Showing 1 - 25 of 29 results
Cell and tissue manipulation with ultrashort infrared laser pulses in light-sheet microscopy.
Three-dimensional live imaging has become an indispensable technique in the fields of cell, developmental and neural biology. Precise spatio-temporal manipulation of biological entities is often required for a deeper functional understanding of the underlying biological process. Here we present a home-built integrated framework and optical design that combines three-dimensional light-sheet imaging over time with precise spatio-temporal optical manipulations induced by short infrared laser pulses. We demonstrate their potential for sub-cellular ablation of neurons and nuclei, tissue cauterization and optogenetics by using the Drosophila melanogaster and zebrafish model systems.
Ras acts as a molecular switch between two forms of consolidated memory in Drosophila.
Long-lasting, consolidated memories require not only positive biological processes that facilitate long-term memories (LTM) but also the suppression of inhibitory processes that prevent them. The mushroom body neurons (MBn) in Drosophila melanogaster store protein synthesis-dependent LTM (PSD-LTM) as well as protein synthesis-independent, anesthesia-resistant memory (ARM). The formation of ARM inhibits PSD-LTM but the underlying molecular processes that mediate this interaction remain unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the Ras→Raf→rho kinase (ROCK) pathway in MBn suppresses ARM consolidation, allowing the formation of PSD-LTM. Our initial results revealed that the effects of Ras on memory are due to postacquisition processes. Ras knockdown enhanced memory expression but had no effect on acquisition. Additionally, increasing Ras activity optogenetically after, but not before, acquisition impaired memory performance. The elevated memory produced by Ras knockdown is a result of increased ARM. While Ras knockdown enhanced the consolidation of ARM, it eliminated PSD-LTM. We found that these effects are mediated by the downstream kinase Raf. Similar to Ras, knockdown of Raf enhanced ARM consolidation and impaired PSD-LTM. Surprisingly, knockdown of the canonical downstream extracellular signal-regulated kinase did not reproduce the phenotypes observed with Ras and Raf knockdown. Rather, Ras/Raf inhibition of ROCK was found to be responsible for suppressing ARM. Constitutively active ROCK enhanced ARM and impaired PSD-LTM, while decreasing ROCK activity rescued the enhanced ARM produced by Ras knockdown. We conclude that MBn Ras/Raf inhibition of ROCK suppresses the consolidation of ARM, which permits the formation of PSD-LTM.
Optimizing photoswitchable MEK.
Optogenetic approaches are transforming quantitative studies of cell-signaling systems. A recently developed photoswitchable mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1 (MEK1) enzyme (psMEK) short-circuits the highly conserved Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase (ERK)-signaling cascade at the most proximal step of effector kinase activation. However, since this optogenetic tool relies on phosphorylation-mimicking substitutions in the activation loop of MEK, its catalytic activity is predicted to be substantially lower than that of wild-type MEK that has been phosphorylated at these residues. Here, we present evidence that psMEK indeed has suboptimal functionality in vivo and propose a strategy to circumvent this limitation by harnessing gain-of-function, destabilizing mutations in MEK. Specifically, we demonstrate that combining phosphomimetic mutations with additional mutations in MEK, chosen for their activating potential, restores maximal kinase activity in vitro. We establish that this modification can be tuned by the choice of the destabilizing mutation and does not interfere with reversible activation of psMEK in vivo in both Drosophila and zebrafish. To illustrate the types of perturbations enabled by optimized psMEK, we use it to deliver pulses of ERK activation during zebrafish embryogenesis, revealing rheostat-like responses of an ERK-dependent morphogenetic event.
Optogenetic inhibition of Delta reveals digital Notch signaling output during tissue differentiation.
