq signaling through membrane recruitment of a minimal Regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS) domain. This approach, Photo-induced Modulation of Gα protein – Inhibition of Gαq (PiGM-Iq), exhibited potent and selective inhibition of Gαq signaling. We alter the behavior of C. elegans and Drosophila with outcomes consistent with GPCR-Gαq disruption. PiGM-Iq also changes axon guidance in culture dorsal root ganglia neurons in response to serotonin. PiGM-Iq activation leads to developmental deficits in zebrafish embryos and larvae resulting in altered neuronal wiring and behavior. By altering the choice of minimal RGS domain, we also show that this approach is amenable to Gαi signaling.
Optical Control of Cell Signaling with Red/Far-Red Light-Responsive Optogenetic Tools in Caenorhabditis elegans.
Optogenetic techniques have been intensively applied to the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to investigate its neural functions. However, as most of these optogenetics are responsive to blue light and the animal exhibits avoidance behavior to blue light, the application of optogenetic tools responsive to longer wavelength light has been eagerly anticipated. In this study, we report the implementation in C. elegans of a phytochrome-based optogenetic tool that responds to red/near-infrared light and manipulates cell signaling. We first introduced the SynPCB system, which enabled us to synthesize phycocyanobilin (PCB), a chromophore for phytochrome, and confirmed the biosynthesis of PCB in neurons, muscles, and intestinal cells. We further confirmed that the amount of PCBs synthesized by the SynPCB system was sufficient for photoswitching of phytochrome B (PhyB)-phytochrome interacting factor 3 (PIF3). In addition, optogenetic elevation of intracellular Ca2+ levels in intestinal cells induced a defecation motor program. These SynPCB system and phytochrome-based optogenetic techniques would be of great value in elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying C. elegans behaviors.
Rapid and reversible optogenetic silencing of synaptic transmission by clustering of synaptic vesicles.
Acutely silencing specific neurons informs about their functional roles in circuits and behavior. Existing optogenetic silencers include ion pumps, channels, metabotropic receptors, and tools that damage the neurotransmitter release machinery. While the former hyperpolarize the cell, alter ionic gradients or cellular biochemistry, the latter allow only slow recovery, requiring de novo synthesis. Thus, tools combining fast activation and reversibility are needed. Here, we use light-evoked homo-oligomerization of cryptochrome CRY2 to silence synaptic transmission, by clustering synaptic vesicles (SVs). We benchmark this tool, optoSynC, in Caenorhabditis elegans, zebrafish, and murine hippocampal neurons. optoSynC clusters SVs, observable by electron microscopy. Locomotion silencing occurs with tauon ~7.2 s and recovers with tauoff ~6.5 min after light-off. optoSynC can inhibit exocytosis for several hours, at very low light intensities, does not affect ion currents, biochemistry or synaptic proteins, and may further allow manipulating different SV pools and the transfer of SVs between them.
Vitamin B12 photoreceptors.
Photoreceptor proteins enable living organisms to sense light and transduce this signal into biochemical outputs to elicit appropriate cellular responses. Their light sensing is typically mediated by covalently or noncovalently bound molecules called chromophores, which absorb light of specific wavelengths and modulate protein structure and biological activity. Known photoreceptors have been classified into about ten families based on the chromophore and its associated photosensory domain in the protein. One widespread photoreceptor family uses coenzyme B12 or 5'-deoxyadenosylcobalamin, a biological form of vitamin B12, to sense ultraviolet, blue, or green light, and its discovery revealed both a new type of photoreceptor and a novel functional facet of this vitamin, best known as an enzyme cofactor. Large strides have been made in our understanding of how these B12-based photoreceptors function, high-resolution structural descriptions of their functional states are available, as are details of their unusual photochemistry. Additionally, they have inspired notable applications in optogenetics/optobiochemistry and synthetic biology. Here, we provide an overview of what is currently known about these B12-based photoreceptors, their discovery, distribution, molecular mechanism of action, and the structural and photochemical basis of how they orchestrate signal transduction and gene regulation, and how they have been used to engineer optogenetic control of protein activities in living cells.
CeLINC, a fluorescence-based protein-protein interaction assay in Caenorhabditis elegans.
