Showing 1 - 7 of 7 results
Light-inducible T cell engagers trigger, tune, and shape the activation of primary T cells.
To mount appropriate responses, T cells integrate complex sequences of receptor stimuli perceived during transient interactions with antigen-presenting cells. Although it has been hypothesized that the dynamics of these interactions influence the outcome of T cell activation, methodological limitations have hindered its formal demonstration. Here, we have engineered the Light-inducible T cell engager (LiTE) system, a recombinant optogenetics-based molecular tool targeting the T cell receptor (TCR). The LiTE system constitutes a reversible molecular switch displaying exquisite reactivity. As proof of concept, we dissect how specific temporal patterns of TCR stimulation shape T cell activation. We established that CD4+ T cells respond to intermittent TCR stimulation more efficiently than their CD8+ T cells counterparts and provide evidence that distinct sequences of TCR stimulation encode different cytokine programs. Finally, we show that the LiTE system could be exploited to create light-activated bispecific T cell engagers and manipulate tumor cell killing. Overall, the LiTE system provides opportunities to understand how T cells integrate TCR stimulations and to trigger T cell cytotoxicity with high spatiotemporal control.
Nano-optogenetic engineering of CAR T cells for precision immunotherapy with enhanced safety.
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell-based immunotherapy, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, has shown curative potential in patients with haematological malignancies. However, owing to the lack of control over the location and duration of the anti-tumour immune response, CAR T cell therapy still faces safety challenges arising from cytokine release syndrome and on-target, off-tumour toxicity. Herein, we present the design of light-switchable CAR (designated LiCAR) T cells that allow real-time phototunable activation of therapeutic T cells to precisely induce tumour cell killing. When coupled with imaging-guided, surgically removable upconversion nanoplates that have enhanced near-infrared-to-blue upconversion luminescence as miniature deep-tissue photon transducers, LiCAR T cells enable both spatial and temporal control over T cell-mediated anti-tumour therapeutic activity in vivo with greatly mitigated side effects. Our nano-optogenetic immunomodulation platform not only provides a unique approach to interrogate CAR-mediated anti-tumour immunity, but also sets the stage for developing precision medicine to deliver personalized anticancer therapy.
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.
Quantifying persistence in the T-cell signaling network using an optically controllable antigen receptor.
T cells discriminate between healthy and infected cells with remarkable sensitivity when mounting an immune response, which is hypothesized to depend on T cells combining stimuli from multiple antigen-presenting cell interactions into a more potent response. To quantify the capacity for T cells to accomplish this, we have developed an antigen receptor that is optically tunable within cell conjugates, providing control over the duration, and intensity of intracellular T-cell signaling. We observe limited persistence within the T-cell intracellular network on disruption of receptor input, with signals dissipating entirely in ~15 min, and directly show sustained proximal receptor signaling is required to maintain gene transcription. T cells thus primarily accumulate the outputs of gene expression rather than integrate discrete intracellular signals. Engineering optical control in a clinically relevant chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), we show that this limited signal persistence can be exploited to increase CAR-T cell activation threefold using pulsatile stimulation. Our results are likely to apply more generally to the signaling dynamics of other cellular networks.
T cells selectively filter oscillatory signals on the minutes timescale.
T cells experience complex temporal patterns of stimulus via receptor-ligand-binding interactions with surrounding cells. From these temporal patterns, T cells are able to pick out antigenic signals while establishing self-tolerance. Although features such as duration of antigen binding have been examined, our understanding of how T cells interpret signals with different frequencies or temporal stimulation patterns is relatively unexplored. We engineered T cells to respond to light as a stimulus by building an optogenetically controlled chimeric antigen receptor (optoCAR). We discovered that T cells respond to minute-scale oscillations of activation signal by stimulating optoCAR T cells with tunable pulse trains of light. Systematically scanning signal oscillation period from 1 to 150 min revealed that expression of CD69, a T cell activation marker, reached a local minimum at a period of ∼25 min (corresponding to 5 to 15 min pulse widths). A combination of inhibitors and genetic knockouts suggest that this frequency filtering mechanism lies downstream of the Erk signaling branch of the T cell response network and may involve a negative feedback loop that diminishes Erk activity. The timescale of CD69 filtering corresponds with the duration of T cell encounters with self-peptide-presenting APCs observed via intravital imaging in mice, indicating a potential functional role for temporal filtering in vivo. This study illustrates that the T cell signaling machinery is tuned to temporally filter and interpret time-variant input signals in discriminatory ways.
Engineering light-controllable CAR T cells for cancer immunotherapy.
T cells engineered to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) can recognize and engage with target cancer cells with redirected specificity for cancer immunotherapy. However, there is a lack of ideal CARs for solid tumor antigens, which may lead to severe adverse effects. Here, we developed a light-inducible nuclear translocation and dimerization (LINTAD) system for gene regulation to control CAR T activation. We first demonstrated light-controllable gene expression and functional modulation in human embryonic kidney 293T and Jurkat T cell lines. We then improved the LINTAD system to achieve optimal efficiency in primary human T cells. The results showed that pulsed light stimulations can activate LINTAD CAR T cells with strong cytotoxicity against target cancer cells, both in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, our LINTAD system can serve as an efficient tool to noninvasively control gene activation and activate inducible CAR T cells for precision cancer immunotherapy.
Reversible induction of mitophagy by an optogenetic bimodular system.
Autophagy-mediated degradation of mitochondria (mitophagy) is a key process in cellular quality control. Although mitophagy impairment is involved in several patho-physiological conditions, valuable methods to induce mitophagy with low toxicity in vivo are still lacking. Herein, we describe a new optogenetic tool to stimulate mitophagy, based on light-dependent recruitment of pro-autophagy protein AMBRA1 to mitochondrial surface. Upon illumination, AMBRA1-RFP-sspB is efficiently relocated from the cytosol to mitochondria, where it reversibly mediates mito-aggresome formation and reduction of mitochondrial mass. Finally, as a proof of concept of the biomedical relevance of this method, we induced mitophagy in an in vitro model of neurotoxicity, fully preventing cell death, as well as in human T lymphocytes and in zebrafish in vivo. Given the unique features of this tool, we think it may turn out to be very useful for a wide range of both therapeutic and research applications.