Showing 1 - 25 of 111 results
A biological camera that captures and stores images directly into DNA.
The increasing integration between biological and digital interfaces has led to heightened interest in utilizing biological materials to store digital data, with the most promising one involving the storage of data within defined sequences of DNA that are created by de novo DNA synthesis. However, there is a lack of methods that can obviate the need for de novo DNA synthesis, which tends to be costly and inefficient. Here, in this work, we detail a method of capturing 2-dimensional light patterns into DNA, by utilizing optogenetic circuits to record light exposure into DNA, encoding spatial locations with barcoding, and retrieving stored images via high-throughput next-generation sequencing. We demonstrate the encoding of multiple images into DNA, totaling 1152 bits, selective image retrieval, as well as robustness to drying, heat and UV. We also demonstrate successful multiplexing using multiple wavelengths of light, capturing 2 different images simultaneously using red and blue light. This work thus establishes a 'living digital camera', paving the way towards integrating biological systems with digital devices.
Detecting Photoactivatable Cre-mediated Gene Deletion Efficiency in Escherichia coli.
Gene deletion is one of the standard approaches in genetics to investigate the roles and functions of target genes. However, the influence of gene deletion on cellular phenotypes is usually analyzed sometime after the gene deletion was introduced. Such lags from gene deletion to phenotype evaluation could select only the fittest fraction of gene-deleted cells and hinder the detection of potentially diverse phenotypic consequences. Therefore, dynamic aspects of gene deletion, such as real-time propagation and compensation of deletion effects on cellular phenotypes, still need to be explored. To resolve this issue, we have recently introduced a new method that combines a photoactivatable Cre recombination system and microfluidic single-cell observation. This method enables us to induce gene deletion at desired timings in single bacterial cells and to monitor their dynamics for prolonged periods. Here, we detail the protocol for estimating the fractions of gene-deleted cells based on a batch-culture assay. The duration of blue light exposure significantly affects the fractions of gene-deleted cells. Therefore, gene-deleted and non-deleted cells can coexist in a cellular population by adjusting the duration of blue light exposure. Single-cell observations under such illumination conditions allow the comparison of temporal dynamics between gene-deleted and non-deleted cells and unravel phenotypic dynamics provoked by gene deletion.
OptoCRISPRi-HD: Engineering a Bacterial Green-Light-Activated CRISPRi System with a High Dynamic Range.
The ability to modulate gene expression is crucial for studying gene function and programming cell behaviors. Combining the reliability of CRISPRi and the precision of optogenetics, the optoCRISPRi technique is emerging as an advanced tool for live-cell gene regulation. Since previous versions of optoCRISPRi often exhibit no more than a 10-fold dynamic range due to the leakage activity, they are not suitable for targets that are sensitive to such leakage or critical for cell growth. Here, we describe a green-light-activated CRISPRi system with a high dynamic range (40 fold) and the flexibility of changing targets in Escherichia coli. Our optoCRISPRi-HD system can efficiently repress essential genes, nonessential genes, or inhibit the initiation of DNA replication. Providing a regulative system with high resolution over space-time and extensive targets, our study would facilitate further research involving complex gene networks, metabolic flux redirection, or bioprinting.
Engineered allostery in light-regulated LOV-Turbo enables precise spatiotemporal control of proximity labeling in living cells.
The incorporation of light-responsive domains into engineered proteins has enabled control of protein localization, interactions and function with light. We integrated optogenetic control into proximity labeling, a cornerstone technique for high-resolution proteomic mapping of organelles and interactomes in living cells. Through structure-guided screening and directed evolution, we installed the light-sensitive LOV domain into the proximity labeling enzyme TurboID to rapidly and reversibly control its labeling activity with low-power blue light. 'LOV-Turbo' works in multiple contexts and dramatically reduces background in biotin-rich environments such as neurons. We used LOV-Turbo for pulse-chase labeling to discover proteins that traffic between endoplasmic reticulum, nuclear and mitochondrial compartments under cellular stress. We also showed that instead of external light, LOV-Turbo can be activated by bioluminescence resonance energy transfer from luciferase, enabling interaction-dependent proximity labeling. Overall, LOV-Turbo increases the spatial and temporal precision of proximity labeling, expanding the scope of experimental questions that can be addressed with proximity labeling.
Light-Regulated Pro-Angiogenic Engineered Living Materials.
