Showing 1 - 12 of 12 results
Concept and considerations of a medical device: the active noise cancelling incubator.
An increasingly 24/7 connected and urbanised world has created a silent pandemic of noise-induced hearing loss. Ensuring survival to children born (extremely) preterm is crucial. The incubator is a closed medical device, modifying the internal climate, and thus providing an environment for the child, as safe, warm, and comfortable as possible. While sound outside the incubator is managed and has decreased over the years, managing the noise inside the incubator is still a challenge.
Spatiotemporal control of ERK pulse frequency coordinates fate decisions during mammary acinar morphogenesis.
The signaling events controlling proliferation, survival, and apoptosis during mammary epithelial acinar morphogenesis remain poorly characterized. By imaging single-cell ERK activity dynamics in MCF10A acini, we find that these fates depend on the average frequency of non-periodic ERK pulses. High pulse frequency is observed during initial acinus growth, correlating with rapid cell motility and proliferation. Subsequent decrease in motility correlates with lower ERK pulse frequency and quiescence. Later, during lumen formation, coordinated multicellular ERK waves emerge, correlating with high and low ERK pulse frequencies in outer surviving and inner dying cells, respectively. Optogenetic entrainment of ERK pulses causally connects high ERK pulse frequency with inner cell survival. Acini harboring the PIK3CA H1047R mutation display increased ERK pulse frequency and inner cell survival. Thus, fate decisions during acinar morphogenesis are coordinated by different spatiotemporal modalities of ERK pulse frequency.
Optogenetic control of RelA reveals effect of transcription factor dynamics on downstream gene expression.
Many transcription factors (TFs) translocate to the nucleus with varied dynamic patterns in response to different inputs. A notable example of such behavior is RelA, a subunit of NF-κB, which translocates to the nucleus with either pulsed or sustained dynamics, depending on the stimulus. Our understanding of how these dynamics are interpreted by downstream genes has remained incomplete, partly because ubiquitously used environmental inputs activate other transcriptional regulators in addition to RelA. Here, we use an optogenetic tool, CLASP (controllable light-activated shuttling and plasma membrane sequestration), to control RelA spatiotemporal dynamics in mouse fibroblasts and quantify their effect on downstream genes using RNA-seq. Using RelA-CLASP, we show for the first time that nuclear translocation of RelA, without post-translational modifications or activation of other transcriptional regulators, is sufficient to activate downstream genes. Furthermore, we find that TNFα, a common endogenous input, regulates many genes independently of RelA, and that this gene regulation is different from that induced by RelA-CLASP. Genes responsive to RelA-CLASP show a wide range of dynamics in response to a constant RelA input. We use a simple promoter model to recapitulate these diverse dynamic responses, as well as data collected in response to a pulsed RelA-CLASP input, and extract features of many RelA-responsive promoters. We also pinpoint many genes for which more complex models, involving feedback or multi-step promoters, may be needed to explain their response to constant and pulsed TF inputs. This study introduces a new robust tool for studying mammalian transcriptional regulation and demonstrates the power of optogenetic tools in dissecting the quantitative features of important cellular pathways.
LITOS: a versatile LED illumination tool for optogenetic stimulation.
Optogenetics has become a key tool to manipulate biological processes with high spatio-temporal resolution. Recently, a number of commercial and open-source multi-well illumination devices have been developed to provide throughput in optogenetics experiments. However, available commercial devices remain expensive and lack flexibility, while open-source solutions require programming knowledge and/or include complex assembly processes. We present a LED Illumination Tool for Optogenetic Stimulation (LITOS) based on an assembled printed circuit board controlling a commercially available 32 × 64 LED matrix as illumination source. LITOS can be quickly assembled without any soldering, and includes an easy-to-use interface, accessible via a website hosted on the device itself. Complex light stimulation patterns can easily be programmed without coding expertise. LITOS can be used with different formats of multi-well plates, petri dishes, and flasks. We validated LITOS by measuring the activity of the MAPK/ERK signaling pathway in response to different dynamic light stimulation regimes using FGFR1 and Raf optogenetic actuators. LITOS can uniformly stimulate all the cells in a well and allows for flexible temporal stimulation schemes. LITOS's affordability and ease of use aims at democratizing optogenetics in any laboratory.
