Showing 1 - 25 of 88 results
Light-dependent modulation of protein localization and function in living bacteria cells.
Most bacteria lack membrane-enclosed organelles to compartmentalize cellular processes. In lieu of physical compartments, bacterial proteins are often recruited to macromolecular scaffolds at specific subcellular locations to carry out their functions. Consequently, the ability to modulate a protein’s subcellular location with high precision and speed bears the potential to manipulate its corresponding cellular functions. Here we demonstrate that the CRY2/CIB1 system from Arabidopsis thaliana can be used to rapidly direct proteins to different subcellular locations inside live E. coli cells including the nucleoid, the cell pole, membrane, and the midcell division plane. We further show that such light-induced re-localization can be used to rapidly inhibit cytokinesis in actively dividing E. coli cells. Finally, we demonstrate that the CRY2/CIBN binding kinetics can be modulated by green light, adding a new dimension of control to the system.
Bifunctional optogenetic switch for improving shikimic acid production in E. coli.
Biomass formation and product synthesis decoupling have been proven to be promising to increase the titer of desired value add products. Optogenetics provides a potential strategy to develop light-induced circuits that conditionally control metabolic flux redistribution for enhanced microbial production. However, the limited number of light-sensitive proteins available to date hinders the progress of light-controlled tools.
To address these issues, two optogenetic systems (TPRS and TPAS) were constructed by reprogramming the widely used repressor TetR and protease TEVp to expand the current optogenetic toolkit. By merging the two systems, a bifunctional optogenetic switch was constructed to enable orthogonally regulated gene transcription and protein accumulation. Application of this bifunctional switch to decouple biomass formation and shikimic acid biosynthesis allowed 35 g/L of shikimic acid production in a minimal medium from glucose, representing the highest titer reported to date by E. coli without the addition of any chemical inducers and expensive aromatic amino acids. This titer was further boosted to 76 g/L when using rich medium fermentation.
The cost effective and light-controlled switch reported here provides important insights into environmentally friendly tools for metabolic pathway regulation and should be applicable to the production of other value-add chemicals.
Development of Optogenetic Dual-Switch System for Rewiring Metabolic Flux for Polyhydroxybutyrate Production.
Several strategies, including inducer addition and biosensor use, have been developed for dynamical regulation. However, the toxicity, cost, and inflexibility of existing strategies have created a demand for superior technology. In this study, we designed an optogenetic dual-switch system and applied it to increase polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) production. First, an optimized chromatic acclimation sensor/regulator (RBS10-CcaS#10-CcaR) system (comprising an optimized ribosomal binding site (RBS), light sensory protein CcaS, and response regulator CcaR) was selected for a wide sensing range of approximately 10-fold between green-light activation and red-light repression. The RBS10-CcaS#10-CcaR system was combined with a blue light-activated YF1-FixJ-PhlF system (containing histidine kinase YF1, response regulator FixJ, and repressor PhlF) engineered with reduced crosstalk. Finally, the optogenetic dual-switch system was used to rewire the metabolic flux for PHB production by regulating the sequences and intervals of the citrate synthase gene (gltA) and PHB synthesis gene (phbCAB) expression. Consequently, the strain RBS34, which has high gltA expression and a time lag of 3 h, achieved the highest PHB content of 16.6 wt%, which was approximately 3-fold that of F34 (expressed at 0 h). The results indicate that the optogenetic dual-switch system was verified as a practical and convenient tool for increasing PHB production.
Regulating bacterial behavior within hydrogels of tunable viscoelasticity.