Regenerative medicine aims to restore damaged cells, tissues, and organs, for which growth factors are vital to stimulate regenerative cellular transformations. Major advances have been made in growth factor engineering and delivery like the development of robust peptidomimetics and controlled release matrices. However, their clinical applicability remains limited due to their poor stability in the body and need for careful regulation of their local concentration to avoid unwanted side-effects. In this study, a strategy to overcome these limitations is explored using engineered living materials (ELMs), which contain live microorganisms that can be programmed with stimuli-responsive functionalities. Specifically, the development of an ELM that releases a pro-angiogenic protein in a light-regulated manner is described. This is achieved by optogenetically engineering bacteria to synthesize and secrete a vascular endothelial growth factor peptidomimetic (QK) linked to a collagen-binding domain. The bacteria are securely encapsulated in bilayer hydrogel constructs that support bacterial functionality but prevent their escape from the ELM. In situ control over the release profiles of the pro-angiogenic protein using light is demonstrated. Finally, it is shown that the released protein is able to bind collagen and promote angiogenic network formation among vascular endothelial cells, indicating the regenerative potential of these ELMs.
Light inducible protein degradation in E. coli with LOVtag.
Molecular tools for optogenetic control allow for spatial and temporal regulation of cell behavior. In particular, light controlled protein degradation is a valuable mechanism of regulation because it can be highly modular, used in tandem with other control mechanisms, and maintain functionality throughout growth phases. Here, we engineered LOVtag, a protein tag that can be appended to a protein of interest for inducible degradation in Escherichia coli using blue light. We demonstrate the modularity of LOVtag by using it to tag a range of proteins, including the LacI repressor, CRISPRa activator, and the AcrB efflux pump. Additionally, we demonstrate the utility of pairing the LOVtag with existing optogenetic tools to enhance performance by developing a combined EL222 and LOVtag system. Finally, we use the LOVtag in a metabolic engineering application to demonstrate post-translational control of metabolism. Together, our results highlight the modularity and functionality of the LOVtag system, and introduce a powerful new tool for bacterial optogenetics.
An optogenetic toolkit for light-inducible antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics are a key control mechanism for synthetic biology and microbiology. Resistance genes are used to select desired cells and regulate bacterial populations, however their use to-date has been largely static. Precise spatiotemporal control of antibiotic resistance could enable a wide variety of applications that require dynamic control of susceptibility and survival. Here, we use light-inducible Cre recombinase to activate expression of drug resistance genes in Escherichia coli. We demonstrate light-activated resistance to four antibiotics: carbenicillin, kanamycin, chloramphenicol, and tetracycline. Cells exposed to blue light survive in the presence of lethal antibiotic concentrations, while those kept in the dark do not. To optimize resistance induction, we vary promoter, ribosome binding site, and enzyme variant strength using chromosome and plasmid-based constructs. We then link inducible resistance to expression of a heterologous fatty acid enzyme to increase production of octanoic acid. These optogenetic resistance tools pave the way for spatiotemporal control of cell survival.
A red light-controlled probiotic bio-system for in-situ gut-brain axis regulation.
Microbes regulate brain function through the gut-brain axis, deriving the technology to modulate the gut-brain axis in situ by engineered probiotics. Optogenetics offers precise and flexible strategies for controlling the functions of probiotics in situ. However, the poor penetration of most frequently used short wavelength light has limited the application of optogenetic probiotics in the gut. Herein, a red-light optogenetic gut probiotic was applied for drug production and delivery and regulation of the host behaviors. Firstly, a Red-light Optogenetic E. coli Nissle 1917 strain (ROEN) that could respond to red light and release drug product by light-controlled lysis was constructed. The remaining optical power of red light after 3 cm tissue was still able to initiate gene expression of ROEN and produce about approximately 3-fold induction efficiency. To give full play to the in vivo potential of ROEN, its responsive ability of the penetrated red light was tested, and its encapsulation was realized by PH-sensitive alginate microcapsules for further oral administration. The function of ROEN for gut-brain regulation was realized by releasing Exendin-4 fused with anti-neonatal Fc receptor affibody. Neuroprotection and behavioral regulation effects were evaluated in the Parkinson's disease mouse model, after orally administration of ROEN delivering Exendin-4 under optogenetic control in the murine gut. The red-light optogenetic probiotic might be a perspective platform for in situ drug delivery and gut-brain axis regulation.
Enhancing the performance of Magnets photosensors through directed evolution.
