Curated Optogenetic Publication Database

Search precisely and efficiently by using the advantage of the hand-assigned publication tags that allow you to search for papers involving a specific trait, e.g. a particular optogenetic switch or a host organism.

Showing 1 - 25 of 264 results

Optogenetic Protein Cleavage in Zebrafish Embryos.

violet PhoCl HEK293T HeLa zebrafish in vivo Transgene expression
bioRxiv, 24 May 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.05.23.493165 Link to full text
Abstract: A wide array of optogenetic tools is available that allow for precise spatiotemporal control over many cellular processes. These tools have been especially popular among zebrafish researchers who take advantage of the embryo's transparency. However, photocleavable optogenetic proteins have not been utilized in zebrafish. We demonstrate successful optical control of protein cleavage in embryos using PhoCl, a photocleavable fluorescent protein. This optogenetic tool offers temporal and spatial control over protein cleavage events, which we demonstrate in light-triggered protein translocation and apoptosis.

Engineered Cas9 extracellular vesicles as a novel gene editing tool.

blue red CRY2/CIB1 Magnets PhyB/PIF6 VVD HEK293T Nucleic acid editing
J Extracell Vesicles, May 2022 DOI: 10.1002/jev2.12225 Link to full text
Abstract: Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have shown promise as biological delivery vehicles, but therapeutic applications require efficient cargo loading. Here, we developed new methods for CRISPR/Cas9 loading into EVs through reversible heterodimerization of Cas9-fusions with EV sorting partners. Cas9-loaded EVs were collected from engineered Expi293F cells using standard methodology, characterized using nanoparticle tracking analysis, western blotting, and transmission electron microscopy and analysed for CRISPR/Cas9-mediated functional gene editing in a Cre-reporter cellular assay. Light-induced dimerization using Cryptochrome 2 combined with CD9 or a Myristoylation-Palmitoylation-Palmitoylation lipid modification resulted in efficient loading with approximately 25 Cas9 molecules per EV and high functional delivery with 51% gene editing of the Cre reporter cassette in HEK293 and 25% in HepG2 cells, respectively. This approach was also effective for targeting knock-down of the therapeutically relevant PCSK9 gene with 6% indel efficiency in HEK293. Cas9 transfer was detergent-sensitive and associated with the EV fractions after size exclusion chromatography, indicative of EV-mediated transfer. Considering the advantages of EVs over other delivery vectors we envision that this study will prove useful for a range of therapeutic applications, including CRISPR/Cas9 mediated genome editing.

PPARγ phase separates with RXRα at PPREs to regulate target gene expression.

blue CRY2olig HEK293T NIH/3T3 Organelle manipulation
Cell Discov, 26 Apr 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41421-022-00388-0 Link to full text
Abstract: Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-γ is a key transcription activator controlling adipogenesis and lipid metabolism. PPARγ binds PPAR response elements (PPREs) as the obligate heterodimer with retinoid X receptor (RXR) α, but exactly how PPARγ orchestrates the transcriptional response is unknown. This study demonstrates that PPARγ forms phase-separated droplets in vitro and solid-like nuclear condensates in cell, which is intriguingly mediated by its DNA binding domain characterized by the zinc finger motif. Furthermore, PPARγ forms nuclear condensates at PPREs sites through phase separation to compartmentalize its heterodimer partner RXRα to initiate PPARγ-specific transcriptional activation. Finally, using an optogenetic approach, the enforced formation of PPARγ/RXRα condensates leads to preferential enrichment at PPREs sites and significantly promotes the expression of PPARγ target genes. These results define a novel mechanism by which PPARγ engages the phase separation principles for efficient and specific transcriptional activation.

Optogenetic activators of apoptosis, necroptosis, and pyroptosis.

blue CRY2olig Caco-2 HaCaT HEK293T HeLa MCF7 RAW264.7 zebrafish in vivo Cell death
J Cell Biol, 14 Apr 2022 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.202109038 Link to full text
Abstract: Targeted and specific induction of cell death in an individual or groups of cells hold the potential for new insights into the response of tissues or organisms to different forms of death. Here, we report the development of optogenetically controlled cell death effectors (optoCDEs), a novel class of optogenetic tools that enables light-mediated induction of three types of programmed cell death (PCD)-apoptosis, pyroptosis, and necroptosis-using Arabidopsis thaliana photosensitive protein Cryptochrome-2. OptoCDEs enable a rapid and highly specific induction of PCD in human, mouse, and zebrafish cells and are suitable for a wide range of applications, such as sub-lethal cell death induction or precise elimination of single cells or cell populations in vitro and in vivo. As the proof-of-concept, we utilize optoCDEs to assess the differences in neighboring cell responses to apoptotic or necrotic PCD, revealing a new role for shingosine-1-phosphate signaling in regulating the efferocytosis of the apoptotic cell by epithelia.

