Showing 1 - 25 of 167 results
Optogenetic Protein Cleavage in Zebrafish Embryos.
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.
Optogenetic activators of apoptosis, necroptosis, and pyroptosis.
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.
Optical control of protein delivery and partitioning in the nucleolus.
The nucleolus is a subnuclear membraneless compartment intimately involved in ribosomal RNA synthesis, ribosome biogenesis and stress response. Multiple optogenetic devices have been developed to manipulate nuclear protein import and export, but molecular tools tailored for remote control over selective targeting or partitioning of cargo proteins into subnuclear compartments capable of phase separation are still limited. Here, we report a set of single-component photoinducible nucleolus-targeting tools, designated pNUTs, to enable rapid and reversible nucleoplasm-to-nucleolus shuttling, with the half-lives ranging from milliseconds to minutes. pNUTs allow both global protein infiltration into nucleoli and local delivery of cargoes into the outermost layer of the nucleolus, the granular component. When coupled with the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)-associated C9ORF72 proline/arginine-rich dipeptide repeats, pNUTs allow us to photomanipulate poly-proline-arginine nucleolar localization, perturb nucleolar protein nucleophosmin 1 and suppress nascent protein synthesis. pNUTs thus expand the optogenetic toolbox by permitting light-controllable interrogation of nucleolar functions and precise induction of ALS-associated toxicity in cellular models.
Regulation of EGF-stimulated activation of the PI-3K/AKT pathway by exocyst-mediated exocytosis.
The phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI-3K)/AKT cell survival pathway is an important pathway activated by EGFR signaling. Here we show, that in addition to previously described critical components of this pathway, i.e., the docking protein Gab1, the PI-3K/AKT pathway in epithelial cells is regulated by the exocyst complex, which is a vesicle tether that is essential for exocytosis. Using live-cell imaging, we demonstrate that PI(3,4,5)P3 levels fluctuate at the membrane on a minutes time scale and that these fluctuations are associated with local PI(3,4,5)P3 increases at sites where recycling vesicles undergo exocytic fusion. Supporting a role for exocytosis in PI(3,4,5)P3 generation, acute promotion of exocytosis by optogenetically driving exocyst-mediated vesicle tethering upregulates PI(3,4,5)P3 production and AKT activation. Conversely, acute inhibition of exocytosis using Endosidin2, a small-molecule inhibitor of the exocyst subunit Exo70, impairs PI(3,4,5)P3 production and AKT activation induced by EGF stimulation of epithelial cells. Moreover, prolonged inhibition of EGF signaling by EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors results in spontaneous reactivation of AKT without a concomitant relief of EGFR inhibition. However, this reactivation can be negated by acutely inhibiting the exocyst. These experiments demonstrate that exocyst-mediated exocytosis – by regulating PI(3,4,5)P3 levels at the plasma membrane – subserves activation of the PI-3K/AKT pathway by EGFR in epithelial cells.
Optical Sensors and Actuators for Probing Proximity-Dependent Biotinylation in Living Cells.
Proximity-dependent biotinylation techniques have been gaining wide applications in the systematic analysis of protein-protein interactions (PPIs) on a proteome-wide scale in living cells. The engineered biotin ligase TurboID is among the most widely adopted given its enhanced biotinylation efficiency, but it faces the background biotinylation complication that might confound proteomic data interpretation. To address this issue, we report herein a set of split TurboID variants that can be reversibly assembled by using light (designated "OptoID"), which enable optogenetic control of biotinylation based proximity labeling in living cells. OptoID could be further coupled with an engineered monomeric streptavidin that permits real-time monitoring of biotinylation with high temporal precision. These optical actuators and sensors will likely find broad applications in precise proximity proteomics and rapid detection of biotinylation in living cells.
Compartmentalization of telomeres through DNA-scaffolded phase separation.
Telomeres form unique nuclear compartments that prevent degradation and fusion of chromosome ends by recruiting shelterin proteins and regulating access of DNA damage repair factors. To understand how these dynamic components protect chromosome ends, we combine in vivo biophysical interrogation and in vitro reconstitution of human shelterin. We show that shelterin components form multicomponent liquid condensates with selective biomolecular partitioning on telomeric DNA. Tethering and anomalous diffusion prevent multiple telomeres from coalescing into a single condensate in mammalian cells. However, telomeres coalesce when brought into contact via an optogenetic approach. TRF1 and TRF2 subunits of shelterin drive phase separation, and their N-terminal domains specify interactions with telomeric DNA in vitro. Telomeric condensates selectively recruit telomere-associated factors and regulate access of DNA damage repair factors. We propose that shelterin mediates phase separation of telomeric chromatin, which underlies the dynamic yet persistent nature of the end-protection mechanism.
