Showing 1 - 25 of 69 results
A single-chain and fast-responding light-inducible Cre recombinase as a novel optogenetic switch.
Optogenetics enables genome manipulations with high spatiotemporal resolution, opening exciting possibilities for fundamental and applied biological research. Here, we report the development of LiCre, a novel light-inducible Cre recombinase. LiCre is made of a single flavin-containing protein comprising the AsLOV2 photoreceptor domain of Avena sativa fused to a Cre variant carrying destabilizing mutations in its N-terminal and C-terminal domains. LiCre can be activated within minutes of illumination with blue light, without the need of additional chemicals. When compared to existing photoactivatable Cre recombinases based on two split units, LiCre displayed faster and stronger activation by light as well as a lower residual activity in the dark. LiCre was efficient both in yeast, where it allowed us to control the production of β-carotene with light, and in human cells. Given its simplicity and performances, LiCre is particularly suited for fundamental and biomedical research, as well as for controlling industrial bioprocesses.
Random sub-diffusion and capture of genes by the nuclear pore reduces dynamics and coordinates interchromosomal movement.
Hundreds of genes interact with the yeast nuclear pore complex (NPC), localizing at the nuclear periphery and clustering with co-regulated genes. Dynamic tracking of peripheral genes shows that they cycle on and off the NPC and that interaction with the NPC slows their sub-diffusive movement. Furthermore, NPC-dependent inter-chromosomal clustering leads to coordinated movement of pairs of loci separated by hundreds of nanometers. We developed Fractional Brownian Motion simulations for chromosomal loci in the nucleoplasm and interacting with NPCs. These simulations predict the rate and nature of random sub-diffusion during repositioning from nucleoplasm to periphery and match measurements from two different experimental models, arguing that recruitment to the nuclear periphery is due to random subdiffusion, collision, and capture by NPCs. Finally, the simulations do not lead to inter-chromosomal clustering or coordinated movement, suggesting that interaction with the NPC is necessary, but not sufficient, to cause clustering.
Synthetic gene networks recapitulate dynamic signal decoding and differential gene expression.
Cells live in constantly changing environments and employ dynamic signaling pathways to transduce information about the signals they encounter. However, the mechanisms by which dynamic signals are decoded into appropriate gene expression patterns remain poorly understood. Here, we devise networked optogenetic pathways that achieve novel dynamic signal processing functions that recapitulate cellular information processing. Exploiting light-responsive transcriptional regulators with differing response kinetics, we build a falling-edge pulse-detector and show that this circuit can be employed to demultiplex dynamically encoded signals. We combine this demultiplexer with dCas9-based gene networks to construct pulsatile-signal filters and decoders. Applying information theory, we show that dynamic multiplexing significantly increases the information transmission capacity from signal to gene expression state. Finally, we use dynamic multiplexing for precise multidimensional regulation of a heterologous metabolic pathway. Our results elucidate design principles of dynamic information processing and provide original synthetic systems capable of decoding complex signals for biotechnological applications.
Design and Characterization of Rapid Optogenetic Circuits for Dynamic Control in Yeast Metabolic Engineering.
The use of optogenetics in metabolic engineering for light-controlled microbial chemical production raises the prospect of utilizing control and optimization techniques routinely deployed in traditional chemical manufacturing. However, such mechanisms require well-characterized, customizable tools that respond fast enough to be used as real-time inputs during fermentations. Here, we present OptoINVRT7, a new rapid optogenetic inverter circuit to control gene expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The circuit induces gene expression in only 0.6 h after switching cells from light to darkness, which is at least 6 times faster than previous OptoINVRT optogenetic circuits used for chemical production. In addition, we introduce an engineered inducible GAL1 promoter (PGAL1-S), which is stronger than any constitutive or inducible promoter commonly used in yeast. Combining OptoINVRT7 with PGAL1-S achieves strong and light-tunable levels of gene expression with as much as 132.9 ± 22.6-fold induction in darkness. The high performance of this new optogenetic circuit in controlling metabolic enzymes boosts production of lactic acid and isobutanol by more than 50% and 15%, respectively. The strength and controllability of OptoINVRT7 and PGAL1-S open the door to applying process control tools to engineered metabolisms to improve robustness and yields in microbial fermentations for chemical production.