Photosensory protein domains are the basis of optogenetic protein engineering. These domains originate from natural sources where they fulfill specific functions ranging from the protection against photooxidative damage to circadian rhythms. When used in synthetic biology, the features of these photosensory domains can be specifically tailored towards the application of interest, enabling their full exploitation for optogenetic regulation in basic research and applied bioengineering. In this work, we develop and apply a simple, yet powerful, directed evolution and high-throughput screening strategy that allows us to alter the most fundamental property of the widely used nMag/pMag photodimerization system: its light sensitivity. We identify a set of mutations located within the photosensory domains, which either increase or decrease the light sensitivity at sub-saturating light intensities, while also improving the dark-to-light fold change in certain variants. For some of these variants, photosensitivity and expression levels could be changed independently, showing that the shape of the light-activity dose-response curve can be tuned and adjusted. We functionally characterize the variants in vivo in bacteria on the single-cell and the population levels. We further show that a subset of these variants can be transferred into the mOptoT7 for gene expression regulation in mammalian cells. We demonstrate increased gene expression levels for low light intensities, resulting in reduced potential phototoxicity in long-term experiments. Our findings expand the applicability of the widely used Magnets photosensors by enabling a tuning towards the needs of specific optogenetic regulation strategies. More generally, our approach will aid optogenetic approaches by making the adaptation of photosensor properties possible to better suit specific experimental or bioprocess needs.
Retraction: "Long noncoding RNA ZFPM2-AS1 is involved in lung adenocarcinoma via miR-511-3p/AFF4 pathway," by Juan Li, Jun Ge, Ye Yang, Bin Liu, Min Zheng, and Rui Shi, J Cell Biochem. 2020; 2534-2542: The above article, published online on November 6, 2019, in Wiley Online Library (https://doi.org/10.1002/jcb.29476) has been retracted by agreement between the journal's Editor in Chief, Prof. Dr. Christian Behl, and Wiley Periodicals LLC. The retraction has been agreed after the authors stated that unintentional errors occurred during the research process, and the experimental results cannot be verified. Thus, the conclusions are considered to be invalid. The authors were not available for a final confirmation of the retraction.
Deep model predictive control of gene expression in thousands of single cells.
Gene expression is inherently dynamic, due to complex regulation and stochastic biochemical events. However, the effects of these dynamics on cell phenotypes can be difficult to determine. Researchers have historically been limited to passive observations of natural dynamics, which can preclude studies of elusive and noisy cellular events where large amounts of data are required to reveal statistically significant effects. Here, using recent advances in the fields of machine learning and control theory, we train a deep neural network to accurately predict the response of an optogenetic system in Escherichia coli cells. We then use the network in a deep model predictive control framework to impose arbitrary and cell-specific gene expression dynamics on thousands of single cells in real time, applying the framework to generate complex time-varying patterns. We also showcase the framework’s ability to link expression patterns to dynamic functional outcomes by controlling expression of the tetA antibiotic resistance gene. This study highlights how deep learning-enabled feedback control can be used to tailor distributions of gene expression dynamics with high accuracy and throughput.
Near-Infrared Nano-Optogenetic Activation of Cancer Immunotherapy via Engineered Bacteria.
Certain anaerobic microbes with the capability to colonize in tumor microenvironment tend to express the heterologous gene in a sustainable manner, which would inevitably comprise the therapeutic efficacy and induce off-tumor toxicity in vivo. To improve the therapeutic precision and controllability of bacteria-based therapeutics, Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN) engineered to sense blue light and release the encoded flagellin B (flaB), is conjugated with lanthanide upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) for near-infrared (NIR) nano-optogenetic cancer immunotherapy. Upon 808 nm photoirradiation, UCNPs emit at the blue region to photoactivate the EcN for secretion of flaB, which subsequently binds to Toll-like receptor 5 expressed on the membrane of macrophages for activating immune response via MyD88-dependent signal pathway. Such synergism leads to significant tumor regression in different tumor models and metastatic tumors with negligible side effects. Our studies based on NIR nano-optogenetic platform highlight the rational of leveraging the optogenetic tools combined natural propensity of certain bacteria for cancer immunotherapy. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Highlighter: an optogenetic actuator for light-mediated, high resolution gene expression control in plants.
