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 176 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Single-Component Optogenetic Tools for Inducible RhoA GTPase Signaling.

blue BcLOV4 HEK293T Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Control of cell-cell / cell-material interactions
Adv Biol (Weinh), 21 Jul 2021 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.202100810 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic tools are created to control RhoA GTPase, a central regulator of actin organization and actomyosin contractility. RhoA GTPase, or its upstream activator ARHGEF11, is fused to BcLOV4, a photoreceptor that can be dynamically recruited to the plasma membrane by a light-regulated protein-lipid electrostatic interaction with the inner leaflet. Direct membrane recruitment of these proteins induces potent contractile signaling sufficient to separate adherens junctions with as little as one pulse of blue light. Induced cytoskeletal morphology changes are dependent on the alignment of the spatially patterned stimulation with the underlying cell polarization. RhoA-mediated cytoskeletal activation drives yes-associated protein (YAP) nuclear localization within minutes and consequent mechanotransduction verified by YAP-transcriptional enhanced associate domain transcriptional activity. These single-transgene tools do not require protein binding partners for dynamic membrane localization and permit spatiotemporally precise control over RhoA signaling to advance the study of its diverse regulatory roles in cell migration, morphogenesis, and cell cycle maintenance.

SPARK: A Transcriptional Assay for Recording Protein-Protein Interactions in a Defined Time Window.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293T
Curr Protoc, Jul 2021 DOI: 10.1002/cpz1.190 Link to full text
Abstract: Protein-protein interactions (PPIs) are ubiquitously involved in cellular processes such as gene expression, enzymatic catalysis, and signal transduction. To study dynamic PPIs, real-time methods such as Förster resonance energy transfer and bioluminescence resonance energy transfer can provide high temporal resolution, but they only allow PPI detection in a limited area at a time and do not permit post-PPI analysis or manipulation of the cells. Integration methods such as the yeast two-hybrid system and split protein systems integrate PPI signals over time and allow subsequent analysis, but they lose information on dynamics. To address some of these limitations, an assay named SPARK (Specific Protein Association tool giving transcriptional Readout with rapid Kinetics) has recently been published. Similar to many existing integrators, SPARK converts PPIs into a transcriptional signal. SPARK, however, also adds blue light as a co-stimulus to achieve temporal gating; SPARK only records PPIs during light stimulation. Here, we describe the procedures for using SPARK assays to study a dynamic PPI of interest, including designing DNA constructs and optimization in HEK293T/17 cell cultures. These protocols are generally applicable to various PPI partners and can be used in different biological contexts. © 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC. Basic Protocol 1: Designing DNA constructs for SPARK Basic Protocol 2: Performing the SPARK assay in HEK293T/17 cell cultures Support Protocol 1: Lentivirus preparation Support Protocol 2: Immunostaining of SPARK components.

Positive feedback between the T cell kinase Zap70 and its substrate LAT acts as a clustering-dependent signaling switch.

blue CRY2/CRY2 iLID HEK293T Jurkat NIH/3T3 SYF Signaling cascade control Organelle manipulation
Cell Rep, 22 Jun 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109280 Link to full text
Abstract: Protein clustering is pervasive in cell signaling, yet how signaling from higher-order assemblies differs from simpler forms of molecular organization is still poorly understood. We present an optogenetic approach to switch between oligomers and heterodimers with a single point mutation. We apply this system to study signaling from the kinase Zap70 and its substrate linker for activation of T cells (LAT), proteins that normally form membrane-localized condensates during T cell activation. We find that fibroblasts expressing synthetic Zap70:LAT clusters activate downstream signaling, whereas one-to-one heterodimers do not. We provide evidence that clusters harbor a positive feedback loop among Zap70, LAT, and Src-family kinases that binds phosphorylated LAT and further activates Zap70. Finally, we extend our optogenetic approach to the native T cell signaling context, where light-induced LAT clustering is sufficient to drive a calcium response. Our study reveals a specific signaling function for protein clusters and identifies a biochemical circuit that robustly senses protein oligomerization state.

A Light-Oxygen-Voltage Receptor Integrates Light and Temperature.

blue PtAU1-LOV RsLOV VfAU1-LOV VVD E. coli HEK293T
J Mol Biol, 17 Jun 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2021.167107 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Spatiotemporally confined red light-controlled gene delivery at single-cell resolution using adeno-associated viral vectors.

red PhyB/PIF6 A-431 A549 CHO-K1 HEK293T HeLa MDA-MB-231 MDA-MB-453 SK-OV-3 Extracellular optogenetics
Sci Adv, 16 Jun 2021 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf0797 Link to full text
Abstract: Methodologies for the controlled delivery of genetic information into target cells are of utmost importance for genetic engineering in both fundamental and applied research. However, available methods for efficient gene transfer into user-selected or even single cells suffer from low throughput, the need for complicated equipment, high invasiveness, or side effects by off-target viral uptake. Here, we engineer an adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector system that transfers genetic information into native target cells upon illumination with cell-compatible red light. This OptoAAV system allows adjustable and spatially resolved gene transfer down to single-cell resolution and is compatible with different cell lines and primary cells. Moreover, the sequential application of multiple OptoAAVs enables spatially resolved transduction with different transgenes. The approach presented is likely extendable to other classes of viral vectors and is expected to foster advances in basic and applied genetic research.

Smart-watch-programmed green-light-operated percutaneous control of therapeutic transgenes.

green near-infrared BphP1/Q-PAS1 TtCBD HEK293T Transgene expression
Nat Commun, 7 Jun 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-23572-4 Link to full text
Abstract: Wearable smart electronic devices, such as smart watches, are generally equipped with green-light-emitting diodes, which are used for photoplethysmography to monitor a panoply of physical health parameters. Here, we present a traceless, green-light-operated, smart-watch-controlled mammalian gene switch (Glow Control), composed of an engineered membrane-tethered green-light-sensitive cobalamin-binding domain of Thermus thermophilus (TtCBD) CarH protein in combination with a synthetic cytosolic TtCBD-transactivator fusion protein, which manage translocation of TtCBD-transactivator into the nucleus to trigger expression of transgenes upon illumination. We show that Apple-Watch-programmed percutaneous remote control of implanted Glow-controlled engineered human cells can effectively treat experimental type-2 diabetes by producing and releasing human glucagon-like peptide-1 on demand. Directly interfacing wearable smart electronic devices with therapeutic gene expression will advance next-generation personalized therapies by linking biopharmaceutical interventions to the internet of things.
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