Interactions among proteins are fundamental for life and determining whether two particular proteins physically interact can be essential for fully understanding a protein's function. We present Caenorhabditis elegans light-induced coclustering (CeLINC), an optical binary protein-protein interaction assay to determine whether two proteins interact in vivo. Based on CRY2/CIB1 light-dependent oligomerization, CeLINC can rapidly and unambiguously identify protein-protein interactions between pairs of fluorescently tagged proteins. A fluorescently tagged bait protein is captured using a nanobody directed against the fluorescent protein (GFP or mCherry) and brought into artificial clusters within the cell. Colocalization of a fluorescently tagged prey protein in the cluster indicates a protein interaction. We tested the system with an array of positive and negative reference protein pairs. Assay performance was extremely robust with no false positives detected in the negative reference pairs. We then used the system to test for interactions among apical and basolateral polarity regulators. We confirmed interactions seen between PAR-6, PKC-3, and PAR-3, but observed no physical interactions among the basolateral Scribble module proteins LET-413, DLG-1, and LGL-1. We have generated a plasmid toolkit that allows use of custom promoters or CRY2 variants to promote flexibility of the system. The CeLINC assay is a powerful and rapid technique that can be widely applied in C. elegans due to the universal plasmids that can be used with existing fluorescently tagged strains without need for additional cloning or genetic modification of the genome.
Intercellular transport of RNA can limit heritable epigenetic changes.
RNAs in circulation carry sequence-specific regulatory information between cells in animal, plant, and host-pathogen systems. Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) delivered into the extracellular space of the nematode C. elegans accumulates within the germline and reaches progeny. Here we provide evidence for spatial, temporal, and substrate specificity in the transport of dsRNA from parental circulation to progeny. Temporary loss of dsRNA transport resulted in the persistent accumulation of mRNA from a germline gene. The expression of this gene varied among siblings and even between gonad arms within one animal. Perturbing RNA regulation of the gene created new epigenetic states that lasted for many generations. Thus, one role for the transport of dsRNA into the germline in every generation is to limit heritable changes in gene expression.
Optogenetic tools for manipulation of cyclic nucleotides, functionally coupled to CNG-channels.
The cyclic nucleotides cAMP and cGMP are ubiquitous second messengers that regulate numerous biological processes. Malfunctional cNMP signalling is linked to multiple diseases and thus is an important target in pharmaceutical research. The existing optogenetic toolbox in C. elegans is restricted to soluble adenylyl cyclases, the membrane-bound Blastocladiella emersonii CyclOp and hyperpolarising rhodopsins, yet missing are membrane-bound photoactivatable adenylyl cyclases and hyperpolarisers based on K+ -currents.
Physically asymmetric division of the C. elegans zygote ensures invariably successful embryogenesis.
Asymmetric divisions that yield daughter cells of different sizes are frequent during early embryogenesis, but the importance of such a physical difference for successful development remains poorly understood. Here, we investigated this question using the first division of Caenorhabditis elegans embryos, which yields a large AB cell and a small P1 cell. We equalized AB and P1 sizes using acute genetic inactivation or optogenetic manipulation of the spindle positioning protein LIN-5. We uncovered that only some embryos tolerated equalization, and that there was a size asymmetry threshold for viability. Cell lineage analysis of equalized embryos revealed an array of defects, including faster cell cycle progression in P1 descendants, as well as defects in cell positioning, division orientation, and cell fate. Moreover, equalized embryos were more susceptible to external compression. Overall, we conclude that unequal first cleavage is essential for invariably successful embryonic development of C. elegans.
Use of Optogenetic Amyloid-β to Monitor Protein Aggregation in Drosophila melanogaster, Danio rerio and Caenorhabditis elegans.
Alzheimer's Disease (AD) has long been associated with accumulation of extracellular amyloid plaques (Aβ) originating from the Amyloid Precursor Protein. Plaques have, however, been discovered in healthy individuals and not all AD brains show plaques, suggesting that extracellular Aβ aggregates may play a smaller role than anticipated. One limitation to studying Aβ peptide in vivo during disease progression is the inability to induce aggregation in a controlled manner. We developed an optogenetic method to induce Aβ aggregation and tested its biological influence in three model organisms-D. melanogaster, C. elegans and D. rerio. We generated a fluorescently labeled, optogenetic Aβ peptide that oligomerizes rapidly in vivo in the presence of blue light in all organisms. Here, we detail the procedures for expressing this fusion protein in animal models, investigating the effects on the nervous system using time lapse light-sheet microscopy, and performing metabolic assays to measure changes due to intracellular Aβ aggregation. This method, employing optogenetics to study the pathology of AD, allows spatial and temporal control in vivo that cannot be achieved by any other method at present.