An optogenetic tool to recruit individual PKC isozymes to the cell surface and promote specific phosphorylation of membrane proteins.

blue CRY2/CIB1 HEK293T Immediate control of second messengers
J Biol Chem, 31 Mar 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.jbc.2022.101893 Link to full text
Abstract: The Protein kinase C family consists of several closely related kinases. These enzymes regulate the function of proteins through the phosphorylation of hydroxyl groups on serines and/or threonines. The selective activation of individual PKC isozymes has proven challenging due to a lack of specific activator molecules. Here we developed an optogenetic, blue-light activated PKC isozyme that harnesses a plant-based dimerization system between the photosensitive cryptochrome-2 (CRY2) and the N-terminus of the transcription factor CIB1 (CIBN). We show that tagging CRY2 with the catalytic domain of PKC isozymes can efficiently promote its translocation to the cell surface upon blue light exposure. We demonstrate this system using PKCε and show that this leads to robust activation of a K+ channel (GIRK1/4) previously shown to be activated by PKCε. We anticipate that this approach can be utilized for other PKC isoforms to provide a reliable and direct stimulus for targeted membrane protein phosphorylation by the relevant PKCs.

Optogenetic Control of PIP2 Interactions Shaping ENaC Activity.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CHO-K1 HEK293 Immediate control of second messengers
Int J Mol Sci, 31 Mar 2022 DOI: 10.3390/ijms23073884 Link to full text
Abstract: The activity of the epithelial Na+ Channel (ENaC) is strongly dependent on the membrane phospholipid phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2). PIP2 binds two distinct cationic clusters within the N termini of β- and γ-ENaC subunits (βN1 and γN2). The affinities of these sites were previously determined using short synthetic peptides, yet their role in sensitizing ENaC to changes in PIP2 levels in the cellular system is not well established. We addressed this question by comparing the effects of PIP2 depletion and recovery on ENaC channel activity and intracellular Na+ levels [Na+]i. We tested effects on ENaC activity with mutations to the PIP2 binding sites using the optogenetic system CIBN/CRY2-OCRL to selectively deplete PIP2. We monitored changes of [Na+]i by measuring the fluorescent Na+ indicator, CoroNa Green AM, and changes in channel activity by performing patch clamp electrophysiology. Whole cell patch clamp measurements showed a complete lack of response to PIP2 depletion and recovery in ENaC with mutations to βN1 or γN2 or both sites, compared to wild type ENaC. Whereas mutant βN1 also had no change in CoroNa Green fluorescence in response to PIP2 depletion, γN2 did have reduced [Na+]i, which was explained by having shorter CoroNa Green uptake and half-life. These results suggest that CoroNa Green measurements should be interpreted with caution. Importantly, the electrophysiology results show that the βN1 and γN2 sites on ENaC are each necessary to permit maximal ENaC activity in the presence of PIP2.

CRY-BARs: Versatile light-gated molecular tools for the remodeling of membrane architectures.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HEK293T primary mouse cortical neurons Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Transgene expression Neuronal activity control
bioRxiv, 17 Mar 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.01.28.478241 Link to full text
Abstract: BAR (Bin, Amphiphysin and Rvs) protein domains are responsible for the generation of membrane curvature and represent a critical mechanical component of cellular functions. Thus, BAR domains have great potential as components of membrane-remodeling tools for cell biologists. In this work, we describe the design and implementation of a family of versatile light-gated I-BAR domain containing tools (CRY-BARs) with applications in the remodeling of membrane architectures and the control of cellular dynamics. By taking advantage of the intrinsic membrane binding propensity of the I-BAR domain, CRY-BARs can be used for spatial and temporal control of cellular processes that require induction of membrane protrusions. Using cell lines and primary neuron cultures, we demonstrate that the CRY-BAR optogenetic tool reports membrane dynamic changes associated with cellular activity. Moreover, we provide evidence that Ezrin acts as a relay between the plasma membrane and the actin cytoskeleton and therefore is an important mediator of switch function. Overall, CRY-BARs hold promise as a useful addition to the optogenetic toolkit to study membrane remodeling in live cells.