Engineered living materials (ELMs) are a new class of materials in which living organism incorporated into diffusive matrices uptake a fundamental role in material’s composition and function. Understanding how the spatial confinement in 3D affects the behavior of the embedded cells is crucial to design and predict ELM’s function, regulate and minimize their environmental impact and facilitate their translation into applied materials. This study investigates the growth and metabolic activity of bacteria within an associative hydrogel network (Pluronic-based) with mechanical properties that can be tuned by introducing a variable degree of acrylate crosslinks. Individual bacteria distributed in the hydrogel matrix at low density form functional colonies whose size is controlled by the extent of permanent crosslinks. With increasing stiffness and decreasing plasticity of the matrix, a decrease in colony volumes and an increase in their sphericity is observed. Protein production surprisingly follows a different pattern with higher production yields occurring in networks with intermediate permanent crosslinking degrees. These results demonstrate that, bacterial mechanosensitivity can be used to control and regulate the composition and function of ELMs by thoughtful design of the encapsulating matrix, and by following design criteria with interesting similarities to those developed for 3D culture of mammalian cells.
Analysis of Three Architectures for Controlling PTP1B with Light.
Photosensory domains are powerful tools for placing proteins under optical control, but their integration into light-sensitive chimeras is often challenging. Many designs require structural iterations, and direct comparisons of alternative approaches are rare. This study uses protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B), an influential regulatory enzyme, to compare three architectures for controlling PTPs with light: a protein fusion, an insertion chimera, and a split construct. All three designs permitted optical control of PTP1B activity in vitro (i.e., kinetic assays of purified enzyme) and in mammalian cells; photoresponses measured under both conditions, while different in magnitude, were linearly correlated. The fusion- and insertion-based architectures exhibited the highest dynamic range and maintained native localization patterns in mammalian cells. A single insertion architecture enabled optical control of both PTP1B and TCPTP, but not SHP2, where the analogous chimera was active but not photoswitchable. Findings suggest that PTPs are highly tolerant of domain insertions and support the use of in vitro screens to evaluate different optogenetic designs.
NIR light-responsive bacteria with live bio-glue coatings for precise colonization in the gut.
Recombinant bacterial colonization plays an indispensable role in disease prevention, alleviation, and treatment. Successful application mainly depends on whether bacteria can efficiently spatiotemporally colonize the host gut. However, a primary limitation of existing methods is the lack of precise spatiotemporal regulation, resulting in uncontrolled methods that are less effective. Herein, we design upconversion microgels (UCMs) to convert near-infrared light (NIR) into blue light to activate recombinant light-responsive bacteria (Lresb) in vivo, where autocrine "functional cellular glues" made of adhesive proteins assist Lresb inefficiently colonizing the gut. The programmable engineering platform is further developed for the controlled and effective colonization of Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN) in the gut. The colonizing bacteria effectively alleviate DSS-induced colitis in mice. We anticipate that this approach could facilitate the clinical application of engineered microbial therapeutics to accurately and effectively regulate host health.
Optogenetic Control of Microbial Consortia Populations for Chemical Production.
Microbial co-culture fermentations can improve chemical production from complex biosynthetic pathways over monocultures by distributing enzymes across multiple strains, thereby reducing metabolic burden, overcoming endogenous regulatory mechanisms, or exploiting natural traits of different microbial species. However, stabilizing and optimizing microbial subpopulations for maximal chemical production remains a major obstacle in the field. In this study, we demonstrate that optogenetics is an effective strategy to dynamically control populations in microbial co-cultures. Using a new optogenetic circuit we call OptoTA, we regulate an endogenous toxin-antitoxin system, enabling tunability of Escherichia coli growth using only blue light. With this system we can control the population composition of co-cultures of E. coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. When introducing in each strain different metabolic modules of biosynthetic pathways for isobutyl acetate or naringenin, we found that the productivity of co-cultures increases by adjusting the population ratios with specific light duty cycles. This study shows the feasibility of using optogenetics to control microbial consortia populations and the advantages of using light to control their chemical production.
Engineered NIR light-responsive bacteria as anti-tumor agent for targeted and precise cancer therapy.
