Showing 1 - 25 of 98 results
Structural Determinants for Light-Dependent Membrane Binding of a Photoswitchable Polybasic Domain.
OptoPB is an optogenetic tool engineered by fusion of the phosphoinositide (PI)-binding polybasic domain of Rit1 (Rit-PB) to a photoreactive light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domain. OptoPB selectively and reversibly binds the plasma membrane (PM) under blue light excitation, and in the dark, it releases back to the cytoplasm. However, the molecular mechanism of optical regulation and lipid recognition is still unclear. Here using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, liposome pulldown assay, and surface plasmon resonance (SPR), we find that OptoPB binds to membrane mimetics containing di- or triphosphorylated phosphatidylinositols, particularly phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PI(4,5)P2), an acidic phospholipid predominantly located in the eukaryotic PM. In the dark, steric hindrance prevented this protein-membrane interaction, while 470 nm blue light illumination activated it. NMR titration and site-directed mutagenesis revealed that both cationic and hydrophobic Rit-PB residues are essential to the membrane interaction, indicating that OptoPB binds the membrane via a specific PI(4,5)P2-dependent mechanism.
Photobiologically Directed Assembly of Gold Nanoparticles.
In nature, photoreceptor proteins undergo molecular responses to light, that exhibit supreme fidelity in time and space and generally occur under mild reaction conditions. To unlock these traits for material science, the light‐induced homodimerization of light‐oxygen‐voltage (LOV) photoreceptors is leveraged to control the assembly of gold nanoparticles. Conjugated to genetically encodable LOV proteins, the nanoparticles are monodispersed in darkness but rapidly assemble into large aggregates upon blue‐light exposure. The work establishes a new modality for reaction control in macromolecular chemistry and thus augurs enhanced precision in space and time in diverse applications of gold nanoparticles.
Optogenetic Tuning of Protein-protein Binding in Bilayers Using LOVTRAP.
Modern microscopy methods are powerful tools for studying live cell signaling and biochemical reactions, enabling us to observe when and where these reactions take place from the level of a cell down to single molecules. With microscopy, each cell or molecule can be observed both before and after a given perturbation, facilitating better inference of cause and effect than is possible with destructive modes of signaling quantitation. As many inputs to cell signaling and biochemical systems originate as protein-protein interactions near the cell membrane, an outstanding challenge lies in controlling the timing, location and the magnitude of protein-protein interactions in these unique environments. Here, we detail our procedure for manipulating such spatial and temporal protein-protein interactions in a closed microscopy system using a LOVTRAP-based light-responsive protein-protein interaction system on a supported lipid bilayer. The system responds in seconds and can pattern details down to the one micron level. We used this technique to unlock fundamental aspects of T cell signaling, and this approach is generalizable to many other cell signaling and biochemical contexts.
Development of light-responsive protein binding in the monobody non-immunoglobulin scaffold.
Monobodies are synthetic non-immunoglobulin customizable protein binders invaluable to basic and applied research, and of considerable potential as future therapeutics and diagnostic tools. The ability to reversibly control their binding activity to their targets on demand would significantly expand their applications in biotechnology, medicine, and research. Here we present, as proof-of-principle, the development of a light-controlled monobody (OptoMB) that works in vitro and in cells and whose affinity for its SH2-domain target exhibits a 330-fold shift in binding affinity upon illumination. We demonstrate that our αSH2-OptoMB can be used to purify SH2-tagged proteins directly from crude E. coli extract, achieving 99.8% purity and over 40% yield in a single purification step. By virtue of their ability to be designed to bind any protein of interest, OptoMBs have the potential to find new powerful applications as light-switchable binders of untagged proteins with the temporal and spatial precision afforded by light.
Bringing Light into Cell-Free Expression.
Cell-free systems, as part of the synthetic biology field, have become a critical platform in biological studies. However, there is a lack of research into developing a switch for a dynamical control of the transcriptional and translational process. The optogenetic tool has been widely proven as an ideal control switch for protein synthesis due to its nontoxicity and excellent time-space conversion. Hence, in this study, a blue light-regulated two-component system named YF1/FixJ was incorporated into an Escherichia coli-based cell-free system to control protein synthesis. The corresponding cell-free system successfully achieved a 5-fold dynamic protein expression by blue light repression and 3-fold dynamic expression by blue light activation. With the aim of expanding the applications of cell-free synthetic biology, the cell-free blue light-sensing system was used to perform imaging, light-controlled antibody synthesis, and light-triggered artificial cell assembly. This study can provide a guide for further research into the field of cell-free optical sensing. Moreover, it will also promote the development of cell-free synthetic biology and optogenetics through applying the cell-free optical sensing system to synthetic biology education, biopharmaceutical research, and artificial cell construction.