Spatio-temporal, optogenetic control of gene expression in organoids.

blue CRY2/CIB1 Magnets HEK293T human IPSCs Developmental processes Organelle manipulation Nucleic acid editing
bioRxiv, 9 Feb 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2021.09.26.461850 Link to full text
Abstract: Organoids derived from stem cells become increasingly important to study human development and to model disease. However, methods are needed to control and study spatio-temporal patterns of gene expression in organoids. To this aim, we combined optogenetics and gene perturbation technologies to activate or knock-down RNA of target genes, at single-cell resolution and in programmable spatio-temporal patterns. To illustrate the usefulness of our approach, we locally activated Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) signaling in an organoid model for human neurodevelopment. High-resolution spatial transcriptomic and single-cell analyses showed that this local induction was sufficient to generate stereotypically patterned organoids in three dimensions and revealed new insights into SHH’s contribution to gene regulation in neurodevelopment. With this study, we propose optogenetic perturbations in combination with spatial transcriptomics as a powerful technology to reprogram and study cell fates and tissue patterning in organoids.

Nucleation of the destruction complex on the centrosome accelerates degradation of β-catenin and regulates Wnt signal transmission.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HEK293T hESCs Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 3 Feb 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.02.01.478717 Link to full text
Abstract: Wnt signal transduction is mediated by a protein assembly called the Destruction Complex (DC) made from scaffold proteins and kinases that are essential for transducing extracellular Wnt ligand concentrations to changes in nuclear β-catenin, the pathway’s transcriptional effector. Recently, DC scaffold proteins have been shown to undergo liquid-liquid phase separation in vivo and in vitro providing evidence for a mesoscale organization of the DC. However, the mesoscale organization of DC at endogenous expression levels and how that organization could play a role in β-catenin processing is unknown. Here we find that the native mesoscale structure is a dynamic biomolecular condensate nucleated by the centrosome. Through a combination of advanced microscopy, CRISPR-engineered custom fluorescent tags, finite element simulations, and optogenetic tools, that allow for independent manipulation of the biophysical parameters that drive condensate formation, we find that a function of DC nucleation by the centrosome is to drive efficient processing of β-catenin by co-localizing DC components to a single reaction hub. We demonstrate that simply increasing the concentration of a single DC kinase onto the centrosome controls β-catenin processing. This simple change in localization completely alters the fate of the Wnt-driven human embryonic stem cell differentiation to mesoderm. Our findings demonstrate the role of nucleators in dynamically controlling the activities of biomolecular condensates and suggest a tight integration between cell cycle progression and Wnt signal transduction.

Far-Red Light Triggered Production of Bispecific T Cell Engagers (BiTEs) from Engineered Cells for Antitumor Application.

red BphS HEK293T Hep G2 SK-HEP-1 Transgene expression
ACS Synth Biol, 3 Feb 2022 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.1c00523 Link to full text
Abstract: Bispecific T-cell engagers (BiTEs), which have shown potent antitumor activity in humans, are emerging as one of the most promising immunotherapeutic strategies for cancer treatment in recent years. However, the clinical application of BiTEs nowadays has been hampered by their short half-life in the circulatory system due to their low molecular weight and rapid renal clearance. Inevitable continuous infusion of BiTEs has become a routine operation in order to achieve effective treatment, although it is costly, inconvenient, time-consuming, and even painful for patients in some cases. To develop an on-demand, tunable, and reversible approach to overcome these limitations, we assembled a transcription-control device into mammalian cells based on a bacterial far-red light (FRL) responsive signaling pathway to drive the expression of a BiTE against Glypican 3 (GPC3), which is a highly tumor-specific antigen expressed in most hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC). As demonstrated in in vitro experiments, we proved that the FRL sensitive device spatiotemporally responded to the control of FRL illumination and produced a therapeutic level of BiTEs that recruited and activated human T cells to eliminate GPC3 positive tumor cells. By functionally harnessing the power of optogenetics to remotely regulate the production of BiTEs from bioengineered cells and demonstrating its effectiveness in treating tumor cells, this study provides a novel approach to achieve an in vivo supply of BiTEs, which could be potentially applied to other formats of bispecific antibodies and facilitate their clinical applications.