Creating Red Light-Switchable Protein Dimerization Systems as Genetically Encoded Actuators with High Specificity.
Protein dimerization systems controlled by red light with increased tissue penetration depth are a highly needed tool for clinical applications such as cell and gene therapies. However, mammalian applications of existing red light-induced dimerization systems are hampered by limitations of their two components: a photosensory protein (or photoreceptor) which often requires a mammalian exogenous chromophore and a naturally occurring photoreceptor binding protein typically having a complex structure and nonideal binding properties. Here, we introduce an efficient, generalizable method (COMBINES-LID) for creating highly specific, reversible light-induced heterodimerization systems independent of any existing binders to a photoreceptor. It involves a two-step binder screen (phage display and yeast two-hybrid) of a combinatorial nanobody library to obtain binders that selectively engage a light-activated form of a photoswitchable protein or domain not the dark form. Proof-of-principle was provided by engineering nanobody-based, red light-induced dimerization (nanoReD) systems comprising a truncated bacterial phytochrome sensory module using a mammalian endogenous chromophore, biliverdin, and light-form specific nanobodies. Selected nanoReD systems were biochemically characterized, exhibiting low dark activity and high induction specificity, and further demonstrated for the reversible control of protein translocation and activation of gene expression in mice. Overall, COMBINES-LID opens new opportunities for creating genetically encoded actuators for the optical manipulation of biological processes.
An optogenetic switch for the Set2 methyltransferase provides evidence for transcription-dependent and -independent dynamics of H3K36 methylation.
Histone H3 lysine 36 methylation (H3K36me) is a conserved histone modification associated with transcription and DNA repair. Although the effects of H3K36 methylation have been studied, the genome-wide dynamics of H3K36me deposition and removal are not known. We established rapid and reversible optogenetic control for Set2, the sole H3K36 methyltransferase in yeast, by fusing the enzyme with the light-activated nuclear shuttle (LANS) domain. Light activation resulted in efficient Set2-LANS nuclear localization followed by H3K36me3 deposition in vivo, with total H3K36me3 levels correlating with RNA abundance. Although genes showed disparate levels of H3K36 methylation, relative rates of H3K36me3 accumulation were largely linear and consistent across genes, suggesting that H3K36me3 deposition occurs in a directed fashion on all transcribed genes regardless of their overall transcription frequency. Removal of H3K36me3 was highly dependent on the demethylase Rph1. However, the per-gene rate of H3K36me3 loss weakly correlated with RNA abundance and followed exponential decay, suggesting H3K36 demethylases act in a global, stochastic manner. Altogether, these data provide a detailed temporal view of H3K36 methylation and demethylation that suggests transcription-dependent and -independent mechanisms for H3K36me deposition and removal, respectively.
Optogenetic activation of heterotrimeric G-proteins by LOV2GIVe, a rationally engineered modular protein.
Heterotrimeric G-proteins are signal transducers involved in mediating the action of many natural extracellular stimuli as well as of many therapeutic agents. Non-invasive approaches to manipulate the activity of G-proteins with high precision are crucial to understand their regulation in space and time. Here, we developed LOV2GIVe, an engineered modular protein that allows the activation of heterotrimeric G-proteins with blue light. This optogenetic construct relies on a versatile design that differs from tools previously developed for similar purposes, i.e. metazoan opsins, which are light-activated GPCRs. Instead, LOV2GIVe consists of the fusion of a G-protein activating peptide derived from a non-GPCR regulator of G-proteins to a small plant protein domain, such that light uncages the G-protein activating module. Targeting LOV2GIVe to cell membranes allowed for light-dependent activation of Gi proteins in different experimental systems. In summary, LOV2GIVe expands the armamentarium and versatility of tools available to manipulate heterotrimeric G-protein activity.