Synthesis of a Light-Controlled Phytochrome-Based Extracellular Matrix with Reversibly Adjustable Mechanical Properties.
Synthetic extracellular matrices with reversibly adjustable mechanical properties are essential for the investigation of how cells respond to dynamic mechanical cues as occurring in living organisms. One interesting approach to engineer dynamic biomaterials is the incorporation of photoreceptors from cyanobacteria or plants into polymer materials. Here, we give an overview of existing photoreceptor-based biomaterials and describe a detailed protocol for the synthesis of a phytochrome-based extracellular matrix (CyPhyGel). Using cell-compatible light in the red and far-red spectrum, the mechanical properties of this matrix can be adjusted in a fully reversible, wavelength-specific, and dose-dependent manner with high spatiotemporal control.
Structural and spectroscopic characterization of photoactive yellow protein and photoswitchable fluorescent protein constructs containing heavy atoms.
Photo-induced structural rearrangements of chromophore-containing proteins are essential for various light-dependent signaling pathways and optogenetic applications. Ultrafast structural and spectroscopic methods have offered insights into these structural rearrangements across many timescales. However, questions still remain about exact mechanistic details, especially regarding photoisomerization of the chromophore within these proteins femtoseconds to picoseconds after photoexcitation. Instrumentation advancements for time-resolved crystallography and ultrafast electron diffraction provide a promising opportunity to study these reactions, but achieving enough signal-to-noise is a constant challenge. Here we present four new photoactive yellow protein constructs and one new fluorescent protein construct that contain heavy atoms either within or around the chromophore and can be expressed with high yields. Structural characterization of these constructs, most at atomic resolution, show minimal perturbation caused by the heavy atoms compared to wild-type structures. Spectroscopic studies report the effects of the heavy atom identity and location on the chromophore's photophysical properties. None of the substitutions prevent photoisomerization, although certain rates within the photocycle may be affected. Overall, these new proteins containing heavy atoms are ideal samples for state-of-theart time-resolved crystallography and electron diffraction experiments to elucidate crucial mechanistic information of photoisomerization.
Implementing Optogenetic Modulation in Mechanotransduction.
Molecular optogenetic switch systems are extensively employed as a powerful tool to spatially and temporally modulate a variety of signal transduction processes in cells. However, the applications of such systems in mechanotransduction processes where the mechanosensing proteins are subject to mechanical forces of several piconewtons are poorly explored. In order to apply molecular optogenetic switch systems to mechanobiological studies, it is crucial to understand their mechanical stabilities which have yet to be quantified. In this work, we quantify a frequently used molecular optogenetic switch, iLID-nano, which is an improved light-induced dimerization between LOV2-SsrA and SspB. Our results show that the iLID-nano system can withstand forces up to 10 pN for seconds to tens of seconds that decrease as the force increases. The mechanical stability of the system suggests that it can be employed to modulate mechanotransduction processes that involve similar force ranges. We demonstrate the use of this system to control talin-mediated cell spreading and migration. Together, we establish the physical basis for utilizing the iLID-nano system in the direct control of intramolecular force transmission in cells during mechanotransduction processes.
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.
Production, Purification and Characterization of Recombinant Biotinylated Phytochrome B for Extracellular Optogenetics.
In the field of extracellular optogenetics, photoreceptors are applied outside of cells to obtain systems with a desired functionality. Among the diverse applied photoreceptors, phytochromes are the only ones that can be actively and reversibly switched between the active and inactive photostate by the illumination with cell-compatible red and far-red light. In this protocol, we describe the production of a biotinylated variant of the photosensory domain of A. thaliana phytochrome B (PhyB-AviTag) in E. coli with a single, optimized expression plasmid. We give detailed instructions for the purification of the protein by immobilized metal affinity chromatography and the characterization of the protein in terms of purity, biotinylation, spectral photoswitching and the light-dependent interaction with its interaction partner PIF6. In comparison to previous studies applying PhyB-AviTag, the optimized expression plasmid used in this protocol simplifies the production process and shows an increased yield and purity.
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.
Minimally disruptive optical control of protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B.