Spatio-temporal regulation of signalling pathways plays a key role in generating diverse responses during the development of multicellular organisms. The role of signal dynamics in transferring signalling information in vivo is incompletely understood. Here we employ genome engineering in Drosophila melanogaster to generate a functional optogenetic allele of the Notch ligand Delta (opto-Delta), which replaces both copies of the endogenous wild type locus. Using clonal analysis, we show that optogenetic activation blocks Notch activation through cis-inhibition in signal-receiving cells. Signal perturbation in combination with quantitative analysis of a live transcriptional reporter of Notch pathway activity reveals differential tissue- and cell-scale regulatory modes. While at the tissue-level the duration of Notch signalling determines the probability with which a cellular response will occur, in individual cells Notch activation acts through a switch-like mechanism. Thus, time confers regulatory properties to Notch signalling that exhibit integrative digital behaviours during tissue differentiation.
Optogenetic rescue of a developmental patterning mutant.
Animal embryos are partitioned into spatial domains by complex patterns of signaling and gene expression, yet it is still largely unknown what features of a developmental signal are essential. Part of the challenge arises because it has been impossible to “paint” arbitrary signaling patterns on an embryo to test their sufficiency. Here we demonstrate exactly this capability by combining optogenetic control of Ras/Erk signaling with the genetic loss of terminal signaling in early Drosophila embryos. Simple all-or-none light inputs at the embryonic termini were able to completely rescue normal development, generating viable larvae and fertile adults from this otherwise-lethal genetic mutant. Systematically varying illumination parameters further revealed that at least three distinct developmental programs are triggered by different cumulative doses of Erk. These results open the door to the targeted design of complex morphogenetic outcomes as well as the ability to correct patterning errors that underlie developmental defects.
Coordination of protrusion dynamics within and between collectively migrating border cells by myosin II.
Collective cell migration is emerging as a major driver of embryonic development, organogenesis, tissue homeostasis, and tumor dissemination. In contrast to individually migrating cells, collectively migrating cells maintain cell-cell adhesions and coordinate direction-sensing as they move. While non-muscle myosin II has been studied extensively in the context of cells migrating individually in vitro, its roles in cells migrating collectively in three-dimensional, native environments are not fully understood. Here we use genetics, Airyscan microscopy, live imaging, optogenetics, and Förster resonance energy transfer to probe the localization, dynamics, and functions of myosin II in migrating border cells of the Drosophila ovary. We find that myosin accumulates transiently at the base of protrusions, where it functions to retract them. E-cadherin and myosin co-localize at border cell-border cell contacts and cooperate to transmit directional information. A phosphomimetic form of myosin is sufficient to convert border cells to a round morphology and blebbing migration mode. Together these studies demonstrate that distinct and dynamic pools of myosin II regulate protrusion dynamics within and between collectively migrating cells and suggest a new model for the role of protrusions in collective direction sensing in vivo. Movie S1 Movie S1 Live imaging of border cell specification and delamination from anterior epithelium From Figure 1D-I. Slbo promoter driving Lifeact-GFP (green) marks border cells, Upd-Gal4, UAS-DsRed.nls (red) mark polar cell nuclei. Hoechst 33342 (blue) marks DNA. Time resolution is 4 min. Movie S2 Movie S2 Representative Z-projected and registered live imaging of Sqh-mCherry accumulating in cortical junctions (flashing arrows) during border cell migration. From Figure 3J-K. Time resolution is 25 sec. Movie S3 Movie S3 Representative Z-projected and registered live imaging of E-cad-GFP during border cell migration. From Figure 3M-N. Time resolution is 60 sec. Movie S4 Movie S4 Representative Z-projection of control flpout cells from hs-Flp;, Slbo>Lifeact-GFP; AyGal4, UAS-RFP. Clonal cells are