Optogenetic Control Reveals Differential Promoter Interpretation of Transcription Factor Nuclear Translocation Dynamics.
Gene expression is thought to be affected not only by the concentration of transcription factors (TFs) but also the dynamics of their nuclear translocation. Testing this hypothesis requires direct control of TF dynamics. Here, we engineer CLASP, an optogenetic tool for rapid and tunable translocation of a TF of interest. Using CLASP fused to Crz1, we observe that, for the same integrated concentration of nuclear TF over time, changing input dynamics changes target gene expression: pulsatile inputs yield higher expression than continuous inputs, or vice versa, depending on the target gene. Computational modeling reveals that a dose-response saturating at low TF input can yield higher gene expression for pulsatile versus continuous input, and that multi-state promoter activation can yield the opposite behavior. Our integrated tool development and modeling approach characterize promoter responses to Crz1 nuclear translocation dynamics, extracting quantitative features that may help explain the differential expression of target genes.
An optogenetic system to control membrane phospholipid asymmetry through flippase activation in budding yeast.
Lipid asymmetry in biological membranes is essential for various cell functions, such as cell polarity, cytokinesis, and apoptosis. P4-ATPases (flippases) are involved in the generation of such asymmetry. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the protein kinases Fpk1p/Fpk2p activate the P4-ATPases Dnf1p/Dnf2p by phosphorylation. Previously, we have shown that a blue-light-dependent protein kinase, phototropin from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (CrPHOT), complements defects in an fpk1Δ fpk2Δ mutant. Herein, we investigated whether CrPHOT optically regulates P4-ATPase activity. First, we demonstrated that the translocation of NBD-labelled phospholipids to the cytoplasmic leaflet via P4-ATPases was promoted by blue-light irradiation in fpk1Δ fpk2Δ cells with CrPHOT. In addition, blue light completely suppressed the defects in membrane functions (such as endocytic recycling, actin depolarization, and apical-isotropic growth switching) caused by fpk1Δ fpk2Δ mutations. All responses required the kinase activity of CrPHOT. Hence, these results indicate the utility of CrPHOT as a powerful and first tool for optogenetic manipulation of P4-ATPase activity.
A monogenic and fast-responding Light-Inducible Cre recombinase as a novel optogenetic switch.
Optogenetics enables genome manipulations with high spatiotemporal resolution, opening exciting possibilities for fundamental and applied biological research. Here, we report the development of LiCre, a novel light-inducible Cre recombinase. LiCre is made of a single flavin-containing protein comprising the asLOV2 photoreceptor domain of Avena sativa fused to a Cre variant carrying destabilizing mutations in its N-terminal and C-terminal domains. LiCre can be activated within minutes of illumination with blue light, without the need of additional chemicals. When compared to existing photoactivatable Cre recombinases based on two split units, LiCre displayed faster and stronger activation by light as well as a lower residual activity in the dark. LiCre was efficient both in yeast, where it allowed us to control the production of β-carotene with light, and in human cells. Given its simplicity and performances, LiCre is particularly suited for fundamental and biomedical research, as well as for controlling industrial bioprocesses.
The histone H4 basic patch regulates SAGA-mediated H2B deubiquitylation and histone acetylation.
Histone H2B monoubiquitylation (H2Bub1) has central functions in multiple DNA-templated processes, including gene transcription, DNA repair, and replication. H2Bub1 also is required for the trans-histone regulation of H3K4 and H3K79 methylation. Although previous studies have elucidated the basic mechanisms that establish and remove H2Bub1, we have only an incomplete understanding of how H2Bub1 is regulated. We report here that the histone H4 basic patch regulates H2Bub1. Yeast cells with arginine-to-alanine mutations in the H4 basic patch (H42RA) exhibited significant loss of global H2Bub1. H42RA mutant yeast strains also displayed chemotoxin sensitivities similar to, but less severe than, strains containing a complete loss of H2Bub1. We found that the H4 basic patch regulates H2Bub1 levels independently of interactions with chromatin remodelers and separately from its regulation of H3K79 methylation. To measure H2B ubiquitylation and deubiquitination kinetics in vivo, we used a rapid and reversible optogenetic tool, the light-inducible nuclear exporter (LINX), to control the subcellular location of the H2Bub1 E3-ligase, Bre1. The ability of Bre1 to ubiquitylate H2B was unaffected in the H42RA mutant. In contrast, H2Bub1 deubiquitination by SAGA-associated Ubp8, but not by Ubp10, increased in the H42RA mutant. Consistent with a function for the H4 basic patch in regulating SAGA deubiquitinase activity, we also detected increased SAGA-mediated histone acetylation in H4 basic patch mutants. Our findings uncover that the H4 basic patch has a regulatory function in SAGA-mediated histone modifications.
