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Physical Plasma Membrane Perturbation Using Subcellular Optogenetics Drives Integrin-Activated Cell Migration.
Cells experience physical deformations to the plasma membrane that can modulate cell behaviors like migration. Understanding the molecular basis for how physical cues affect dynamic cellular responses requires new approaches that can physically perturb the plasma membrane with rapid, reversible, subcellular control. Here we present an optogenetic approach based on light-inducible dimerization that alters plasma membrane properties by recruiting cytosolic proteins at high concentrations to a target site. Surprisingly, this polarized accumulation of proteins in a cell induces directional amoeboid migration in the opposite direction. Consistent with known effects of constraining high concentrations of proteins to a membrane in vitro, there is localized curvature and tension decrease in the plasma membrane. Integrin activity, sensitive to mechanical forces, is activated in this region. Localized mechanical activation of integrin with optogenetics allowed simultaneous imaging of the molecular and cellular response, helping uncover a positive feedback loop comprising SFK- and ERK-dependent RhoA activation, actomyosin contractility, rearward membrane flow, and membrane tension decrease underlying this mode of cell migration.
Membrane Flow Drives an Adhesion-Independent Amoeboid Cell Migration Mode.
Cells migrate by applying rearward forces against extracellular media. It is unclear how this is achieved in amoeboid migration, which lacks adhesions typical of lamellipodia-driven mesenchymal migration. To address this question, we developed optogenetically controlled models of lamellipodia-driven and amoeboid migration. On a two-dimensional surface, migration speeds in both modes were similar. However, when suspended in liquid, only amoeboid cells exhibited rapid migration accompanied by rearward membrane flow. These cells exhibited increased endocytosis at the back and membrane trafficking from back to front. Genetic or pharmacological perturbation of this polarized trafficking inhibited migration. The ratio of cell migration and membrane flow speeds matched the predicted value from a model where viscous forces tangential to the cell-liquid interface propel the cell forward. Since this mechanism does not require specific molecular interactions with the surrounding medium, it can facilitate amoeboid migration observed in diverse microenvironments during immune function and cancer metastasis.
Optogenetic Control of Cell Migration.
Subcellular optogenetics allows specific proteins to be optically activated or inhibited at a restricted subcellular location in intact living cells. It provides unprecedented control of dynamic cell behaviors. Optically modulating the activity of signaling molecules on one side of a cell helps optically control cell polarization and directional cell migration. Combining subcellular optogenetics with live cell imaging of the induced molecular and cellular responses in real time helps decipher the spatially and temporally dynamic molecular mechanisms that control a stereotypical complex cell behavior, cell migration. Here we describe methods for optogenetic control of cell migration by targeting three classes of key signaling switches that mediate directional cellular chemotaxis-G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), heterotrimeric G proteins, and Rho family monomeric G proteins.
Two independent but synchronized Gβγ subunit-controlled pathways are essential for trailing-edge retraction during macrophage migration.
Chemokine-induced directional cell migration is a universal cellular mechanism and plays crucial roles in numerous biological processes, including embryonic development, immune system function, and tissue remodeling and regeneration. During the migration of a stationary cell, the cell polarizes, forms lamellipodia at the leading edge (LE), and triggers the concurrent retraction of the trailing edge (TE). During cell migration governed by inhibitory G protein (Gi)-coupled receptors (GPCRs), G protein βγ (Gβγ) subunits control the LE signaling. Interestingly, TE retraction has been linked to the activation of the small GTPase Ras homolog family member A (RhoA) by the Gα12/13 pathway. However, it is not clear how the activation of Gi-coupled GPCRs at the LE orchestrates the TE retraction in RAW264.7 macrophages. Here, using an optogenetic approach involving an opsin to activate the Gi pathway in defined subcellular regions of RAW cells, we show that in addition to their LE activities, free Gβγ subunits also govern TE retraction by operating two independent, yet synchronized, pathways. The first pathway involves RhoA activation, which prevents dephosphorylation of the myosin light chain, allowing actomyosin contractility to proceed. The second pathway activates phospholipase Cβ and induces myosin light chain phosphorylation to enhance actomyosin contractility through increasing cytosolic calcium. We further show that both of these pathways are essential, and inhibition of either one is sufficient to abolish the Gi-coupled GPCR-governed TE retraction and subsequent migration of RAW cells.