marked by magenta nuclei (nls-RFP). Time resolution is 2.5 min. From Supp. Figure 3 A-D. Movie S5 Movie S5 Representative Z-projection of Sqh-RNAi flpout cells from hs-Flp;, Slbo>Lifeact-GFP; AyGal4, UAS-RFP, UAS-sqh-RNAi. Clonal cells are marked by magenta nuclei (nls-RFP). Time resolution is 2.5 min. From Supp. Figure 3 E-H. Movie S6 Movie S6 Representative Z-projected c306-Gal4; tub-GAL80ts driving UAS-Lifeact-GFP and UAS-white RNAi. Time resolution is 2 min. From Supp. Figure 4 A-D. Movie S7 Movie S7 Representative Z-projected c306-Gal4; tub-GAL80ts driving UAS-Lifeact-GFP and UAS-sqh-RNAi showing frequent side protrusions. Time resolution is 2 min. From Supp. Figure 4 E-H. White arrows indicate ectopic side and rear protrusions. Movie S8 Movie S8 Representative Z-projected c306-Gal4; tub-GAL80ts driving UAS-Lifeact-GFP and UAS-sqh-RNAi showing long lived side protrusions. Time resolution is 2 min. From Supp. Figure 4 I-L. Movie S9 Movie S9 Representative Z-projected live imaging of c306-Gal4 driving UAS-white-RNAi in clusters co-expressing Lifeact-GFP under the control of the slbo enhancer and Sqh-mCherry from its endogenous promoter during periods of protrusive and round migration phases. From Figure 6A-D. 25 min corresponds to 6A and B and 1hr:25 min corresponds to 6C and D. Time resolution is 2.5 min. Movie S10 Movie S10 Sqh-mCherry (magenta) channel from Supplementary Movie 9. From Figure 6A-D. 25 min corresponds to 6A and B and 1hr:25 min corresponds to 6C and D. Time resolution is 2.5 min. Movie S11 Movie S11 Representative Z-projected live imaging of c306-Gal4 driving UAS-Ecad-RNAi in clusters co-expressing Lifeact-GFP under the control of the slbo enhancer and Sqh-mCherry from its endogenous promoter during a protrusive phase of migration. From Figure 6E-F. Time resolution is 2.5 min. Movie S12 Movie S12 Sqh-mCherry (magenta) channel from Supplementary Movie 11. From Figure 6E-F. Time resolution is 2.5 min. Movie S13 Movie S13 Representative Z-projected live imaging of c306-Gal4 driving UAS-Ecad-RNAi in clusters co-expressing Lifeact-GFP under the control of the slbo enhancer and Sqh-mCherry from its endogenous promoter during a rounded phase of migration. From Figure 6G-H. Time resolution is 2.5 min. Movie S14 Movie S14 Sqh-mCherry (magenta) channel from Supplementary Movie 13. From Figure 6G-H. Time resolution is 2.5 min. Movie S15 Movie S15 Example segmentation analysis from a representative Z-projected time lapse of a cluster expressing c306-Gal4 driving UAS-white-RNAi in clusters co-expressing Lifeact-GFP under the control of the slbo enhancer and Sqh-mCherry from its endogenous promoter during migration. Time lapse analyzed in Imaris by 1. segmentation of the cluster using Lifeact-GFP, 2. Rendering of Sqh-mCherry by masking the inside of the Life-act surface, 3. performing a distance transformation using the masked Sqh-mCherry that is color coded for distance from membrane (dark colors are short distances and bright/white colors are more distant), 4. combining the distance transformation with the Sqh-mCherry mask to only include the cortical 2 μm of the original Sqh-mCherry signal for quantification in Figure 6I. Movie S16 Movie S16 Representative Z-projected time lapse of Lifeact-GFP and Sqh-mCherry expressing clusters used for quantification of Figure 7B-C during protrusion/retractions cycles. Time resolution is 2 min. Movie S17 Movie S17 Sqh-mCherry channel from Supplementary movie 16. Time resolution is 2 min. Movie S18 Movie S18 Representative Z-projections of Lifeact-GFP (green) in c306-Gal4; tub-GAL80ts driving UAS-Lifeact-GFP and UAS-Sqh-E20E21 migrating border cells clusters that split. Time resolution is 2 min. Movie S19 Movie S19 Representative Z-projections of Lifeact-GFP (green) in c306-Gal4; tub-GAL80ts driving UAS-LifeactGFP and UAS-Sqh-E20E21 migrating border cells clusters during protrusive phase. Time resolution is 2 min. Movie S20 Movie S20 Representative Z-projection of Lifeact-GFP (green) in c306-Gal4; tub-GAL80ts driving UAS-Lifeact-GFP and UAS-Sqh-E20E21 border cells cluster at the oocyte border during a blebbing phase. Time resolution is 2 min. Movie S21 Movie S21 Representative Z-projection of control cluster expressing slbo-Gal4; UAS-PLCδ1-PH-GFP. Time resolution is 2 min. Movie S22 Movie S22 Representative Z-projection of cluster expressing slbo-Gal4; UAS-PLCδ1-PH-GFP, UAS-Rho1V14. Blebs are marked by white arrows. Time resolution is 2 min.