Optogenetic actuators have revolutionized the resolution at which we can assert control over biological processes in living systems. In plants, deployment of optogenetics is challenging due to the need for these light-responsive systems to maintain a single activation state in conventional horticultural environments with light-dark cycling. Furthermore, many available optogenetic actuators are based on plant photoreceptors that might crosstalk with endogenous signaling processes, while others depend on exogenously supplied cofactors. To overcome such challenges, we have developed Highlighter; a synthetic, light-gated gene expression system tailored for in planta function. Highlighter is based on the photoswitchable CcaS-CcaR system from cyanobacteria and is repurposed for plants as a fully genetically encoded system, engineered to photoswitch with the endogenous plant chromophore, phytochromobilin. We deployed Highlighter in transiently transformed Nicotiana benthamiana for optogenetic control of fluorescent protein expression and innate immune responses. Using light to guide differential fluorescent protein expression in nuclei of neighboring cells, we demonstrate unprecedented spatiotemporal control of target gene expression. We furthermore regulate activation of plant immunity by modulating the spectral composition of white light, demonstrating optogenetic control of a biological process in horticultural light environments. Highlighter is a step forward for optogenetics in plants and a technology for high-resolution gene induction that will advance fundamental plant biology and provide new opportunities for crop improvement.
Light-regulated pro-angiogenic engineered living materials.
Despite their promise, the application of growth factors in regenerative medicine is limited by their poor stability in the body, high costs of production/storage and need for localized and tightly controlled delivery to minimize adverse side effects. In this study, a unique strategy to overcome these limitations is explored based on engineered living materials (ELMs). These are an emerging class of composite materials, which contain live microorganisms that can be engineered to produce and secrete proteins in response to external stimuli. Herein, the development of an ELM that light-responsively releases a pro-angiogenic protein is described. This is achieved by optogenetically engineering bacteria to synthesize and secrete a fusion protein containing a vascular endothelial growth factor peptidomimetic linked to a collagen- binding domain. The bacteria are securely encapsulated in bilayer hydrogel constructs that support bacterial functionality but prevent their escape from the ELM. The possibility to switch protein release ON and OFF with light and to tune the amount released with different light intensities is demonstrated. Finally, it is shown that the released protein is active through its ability to bind to collagen and promote angiogenic network formation in human vascular endothelial cell cultures, indicating the regenerative potential of these ELMs.
Upconversion Optogenetic Engineered Bacteria System for Time-Resolved Imaging Diagnosis and Light-Controlled Cancer Therapy.
Engineering bacteria can achieve targeted and controllable cancer therapy using synthetic biology technology and the characteristics of tumor microenvironment. Besides, the accurate tumor diagnosis and visualization of the treatment process are also vital for bacterial therapy. In this paper, a light control engineered bacteria system based on upconversion nanoparticles (UCNP)-mediated time-resolved imaging (TRI) was constructed for colorectal cancer theranostic and therapy. UCNP with different luminous lifetimes were separately modified with the tumor targeting molecule (folic acid) or anaerobic bacteria (Nissle 1917, EcN) to realize the co-localization of tumor tissues, thus improving the diagnostic accuracy based on TRI. In addition, blue light was used to induce engineered bacteria (EcN-pDawn-φx174E/TRAIL) lysis and the release of tumor apoptosis-related inducing ligand (TRAIL), thus triggering tumor cell death. In vitro and in vivo results indicated that this system could achieve accurate tumor diagnosis and light-controlled cancer therapy. EcN-pDawn-φx174E/TRAIL with blue light irradiation could inhibit 53% of tumor growth in comparison to that without blue light irradiation (11.8%). We expect that this engineered bacteria system provides a new technology for intelligent bacterial therapy and the construction of cancer theranostics.
Blue Light Signaling Regulates Escherichia coli W1688 Biofilm Formation and l-Threonine Production.
Escherichia coli biofilm may form naturally on biotic and abiotic surfaces; this represents a promising approach for efficient biochemical production in industrial fermentation. Recently, industrial exploitation of the advantages of optogenetics, such as simple operation, high spatiotemporal control, and programmability, for regulation of biofilm formation has garnered considerable attention. In this study, we used the blue light signaling-induced optogenetic system Magnet in an E. coli biofilm-based immobilized fermentation system to produce l-threonine in sufficient quantity. Blue light signaling significantly affected the phenotype of E. coli W1688. A series of biofilm-related experiments confirmed the inhibitory effect of blue light signaling on E. coli W1688 biofilm. Subsequently, a strain lacking a blue light-sensing protein (YcgF) was constructed via genetic engineering, which substantially reduced the inhibitory effect of blue light signaling on biofilm. A high-efficiency biofilm-forming system, Magnet, was constructed, which enhanced bacterial aggregation and biofilm formation. Furthermore, l-threonine production was increased from 10.12 to 16.57 g/L during immobilized fermentation, and the fermentation period was shortened by 6 h. IMPORTANCE We confirmed the mechanism underlying the inhibitory effects of blue light signaling on E. coli biofilm formation and constructed a strain lacking a blue light-sensing protein; this mitigated the aforementioned effects of blue light signaling and ensured normal fermentation performance. Furthermore, this study elucidated that the blue light signaling-induced optogenetic system Magnet effectively regulates E. coli biofilm formation and contributes to l-threonine production. This study not only enriches the mechanism of blue light signaling to regulate E. coli biofilm formation but also provides a theoretical basis and feasibility reference for the application of optogenetics technology in biofilm-based immobilized fermentation systems.