Rac1 switching at the right time and location is essential for Fcγ receptor-mediated phagosome formation.
Lamellipodia are sheet-like cell protrusions driven by actin polymerization mainly through Rac1, a GTPase molecular switch. In Fcγ receptor-mediated phagocytosis of IgG-opsonized erythrocytes (IgG-Es), Rac1 activation is required for lamellipodial extension along the surface of IgG-Es. However, the significance of Rac1 deactivation in phagosome formation is poorly understood. Our live-cell imaging and electron microscopy revealed that RAW264 macrophages expressing a constitutively active Rac1 mutant showed defects in phagocytic cup formation, while lamellipodia were formed around IgG-Es. Because the activated Rac1 reduced the phosphorylation levels of myosin light chain, failure of the cup formation were probably due to inhibition of actin/myosin II contractility. Reversible photo-manipulation of the Rac1 switch in macrophages fed with IgG-Es could phenocopy two lamellipodial motilities: outward-extension and cup-constriction by Rac1 ON and OFF, respectively. In conjunction with FRET imaging of Rac1 activity, we provide a novel mechanistic model of phagosome formation spatiotemporally controlled by Rac1 switching within a phagocytic cup.
A Photoactivatable Innate Immune Receptor for Optogenetic Inflammation.
Although spatial and temporal elements of immune activation mediate the intensity of the immune response, few tools exist to directly examine these effects. To elucidate the spatiotemporal aspects of innate immune responses, we designed an optogenetic pattern recognition receptor that activates in response to blue light. We demonstrate direct receptor activation, leading to spatial and temporal control of downstream signaling pathways in a variety of relevant cell types. We combined our platform with Bi-molecular Fluorescence Complementation (BiFC), resulting in selective fluorescent labeling of cells in which receptor activation has occurred.
Subcellular optogenetic activation of Cdc42 controls local and distal signaling to drive immune cell migration.
Migratory immune cells use intracellular signaling networks to generate and orient spatially polarized responses to extracellular cues. The monomeric G protein Cdc42 is believed to play an important role in controlling the polarized responses, but it has been difficult to determine directly the consequences of localized Cdc42 activation within an immune cell. Here we used subcellular optogenetics to determine how Cdc42 activation at one side of a cell affects both cell behavior and dynamic molecular responses throughout the cell. We found that localized Cdc42 activation is sufficient to generate polarized signaling and directional cell migration. The optically activated region becomes the leading edge of the cell, with Cdc42 activating Rac and generating membrane protrusions driven by the actin cytoskeleton. Cdc42 also exerts long-range effects that cause myosin accumulation at the opposite side of the cell and actomyosin-mediated retraction of the cell rear. This process requires the RhoA-activated kinase ROCK, suggesting that Cdc42 activation at one side of a cell triggers increased RhoA signaling at the opposite side. Our results demonstrate how dynamic, subcellular perturbation of an individual signaling protein can help to determine its role in controlling polarized cellular responses.
Subcellular optogenetic inhibition of G proteins generates signaling gradients and cell migration.
Cells sense gradients of extracellular cues and generate polarized responses such as cell migration and neurite initiation. There is static information on the intracellular signaling molecules involved in these responses, but how they dynamically orchestrate polarized cell behaviors is not well understood. A limitation has been the lack of methods to exert spatial and temporal control over specific signaling molecules inside a living cell. Here we introduce optogenetic tools that act downstream of native G protein-coupled receptor (GPCRs) and provide direct control over the activity of endogenous heterotrimeric G protein subunits. Light-triggered recruitment of a truncated regulator of G protein signaling (RGS) protein or a Gβγ-sequestering domain to a selected region on the plasma membrane results in localized inhibition of G protein signaling. In immune cells exposed to spatially uniform chemoattractants, these optogenetic tools allow us to create reversible gradients of signaling activity. Migratory responses generated by this approach show that a gradient of active G protein αi and βγ subunits is sufficient to generate directed cell migration. They also provide the most direct evidence so for a global inhibition pathway triggered by Gi signaling in directional sensing and adaptation. These optogenetic tools can be applied to interrogate the mechanistic basis of other GPCR-modulated cellular functions.