An optogenetic switch for the Set2 methyltransferase provides evidence for rapid transcription-dependent and independent dynamics of H3K36 methylation.
Background Histone H3 lysine 36 methylation (H3K36me) is a conserved histone modification associated with transcription and DNA repair. Although the effects of H3K36 methylation have been studied, the genome-wide dynamics of H3K36me deposition and removal are not known.
Results We established rapid and reversible optogenetic control for Set2, the sole H3K36 methyltransferase in yeast, by fusing the enzyme with the light activated nuclear shuttle (LANS) domain. Early H3K36me3 dynamics identified rapid methylation in vivo, with total H3K36me3 levels correlating with RNA abundance. Although genes exhibited disparate levels of H3K36 methylation, relative rates of H3K36me3 accumulation were largely linear and consistent across genes, suggesting a rate-limiting mechanism for H3K36me3 deposition. Removal of H3K36me3 was also rapid and highly dependent on the demethylase Rph1. However, the per-gene rate of H3K36me3 loss weakly correlated with RNA abundance and followed exponential decay, suggesting H3K36 demethylases act in a global, stochastic manner.
Conclusion Altogether, these data provide a detailed temporal view of H3K36 methylation and demethylation that suggest transcription-dependent and independent mechanisms for H3K36me deposition and removal, respectively.
Yeast Two Hybrid Screening of Photo-Switchable Protein-Protein Interaction Libraries.
Although widely used in the detection and characterization of protein-protein interactions, Y2H screening has been under-used for the engineering of new optogenetic tools or the improvement of existing tools. Here we explore the feasibility of using Y2H selection and screening to evaluate libraries of photoswitchable protein-protein interactions. We targeted the interaction between circularly permuted photoactive yellow protein (cPYP) and its binding partner BoPD (binder of PYP dark state) by mutating a set of four surface residues of cPYP that contribute to the binding interface. A library of ~10,000 variants was expressed in yeast together with BoPD in a Y2H format. An initial selection for the cPYP/BoPD interaction was performed using a range of concentrations of the cPYP chromophore. As expected, the majority (>90% of cPYP variants no longer bound to BoPD). Replica plating was the used to evaluate the photoswitchability of the surviving clones. Photoswitchable cPYP variants with BoPD affinities equal to, or higher than, native cPYP were recovered in addition to variants with altered photocycles and binders that interacted with BoPD as apo-proteins. Y2H results reflected protein-protein interaction affinity, expression, photoswitchability and chromophore uptake, and correlated well with results obtained both in vitro and in mammalian cells. Thus, by systematic variation of selection parameters, Y2H screens can be effectively used to generate new optogenetic tools for controlling protein-protein interactions for use in diverse settings.
Cell-in-the-loop pattern formation with optogenetically emulated cell-to-cell signaling.