Light-Dependent Control of Bacterial Expression at the mRNA Level.
Sensory photoreceptors mediate numerous light-dependent adaptations across organisms. In optogenetics, photoreceptors achieve the reversible, non-invasive, and spatiotemporally precise control by light of gene expression and other cellular processes. The light-oxygen-voltage receptor PAL binds to small RNA aptamers with sequence specificity upon blue-light illumination. By embedding the responsive aptamer in the ribosome-binding sequence of genes of interest, their expression can be downregulated by light. We developed the pCrepusculo and pAurora optogenetic systems that are based on PAL and allow to down- and upregulate, respectively, bacterial gene expression using blue light. Both systems are realized as compact, single plasmids that exhibit stringent blue-light responses with low basal activity and up to several 10-fold dynamic range. As PAL exerts light-dependent control at the RNA level, it can be combined with other optogenetic circuits that control transcription initiation. By integrating regulatory mechanisms operating at the DNA and mRNA levels, optogenetic circuits with emergent properties can thus be devised. As a case in point, the pEnumbra setup permits to upregulate gene expression under moderate blue light whereas strong blue light shuts off expression again. Beyond providing novel signal-responsive expression systems for diverse applications in biotechnology and synthetic biology, our work also illustrates how the light-dependent PAL-aptamer interaction can be harnessed for the control and interrogation of RNA-based processes.
Optogenetic Control of Bacterial Expression by Red Light.
In optogenetics, as in nature, sensory photoreceptors serve to control cellular processes by light. Bacteriophytochrome (BphP) photoreceptors sense red and far-red light via a biliverdin chromophore and, in response, cycle between the spectroscopically, structurally, and functionally distinct Pr and Pfr states. BphPs commonly belong to two-component systems that control the phosphorylation of cognate response regulators and downstream gene expression through histidine kinase modules. We recently demonstrated that the paradigm BphP from Deinococcus radiodurans exclusively acts as a phosphatase but that its photosensory module can control the histidine kinase activity of homologous receptors. Here, we apply this insight to reprogram two widely used setups for bacterial gene expression from blue-light to red-light control. The resultant pREDusk and pREDawn systems allow gene expression to be regulated down and up, respectively, uniformly under red light by 100-fold or more. Both setups are realized as portable, single plasmids that encode all necessary components including the biliverdin-producing machinery. The triggering by red light affords high spatial resolution down to the single-cell level. As pREDusk and pREDawn respond sensitively to red light, they support multiplexing with optogenetic systems sensitive to other light colors. Owing to the superior tissue penetration of red light, the pREDawn system can be triggered at therapeutically safe light intensities through material layers, replicating the optical properties of the skin and skull. Given these advantages, pREDusk and pREDawn enable red-light-regulated expression for diverse use cases in bacteria.
Dynamic cybergenetic control of bacterial co-culture composition via optogenetic feedback.
Communities of microbes play important roles in natural environments and hold great potential for deploying division-of-labor strategies in synthetic biology and bioproduction. However, the difficulty of controlling the composition of microbial consortia over time hinders their optimal use in many applications. Here, we present a fully automated, high-throughput platform that combines real-time measurements and computer-controlled optogenetic modulation of bacterial growth to implement precise and robust compositional control of a two-strain E. coli community. In addition, we develop a general framework for dynamic modeling of synthetic genetic circuits in the physiological context of E. coli and use a host-aware model to determine the optimal control parameters of our closed-loop compositional control system. Our platform succeeds in stabilizing the strain ratio of multiple parallel co-cultures at arbitrary levels and in changing these targets over time, opening the door for the implementation of dynamic compositional programs in synthetic bacterial communities.