Automatic detection of spatio-temporal signalling patterns in cell collectives.
An increasing experimental evidence points to physiological importance of space-time correlations in signalling of cell collectives. From wound healing to epithelial homeostasis to morphogenesis, coordinated activation of bio-molecules between cells allows the collectives to perform more complex tasks and better tackle environmental challenges. To understand this information exchange and to advance new theories of emergent phenomena, we created ARCOS, a computational method to detect and quantify collective signalling. We demonstrate ARCOS on cell and organism collectives with space-time correlations on different scales in 2D and 3D. We make a new observation that oncogenic mutations in the MAPK/ERK and PIK3CA/Akt pathways of MCF10A epithelial cells induce ERK activity waves with different size, duration, and frequency. The open-source implementations of ARCOS are available as R and Python packages, and as a plugin for napari image viewer to interactively quantify collective phenomena without prior programming experience.
Upregulated flotillins and sphingosine kinase 2 derail AXL vesicular traffic to promote epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
Altered endocytosis and vesicular trafficking are major players during tumorigenesis. Flotillin overexpression, a feature observed in many invasive tumors and identified as a marker of poor prognosis, induces a deregulated endocytic and trafficking pathway called upregulated flotillin-induced trafficking (UFIT). Here, we found that in non-tumoral mammary epithelial cells, induction of the UFIT pathway promotes epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and accelerates the endocytosis of several transmembrane receptors, including AXL, in flotillin-positive late endosomes. AXL overexpression, frequently observed in cancer cells, is linked to EMT and metastasis formation. In flotillin-overexpressing non-tumoral mammary epithelial cells and in invasive breast carcinoma cells, we found that the UFIT pathway-mediated AXL endocytosis allows its stabilization and depends on sphingosine kinase 2, a lipid kinase recruited in flotillin-rich plasma membrane domains and endosomes. Thus, the deregulation of vesicular trafficking following flotillin upregulation, and through sphingosine kinase 2, emerges as a new mechanism of AXL overexpression and EMT-inducing signaling pathway activation.
The rate of information transmission through the MAPK/ERK signaling pathway stimulated in a pulsatile manner.
Many intracellular signaling pathways, including the MAPK/ERK cascade, respond to an external stimulus in a yes-or-no manner. This has been reflected in estimates of the amount of information a single cell can transmit about the amplitude of an applied (and sustained) input signal, which turns out to only slightly exceed 1 bit. More information, however, can potentially be transmitted in response to time-varying stimulation. In this work, we find a lower bound of the MAPK/ERK signaling channel capacity. We use an epithelial cell line expressing an ERK activity reporter and an optogenetically modified fibroblast growth factor receptor, which allows triggering eventual ERK activity by short light pulses. We observe that it is possible to reconstruct the stimulatory input pattern with five-minute delay and one-minute resolution. By stimulating the cells with random pulse trains we demonstrate that the information transmission rate through the MAPK/ERK pathway can exceed 6 bits per hour. Such high information transmission rate allows the MAPK/ERK pathway to coordinate multiple processes including cell movement.
Substratum stiffness regulates Erk signaling dynamics through receptor-level control.
The EGFR/Erk pathway is triggered by extracellular ligand stimulation, leading to stimulus-dependent dynamics of pathway activity. Although mechanical properties of the microenvironment also affect Erk activity, their effects on Erk signaling dynamics are poorly understood. Here, we characterize how the stiffness of the underlying substratum affects Erk signaling dynamics in mammary epithelial cells. We find that soft microenvironments attenuate Erk signaling, both at steady state and in response to epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulation. Optogenetic manipulation at multiple signaling nodes reveals that intracellular signal transmission is largely unaffected by substratum stiffness. Instead, we find that soft microenvironments decrease EGF receptor (EGFR) expression and alter the amount and spatial distribution of EGF binding at cell membranes. Our data demonstrate that the mechanical microenvironment tunes Erk signaling dynamics via receptor-ligand interactions, underscoring how multiple microenvironmental signals are jointly processed through a highly conserved pathway that regulates tissue development, homeostasis, and disease progression.
Collective ERK/Akt activity waves orchestrate epithelial homeostasis by driving apoptosis-induced survival.