Engineered anaerobic bacteria known as live biotherapeutic products (LBPs) have shown great advances in cancer therapy. One advantage of anaerobic bacteria as drug carrier is that it spontaneously target to tumor and persistently release anti-tumor factors. To realize effective anti-cancer therapeutics, one essential premise is to improve the controllability of treatment. Here, we designed near-infrared (NIR)-light responsive bacteria as anti-tumor agent, which is based on a blue-light responsive module and upconversion nanoparticles. The upconversion nanoparticles converted external NIR light to local blue light to noninvasively activate blue-light responsive module (EL222) in engineered LBPs. The activated LBPs then produce tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) for precise tumor ablation. In vitro and in vivo results have proven that this engineered NIR-light-responsive bacteria could efficiently inhibit tumor growth. We anticipate that this controllable and safe bacteria-based therapy can facilitate the application of LBPs to accurately and effectively regulate diseases.
Single-component near-infrared optogenetic systems for gene transcription regulation.
Near-infrared (NIR) optogenetic systems for transcription regulation are in high demand because NIR light exhibits low phototoxicity, low scattering, and allows combining with probes of visible range. However, available NIR optogenetic systems consist of several protein components of large size and multidomain structure. Here, we engineer single-component NIR systems consisting of evolved photosensory core module of Idiomarina sp. bacterial phytochrome, named iLight, which are smaller and packable in adeno-associated virus. We characterize iLight in vitro and in gene transcription repression in bacterial and gene transcription activation in mammalian cells. Bacterial iLight system shows 115-fold repression of protein production. Comparing to multi-component NIR systems, mammalian iLight system exhibits higher activation of 65-fold in cells and faster 6-fold activation in deep tissues of mice. Neurons transduced with viral-encoded iLight system exhibit 50-fold induction of fluorescent reporter. NIR light-induced neuronal expression of green-light-activatable CheRiff channelrhodopsin causes 20-fold increase of photocurrent and demonstrates efficient spectral multiplexing.
mem-iLID, a fast and economic protein purification method.
Protein purification is the vital basis to study the function, structure and interaction of proteins. Widely used methods are affinity chromatography-based purifications, which require different chromatography columns and harsh conditions, such as acidic pH and/or adding imidazole or high salt concentration, to elute and collect the purified proteins. Here we established an easy and fast purification method for soluble proteins under mild conditions, based on the light-induced protein dimerization system iLID, which regulates protein binding and release with light. We utilize the biological membrane, which can be easily separated by centrifugation, as the port to anchor the target proteins. In Xenopus laevis oocyte and Escherichia coli, the blue light-sensitive part of iLID, AsLOV2-SsrA, was targeted to the plasma membrane by different membrane anchors. The other part of iLID, SspB, was fused with the protein of interest (POI) and expressed in the cytosol. The SspB-POI can be captured to the membrane fraction through light-induced binding to AsLOV2-SsrA and then released purely to fresh buffer in the dark after simple centrifugation and washing. This method, named mem-iLID, is very flexible in scale and economic. We demonstrate the quickly obtained yield of two pure and fully functional enzymes: a DNA polymerase and a light-activated adenylyl cyclase. Furthermore, we also designed a new SspB mutant for better dissociation and less interference with the protein of interest, which could potentially facilitate other optogenetic manipulations of protein-protein interaction.
A Light-Oxygen-Voltage Receptor Integrates Light and Temperature.
Sensory photoreceptors enable organisms to adjust their physiology, behavior, and development in response to light, generally with spatiotemporal acuity and reversibility. These traits underlie the use of photoreceptors as genetically encoded actuators to alter by light the state and properties of heterologous organisms. Subsumed as optogenetics, pertinent approaches enable regulating diverse cellular processes, not least gene expression. Here, we controlled the widely used Tet repressor by coupling to light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) modules that either homodimerize or dissociate under blue light. Repression could thus be elevated or relieved, and consequently protein expression was modulated by light. Strikingly, the homodimeric RsLOV module from Rhodobacter sphaeroides not only dissociated under light but intrinsically reacted to temperature. The limited light responses of wild-type RsLOV at 37 °C were enhanced in two variants that exhibited closely similar photochemistry and structure. One variant improved the weak homodimerization affinity of 40 µM by two-fold and thus also bestowed light sensitivity on a receptor tyrosine kinase. Certain photoreceptors, exemplified by RsLOV, can evidently moonlight as temperature sensors which immediately bears on their application in optogenetics and biotechnology. Properly accounted for, the temperature sensitivity can be leveraged for the construction of signal-responsive cellular circuits.