Designing and implementing synthetic biological pattern formation remains challenging due to underlying theoretical complexity as well as the difficulty of engineering multicellular networks biochemically. Here, we introduce a cell-in-the-loop approach where living cells interact through in silico signaling, establishing a new testbed to interrogate theoretical principles when internal cell dynamics are incorporated rather than modeled. We present an easy-to-use theoretical test to predict the emergence of contrasting patterns in gene expression among laterally inhibiting cells. Guided by the theory, we experimentally demonstrate spontaneous checkerboard patterning in an optogenetic setup, where cell-to-cell signaling is emulated with light inputs calculated in silico from real-time gene expression measurements. The scheme successfully produces spontaneous, persistent checkerboard patterns for systems of sixteen patches, in quantitative agreement with theoretical predictions. Our research highlights how tools from dynamical systems theory may inform our understanding of patterning, and illustrates the potential of cell-in-the-loop for engineering synthetic multicellular systems.
An optogenetic tool for induced protein stabilization based on the Phaeodactylum tricornutum aureochrome 1a LOV domain.
Control of cellular events by optogenetic tools is a powerful approach to manipulate cellular functions in a minimally invasive manner. A common problem posed by the application of optogenetic tools is to tune the activity range to be physiologically relevant. Here, we characterized a photoreceptor of the light-oxygen-voltage domain family of Phaeodactylum tricornutum aureochrome 1a (AuLOV) as a tool for increasing protein stability under blue light conditions in budding yeast. Structural studies of AuLOVwt, the variants AuLOVM254 and AuLOVW349 revealed alternative dimer association modes for the dark state, which differ from previously reported AuLOV dark state structures. Rational design of AuLOV-dimer interface mutations resulted in an optimized optogenetic tool that we fused to the photoactivatable adenylyl cyclase from Beggiatoa sp.. This synergistic light-regulation approach using two photoreceptors resulted in an optimized, photoactivatable adenylyl cyclase with a cyclic AMP production activity that matches the physiological range of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Overall, we enlarged the optogenetic toolbox for yeast and demonstrated the importance of fine-tuning the optogenetic tool activity for successful application in cells.
SPLIT: Stable Protein Coacervation using a Light Induced Transition.
Protein coacervates serve as hubs to concentrate and sequester proteins and nucleotides and thus function as membrane-less organelles to manipulate cell physiology. We have engineered a coacervating protein to create tunable, synthetic membrane-less organelles that assemble in response to a single pulse of light. Coacervation is driven by the intrinsically disordered RGG domain from the protein LAF-1, and opto-responsiveness is coded by the protein PhoCl which cleaves in response to 405 nm light. We developed a fusion protein containing a solubilizing maltose binding protein domain, PhoCl, and two copies of the RGG domain. Several seconds of illumination at 405 nm is sufficient to cleave PhoCl, removing the solubilization domain and enabling RGG-driven coacervation within minutes in cellular-sized water-in-oil emulsions. An optimized version of this system displayed light-induced coacervation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The methods described here provide novel strategies for inducing protein phase separation using light.
Shape-morphing living composites.
This work establishes a means to exploit genetic networks to create living synthetic composites that change shape in response to specific biochemical or physical stimuli. Baker's yeast embedded in a hydrogel forms a responsive material where cellular proliferation leads to a controllable increase in the composite volume of up to 400%. Genetic manipulation of the yeast enables composites where volume change on exposure to l-histidine is 14× higher than volume change when exposed to d-histidine or other amino acids. By encoding an optogenetic switch into the yeast, spatiotemporally controlled shape change is induced with pulses of dim blue light (2.7 mW/cm2). These living, shape-changing materials may enable sensors or medical devices that respond to highly specific cues found within a biological milieu.
Directed evolution improves the catalytic efficiency of TEV protease.
Tobacco etch virus protease (TEV) is one of the most widely used proteases in biotechnology because of its exquisite sequence specificity. A limitation, however, is its slow catalytic rate. We developed a generalizable yeast-based platform for directed evolution of protease catalytic properties. Protease activity is read out via proteolytic release of a membrane-anchored transcription factor, and we temporally regulate access to TEV's cleavage substrate using a photosensory LOV domain. By gradually decreasing light exposure time, we enriched faster variants of TEV over multiple rounds of selection. Our TEV-S153N mutant (uTEV1Δ), when incorporated into the calcium integrator FLARE, improved the signal/background ratio by 27-fold, and enabled recording of neuronal activity in culture with 60-s temporal resolution. Given the widespread use of TEV in biotechnology, both our evolved TEV mutants and the directed-evolution platform used to generate them could be beneficial across a wide range of applications.