Cross-linker-mediated regulation of actin network organization controls tissue morphogenesis.
Contraction of cortical actomyosin networks driven by myosin activation controls cell shape changes and tissue morphogenesis during animal development. In vitro studies suggest that contractility also depends on the geometrical organization of actin filaments. Here we analyze the function of actomyosin network topology in vivo using optogenetic stimulation of myosin-II in Drosophila embryos. We show that early during cellularization, hexagonally arrayed actomyosin fibers are resilient to myosin-II activation. Actomyosin fibers then acquire a ring-like conformation and become contractile and sensitive to myosin-II. This transition is controlled by Bottleneck, a Drosophila unique protein expressed for only a short time during early cellularization, which we show regulates actin bundling. In addition, it requires two opposing actin cross-linkers, Filamin and Fimbrin. Filamin acts synergistically with Bottleneck to facilitate hexagonal patterning, while Fimbrin controls remodeling of the hexagonal network into contractile rings. Thus, actin cross-linking regulates the spatio-temporal organization of actomyosin contraction in vivo, which is critical for tissue morphogenesis.
Self-Organized Nuclear Positioning Synchronizes the Cell Cycle in Drosophila Embryos.
The synchronous cleavage divisions of early embryogenesis require coordination of the cell-cycle oscillator, the dynamics of the cytoskeleton, and the cytoplasm. Yet, it remains unclear how spatially restricted biochemical signals are integrated with physical properties of the embryo to generate collective dynamics. Here, we show that synchronization of the cell cycle in Drosophila embryos requires accurate nuclear positioning, which is regulated by the cell-cycle oscillator through cortical contractility and cytoplasmic flows. We demonstrate that biochemical oscillations are initiated by local Cdk1 inactivation and spread through the activity of phosphatase PP1 to generate cortical myosin II gradients. These gradients cause cortical and cytoplasmic flows that control proper nuclear positioning. Perturbations of PP1 activity and optogenetic manipulations of cortical actomyosin disrupt nuclear spreading, resulting in loss of cell-cycle synchrony. We conclude that mitotic synchrony is established by a self-organized mechanism that integrates the cell-cycle oscillator and embryo mechanics.
Signaling Dynamics Control Cell Fate in the Early Drosophila Embryo.
The Erk mitogen-activated protein kinase plays diverse roles in animal development. Its widespread reuse raises a conundrum: when a single kinase like Erk is activated, how does a developing cell know which fate to adopt? We combine optogenetic control with genetic perturbations to dissect Erk-dependent fates in the early Drosophila embryo. We find that Erk activity is sufficient to "posteriorize" 88% of the embryo, inducing gut endoderm-like gene expression and morphogenetic movements in all cells within this region. Gut endoderm fate adoption requires at least 1 h of signaling, whereas a 30-min Erk pulse specifies a distinct ectodermal cell type, intermediate neuroblasts. We find that the endoderm-ectoderm cell fate switch is controlled by the cumulative load of Erk activity, not the duration of a single pulse. The fly embryo thus harbors a classic example of dynamic control, where the temporal profile of Erk signaling selects between distinct physiological outcomes.
Continued Activity of the Pioneer Factor Zelda Is Required to Drive Zygotic Genome Activation.