Optogenetic Control of Non-Apoptotic Cell Death.
Herein, a set of optogenetic tools (designated LiPOP) that enable photoswitchable necroptosis and pyroptosis in live cells with varying kinetics, is introduced. The LiPOP tools allow reconstruction of the key molecular steps involved in these two non-apoptotic cell death pathways by harnessing the power of light. Further, the use of LiPOPs coupled with upconversion nanoparticles or bioluminescence is demonstrated to achieve wireless optogenetic or chemo-optogenetic killing of cancer cells in multiple mouse tumor models. LiPOPs can trigger necroptotic and pyroptotic cell death in cultured prokaryotic or eukaryotic cells and in living animals, and set the stage for studying the role of non-apoptotic cell death pathways during microbial infection and anti-tumor immunity.
Engineering AraC to make it responsive to light instead of arabinose.
The L-arabinose-responsive AraC and its cognate PBAD promoter underlie one of the most often used chemically inducible prokaryotic gene expression systems in microbiology and synthetic biology. Here, we change the sensing capability of AraC from L-arabinose to blue light, making its dimerization and the resulting PBAD activation light-inducible. We engineer an entire family of blue light-inducible AraC dimers in Escherichia coli (BLADE) to control gene expression in space and time. We show that BLADE can be used with pre-existing L-arabinose-responsive plasmids and strains, enabling optogenetic experiments without the need to clone. Furthermore, we apply BLADE to control, with light, the catabolism of L-arabinose, thus externally steering bacterial growth with a simple transformation step. Our work establishes BLADE as a highly practical and effective optogenetic tool with plug-and-play functionality-features that we hope will accelerate the broader adoption of optogenetics and the realization of its vast potential in microbiology, synthetic biology and biotechnology.
Optotheranostic Nanosystem with Phone Visual Diagnosis and Optogenetic Microbial Therapy for Ulcerative Colitis At-Home Care.
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a relapsing disorder characterized by chronic inflammation of the intestinal tract. However, the home care of UC based on remote monitoring, due to the operational complexity and time-consuming procedure, restrain its widespread applications. Here we constructed an optotheranostic nanosystem for self-diagnosis and long-acting mitigations of UC at home. The system included two major modules: (i) A disease prescreening module mediated by smartphone optical sensing. (ii) Disease real-time intervention module mediated by an optogenetic engineered bacteria system. Recombinant Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN) secreted interleukin-10 (IL-10) could downregulate inflammatory cascades and matrix metalloproteinases; it is a candidate for use in the therapeutic intervention of UC. The results showed that the Detector was able to analyze, report, and share the detection results in less than 1 min, and the limit of detection was 15 ng·mL-1. Besides, the IL-10-secreting EcN treatment suppressed the intestinal inflammatory response in UC mice and protected the intestinal mucosa against injury. The optotheranostic nanosystems enabled solutions to diagnose and treat disease at home, which promotes a mobile health service development.
Real-Time Optogenetics System for Controlling Gene Expression Using a Model-Based Design.
Optimization of engineered biological systems requires precise control over the rates and timing of gene expression. Optogenetics is used to dynamically control gene expression as an alternative to conventional chemical-based methods since it provides a more convenient interface between digital control software and microbial culture. Here, we describe the construction of a real-time optogenetics platform, which performs closed-loop control over the CcaR-CcaS two-plasmid system in Escherichia coli. We showed the first model-based design approach by constructing a nonlinear representation of the CcaR-CcaS system, tuned the model through open-loop experimentation to capture the experimental behavior, and applied the model in silico to inform the necessary changes to build a closed-loop optogenetic control system. Our system periodically induces and represses the CcaR-CcaS system while recording optical density and fluorescence using image processing techniques. We highlight the facile nature of constructing our system and how our model-based design approach will potentially be used to model other systems requiring closed-loop optogenetic control.