Protein tyrosine phosphatases regulate a myriad of essential subcellular signaling events, yet they remain difficult to study in their native biophysical context. Here we develop a minimally disruptive optical approach to control protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B)-an important regulator of receptor tyrosine kinases and a therapeutic target for the treatment of diabetes, obesity, and cancer-and we use that approach to probe the intracellular function of this enzyme. Our conservative architecture for photocontrol, which consists of a protein-based light switch fused to an allosteric regulatory element, preserves the native structure, activity, and subcellular localization of PTP1B, affords changes in activity that match those elicited by post-translational modifications inside the cell, and permits experimental analyses of the molecular basis of optical modulation. Findings indicate, most strikingly, that small changes in the activity of PTP1B can cause large shifts in the phosphorylation states of its regulatory targets.
Hydrogels With Tunable Mechanical Properties Based on Photocleavable Proteins.
Hydrogels with photo-responsive mechanical properties have found broad biomedical applications, including delivering bioactive molecules, cell culture, biosensing, and tissue engineering. Here, using a photocleavable protein, PhoCl, as the crosslinker we engineer two types of poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels whose mechanical stability can be weakened or strengthened, respectively, upon visible light illumination. In the photo weakening hydrogels, photocleavage leads to rupture of the protein crosslinkers, and decrease of the mechanical properties of the hydrogels. In contrast, in the photo strengthening hydrogels, by properly choosing the crosslinking positions, photocleavage does not rupture the crosslinking sites but exposes additional cryptical reactive cysteine residues. When reacting with extra maleimide groups in the hydrogel network, the mechanical properties of the hydrogels can be enhanced upon light illumination. Our study indicates that photocleavable proteins could provide more designing possibilities than the small-molecule counterparts. A proof-of-principle demonstration of spatially controlling the mechanical properties of hydrogels was also provided.
Engineered BRET-Based Biologic Light Sources Enable Spatiotemporal Control over Diverse Optogenetic Systems.
Light-inducible optogenetic systems offer precise spatiotemporal control over a myriad of biologic processes. Unfortunately, current systems are inherently limited by their dependence on external light sources for their activation. Further, the utility of laser/LED-based illumination strategies are often constrained by the need for invasive surgical procedures to deliver such devices and local heat production, photobleaching and phototoxicity that compromises cell and tissue viability. To overcome these limitations, we developed a novel BRET-activated optogenetics (BEACON) system that employs biologic light to control optogenetic tools. BEACON is driven by self-illuminating bioluminescent-fluorescent proteins that generate "spectrally tuned" biologic light via bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET). Notably, BEACON robustly activates a variety of commonly used optogenetic systems in a spatially restricted fashion, and at physiologically relevant time scales, to levels that are achieved by conventional laser/LED light sources.
Deconstructing and repurposing the light-regulated interplay between Arabidopsis phytochromes and interacting factors.
Phytochrome photoreceptors mediate adaptive responses of plants to red and far-red light. These responses generally entail light-regulated association between phytochromes and other proteins, among them the phytochrome-interacting factors (PIF). The interaction with Arabidopsis thaliana phytochrome B (AtPhyB) localizes to the bipartite APB motif of the A. thaliana PIFs (AtPIF). To address a dearth of quantitative interaction data, we construct and analyze numerous AtPIF3/6 variants. Red-light-activated binding is predominantly mediated by the APB N-terminus, whereas the C-terminus modulates binding and underlies the differential affinity of AtPIF3 and AtPIF6. We identify AtPIF variants of reduced size, monomeric or homodimeric state, and with AtPhyB affinities between 10 and 700 nM. Optogenetically deployed in mammalian cells, the AtPIF variants drive light-regulated gene expression and membrane recruitment, in certain cases reducing basal activity and enhancing regulatory response. Moreover, our results provide hitherto unavailable quantitative insight into the AtPhyB:AtPIF interaction underpinning vital light-dependent responses in plants.
Using Tools from Optogenetics to Create Light-Responsive Biomaterials: LOVTRAP-PEG Hydrogels for Dynamic Peptide Immobilization.
Hydrogel materials have become a versatile platform for in vitro cell culture due to their ability to simulate many aspects of native tissues. However, precise spatiotemporal presentation of peptides and other biomolecules has remained challenging. Here we report the use of light-sensing proteins (LSPs), more commonly used in optogenetics research, as light-activated reversible binding sites within synthetic poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels. We used LOVTRAP, a two component LSP system consisting of LOV2, a protein domain that can cycle reversibly between "light" and "dark" conformations in response to blue light, and a z-affibody, Zdark (Zdk), that binds the dark state of LOV2, to spatiotemporally control the presentation of a recombinant protein within PEG hydrogels. By immobilizing LOV2 within PEG gels, we were able to capture a recombinant fluorescent protein (used as a model biomolecule) containing a Zdk domain, and then release the Zdk fusion protein using blue light. Zdk was removed from LOV2-containing PEG gels using focused blue light, resulting in a 30% reduction of fluorescence compared to unexposed regions of the gel. Additionally, the reversible binding capability of LOVTRAP was observed in our system, enabling our LOV2 gels to capture and release Zdk at least three times. By adding a Zdk domain to a recombinant peptide or protein, dynamic, spatially constrained displays of non-diffusing ligands within a PEG gel could feasibly be achieved using LOV2.