Reprogramming cell fate during the first stages of embryogenesis requires that transcriptional activators gain access to the genome and remodel the zygotic transcriptome. Nonetheless, it is not clear whether the continued activity of these pioneering factors is required throughout zygotic genome activation or whether they are only required early to establish cis-regulatory regions. To address this question, we developed an optogenetic strategy to rapidly and reversibly inactivate the master regulator of genome activation in Drosophila, Zelda. Using this strategy, we demonstrate that continued Zelda activity is required throughout genome activation. We show that Zelda binds DNA in the context of nucleosomes and suggest that this allows Zelda to occupy the genome despite the rapid division cycles in the early embryo. These data identify a powerful strategy to inactivate transcription factor function during development and suggest that reprogramming in the embryo may require specific, continuous pioneering functions to activate the genome.
Downregulation of basal myosin-II is required for cell shape changes and tissue invagination.
Tissue invagination drives embryo remodeling and assembly of internal organs during animal development. While the role of actomyosin-mediated apical constriction in initiating inward folding is well established, computational models suggest relaxation of the basal surface as an additional requirement. However, the lack of genetic mutations interfering specifically with basal relaxation has made it difficult to test its requirement during invagination so far. Here we use optogenetics to quantitatively control myosin-II levels at the basal surface of invaginating cells during Drosophila gastrulation. We show that while basal myosin-II is lost progressively during ventral furrow formation, optogenetics allows the maintenance of pre-invagination levels over time. Quantitative imaging demonstrates that optogenetic activation prior to tissue bending slows down cell elongation and blocks invagination. Activation after cell elongation and tissue bending has initiated inhibits cell shortening and folding of the furrow into a tube-like structure. Collectively, these data demonstrate the requirement of myosin-II polarization and basal relaxation throughout the entire invagination process.
Adherens junction-associated pores mediate the intercellular transport of endosomes and cytoplasmic proteins.
Intercellular endosomes (IEs) are endocytosed vesicles shuttled through the adherens junctions (AJs) between two neighboring epidermal cells during Drosophila dorsal closure. The cell-to-cell transport of IEs requires DE-cadherin (DE-cad), microtubules (MTs) and kinesin. However, the mechanisms by which IEs can be transported through the AJs are unknown. Here, we demonstrate the presence of AJ-associated pores with MTs traversing through the pores. Live imaging allows direct visualization of IEs being transported through the AJ-associated pores. By using an optogenetic dimerization system, we observe that the dimerized IE-kinesin complexes move across AJs into the neighboring cell. The AJ-associated pores also allow intercellular movement of soluble proteins. Importantly, most epidermal cells form dorsoventral-oriented two-cell syncytia. Together, we present a model in which an AJ-associated pore mediates the intercellular transport of IEs and proteins between two cells in direct contact.
Synthetic Light-Activated Ion Channels for Optogenetic Activation and Inhibition.
Optogenetic manipulation of cells or living organisms became widely used in neuroscience following the introduction of the light-gated ion channel channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2). ChR2 is a non-selective cation channel, ideally suited to depolarize and evoke action potentials in neurons. However, its calcium (Ca2+) permeability and single channel conductance are low and for some applications longer-lasting increases in intracellular Ca2+ might be desirable. Moreover, there is need for an efficient light-gated potassium (K+) channel that can rapidly inhibit spiking in targeted neurons. Considering the importance of Ca2+ and K+ in cell physiology, light-activated Ca2+-permeant and K+-specific channels would be welcome additions to the optogenetic toolbox. Here we describe the engineering of novel light-gated Ca2+-permeant and K+-specific channels by fusing a bacterial photoactivated adenylyl cyclase to cyclic nucleotide-gated channels with high permeability for Ca2+ or for K+, respectively. Optimized fusion constructs showed strong light-gated conductance in Xenopus laevis oocytes and in rat hippocampal neurons. These constructs could also be used to control the motility of Drosophila melanogaster larvae, when expressed in motoneurons. Illumination led to body contraction when motoneurons expressed the light-sensitive Ca2+-permeant channel, and to body extension when expressing the light-sensitive K+ channel, both effectively and reversibly paralyzing the larvae. Further optimization of these constructs will be required for application in adult flies since both constructs led to eclosion failure when expressed in motoneurons.