Engineering an Optogenetic CRISPRi Platform for Improved Chemical Production.
Microbial synthesis of chemicals typically requires the redistribution of metabolic flux toward the synthesis of targeted products. Dynamic control is emerging as an effective approach for solving the hurdles mentioned above. As light could control the cell behavior in a spatial and temporal manner, the optogenetic-CRISPR interference (opto-CRISPRi) technique that allocates the metabolic resources according to different optical signal frequencies will enable bacteria to be controlled between the growth phase and the production stage. In this study, we applied a blue light-sensitive protein EL222 to regulate the expression of the dCpf1-mediated CRISPRi system that turns off the competitive pathways and redirects the metabolic flux toward the heterologous muconic acid synthesis in Escherichia coli. We found that the opto-CRISPRi system dynamically regulating the suppression of the central metabolism and competitive pathways could increase the muconic acid production by 130%. These results demonstrated that the opto-CRISPRi platform is an effective method for enhancing chemical synthesis with broad utilities.
Living materials fabricated via gradient mineralization of light-inducible biofilms.
Living organisms have evolved sophisticated cell-mediated biomineralization mechanisms to build structurally ordered, environmentally adaptive composite materials. Despite advances in biomimetic mineralization research, it remains difficult to produce mineralized composites that integrate the structural features and 'living' attributes of their natural counterparts. Here, inspired by natural graded materials, we developed living patterned and gradient composites by coupling light-inducible bacterial biofilm formation with biomimetic hydroxyapatite (HA) mineralization. We showed that both the location and the degree of mineralization could be regulated by tailoring functional biofilm growth with spatial and biomass density control. The cells in the composites remained viable and could sense and respond to environmental signals. Additionally, the composites exhibited a maximum 15-fold increase in Young's modulus after mineralization and could be applied to repair damage in a spatially controlled manner. Beyond insights into the mechanism of formation of natural graded composites, our study provides a viable means of fabricating living composites with dynamic responsiveness and environmental adaptability.
Optogenetic control of gut bacterial metabolism to promote longevity.
Gut microbial metabolism is associated with host longevity. However, because it requires direct manipulation of microbial metabolism in situ, establishing a causal link between these two processes remains challenging. We demonstrate an optogenetic method to control gene expression and metabolite production from bacteria residing in the host gut. We genetically engineer an Escherichia coli strain that secretes colanic acid (CA) under the quantitative control of light. Using this optogenetically-controlled strain to induce CA production directly in the Caenorhabditis elegans gut, we reveal the local effect of CA in protecting intestinal mitochondria from stress-induced hyper-fragmentation. We also demonstrate that the lifespan-extending effect of this strain is positively correlated with the intensity of green light, indicating a dose-dependent CA benefit on the host. Thus, optogenetics can be used to achieve quantitative and temporal control of gut bacterial metabolism in order to reveal its local and systemic effects on host health and aging.
Regulating enzymatic reactions in Escherichia coli utilizing light-responsive cellular compartments based on liquid-liquid phase separation.