Phosphofructokinase Relocalizes into Subcellular Compartments with Liquid-like Properties In Vivo.
Although much is known about the biochemical regulation of glycolytic enzymes, less is understood about how they are organized inside cells. We systematically examine the dynamic subcellular localization of glycolytic protein phosphofructokinase-1/PFK-1.1 in Caenorhabditis elegans. We determine that endogenous PFK-1.1 localizes to subcellular compartments in vivo. In neurons, PFK-1.1 forms phase-separated condensates near synapses in response to energy stress from transient hypoxia. Restoring animals to normoxic conditions results in cytosolic dispersion of PFK-1.1. PFK-1.1 condensates exhibit liquid-like properties, including spheroid shapes due to surface tension, fluidity due to deformations, and fast internal molecular rearrangements. Heterologous self-association domain cryptochrome 2 promotes formation of PFK-1.1 condensates and recruitment of aldolase/ALDO-1. PFK-1.1 condensates do not correspond to stress granules and might represent novel metabolic subcompartments. Our studies indicate that glycolytic protein PFK-1.1 can dynamically form condensates in vivo.
Correction to Lancet Infectious Diseases 2020; published online April 29. https://doi.org/10.1016/ S1473-3099(20)30064-5.
Abstract not available.
Application of optogenetic Amyloid-β distinguishes between metabolic and physical damage in neurodegeneration.
The brains of Alzheimer's Disease patients show a decrease in brain mass and a preponderance of extracellular Amyloid-β plaques. These plaques are formed by aggregation of polypeptides that are derived from the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP). Amyloid-β plaques are thought to play either a direct or an indirect role in disease progression, however the exact role of aggregation and plaque formation in the aetiology of Alzheimer's Disease is subject to debate as the biological effects of soluble and aggregated Amyloid-β peptides are difficult to separate in vivo. To investigate the consequences of formation of Amyloid-β oligomers in living tissues, we developed a fluorescently tagged, optogenetic Amyloid-β peptide that oligomerizes rapidly in the presence of blue light. We applied this system to the crucial question of how intracellular Amyloid-β oligomers underlie the pathologies of Alzheimer's Disease. We use Drosophila, C. elegans and D. rerio to show that, although both expression and induced oligomerization of Amyloid-β were detrimental to lifespan and healthspan, we were able to separate the metabolic and physical damage caused by light-induced Amyloid-β oligomerization from Amyloid-β expression alone. The physical damage caused by Amyloid-β oligomers also recapitulated the catastrophic tissue loss that is a hallmark of late AD. We show that the lifespan deficit induced by Amyloid-β oligomers was reduced with Li+ treatment. Our results present the first model to separate different aspects of disease progression.
Tunable light and drug induced depletion of target proteins.
Biological processes in development and disease are controlled by the abundance, localization and modification of cellular proteins. We have developed versatile tools based on recombinant E3 ubiquitin ligases that are controlled by light or drug induced heterodimerization for nanobody or DARPin targeted depletion of endogenous proteins in cells and organisms. We use this rapid, tunable and reversible protein depletion for functional studies of essential proteins like PCNA in DNA repair and to investigate the role of CED-3 in apoptosis during Caenorhabditis elegans development. These independent tools can be combined for spatial and temporal depletion of different sets of proteins, can help to distinguish immediate cellular responses from long-term adaptation effects and can facilitate the exploration of complex networks.
SapTrap Assembly of Caenorhabditis elegans MosSCI Transgene Vectors.
The Mos1-mediated Single-Copy Insertion (MosSCI) method is widely used to establish stable Caenorhabditis elegans transgenic strains. Cloning MosSCI targeting plasmids can be cumbersome because it requires assembling multiple genetic elements including a promoter, a 3'UTR and gene fragments. Recently, Schwartz and Jorgensen developed the SapTrap method for the one-step assembly of plasmids containing components of the CRISPR/Cas9 system for C. elegans Here, we report on the adaptation of the SapTrap method for the efficient and modular assembly of a promoter, 3'UTR and either 2 or 3 gene fragments in a MosSCI targeting vector in a single reaction. We generated a toolkit that includes several fluorescent tags, components of the ePDZ/LOV optogenetic system and regulatory elements that control gene expression in the C. elegans germline. As a proof of principle, we generated a collection of strains that fluorescently label the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria in the hermaphrodite germline and that enable the light-stimulated recruitment of mitochondria to centrosomes in the one-cell worm embryo. The method described here offers a flexible and efficient method for assembly of custom MosSCI targeting vectors.