A yeast optogenetic toolkit (yOTK) for gene expression control in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Optogenetic tools for controlling gene expression are ideal for tuning synthetic biological networks due to the exquisite spatiotemporal control available with light. Here we develop an optogenetic system for gene expression control integrated with an existing yeast toolkit allowing for rapid, modular assembly of light-controlled circuits in the important chassis organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We reconstitute activity of a split synthetic zinc-finger transcription factor (TF) using light-induced dimerization mediated by the proteins CRY2 and CIB1. We optimize function of this split TF and demonstrate the utility of the toolkit workflow by assembling cassettes expressing the TF activation domain and DNA-binding domain at different levels. Utilizing this TF and a synthetic promoter we demonstrate that light-intensity and duty-cycle can be used to modulate gene expression over the range currently available from natural yeast promoters. This work allows for rapid generation and prototyping of optogenetic circuits to control gene expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Optogenetic Repressors of Gene Expression in Yeasts Using Light-Controlled Nuclear Localization.
Introduction: Controlling gene expression is a fundamental goal of basic and synthetic biology because it allows insight into cellular function and control of cellular activity. We explored the possibility of generating an optogenetic repressor of gene expression in the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae by using light to control the nuclear localization of nuclease-dead Cas9, dCas9. Methods: The dCas9 protein acts as a repressor for a gene of interest when localized to the nucleus in the presence of an appropriate guide RNA (sgRNA). We engineered dCas9, the mammalian transcriptional repressor Mxi1, and an optogenetic tool to control nuclear localization (LINuS) as parts in an existing yeast optogenetic toolkit. This allowed expression cassettes containing novel dCas9 repressor configurations and guide RNAs to be rapidly constructed and integrated into yeast. Results: Our library of repressors displays a range of basal repression without the need for inducers or promoter modification. Populations of cells containing these repressors can be combined to generate a heterogeneous population of yeast with a 100-fold expression range. We find that repression can be dialed modestly in a light dose- and intensity-dependent manner. We used this library to repress expression of the lanosterol 14-alpha-demethylase Erg11, generating yeast with a range of sensitivity to the important antifungal drug fluconazole. Conclusions: This toolkit will be useful for spatiotemporal perturbation of gene expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Additionally, we believe that the simplicity of our scheme will allow these repressors to be easily modified to control gene expression in medically relevant fungi, such as pathogenic yeasts.
Green, orange, red, and far-red optogenetic tools derived from cyanobacteriochromes.
Existing optogenetic tools for controlling protein-protein interactions are available in a limited number of wavelengths thereby limiting opportunities for multiplexing. The cyanobacteriochrome (CBCR) family of photoreceptors responds to an extraordinary range of colors, but light-dependent binding partners for CBCR domains are not currently known. We used a phage-display based approach to develop small (~50-residue) monomeric binders selective for the green absorbing state (Pg), or for the red absorbing state (Pr) of the CBCR Am1_c0023g2 with a phycocyanobilin chromophore and also for the far-red absorbing state (Pfr) of Am1_c0023g2 with a biliverdin chromophore. These bind in a 1:1 mole ratio with KDs for the target state from 0.2 to 2 μM and selectivities from 10 to 500-fold. We demonstrate green, orange, red, and far-red light-dependent control of protein-protein interactions in vitro and also in vivo where these multicolor optogenetic tools are used to control transcription in yeast.
Degradation of integral membrane proteins modified with the photosensitive degron module requires the cytosolic endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation pathway.