Enzymatic reactions in cells are well organized into different compartments, among which protein-based membraneless compartments formed through liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) are believed to play important roles1,2. Hijacking them for our own purpose has promising applications in metabolic engineering3. Yet, it is still hard to precisely and dynamically control target enzymatic reactions in those compartments4. To address those problems, we developed Photo-Activated Switch in E. coli (PhASE), based on phase separating scaffold proteins and optogenetic tools. In this system, a protein of interest (POI) can be enriched up to 15-fold by LLPS-based compartments from cytosol within only a few seconds once activated by light, and become fully dispersed again within 15 minutes. Furthermore, we explored the potentiality of the LLPS-based compartment in enriching small organic molecules directly via chemical-scaffold interaction. With enzymes and substrates co-localized under light induction, the overall reaction efficiency could be enhanced. Using luciferin and catechol oxidation as model enzymatic reactions, we found that they could accelerate 2.3-fold and 1.6-fold, respectively, when regulated by PhASE. We anticipate our system to be an extension of the synthetic biology toolkit, facilitating rapid recruitment and release of POIs, and reversible regulation of enzymatic reactions.
Upconversion optogenetic micro-nanosystem optically controls the secretion of light-responsive bacteria for systemic immunity regulation.
Chemical molecules specifically secreted into the blood and targeted tissues by intestinal microbiota can effectively affect the associated functions of the intestine especially immunity, representing a new strategy for immune-related diseases. However, proper ways of regulating the secretion metabolism of specific strains still remain to be established. In this article, an upconversion optogenetic micro-nanosystem was constructed to effectively regulate the specific secretion of engineered bacteria. The system included two major modules: (i) Modification of secretory light-responsive engineered bacteria. (ii) Optical sensing mediated by upconversion optogenetic micro-nanosystem. This system could regulate the efficient secretion of immune factors by engineered bacteria through optical manipulation. Inflammatory bowel disease and subcutaneously transplanted tumors were selected to verify the effectiveness of the system. Our results showed that the endogenous factor TGF-β1 could be controllably secreted to suppress the intestinal inflammatory response. Additionally, regulatory secretion of IFN-γ was promoted to slow the progression of B16F10 tumor.
Optogenetic control of the lac operon for bacterial chemical and protein production.
Control of the lac operon with isopropyl β-D-1-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG) has been used to regulate gene expression in Escherichia coli for countless applications, including metabolic engineering and recombinant protein production. However, optogenetics offers unique capabilities, such as easy tunability, reversibility, dynamic induction strength and spatial control, that are difficult to obtain with chemical inducers. We have developed a series of circuits for optogenetic regulation of the lac operon, which we call OptoLAC, to control gene expression from various IPTG-inducible promoters using only blue light. Applying them to metabolic engineering improves mevalonate and isobutanol production by 24% and 27% respectively, compared to IPTG induction, in light-controlled fermentations scalable to at least two-litre bioreactors. Furthermore, OptoLAC circuits enable control of recombinant protein production, reaching yields comparable to IPTG induction but with easier tunability of expression. OptoLAC circuits are potentially useful to confer light control over other cell functions originally designed to be IPTG-inducible.
Printed Degradable Optical Waveguides for Guiding Light into Tissue.
Optogenetics and photonic technologies are changing the future of medicine. To implement light‐based therapies in the clinic, patient‐friendly devices that can deliver light inside the body while offering tunable properties and compatibility with soft tissues are needed. Here extrusion printing of degradable, hydrogel‐based optical waveguides with optical losses as low as 0.1 dB cm−1 at visible wavelengths is described. Core‐only and core‐cladding fibers are printed at room temperature from polyethylene glycol (PEG)‐based and PEG/Pluronic precursors, and cured by in situ photopolymerization. The obtained waveguides are flexible, with mechanical properties tunable within a tissue‐compatible range. Degradation times are also tunable by adjusting the molar mass of the diacrylate gel precursors, which are synthesized by linking PEG diacrylate (PEGDA) with varying proportions of DL‐dithiothreitol (DTT). The printed waveguides are used to activate photochemical and optogenetic processes in close‐to‐physiological environments. Light‐triggered migration of cells in a photoresponsive 3D hydrogel and drug release from an optogenetically‐engineered living material by delivering light across >5 cm of muscle tissue are demonstrated. These results quantify the in vitro performance, and reflect the potential of the printed degradable fibers for in vivo and clinical applications.