Cell death events continuously challenge epithelial barrier function yet are crucial to eliminate old or critically damaged cells. How such apoptotic events are spatio-temporally organized to maintain epithelial homeostasis remains unclear. We observe waves of extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and AKT serine/threonine kinase (Akt) activity pulses that originate from apoptotic cells and propagate radially to healthy surrounding cells. This requires epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) signaling. At the single-cell level, ERK/Akt waves act as spatial survival signals that locally protect cells in the vicinity of the epithelial injury from apoptosis for a period of 3-4 h. At the cell population level, ERK/Akt waves maintain epithelial homeostasis (EH) in response to mild or intense environmental insults. Disruption of this spatial signaling system results in the inability of a model epithelial tissue to ensure barrier function in response to environmental insults.
Spatio-temporal Control of ERK Pulse Frequency Coordinates Fate Decisions during Mammary Acinar Morphogenesis.
The signaling events controlling proliferation, survival, and apoptosis during mammary epithelial acinar morphogenesis remain poorly characterized. By imaging single-cell ERK activity dynamics in MCF10A acini, we find that these fates depend on the frequency of ERK pulses. High pulse frequency is observed during initial acinus growth, correlating with rapid cell motility. Subsequent decrease in motility correlates with lower ERK pulse frequency and quiescence. Later, during lumen formation, coordinated ERK waves emerge across multiple cells of an acinus, correlating with high and low ERK pulse frequency in outer surviving and inner dying cells respectively. A PIK3CA H1047R mutation, commonly observed in breast cancer, increases ERK pulse frequency and inner cell survival, causing loss of lumen formation. Optogenetic entrainment of ERK pulses causally connects high ERK pulse frequency with inner cell survival. Thus, fate decisions during acinar morphogenesis are fine-tuned by different spatio-temporal coordination modalities of ERK pulse frequency.
A Rac1-FMNL2 signaling module affects cell-cell contact formation independent of Cdc42 and membrane protrusions.
De novo formation of epithelial cell-cell contacts relies on actin-based protrusions as well as tightly controlled turnover of junctional actin once cells encounter each other and adhesion complexes assemble. The specific contributions of individual actin regulators on either protrusion formation or junctional actin turnover remain largely unexplored. Based on our previous findings of Formin-like 2 (FMNL2)-mediated control of junctional actin dynamics, we investigated its potential role in membrane protrusions and impact on newly forming epithelial contacts. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated loss of FMNL2 in human MCF10A cells combined with optogenetic control of Rac1 activity confirmed its critical function in the establishment of intercellular contacts. While lamellipodial protrusion rates remained unaffected, FMNL2 knockout cells were characterized by impaired filopodia formation similar to depletion of the Rho GTPase Cdc42. Silencing of Cdc42, however, failed to affect FMNL2-mediated contact formation. Hence, we propose a cell-cell contact-specific and Rac1-mediated function of FMNL2 entirely independent of Cdc42. Consistent with this, direct visualizations of native epithelial junction formation revealed a striking and specifically Rac1- and not Cdc42-dependent recruitment of FMNL2 to newly forming junctions as well as established cell-cell contacts within epithelial sheets.
Junctional actin assembly is mediated by Formin-like 2 downstream of Rac1.
Epithelial integrity is vitally important, and its deregulation causes early stage cancer. De novo formation of an adherens junction (AJ) between single epithelial cells requires coordinated, spatial actin dynamics, but the mechanisms steering nascent actin polymerization for cell-cell adhesion initiation are not well understood. Here we investigated real-time actin assembly during daughter cell-cell adhesion formation in human breast epithelial cells in 3D environments. We identify formin-like 2 (FMNL2) as being specifically required for actin assembly and turnover at newly formed cell-cell contacts as well as for human epithelial lumen formation. FMNL2 associates with components of the AJ complex involving Rac1 activity and the FMNL2 C terminus. Optogenetic control of Rac1 in living cells rapidly drove FMNL2 to epithelial cell-cell contact zones. Furthermore, Rac1-induced actin assembly and subsequent AJ formation critically depends on FMNL2. These data uncover FMNL2 as a driver for human epithelial AJ formation downstream of Rac1.