High-throughput feedback-enabled optogenetic stimulation and spectroscopy in microwell plates.
The ability to perform sophisticated, high-throughput optogenetic experiments has been greatly enhanced by recent open-source illumination devices that allow independent programming of light patterns in single wells of microwell plates. However, there is currently a lack of instrumentation to monitor such experiments in real time, necessitating repeated transfers of the samples to stand-alone instruments and limiting the types of experiments that could be performed. Here we address this gap with the development of the optoPlateReader (oPR), an open-source, solid-state, compact device that allows automated optogenetic stimulation and spectroscopy in each well of a 96-well plate. The oPR integrates an optoPlate optical stimulation module with a module called the optoReader, an array of 96 photodiodes and LEDs that allows 96 parallel light measurements. The oPR was optimized for stimulation with blue light and for measurements of optical density and fluorescence. After calibration of all device components, we used the oPR to measure growth and to induce and measure fluorescent protein expression in E. coli. We further demonstrated how the optical read/write capabilities of the oPR permit computer-in-the-loop feedback control, where the current state of the sample can be used to adjust the optical stimulation parameters of the sample according to pre-defined feedback algorithms. The oPR will thus help realize an untapped potential for optogenetic experiments by enabling automated reading, writing, and feedback in microwell plates through open-source hardware that is accessible, customizable, and inexpensive.
Dimerization of iLID Optogenetic Proteins Observed Using 3D Single-Molecule Tracking in Live Bacterial Cells.
3D single molecule tracking microscopy has enabled measurements of protein diffusion in living cells, offering information about protein dynamics and the cellular environment. For example, different diffusive states can be resolved and assigned to protein complexes of different size and composition. However, substantial statistical power and biological validation, often through genetic deletion of binding partners, are required to support diffusive state assignments. When investigating some cellular processes, transient perturbation to protein spatial distributions is preferable to permanent genetic deletion of an essential protein. Optogenetic dimerization systems can be used to manipulate protein spatial distributions which could offer a means to deplete specific diffusive states observed in single molecule tracking experiments. Here, we evaluate the performance of the iLID optogenetic system in living E. coli cells using diffraction-limited microscopy and 3D single molecule tracking. We observed a robust optogenetic response in protein spatial distribution after 488 nm laser activation. Surprisingly, 3D single molecule tracking results indicate activation of the optogenetic response at high intensity wavelengths for which there is evidence of minimal photon absorbance by the LOV2 domain. However, the preactivation response was minimized through the use of iLID system mutants, and titration of protein expression levels.
Computational framework for single-cell spatiotemporal dynamics of optogenetic membrane recruitment.
We describe a modular computational framework for analyzing cell-wide spatiotemporal signaling dynamics in single-cell microscopy experiments that accounts for the experiment-specific geometric and diffractive complexities that arise from heterogeneous cell morphologies and optical instrumentation. Inputs are unique cell geometries and protein concentrations derived from confocal stacks and spatiotemporally varying environmental stimuli. After simulating the system with a model of choice, the output is convolved with the microscope point-spread function for direct comparison with the observable image. We experimentally validate this approach in single cells with BcLOV4, an optogenetic membrane recruitment system for versatile control over cell signaling, using a three-dimensional non-linear finite element model with all parameters experimentally derived. The simulations recapitulate observed subcellular and cell-to-cell variability in BcLOV4 signaling, allowing for inter-experimental differences of cellular and instrumentation origins to be elucidated and resolved for improved interpretive robustness. This single-cell approach will enhance optogenetics and spatiotemporally resolved signaling studies.
Dynamic cybergenetic control of bacterial co-culture composition via optogenetic feedback.
Communities of microbes play important roles in natural environments and hold great potential for deploying division-of-labor strategies in synthetic biology and bioproduction. However, the difficulty of controlling the composition of microbial consortia over time hinders their optimal use in many applications. Here, we present a fully automated, high-throughput platform that combines real-time measurements and computer-controlled optogenetic modulation of bacterial growth to implement precise and robust compositional control of a two-strain E. coli community. Additionally, we develop a general framework for dynamic modeling of synthetic genetic circuits in the physiological context of E. coli and use a host-aware model to determine the optimal control parameters of our closed-loop compositional control system. Our platform succeeds in stabilizing the strain ratio of multiple parallel co-cultures at arbitrary levels and in changing these targets over time, opening the door for the implementation of dynamic compositional programs in synthetic bacterial communities.
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.