Guided morphogenesis through optogenetic activation of Rho signalling during early Drosophila embryogenesis.
During organismal development, cells undergo complex changes in shape whose causal relationship to individual morphogenetic processes remains unclear. The modular nature of such processes suggests that it should be possible to isolate individual modules, determine the minimum set of requirements sufficient to drive tissue remodeling, and re-construct morphogenesis. Here we use optogenetics to reconstitute epithelial folding in embryonic Drosophila tissues that otherwise would not undergo invagination. We show that precise spatial and temporal activation of Rho signaling is sufficient to trigger apical constriction and tissue folding. Induced furrows can occur at any position along the dorsal-ventral or anterior-posterior embryo axis in response to the spatial pattern and level of optogenetic activation. Thus, epithelial folding is a direct function of the spatio-temporal organization and strength of Rho signaling that on its own is sufficient to drive tissue internalization independently of any pre-determined condition or differentiation program associated with endogenous invagination processes.
A biochemical network controlling basal myosin oscillation.
The actomyosin cytoskeleton, a key stress-producing unit in epithelial cells, oscillates spontaneously in a wide variety of systems. Although much of the signal cascade regulating myosin activity has been characterized, the origin of such oscillatory behavior is still unclear. Here, we show that basal myosin II oscillation in Drosophila ovarian epithelium is not controlled by actomyosin cortical tension, but instead relies on a biochemical oscillator involving ROCK and myosin phosphatase. Key to this oscillation is a diffusive ROCK flow, linking junctional Rho1 to medial actomyosin cortex, and dynamically maintained by a self-activation loop reliant on ROCK kinase activity. In response to the resulting myosin II recruitment, myosin phosphatase is locally enriched and shuts off ROCK and myosin II signals. Coupling Drosophila genetics, live imaging, modeling, and optogenetics, we uncover an intrinsic biochemical oscillator at the core of myosin II regulatory network, shedding light on the spatio-temporal dynamics of force generation.
Coupling optogenetics and light-sheet microscopy, a method to study Wnt signaling during embryogenesis.
Optogenetics allows precise, fast and reversible intervention in biological processes. Light-sheet microscopy allows observation of the full course of Drosophila embryonic development from egg to larva. Bringing the two approaches together allows unparalleled precision into the temporal regulation of signaling pathways and cellular processes in vivo. To develop this method, we investigated the regulation of canonical Wnt signaling during anterior-posterior patterning of the Drosophila embryonic epidermis. Cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) from Arabidopsis Thaliana was fused to mCherry fluorescent protein and Drosophila β-catenin to form an easy to visualize optogenetic switch. Blue light illumination caused oligomerization of the fusion protein and inhibited downstream Wnt signaling in vitro and in vivo. Temporal inactivation of β-catenin confirmed that Wnt signaling is required not only for Drosophila pattern formation, but also for maintenance later in development. We anticipate that this method will be easily extendable to other developmental signaling pathways and many other experimental systems.
Engineering a light-activated caspase-3 for precise ablation of neurons in vivo.
The circuitry of the brain is characterized by cell heterogeneity, sprawling cellular anatomy, and astonishingly complex patterns of connectivity. Determining how complex neural circuits control behavior is a major challenge that is often approached using surgical, chemical, or transgenic approaches to ablate neurons. However, all these approaches suffer from a lack of precise spatial and temporal control. This drawback would be overcome if cellular ablation could be controlled with light. Cells are naturally and cleanly ablated through apoptosis due to the terminal activation of caspases. Here, we describe the engineering of a light-activated human caspase-3 (Caspase-LOV) by exploiting its natural spring-loaded activation mechanism through rational insertion of the light-sensitive LOV2 domain that expands upon illumination. We apply the light-activated caspase (Caspase-LOV) to study neurodegeneration in larval and adult Drosophila Using the tissue-specific expression system (UAS)-GAL4, we express Caspase-LOV specifically in three neuronal cell types: retinal, sensory, and motor neurons. Illumination of whole flies or specific tissues containing Caspase-LOV-induced cell death and allowed us to follow the time course and sequence of neurodegenerative events. For example, we find that global synchronous activation of caspase-3 drives degeneration with a different time-course and extent in sensory versus motor neurons. We believe the Caspase-LOV tool we engineered will have many other uses for neurobiologists and others for specific temporal and spatial ablation of cells in complex organisms.