Using a Robust and Sensitive GFP-Based cGMP Sensor for Real Time Imaging in Intact Caenorhabditis elegans.
cGMP plays a role in sensory signaling and plasticity by regulating ion channels, phosphodiesterases and kinases. Studies that primarily used genetic and biochemical tools suggest that cGMP is spatiotemporally regulated in multiple sensory modalities. FRET- and GFP-based cGMP sensors were developed to visualize cGMP in primary cell culture and Caenorhabditis elegans to corroborate these findings. While a FRET-based sensor has been used in an intact animal to visualize cGMP, the requirement of a multiple emission system limits its ability to be used on its own as well as with other fluorophores. Here, we demonstrate that a C. elegans codon-optimized version of the cpEGFP-based cGMP sensor FlincG3 can be used to visualize rapidly changing cGMP levels in living, behaving C. elegans We coexpressed FlincG3 with the blue light-activated guanylyl cyclases BeCyclOp and bPGC in body wall muscles and found that the rate of change in FlincG3 fluorescence correlated with the rate of cGMP production by each cyclase. Furthermore, we show that FlincG3 responds to cultivation temperature, NaCl concentration changes and sodium dodecyl sulfate in the sensory neurons AFD, ASEL/R and PHB, respectively. Intriguingly, FlincG3 fluorescence in ASEL and ASER decreased in response to a NaCl concentration upstep and downstep, respectively, which is opposite in sign to the coexpressed calcium sensor jRGECO1a and previously published calcium recordings. These results illustrate that FlincG3 can be used to report rapidly changing cGMP levels in an intact animal and that the reporter can potentially reveal unexpected spatiotemporal landscapes of cGMP in response to stimuli.
Interneurons Regulate Locomotion Quiescence via Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate Signaling During Stress-Induced Sleep in Caenorhabditis elegans.
Sleep is evolutionarily conserved, thus studying simple invertebrates such as Caenorhabditis elegans can provide mechanistic insight into sleep with single cell resolution. A conserved pathway regulating sleep across phylogeny involves cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), a ubiquitous second messenger that functions in neurons by activating protein kinase A (PKA). C. elegans sleep in response to cellular stress caused by environmental insults (stress-induced sleep (SIS)), a model for studying sleep during sickness. SIS is controlled by simple neural circuitry, thus allows for cellular dissection of cAMP signaling during sleep. We employed a red light activated adenylyl cyclase (AC), IlaC22, to identify cells involved in SIS regulation. We find that pan-neuronal activation of IlaC22 disrupts SIS through mechanisms independent of the cAMP response element binding protein (CREB). Activating IlaC22 in the single DVA interneuron, the paired RIF interneurons, and in the CEPsh glia identified these cells as wake-promoting. Using a cAMP biosensor, epac1-camps, we found that cAMP is decreased in the RIF and DVA interneurons by neuropeptidergic signaling from the ALA neuron. Ectopic over expression of sleep-promoting neuropeptides coded by flp-13 and flp-24, released from the ALA, reduced cAMP in the DVA and RIFs, respectively. Over expression of the wake-promoting neuropeptides coded by pdf-1 increased cAMP levels in the RIFs. Using a combination of optogenetic manipulation and in vivo imaging of cAMP we have identified wake-promoting neurons downstream of the neuropeptidergic output of the ALA. Our data suggest that sleep- and wake-promoting neuropeptides signal to reduce and heighten cAMP levels during sleep, respectively.
A Photoactivatable Botulinum Neurotoxin for Inducible Control of Neurotransmission.