Mechanical strain stimulates COPII-dependent trafficking via Rac1.
Secretory trafficking from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is subject to regulation by extrinsic and intrinsic factors. While much of the focus has been on biochemical triggers, little is known whether and how the ER is subject to regulation by mechanical signals. Here, we show that COPII-dependent ER-export is regulated by mechanical strain. Mechanotransduction to the ER was mediated via a previously unappreciated ER-localized pool of the small GTPase Rac1. Mechanistically, we show that Rac1 interacts with the small GTPase Sar1 to drive budding of COPII carriers and stimulate ER-to-Golgi transport. Altogether, we establish an unprecedented link between mechanical strain and export from the ER.
Gasdermin D pores are dynamically regulated by local phosphoinositide circuitry.
Gasdermin D forms large, ~21 nm diameter pores in the plasma membrane to drive the cell death program pyroptosis. These pores are thought to be permanently open, and the resultant osmotic imbalance is thought to be highly damaging. Yet some cells mitigate and survive pore formation, suggesting an undiscovered layer of regulation over the function of these pores. However, no methods exist to directly reveal these mechanistic details. Here, we combine optogenetic tools, live cell fluorescence biosensing, and electrophysiology to demonstrate that gasdermin pores display phosphoinositide-dependent dynamics. We quantify repeated and fast opening-closing of these pores on the tens of seconds timescale, visualize the dynamic pore geometry, and identify the signaling that controls dynamic pore activity. The identification of this circuit allows pharmacological tuning of pyroptosis and control of inflammatory cytokine release by living cells.
Optogenetic control of RNA function and metabolism using engineered light-switchable RNA-binding proteins.
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.
Optogenetic Activation of Intracellular Nanobodies.
Intracellular antibody fragments such as nanobodies and scFvs are powerful tools for imaging and for modulating and neutralizing endogenous target proteins. Optogenetically activated intracellular antibodies (optobodies) constitute a light-inducible system to directly control intrabody activities in cells, with greater spatial and temporal resolution than intracellular antibodies alone. Here, we describe optogenetic and microscopic methods to activate optobodies in cells using a confocal microscope and an automated fluorescence microscope. In the protocol, we use the examples of an optobody targeting green fluorescent protein and an optobody that inhibits the endogenous gelsolin protein.
Opto-Katanin: An Optogenetic Tool for Localized Microtubule Disassembly.
Microtubules are major cytoskeletal filaments that drive chromosome separation during cell division, serve as rails for intracellular transport and as a scaffold for organelle positioning. Experimental manipulation of microtubules is widely used in cell and developmental biology, but tools for precise subcellular spatiotemporal control of microtubule integrity are currently lacking. Here, we exploit the dependence of the mammalian microtubule-severing protein katanin on microtubule-targeting co-factors to generate a light-activated system for localized microtubule disassembly that we named opto-katanin. Targeted illumination with blue light induces rapid and localized opto-katanin recruitment and local microtubule depolymerization, which is quickly reversible after stopping light-induced activation. Opto-katanin can be employed to locally perturb microtubule-based transport and organelle morphology in dividing cells and differentiated neurons with high spatiotemporal precision. We show that different microtubule-associated proteins can be used to recruit opto-katanin to microtubules and induce severing, paving the way for spatiotemporally precise manipulation of specific microtubule subpopulations.
An active tethering mechanism controls the fate of vesicles.
Vesicle tethers are thought to underpin the efficiency of intracellular fusion by bridging vesicles to their target membranes. However, the interplay between tethering and fusion has remained enigmatic. Here, through optogenetic control of either a natural tether-the exocyst complex-or an artificial tether, we report that tethering regulates the mode of fusion. We find that vesicles mainly undergo kiss-and-run instead of full fusion in the absence of functional exocyst. Full fusion is rescued by optogenetically restoring exocyst function, in a manner likely dependent on the stoichiometry of tether engagement with the plasma membrane. In contrast, a passive artificial tether produces mostly kissing events, suggesting that kiss-and-run is the default mode of vesicle fusion. Optogenetic control of tethering further shows that fusion mode has physiological relevance since only full fusion could trigger lamellipodial expansion. These findings demonstrate that active coupling between tethering and fusion is critical for robust membrane merger.