Protein quality mechanisms are fundamental for proteostasis of eukaryotic cells. Endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation (ERAD) is a well-studied pathway that ensures quality control of secretory and endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident proteins. Different branches of ERAD are involved in degradation of malfolded secretory proteins, depending on the localization of the misfolded part, the ER lumen (ERAD-L), the ER membrane (ERAD-M), and the cytosol (ERAD-C). Here we report that modification of several ER transmembrane proteins with the photosensitive degron (psd) module resulted in light-dependent degradation of the membrane proteins via the ERAD-C pathway. We found dependency on the ubiquitylation machinery including the ubiquitin-activating enzyme Uba1, the ubiquitin--conjugating enzymes Ubc6 and Ubc7, and the ubiquitin-protein ligase Doa10. Moreover, we found involvement of the Cdc48 AAA-ATPase complex members Ufd1 and Npl4, as well as the proteasome, in degradation of Sec62-myc-psd. Thus, our work shows that ERAD-C substrates can be systematically generated via synthetic degron constructs, which facilitates future investigations of the ERAD-C pathway.
Light-based control of metabolic flux through assembly of synthetic organelles.
To maximize a desired product, metabolic engineers typically express enzymes to high, constant levels. Yet, permanent pathway activation can have undesirable consequences including competition with essential pathways and accumulation of toxic intermediates. Faced with similar challenges, natural metabolic systems compartmentalize enzymes into organelles or post-translationally induce activity under certain conditions. Here we report that optogenetic control can be used to extend compartmentalization and dynamic control to engineered metabolisms in yeast. We describe a suite of optogenetic tools to trigger assembly and disassembly of metabolically active enzyme clusters. Using the deoxyviolacein biosynthesis pathway as a model system, we find that light-switchable clustering can enhance product formation six-fold and product specificity 18-fold by decreasing the concentration of intermediate metabolites and reducing flux through competing pathways. Inducible compartmentalization of enzymes into synthetic organelles can thus be used to control engineered metabolic pathways, limit intermediates and favor the formation of desired products.
Optogenetic downregulation of protein levels with an ultrasensitive switch.
Optogenetic control of protein activity is a versatile technique to gain control over cellular processes, e.g. for biomedical and biotechnological applications. Among other techniques, the regulation of protein abundance by controlling either transcription or protein stability found common use as this controls the activity of any type of target protein. Here, we report modules of an improved variant of the photosensitive degron module and a light-sensitive transcription factor, which we compared to doxycycline-dependent transcriptional control. Given their modularity the combined control of synthesis and stability of a given target protein resulted in the synergistic down regulation of its abundance by light. This combined module exhibits very high switching ratios, profound downregulation of protein abundance at low light-fluxes as well as fast protein depletion kinetics. Overall, this synergistic optogenetic multistep control (SOMCo) module is easy to implement and results in a regulation of protein abundance superior to each individual component.
A yeast system for discovering optogenetic inhibitors of eukaryotic translation initiation.
The precise spatiotemporal regulation of protein synthesis is essential for many complex biological processes such as memory formation, embryonic development and tumor formation. Current methods used to study protein synthesis offer only a limited degree of spatiotemporal control. Optogenetic methods, in contrast, offer the prospect of controlling protein synthesis non-invasively within minutes and with a spatial scale as small as a single synapse. Here, we present a hybrid yeast system where growth depends on the activity of human eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) that is suitable for screening optogenetic designs for the down-regulation of protein synthesis. We used this system to screen a diverse initial panel of 15 constructs designed to couple a light switchable domain (PYP, RsLOV, LOV, Dronpa) to 4EBP2 (eukaryotic initiation factor 4E binding protein 2), a native inhibitor of translation initiation. We identified cLIPS1 (circularly permuted LOV inhibitor of protein synthesis 1), a fusion of a segment of 4EBP2 and a circularly permuted version of the LOV2 domain from Avena sativa, as a photo-activated inhibitor of translation. Adapting the screen for higher throughput, we tested small libraries of cLIPS1 variants and found cLIPS2, a construct with an improved degree of optical control. We show that these constructs can both inhibit translation in yeast harboring a human eIF4E in vivo, and bind human eIF4E in vitro in a light-dependent manner. This hybrid yeast system thus provides a convenient way for discovering optogenetic constructs that can regulate of human eIF4E-depednednt translation initiation in a mechanistically defined manner.