Regulated secretion is critical for diverse biological processes ranging from immune and endocrine signaling to synaptic transmission. Botulinum and tetanus neurotoxins, which specifically proteolyze vesicle fusion proteins involved in regulated secretion, have been widely used as experimental tools to block these processes. Genetic expression of these toxins in the nervous system has been a powerful approach for disrupting neurotransmitter release within defined circuitry, but their current utility in the brain and elsewhere remains limited by lack of spatial and temporal control. Here we engineered botulinum neurotoxin B so that it can be activated with blue light. We demonstrate the utility of this approach for inducibly disrupting excitatory neurotransmission, providing a first-in-class optogenetic tool for persistent, light-triggered synaptic inhibition. In addition to blocking neurotransmitter release, this approach will have broad utility for conditionally disrupting regulated secretion of diverse bioactive molecules, including neuropeptides, neuromodulators, hormones, and immune molecules. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
Mapping Local and Global Liquid Phase Behavior in Living Cells Using Photo-Oligomerizable Seeds.
Liquid-liquid phase separation plays a key role in the
assembly of diverse intracellular structures. However,
the biophysical principles by which phase separation
can be precisely localized within subregions
of the cell are still largely unclear, particularly for
low-abundance proteins. Here, we introduce an oligomerizing
biomimetic system, ‘‘Corelets,’’ and utilize
its rapid and quantitative light-controlled
tunability to map full intracellular phase diagrams,
which dictate the concentrations at which phase
separation occurs and the transition mechanism, in
a protein sequence dependent manner. Surprisingly,
both experiments and simulations show that while
intracellular concentrations may be insufficient for
global phase separation, sequestering protein ligands
to slowly diffusing nucleation centers can
move the cell into a different region of the phase diagram,
resulting in localized phase separation. This
diffusive capture mechanism liberates the cell from
the constraints of global protein abundance and is
likely exploited to pattern condensates associated
with diverse biological processes.
Functionally asymmetric motor neurons contribute to coordinating locomotion of Caenorhabditis elegans.
Locomotion circuits developed in simple animals, and circuit motifs further evolved in higher animals. To understand locomotion circuit motifs, they must be characterized in many models. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans possesses one of the best-studied circuits for undulatory movement. Yet, for 1/6th of the cholinergic motor neurons (MNs), the AS MNs, functional information is unavailable. Ventral nerve cord (VNC) MNs coordinate undulations, in small circuits of complementary neurons innervating opposing muscles. AS MNs differ, as they innervate muscles and other MNs asymmetrically, without complementary partners. We characterized AS MNs by optogenetic, behavioral and imaging analyses. They generate asymmetric muscle activation, enabling navigation, and contribute to coordination of dorso-ventral undulation as well as anterio-posterior bending wave propagation. AS MN activity correlated with forward and backward locomotion, and they functionally connect to premotor interneurons (PINs) for both locomotion regimes. Electrical feedback from AS MNs via gap junctions may affect only backward PINs.
Optogenetic dissection of mitotic spindle positioning in vivo.
The position of the mitotic spindle determines the plane of cell cleavage, and thereby daughter cell location, size, and content. Spindle positioning is driven by dynein-mediated pulling forces exerted on astral microtubules, which requires an evolutionarily conserved complex of Gα-GDP, GPR-1/2Pins/LGN, and LIN-5Mud/NuMA proteins. To examine individual functions of the complex components, we developed a genetic strategy for light-controlled localization of endogenous proteins in C. elegans embryos. By replacing Gα and GPR-1/2 with a light-inducible membrane anchor, we demonstrate that Gα-GDP, Gα-GTP, and GPR-1/2 are not required for pulling-force generation. In the absence of Gα and GPR-1/2, cortical recruitment of LIN-5, but not dynein itself, induced high pulling forces. The light-controlled localization of LIN-5 overruled normal cell-cycle and polarity regulation and provided experimental control over the spindle and cell-cleavage plane. Our results define Gα∙GDP-GPR-1/2 Pins/LGN as a regulatable membrane anchor, and LIN-5Mud/NuMA as a potent activator of dynein-dependent spindle-positioning forces.
Structure-guided design and functional characterization of an artificial red light-regulated guanylate/adenylate cyclase for optogenetic applications.