A nucleation barrier spring-loads the CBM signalosome for binary activation.

blue CRY2clust VfAU1-LOV HEK293T Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 29 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.01.28.477912 Link to full text
Abstract: Immune cells activate in a binary, switch-like fashion that involves proteins polymerizing into large complexes known as signalosomes. The switch-like nature of signalosome formation has been proposed to result from large energy barriers to polymer nucleation. Whether such nucleation barriers indeed drive binary immune responses has not yet been shown. Here, we employed an in-cell biophysical approach to dissect the assembly mechanism of the CARD-BCL10-MALT1 (CBM) signalosome, a key determinant of transcription factor NF-κB activation in both innate and adaptive immunity. We found that the adaptor protein BCL10 encodes an intrinsic nucleation barrier, and that this barrier has been conserved from cnidaria to humans. Using optogenetic tools and a single-cell transcriptional reporter of NF-κB activity, we further revealed that endogenous human BCL10 is supersaturated even in unstimulated cells, indicating that the nucleation barrier operationally stores energy for subsequent activation. We found that upon stimulation, BCL10 nucleation by CARD9 multimers triggers self-templated polymerization that saturates NF-κB activation to produce a binary response. Pathogenic mutants of CARD9 that cause human immunodeficiencies eliminated nucleating activity. Conversely, a hyperactive cancer-causing mutation in BCL10 increased its spontaneous nucleation. Our results indicate that unassembled CBM signalosome components function analogously to a spring-loaded mousetrap, constitutively poised to activate NF-κB through irrevocable polymerization. This finding may inform our understanding of the root causes and progressive nature of pathogenic and age-associated inflammation.

WNK kinases sense molecular crowding and rescue cell volume via phase separation.

blue CRY2olig HEK293 Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 11 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.01.10.475707 Link to full text
Abstract: When challenged by hypertonicity, dehydrated cells must defend their volume to survive. This process requires the phosphorylation-dependent regulation of SLC12 cation chloride transporters by WNK kinases, but how these kinases are activated by cell shrinkage remains unknown. Within seconds of cell exposure to hypertonicity, WNK1 concentrates into membraneless droplets, initiating a phosphorylation-dependent signal that drives net ion influx via the SLC12 cotransporters to rescue volume. The formation of WNK1 condensates is driven by its intrinsically disordered C-terminus, whose evolutionarily conserved signatures are necessary for efficient phase separation and volume recovery. This disorder-encoded phase behavior occurs within physiological constraints and is activated in vivo by molecular crowding rather than changes in cell size. This allows WNK1 to bypass a strengthened ionic milieu that favors kinase inactivity and reclaim cell volume through condensate-mediated signal amplification. Thus, WNK kinases are physiological crowding sensors that phase separate to coordinate a cell volume rescue response.

Optogenetic control of RNA function and metabolism using engineered light-switchable RNA-binding proteins.

blue CRY2/CIB1 PAL VVD HEK293T HeLa Transgene expression Epigenetic modification Endogenous gene expression
Nat Biotechnol, 3 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41587-021-01112-1 Link to full text
Abstract: RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) play an essential role in regulating the function of RNAs in a cellular context, but our ability to control RBP activity in time and space is limited. Here, we describe the engineering of LicV, a photoswitchable RBP that binds to a specific RNA sequence in response to blue light irradiation. When fused to various RNA effectors, LicV allows for optogenetic control of RNA localization, splicing, translation and stability in cell culture. Furthermore, LicV-assisted CRISPR-Cas systems allow for efficient and tunable photoswitchable regulation of transcription and genomic locus labeling. These data demonstrate that the photoswitchable RBP LicV can serve as a programmable scaffold for the spatiotemporal control of synthetic RNA effectors.