Decoding temporal interpretation of the morphogen Bicoid in the early Drosophila embryo.
Morphogen gradients provide essential spatial information during development. Not only the local concentration but also duration of morphogen exposure is critical for correct cell fate decisions. Yet, how and when cells temporally integrate signals from a morphogen remains unclear. Here, we use optogenetic manipulation to switch off Bicoid-dependent transcription in the early Drosophila embryo with high temporal resolution, allowing time-specific and reversible manipulation of morphogen signalling. We find that Bicoid transcriptional activity is dispensable for embryonic viability in the first hour after fertilization, but persistently required throughout the rest of the blastoderm stage. Short interruptions of Bicoid activity alter the most anterior cell fate decisions, while prolonged inactivation expands patterning defects from anterior to posterior. Such anterior susceptibility correlates with high reliance of anterior gap gene expression on Bicoid. Therefore, cell fates exposed to higher Bicoid concentration require input for longer duration, demonstrating a previously unknown aspect of Bicoid decoding.
Cell-matrix adhesion and cell-cell adhesion differentially control basal myosin oscillation and Drosophila egg chamber elongation.
Pulsatile actomyosin contractility, important in tissue morphogenesis, has been studied mainly in apical but less in basal domains. Basal myosin oscillation underlying egg chamber elongation is regulated by both cell-matrix and cell-cell adhesions. However, the mechanism by which these two adhesions govern basal myosin oscillation and tissue elongation is unknown. Here we demonstrate that cell-matrix adhesion positively regulates basal junctional Rho1 activity and medio-basal ROCK and myosin activities, thus strongly controlling tissue elongation. Differently, cell-cell adhesion governs basal myosin oscillation through controlling medio-basal distributions of both ROCK and myosin signals, which are related to the spatial limitations of cell-matrix adhesion and stress fibres. Contrary to cell-matrix adhesion, cell-cell adhesion weakly affects tissue elongation. In vivo optogenetic protein inhibition spatiotemporally confirms the different effects of these two adhesions on basal myosin oscillation. This study highlights the activity and distribution controls of basal myosin contractility mediated by cell-matrix and cell-cell adhesions, respectively, during tissue morphogenesis.
The Spatiotemporal Limits of Developmental Erk Signaling.
Animal development is characterized by signaling events that occur at precise locations and times within the embryo, but determining when and where such precision is needed for proper embryogenesis has been a long-standing challenge. Here we address this question for extracellular signal regulated kinase (Erk) signaling, a key developmental patterning cue. We describe an optogenetic system for activating Erk with high spatiotemporal precision in vivo. Implementing this system in Drosophila, we find that embryogenesis is remarkably robust to ectopic Erk signaling, except from 1 to 4 hr post-fertilization, when perturbing the spatial extent of Erk pathway activation leads to dramatic disruptions of patterning and morphogenesis. Later in development, the effects of ectopic signaling are buffered, at least in part, by combinatorial mechanisms. Our approach can be used to systematically probe the differential contributions of the Ras/Erk pathway and concurrent signals, leading to a more quantitative understanding of developmental signaling.
Precision Optogenetic Tool for Selective Single- and Multiple-Cell Ablation in a Live Animal Model System.