Genetically targeting biological systems to control cellular processes with light is the concept of optogenetics. Despite impressive developments in this field, underlying molecular mechanisms of signal transduction of the employed photoreceptor modules are frequently not sufficiently understood to rationally design new optogenetic tools. Here, we investigate the requirements for functional coupling of red light-sensing phytochromes with non-natural enzymatic effectors by creating a series of constructs featuring the Deinococcus radiodurans bacteriophytochrome linked to a Synechocystis guanylate/adenylate cyclase. Incorporating characteristic structural elements important for cyclase regulation in our designs, we identified several red light-regulated fusions with promising properties. We provide details of one light-activated construct with low dark-state activity and high dynamic range that outperforms previous optogenetic tools in vitro and expands our in vivo toolkit, as demonstrated by manipulation of Caenorhabditis elegans locomotor activity. The full-length crystal structure of this phytochrome-linked cyclase revealed molecular details of photoreceptor-effector coupling, highlighting the importance of the regulatory cyclase element. Analysis of conformational dynamics by hydrogen-deuterium exchange in different functional states enriched our understanding of phytochrome signaling and signal integration by effectors. We found that light-induced conformational changes in the phytochrome destabilize the coiled-coil sensor-effector linker, which releases the cyclase regulatory element from an inhibited conformation, increasing cyclase activity of this artificial system. Future designs of optogenetic functionalities may benefit from our work, indicating that rational considerations for the effector improve the rate of success of initial designs to obtain optogenetic tools with superior properties.
Rapid Integration of Multi-copy Transgenes Using Optogenetic Mutagenesis in Caenorhabditis elegans.
Stably transmitted transgenes are indispensable for labeling cellular components and manipulating cellular functions. In Caenorhabditis elegans, transgenes are generally generated as inheritable multi-copy extrachromosomal arrays, which can be stabilized in the genome through a mutagenesis-mediated integration process. Standard methods to integrate extrachromosomal arrays primarily use protocols involving ultraviolet light plus trimethylpsoralen or gamma- or X-ray irradiation, which are laborious and time-consuming. Here, we describe a one-step integration method, following germline-mutagenesis induced by mini Singlet Oxygen Generator (miniSOG). Upon blue light treatment, miniSOG tagged to histone (Histone-miniSOG) generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) and induces heritable mutations, including DNA double-stranded breaks. We demonstrate that we can bypass the need to first establish extrachromosomal transgenic lines by coupling microinjection of desired plasmids with blue light illumination on Histone-miniSOG worms to obtain integrants in the F3 progeny. We consistently obtained more than one integrant from 12 injected animals in two weeks. This optogenetic approach significantly reduces the amount of time and labor for transgene integration. Moreover, it enables to generate stably expressed transgenes that cause toxicity in animal growth.
Descending pathway facilitates undulatory wave propagation in Caenorhabditis elegans through gap junctions.
Descending signals from the brain play critical roles in controlling and modulating locomotion kinematics. In the Caenorhabditis elegans nervous system, descending AVB premotor interneurons exclusively form gap junctions with the B-type motor neurons that execute forward locomotion. We combined genetic analysis, optogenetic manipulation, calcium imaging, and computational modeling to elucidate the function of AVB-B gap junctions during forward locomotion. First, we found that some B-type motor neurons generate rhythmic activity, constituting distributed oscillators. Second, AVB premotor interneurons use their electric inputs to drive bifurcation of B-type motor neuron dynamics, triggering their transition from stationary to oscillatory activity. Third, proprioceptive couplings between neighboring B-type motor neurons entrain the frequency of body oscillators, forcing coherent bending wave propagation. Despite substantial anatomical differences between the motor circuits of C. elegans and higher model organisms, converging principles govern coordinated locomotion.
Light-dependent cytoplasmic recruitment enhances the dynamic range of a nuclear import photoswitch.
Cellular signal transduction is often regulated at multiple steps in order to achieve more complex logic or precise control of a pathway. For instance, some signaling mechanisms couple allosteric activation with localization to achieve high signal to noise. Here, we create a system for light activated nuclear import that incorporates two levels of control. It consists of a nuclear import photoswitch, Light Activated Nuclear Shuttle (LANS), and a protein engineered to preferentially interact with LANS in the dark, Zdk2. First, Zdk2 is tethered to a location in the cytoplasm, which sequesters LANS in the dark. Second, LANS incorporates a nuclear localization signal (NLS) that is sterically blocked from binding to the nuclear import machinery in the dark. When activated with light, LANS both dissociates from its tethered location and exposes its NLS, which leads to nuclear accumulation. We demonstrate that this coupled system improves the dynamic range of LANS in mammalian cells, yeast, and C. elegans and provides tighter control of transcription factors that have been fused to LANS.