Designing Single-Component Optogenetic Membrane Recruitment Systems: The Rho-Family GTPase Signaling Toolbox.

blue BcLOV4 HEK293T Signaling cascade control
ACS Synth Biol, 3 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.1c00604 Link to full text
Abstract: We describe the efficient creation of single-component optogenetic tools for membrane recruitment-based signaling perturbation using BcLOV4 technology. The workflow requires two plasmids to create six different domain arrangements of the dynamic membrane binder BcLOV4, a fluorescent reporter, and the fused signaling protein of interest. Screening of this limited set of genetic constructs for expression characteristics and dynamic translocation in response to one pulse of light is sufficient to identify viable signaling control tools. The reliability of this streamlined approach is demonstrated by the creation of an optogenetic Cdc42 GTPase and Rac1-activating Tiam1 GEF protein, which together with our other recently reported technologies, completes a toolbox for spatiotemporally precise induction of Rho-family GTPase signaling at the GEF or GTPase level, for driving filopodial protrusions, lamellipodial protrusions, and cell contractility, respectively mediated by Cdc42, Rac1, and RhoA.

Temperature-responsive optogenetic probes of cell signaling.

blue BcLOV4 CRY2/CRY2 iLID HEK293T NIH/3T3 Schneider 2 zebrafish in vivo Signaling cascade control
Nat Chem Biol, 22 Dec 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41589-021-00917-0 Link to full text
Abstract: We describe single-component optogenetic probes whose activation dynamics depend on both light and temperature. We used the BcLOV4 photoreceptor to stimulate Ras and phosphatidyl inositol-3-kinase signaling in mammalian cells, allowing activation over a large dynamic range with low basal levels. Surprisingly, we found that BcLOV4 membrane translocation dynamics could be tuned by both light and temperature such that membrane localization spontaneously decayed at elevated temperatures despite constant illumination. Quantitative modeling predicted BcLOV4 activation dynamics across a range of light and temperature inputs and thus provides an experimental roadmap for BcLOV4-based probes. BcLOV4 drove strong and stable signal activation in both zebrafish and fly cells, and thermal inactivation provided a means to multiplex distinct blue-light sensitive tools in individual mammalian cells. BcLOV4 is thus a versatile photosensor with unique light and temperature sensitivity that enables straightforward generation of broadly applicable optogenetic tools.

Analysis of Three Architectures for Controlling PTP1B with Light.

blue AsLOV2 LOVTRAP Cos-7 E. coli HEK293T Transgene expression
ACS Synth Biol, 13 Dec 2021 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.1c00398 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

A far-red light-inducible CRISPR-Cas12a platform for remote-controlled genome editing and gene activation.

red BphS HEK293T Nucleic acid editing
Sci Adv, 10 Dec 2021 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abh2358 Link to full text
Abstract: The CRISPR-Cas12a has been harnessed as a powerful tool for manipulating targeted gene expression. The possibility to manipulate the activity of CRISPR-Cas12a with a more precise spatiotemporal resolution and deep tissue permeability will enable targeted genome engineering and deepen our understanding of the gene functions underlying complex cellular behaviors. However, currently available inducible CRISPR-Cas12a systems are limited by diffusion, cytotoxicity, and poor tissue permeability. Here, we developed a far-red light (FRL)–inducible CRISPR-Cas12a (FICA) system that can robustly induce gene editing in mammalian cells, and an FRL-inducible CRISPR-dCas12a (FIdCA) system based on the protein-tagging system SUperNova (SunTag) that can be used for gene activation under light-emitting diode–based FRL. Moreover, we show that the FIdCA system can be deployed to activate target genes in mouse livers. These results demonstrate that these systems developed here provide robust and efficient platforms for programmable genome manipulation in a noninvasive and spatiotemporal fashion.

Implementation of a novel optogenetic tool in mammalian cells based on a split T7 RNA polymerase.