Revisiting the Role of TGFβ Receptor Internalization for Smad Signaling: It is Not Required in Optogenetic TGFβ Signaling Systems.
Endocytosis is an important process by which many signaling receptors reach their intracellular effectors. Accumulating evidence suggests that internalized receptors play critical roles in triggering cellular signaling, including transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) signaling. Despite intensive studies on the TGFβ pathway over the last decades, the necessity of TGFβ receptor endocytosis for downstream TGFβ signaling responses is a subject of debate. In this study, mathematical modeling and synthetic biology approaches are combined to re-evaluate whether TGFβ receptor internalization is indispensable for inducing Smad signaling. It is found that optogenetic systems with plasma membrane-tethered TGFβ receptors can induce fast and sustained Smad2 activation upon light stimulations. Modeling analysis suggests that endocytosis is precluded for the membrane-anchored optogenetic TGFβ receptors. Therefore, this study provides new evidence to support that TGFβ receptor internalization is not required for Smad2 activation.
Optogenetic activators of apoptosis, necroptosis and pyroptosis for probing cell death dynamics and bystander cell responses.
Targeted and specific induction of cell death in individual or groups of cells holds 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 Cryptochrome2. OptoCDEs enable 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 the neighboring cell response to apoptotic or necrotic PCD, revealing a new role for shingosine-1-phosphate signaling in regulating the efferocytosis of apoptotic cell by epithelia.
Light-Inducible Spatio-Temporal Control of TLR4 and NF-κB-Gluc Reporter in Human Pancreatic Cell Line.
Augmented Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) expression was found in nearly 70% of patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, which is correlated with increased tumorigenesis and progression. In this study, we engineered a new light-oxygen-voltage-sensing (LOV) domain-based optogenetic cell line (opto-TLR4 PANC-1) that enables time-resolved activation of the NF-κB and extracellular-signal regulated kinases (ERK)1/2 signalling pathway upon blue light-sensitive homodimerisation of the TLR4-LOV fusion protein. Continuous stimulation with light indicated strong p65 and ERK1/2 phosphorylation even after 24 h, whereas brief light exposure peaked at 8 h and reached the ground level 24 h post-illumination. The cell line further allows a voltage-dependent TLR4 activation, which can be continuously monitored, turned on by light or off in the dark. Using this cell line, we performed different phenotypic cell-based assays with 2D and 3D cultures, with the aim of controlling cellular activity with spatial and temporal precision. Light exposure enhanced cell attachment, the formation and extension of invadopodia, and cell migration in 3D spheroid cultures, but no significant changes in proliferation or viability could be detected. We conclude that the opto-TLR4 PANC-1 cell line is an ideal tool for investigating the underlying molecular mechanisms of TLR4, thereby providing strategies for new therapeutic options.
Single-component near-infrared optogenetic systems for gene transcription regulation.
Near-infrared (NIR) optogenetic systems for transcription regulation are in high demand because NIR light exhibits low phototoxicity, low scattering, and allows combining with probes of visible range. However, available NIR optogenetic systems consist of several protein components of large size and multidomain structure. Here, we engineer single-component NIR systems consisting of evolved photosensory core module of Idiomarina sp. bacterial phytochrome, named iLight, which are smaller and packable in adeno-associated virus. We characterize iLight in vitro and in gene transcription repression in bacterial and gene transcription activation in mammalian cells. Bacterial iLight system shows 115-fold repression of protein production. Comparing to multi-component NIR systems, mammalian iLight system exhibits higher activation of 65-fold in cells and faster 6-fold activation in deep tissues of mice. Neurons transduced with viral-encoded iLight system exhibit 50-fold induction of fluorescent reporter. NIR light-induced neuronal expression of green-light-activatable CheRiff channelrhodopsin causes 20-fold increase of photocurrent and demonstrates efficient spectral multiplexing.
TOR signaling regulates liquid phase separation of the SMN complex governing snRNP biogenesis.