Cell ablation is a strategy to study cell lineage and function during development. Optogenetic methods are an important cell-ablation approach, and we have previously developed a mini singlet oxygen generator (miniSOG) tool that works in the living Caenorhabditis elegans. Here, we use directed evolution to generate miniSOG2, an improved tool for cell ablation via photogenerated reactive oxygen species. We apply miniSOG2 to a far more complex model animal system, Drosophila melanogaster, and demonstrate that it can be used to kill a single neuron in a Drosophila larva. In addition, miniSOG2 is able to photoablate a small group of cells in one of the larval wing imaginal discs, resulting in an adult with one incomplete and one normal wing. We expect miniSOG2 to be a useful optogenetic tool for precision cell ablation at a desired developmental time point in live animals, thus opening a new window into cell origin, fate and function, tissue regeneration, and developmental biology.
Optogenetic inhibition of apical constriction during Drosophila embryonic development.
Morphogenesis of multicellular organisms is driven by changes in cell behavior, which happen at precise locations and defined developmental stages. Therefore, the studying of morphogenetic events would greatly benefit from tools that allow the perturbation of cell activity with spatial and temporal precision. We recently developed an optogenetic approach to modulate cell contractility with cellular precision and on fast (seconds) timescales during Drosophila embryogenesis. We present here a protocol to handle genetically engineered photosensitive Drosophila embryos and achieve light-mediated inhibition of apical constriction during tissue invagination. The possibility to modulate the levels of optogenetic activation at different laser powers makes this method suited also for studying how mechanical stresses are sensed and interpreted in vivo. Given the conserved function of cell contractility during animal development, the application of this method to other morphogenetic processes will facilitate our understanding of tissue mechanics and cell-cell interaction during morphogenesis.
An Optogenetic Method to Modulate Cell Contractility during Tissue Morphogenesis.
Morphogenesis of multicellular organisms is driven by localized cell shape changes. How, and to what extent, changes in behavior in single cells or groups of cells influence neighboring cells and large-scale tissue remodeling remains an open question. Indeed, our understanding of multicellular dynamics is limited by the lack of methods allowing the modulation of cell behavior with high spatiotemporal precision. Here, we developed an optogenetic approach to achieve local modulation of cell contractility and used it to control morphogenetic movements during Drosophila embryogenesis. We show that local inhibition of apical constriction is sufficient to cause a global arrest of mesoderm invagination. By varying the spatial pattern of inhibition during invagination, we further demonstrate that coordinated contractile behavior responds to local tissue geometrical constraints. Together, these results show the efficacy of this optogenetic approach to dissect the interplay between cell-cell interaction, force transmission, and tissue geometry during complex morphogenetic processes.
Optogenetic Control of Gene Expression in Drosophila.
To study the molecular mechanism of complex biological systems, it is important to be able to artificially manipulate gene expression in desired target sites with high precision. Based on the light dependent binding of cryptochrome 2 and a cryptochrome interacting bHLH protein, we developed a split lexA transcriptional activation system for use in Drosophila that allows regulation of gene expression in vivo using blue light or two-photon excitation. We show that this system offers high spatiotemporal resolution by inducing gene expression in tissues at various developmental stages. In combination with two-photon excitation, gene expression can be manipulated at precise sites in embryos, potentially offering an important tool with which to examine developmental processes.
Live imaging of multicolor-labeled cells in Drosophila.
We describe LOLLIbow, a Brainbow-based live imaging system with applications in developmental biology and neurobiology. The development of an animal, including the environmentally sensitive adaptation of its brain, is thought to proceed through continual orchestration among diverse cell types as they divide, migrate, transform and interact with one another within the body. To facilitate direct visualization of such dynamic morphogenesis by individual cells in vivo, we have modified the original Brainbow for Drosophila in which live imaging is practical during much of its development. Our system offers permanent fluorescent labels that reveal fine morphological details of individual cells without requiring dissection or fixation of the samples. It also features a non-invasive means to control the timing of stochastic tricolor cell labeling with a light pulse. We demonstrate applicability of the new system in a variety of settings that could benefit from direct imaging of the developing multicellular organism with single-cell resolution.