blue Magnets VVD HEK293T Transgene expression
bioRxiv, 27 Oct 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.10.27.466068 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic tools are widely used to control gene expression dynamics both in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. These tools are used in a variety of biological applications from stem cell differentiation to metabolic engineering. Despite some tools already available in bacteria, no light-inducible system currently exists to orthogonally control gene expression in mammalian cells. Such a tool would be particularly important in synthetic biology, where orthogonality is advantageous to achieve robust activation of synthetic networks. Here we implement, characterize and optimize a new orthogonal optogenetic tool in mammalian cells based on a previously published system in bacteria called Opto-T7RNAPs. The tool consists of a split T7 RNA polymerase coupled with the blue light-inducible magnets system (mammalian OptoT7 – mOptoT7). In our study we exploited the T7 polymerase’s viral origins to tune our system’s expression level, reaching up to 20-fold change activation over the dark control. mOptoT7 is used here to generate mRNA for protein expression, shRNA for protein inhibition and Pepper aptamer for RNA visualization. Moreover, we show that mOptoT7 can mitigate gene expression burden when compared to other optogenetic constructs. These properties make mOptoT7 a new powerful tool to use when orthogonality and viral-like RNA species are desired in both synthetic biology and basic science applications.

Aberrant Phase Separation of FUS Leads to Lysosome Sequestering and Acidification.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HEK293 Organelle manipulation
Front Cell Dev Biol, 22 Oct 2021 DOI: 10.3389/fcell.2021.716919 Link to full text
Abstract: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that leads to the death of upper and lower motor neurons. While most cases of ALS are sporadic, some of the familial forms of the disease are caused by mutations in the gene encoding for the RNA-binding protein FUS. Under physiological conditions, FUS readily phase separates into liquid-like droplets in vivo and in vitro. ALS-associated mutations interfere with this process and often result in solid-like aggregates rather than fluid condensates. Yet, whether cells recognize and triage aberrant condensates remains poorly understood, posing a major barrier to the development of novel ALS treatments. Using a combination of ALS-associated FUS mutations, optogenetic manipulation of FUS condensation, chemically induced stress, and pH-sensitive reporters of organelle acidity, we systematically characterized the cause-effect relationship between the material state of FUS condensates and the sequestering of lysosomes. From our data, we can derive three conclusions. First, regardless of whether we use wild-type or mutant FUS, expression levels (i.e., high concentrations) play a dominant role in determining the fraction of cells having soluble or aggregated FUS. Second, chemically induced FUS aggregates recruit LAMP1-positive structures. Third, mature, acidic lysosomes accumulate only at FUS aggregates but not at liquid-condensates. Together, our data suggest that lysosome-degradation machinery actively distinguishes between fluid and solid condensates. Unraveling these aberrant interactions and testing strategies to manipulate the autophagosome-lysosome axis provides valuable clues for disease intervention.

Requirements for mammalian promoters to decode transcription factor dynamics.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293 Transgene expression
bioRxiv, 17 Oct 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.10.12.464037 Link to full text
Abstract: In response to different stimuli many transcription factors (TFs) display different activation dynamics that trigger the expression of specific sets of target genes, suggesting that promoters have a way to decode them. Combining optogenetics, deep learning-based image analysis and mathematical modeling, we find that decoding of TF dynamics occurs only when the coupling between TF binding and transcription pre-initiation complex formation is inefficient and that the ability of a promoter to decode TF dynamics gets amplified by inefficient translation initiation. Furthermore, we propose a theoretical mechanism based on phase separation that would allow a promoter to be activated better by pulsatile than sustained TF signals. These results provide an understanding on how TF dynamics are decoded in mammalian cells, which is important to develop optimal strategies to counteract disease conditions, and suggest ways to achieve multiplexing in synthetic pathways.

A small and highly sensitive red/far-red optogenetic switch for applications in mammals.

red PhyA/FHY1 HEK293 mouse in vivo Transgene expression Nucleic acid editing
Nat Biotechnol, 4 Oct 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41587-021-01036-w Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic technologies have transformed our ability to precisely control biological processes in time and space. Yet, current eukaryotic optogenetic systems are limited by large or complex optogenetic modules, long illumination times, low tissue penetration or slow activation and deactivation kinetics. Here, we report a red/far-red light-mediated and miniaturized Δphytochrome A (ΔPhyA)-based photoswitch (REDMAP) system based on the plant photoreceptor PhyA, which rapidly binds the shuttle protein far-red elongated hypocotyl 1 (FHY1) under illumination with 660-nm light with dissociation occurring at 730 nm. We demonstrate multiple applications of REDMAP, including dynamic on/off control of the endogenous Ras/Erk mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade and control of epigenetic remodeling using a REDMAP-mediated CRISPR-nuclease-deactivated Cas9 (CRISPR-dCas9) (REDMAPcas) system in mice. We also demonstrate the utility of REDMAP tools for in vivo applications by activating the expression of transgenes delivered by adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) or incorporated into cells in microcapsules implanted into mice, rats and rabbits illuminated by light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Further, we controlled glucose homeostasis in type 1 diabetic (T1D) mice and rats using REDMAP to trigger insulin expression. REDMAP is a compact and sensitive tool for the precise spatiotemporal control of biological activities in animals with applications in basic biology and potentially therapy.