Optogenetic control of heterologous metabolism in E. coli.
Multi-objective optimization of microbial chassis for the production of xenobiotic compounds requires the implementation of metabolic control strategies that permit dynamic distribution of cellular resources between biomass and product formation. We addressed this need in a previous study by engineering the T7 RNA polymerase to be thermally responsive. The modified polymerase is activated only after the temperature of the host cell falls below 18oC, and Escherichia coli cells that employ the protein to transcribe the heterologous lycopene biosynthetic pathway exhibit impressive improvements in productivity. We have expanded our toolbox of metabolic switches in the current study by engineering a version of the T7 RNA polymerase that drives the transition between biomass and product formation upon stimulation with red light. The engineered polymerase is expressed as two distinct polypeptide chains. Each chain comprises one of two photoactive components from Arabidopsis thaliana, phytochrome B (PhyB) and phytochrome-integrating factor 3 (PIF3), as well as the N- or C-terminus domains of both, the vacuolar ATPase subunit (VMA) intein of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the polymerase. Red light drives photodimerization of PhyB and PIF3, which then brings together the N- and C-terminus domains of the VMA intein. Trans-splicing of the intein follows suit and produces an active form of the polymerase that subsequently transcribes any sequence that is under the control of a T7 promoter. The photodimerization also involves a third element, the cyanobacterial chromophore phycocyanobilin (PCB), which too is expressed heterologously by E. coli. We deployed this version of the T7 RNA polymerase to control the production of lycopene in E. coli and observed tight control of pathway expression. We tested a variety of expression configurations to identify one that imposes the lowest metabolic burden on the strain, and we subsequently optimized key parameters such as the source, moment and duration of photostimulation. We also identified targets for future refinement of the circuit. In summary, our work is a significant advance for the field and greatly expands on previous work by other groups that have used optogenetic circuits to control heterologous metabolism in prokaryotic hosts.
Exploiting natural chemical photosensitivity of anhydrotetracycline and tetracycline for dynamic and setpoint chemo-optogenetic control.
The transcriptional inducer anhydrotetracycline (aTc) and the bacteriostatic antibiotic tetracycline (Tc) are commonly used in all fields of biology for control of transcription or translation. A drawback of these and other small molecule inducers is the difficulty of their removal from cell cultures, limiting their application for dynamic control. Here, we describe a simple method to overcome this limitation, and show that the natural photosensitivity of aTc/Tc can be exploited to turn them into highly predictable optogenetic transcriptional- and growth-regulators. This new optogenetic class uniquely features both dynamic and setpoint control which act via population-memory adjustable through opto-chemical modulation. We demonstrate this method by applying it for dynamic gene expression control and for enhancing the performance of an existing optogenetic system. We then expand the utility of the aTc system by constructing a new chemical bandpass filter that increases its aTc response range. The simplicity of our method enables scientists and biotechnologists to use their existing systems employing aTc/Tc for dynamic optogenetic experiments without genetic modification.
In situ characterisation and manipulation of biological systems with Chi.Bio.
The precision and repeatability of in vivo biological studies is predicated upon methods for isolating a targeted subsystem from external sources of noise and variability. However, in many experimental frameworks, this is made challenging by nonstatic environments during host cell growth, as well as variability introduced by manual sampling and measurement protocols. To address these challenges, we developed Chi.Bio, a parallelised open-source platform that represents a new experimental paradigm in which all measurement and control actions can be applied to a bulk culture in situ. In addition to continuous-culturing capabilities, it incorporates tunable light outputs, spectrometry, and advanced automation features. We demonstrate its application to studies of cell growth and biofilm formation, automated in silico control of optogenetic systems, and readout of multiple orthogonal fluorescent proteins in situ. By integrating precise measurement and actuation hardware into a single low-cost platform, Chi.Bio facilitates novel experimental methods for synthetic, systems, and evolutionary biology and broadens access to cutting-edge research capabilities.