The activity of the SMN complex in promoting the assembly of pre-mRNA processing UsnRNPs correlates with condensation of the complex in nuclear Cajal bodies. While mechanistic details of its activity have been elucidated, the molecular basis for condensation remains unclear. High SMN complex phosphorylation suggests extensive regulation. Here, we report on systematic siRNA-based screening for modulators of the capacity of SMN to condense in Cajal bodies and identify mTOR and ribosomal protein S6 kinase β-1 as key regulators. Proteomic analysis reveals TOR-dependent phosphorylations in SMN complex subunits. Using stably expressed or optogenetically controlled phospho mutants, we demonstrate that serine 49 and 63 phosphorylation of human SMN controls the capacity of the complex to condense in Cajal bodies via liquid-liquid phase separation. Our findings link SMN complex condensation and UsnRNP biogenesis to cellular energy levels and suggest modulation of TOR signaling as a rational concept for therapy of the SMN-linked neuromuscular disorder spinal muscular atrophy.
Spatiotemporally confined red light-controlled gene delivery at single-cell resolution using adeno-associated viral vectors.
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.
Temporal induction of Lhx8 by optogenetic control system for efficient bone regeneration.
The spatiotemporal regulation of essential genes is crucial for controlling the growth and differentiation of cells in a precise manner during regeneration. Recently, optogenetics was considered as a potent technology for sophisticated regulation of target genes, which might be a promising tool for regenerative medicine. In this study, we used an optogenetic control system to precisely regulate the expression of Lhx8 to promote efficient bone regeneration.
Light-inducible deformation of mitochondria in live cells.
Mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, are dynamic organelles that undergo constant morphological changes. Increasing evidence indicates that mitochondria morphologies and functions can be modulated by mechanical cues. However, the mechano-sensing and -responding properties of mitochondria and the relation between mitochondrial morphologies and functions are unclear due to the lack of methods to precisely exert mechano-stimulation on and deform mitochondria inside live cells. Here, we present an optogenetic approach that uses light to induce deformation of mitochondria by recruiting molecular motors to the outer mitochondrial membrane via light-activated protein-protein hetero-dimerization. Mechanical forces generated by motor proteins distort the outer membrane, during which the inner mitochondrial membrane can also be deformed. Moreover, this optical method can achieve subcellular spatial precision and be combined with different optical dimerizers and molecular motors. This method presents a mitochondria-specific mechano-stimulator for studying mitochondria mechanobiology and the interplay between mitochondria shapes and functions.
Photon Upconversion Hydrogels for 3D Optogenetics.
The ability to optically induce biological responses in 3D has been dwarfed by the physical limitations of visible light penetration to trigger photochemical processes. However, many biological systems are relatively transparent to low-energy light, which does not provide sufficient energy to induce photochemistry in 3D. To overcome this challenge, hydrogels that are capable of converting red or near-IR (NIR) light into blue light within the cell-laden 3D scaffolds are developed. The upconverted light can then excite optically active proteins in cells to trigger a photochemical response. The hydrogels operate by triplet–triplet annihilation upconversion. As proof-of-principle, it is found that the hydrogels trigger an optogenetic response by red/NIR irradiation of HeLa cells that have been engineered to express the blue-light sensitive protein Cry2olig. While it is remarkable to photoinduce the clustering of Cry2olig with blanket NIR irradiation in 3D, it is also demonstrated how the hydrogels trigger clustering within a single cell with great specificity and spatiotemporal control. In principle, these hydrogels may allow for photochemical control of cell function within 3D scaffolds, which can lead to a wealth of fundamental studies and biochemical applications.
Changes in tongue-palatal contact during swallowing in patients with skeletal mandibular prognathism after orthognathic surgery.