Optogenetic control of NOTCH1 signalling.

blue LOVTRAP HEK293T MCF7 MDA-MB-468 Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 28 Sep 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.09.27.462029 Link to full text
Abstract: The Notch signalling pathway is a crucial regulator of cell differentiation as well as tissue organisation. Dysregulation of Notch signalling has been linked to the pathogenesis of different diseases. Notch plays a key role in breast cancer progression by controlling the interaction between the tumour cells and the microenvironment as well as by increasing cell motility and invasion. NOTCH1 is a mechanosensitive receptor, where mechanical force is required to activate the proteolytic cleavage and release of the Notch intracellular domain (NICD). Here, we circumvent this step by regulating Notch activity by light. To achieve this, we have engineered a membrane-bound optogenetic NOTCH1 receptor (optoNotch) to control the activation of NOTCH1 intracellular domain (N1ICD) and its downstream transcriptional activities. Using optoNotch we confirm that NOTCH1 activation increases cell proliferation in MCF7 and MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells in 2D and spheroid 3D cultures. OptoNotch allows fine-tuning ligand-independent regulation of N1ICD to understand the spatiotemporal complexity of Notch signalling.

Interaction of tau with HNRNPA2B1 and N6-methyladenosine RNA mediates the progression of tauopathy.

blue CRY2olig HEK293T Neuro-2a primary mouse cortical neurons SH-SY5Y Organelle manipulation
Mol Cell, 20 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2021.07.038 Link to full text
Abstract: The microtubule-associated protein tau oligomerizes, but the actions of oligomeric tau (oTau) are unknown. We have used Cry2-based optogenetics to induce tau oligomers (oTau-c). Optical induction of oTau-c elicits tau phosphorylation, aggregation, and a translational stress response that includes stress granules and reduced protein synthesis. Proteomic analysis identifies HNRNPA2B1 as a principle target of oTau-c. The association of HNRNPA2B1 with endogenous oTau was verified in neurons, animal models, and human Alzheimer brain tissues. Mechanistic studies demonstrate that HNRNPA2B1 functions as a linker, connecting oTau with N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modified RNA transcripts. Knockdown of HNRNPA2B1 prevents oTau or oTau-c from associating with m6A or from reducing protein synthesis and reduces oTau-induced neurodegeneration. Levels of m6A and the m6A-oTau-HNRNPA2B1 complex are increased up to 5-fold in the brains of Alzheimer subjects and P301S tau mice. These results reveal a complex containing oTau, HNRNPA2B1, and m6A that contributes to the integrated stress response of oTau.

An optogenetic proximity labeling approach to probe the composition of inducible biomolecular condensates in cultured cells.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HEK293
STAR Protoc, 22 Jul 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.xpro.2021.100677 Link to full text
Abstract: Inducible biomolecular condensates play fundamental roles in cellular responses to intracellular and environmental cues. Knowledge about their composition is crucial to understand the functions that arise specifically from the assembly of condensates. This protocol combines an optogenetic and an efficient proximity labeling approach to analyze protein modifications driven by protein condensation in cultured cells. Low endogenous biotin level ensures sharp signals. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Frattini et al. (2021).

Circularly permuted AsLOV2 as an optogenetic module for engineering photoswitchable peptides.

blue AsLOV2 cpLOV2 iLID HEK293T S. cerevisiae
Chem Commun (Camb), 22 Jul 2021 DOI: 10.1039/d1cc02643g Link to full text
Abstract: We re-engineered a commonly-used light-sensing protein, AsLOV2, using a circular permutation strategy to allow photoswitchable control of the C-terminus of a peptide. We demonstrate that the circularly permuted AsLOV2 can be used on its own or together with the original AsLOV2 for enhanced caging. In summary, circularly permuted AsLOV2 could expand the engineering capabilities of optogenetic tools.
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