This study aimed to evaluate improvement of tongue-palatal contact patterns during swallowing after orthognathic surgery in mandibular prognathism patients. Thirty patients with mandibular prognathism treated by orthognathic surgery (average age of 27 years, 3 months) and 10 controls (average age 29 years, 6 months) participated in this study. Tongue-palatal contact patterns of patients before and three months after surgery were evaluated by electropalatography (EPG) as well as controls. Whole total of tongue-palatal contact at 0.3, 0.2, and 0.1 sec before complete tongue-palatal contact during swallowing were evaluated. The duration of swallowing phases was also examined. Complete contact of tongue-tip in the alveolar part of individual artificial EPG plate were shown at 0.3, 0.2, and 0.1 sec before complete tongue-palatal contact in the controls, although incomplete contact in the alveolar part were shown at 0.3 sec in mandibular prognathism patients. Whole total of tongue-palatal contact at 0.3 and 0.2 sec before complete tongue-palatal contact was significantly lower in the patients before surgery than in the controls (p<0.05). However, these values increased after surgery. The duration of oral and pharyngeal phase was significantly longer in the patients before surgery than in the controls and the patients after surgery (p<0.01). This study demonstrated that the tongue-palatal contact pattern improved and the duration of oral and pharyngeal phase was shortened in mandibular prognathism patients during swallowing after orthognathic surgery. It is suggested that changes in maxillofacial morphology by orthognathic surgery can induce normal tongue movement during swallowing. (The data underlying this study have been uploaded to figshare and are accessible using the following DOI: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.14101616.v1).
Circularly permuted LOV2 as a modular photoswitch for optogenetic engineering.
Plant-based photosensors, such as the light-oxygen-voltage sensing domain 2 (LOV2) from oat phototropin 1, can be modularly wired into cell signaling networks to remotely control protein activity and physiological processes. However, the applicability of LOV2 is hampered by the limited choice of available caging surfaces and its preference to accommodate the effector domains downstream of the C-terminal Jα helix. Here, we engineered a set of LOV2 circular permutants (cpLOV2) with additional caging capabilities, thereby expanding the repertoire of genetically encoded photoswitches to accelerate the design of optogenetic devices. We demonstrate the use of cpLOV2-based optogenetic tools to reversibly gate ion channels, antagonize CRISPR-Cas9-mediated genome engineering, control protein subcellular localization, reprogram transcriptional outputs, elicit cell suicide and generate photoactivatable chimeric antigen receptor T cells for inducible tumor cell killing. Our approach is widely applicable for engineering other photoreceptors to meet the growing need of optogenetic tools tailored for biomedical and biotechnological applications.
Optogenetic Control of Non-Apoptotic Cell Death.
Herein, a set of optogenetic tools (designated LiPOP) that enable photoswitchable necroptosis and pyroptosis in live cells with varying kinetics, is introduced. The LiPOP tools allow reconstruction of the key molecular steps involved in these two non-apoptotic cell death pathways by harnessing the power of light. Further, the use of LiPOPs coupled with upconversion nanoparticles or bioluminescence is demonstrated to achieve wireless optogenetic or chemo-optogenetic killing of cancer cells in multiple mouse tumor models. LiPOPs can trigger necroptotic and pyroptotic cell death in cultured prokaryotic or eukaryotic cells and in living animals, and set the stage for studying the role of non-apoptotic cell death pathways during microbial infection and anti-tumor immunity.
Synthetic Protein Condensates That Inducibly Recruit and Release Protein Activity in Living Cells.
Compartmentation of proteins into biomolecular condensates or membraneless organelles formed by phase separation is an emerging principle for the regulation of cellular processes. Creating synthetic condensates that accommodate specific intracellular proteins on demand would have various applications in chemical biology, cell engineering, and synthetic biology. Here, we report the construction of synthetic protein condensates capable of recruiting and/or releasing proteins of interest in living mammalian cells in response to a small molecule or light. By a modular combination of a tandem fusion of two oligomeric proteins, which forms phase-separated synthetic protein condensates in cells, with a chemically induced dimerization tool, we first created a chemogenetic protein condensate system that can rapidly recruit target proteins from the cytoplasm to the condensates by addition of a small-molecule dimerizer. We next coupled the protein-recruiting condensate system with an engineered proximity-dependent protease, which gave a second protein condensate system wherein target proteins previously expressed inside the condensates are released into the cytoplasm by small-molecule-triggered protease recruitment. Furthermore, an optogenetic condensate system that allows reversible release and sequestration of protein activity in a repeatable manner using light was constructed successfully. These condensate systems were applicable to control protein activity and cellular processes such as membrane ruffling and ERK signaling in a time scale of minutes. This proof-of-principle work provides a new platform for chemogenetic and optogenetic control of protein activity in mammalian cells and represents a step toward tailor-made engineering of synthetic protein condensate-based soft materials with various functionalities for biological and biomedical applications.