Production of Phytochromes by High-Cell-Density E. coli Fermentation.
Phytochromes are important photoreceptors of plants, bacteria, and fungi responsive to light in the red and far-red spectrum. For increasing applications in basic research, synthetic biology, and materials sciences, it is required to recombinantly produce and purify phytochromes in high amounts. An ideal host organism for this purpose is E. coli due to its widespread use, fast growth, and ability for high-cell-density fermentation. Here, we describe the development of a generic platform for the production of phytochromes in E. coli that is compatible with high-cell-density fermentation. We exemplify our approach by the production of the photosensory domains of phytochrome B (PhyB) from A. thaliana and of the cyanobacterial phytochrome 1 (Cph1) from Synechocystis PCC 6803 in the multigram scale per 10 L fermentation run.
Near-infrared optogenetic genome engineering based on photon upconversion hydrogels.
Photon upconversion (UC) from near-infrared (NIR) light to visible light has enabled optogenetic manipulations in deep tissues. However, materials for NIR optogenetics have been limited to inorganic UC nanoparticles. Extension to organic triplet-triplet annihilation (TTA)-based UC systems would innovate NIR optogenetics toward the use of biocompatible materials placed at a desired position. Here, we report the first example of NIR light-triggered optogenetics by using TTA-UC hydrogels. To achieve triplet sensitization even in the highly viscous hydrogel matrices, a NIR-absorbing complex is covalently linked with energy-pooling acceptor chromophores, which significantly elongates the donor triplet lifetime. The donor and acceptor are solubilized in hydrogels formed from biocompatible Pluronic F127 micelles, and we find that the additional heat treatment endows remarkable oxygen-tolerant property to the excited triplets in the hydrogel. Combined with photoactivatable Cre recombinase (PA-Cre) technology, NIR light stimulation successfully performs genome engineering such as hippocampal dendritic spine formation involved in learning and long-term memory.
Genetically Encoded Photocleavable Linkers for Patterned Protein Release from Biomaterials.
Given the critical role that proteins play in almost all biological processes, there is great interest in controlling their presentation within and release from biomaterials. Despite such outstanding enthusiasm, previously developed strategies in this regard result in ill-defined and heterogeneous populations with substantially decreased activity, precluding their successful application to fragile species including growth factors. Here, we introduce a modular and scalable method for creating monodisperse, genetically encoded chimeras that enable bioactive proteins to be immobilized within and subsequently photoreleased from polymeric hydrogels. Building upon recent developments in chemoenzymatic reactions, bioorthogonal chemistry, and optogenetics, we tether fluorescent proteins, model enzymes, and growth factors site-specifically to gel biomaterials through a photocleavable protein (PhoCl) that undergoes irreversible backbone photoscission upon exposure to cytocompatible visible light (λ ≈ 400 nm) in a dose-dependent manner. Mask-based and laser-scanning lithographic strategies using commonly available light sources are employed to spatiotemporally pattern protein release from hydrogels while retaining their full activity. The photopatterned epidermal growth factor presentation is exploited to promote anisotropic cellular proliferation in 3D. We expect these methods to be broadly useful for applications in diagnostics, drug delivery, and regenerative medicine.
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.
A blue light receptor that mediates RNA binding and translational regulation.
Sensory photoreceptor proteins underpin light-dependent adaptations in nature and enable the optogenetic control of organismal behavior and physiology. We identified the bacterial light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) photoreceptor PAL that sequence-specifically binds short RNA stem loops with around 20 nM affinity in blue light and weaker than 1 µM in darkness. A crystal structure rationalizes the unusual receptor architecture of PAL with C-terminal LOV photosensor and N-terminal effector units. The light-activated PAL-RNA interaction can be harnessed to regulate gene expression at the RNA level as a function of light in both bacteria and mammalian cells. The present results elucidate a new signal-transduction paradigm in LOV receptors and conjoin RNA biology with optogenetic regulation, thereby paving the way toward hitherto inaccessible optoribogenetic modalities.
Reversible photocontrol of oxidase activity by inserting a photosensitive domain into the oxidase.
Photocontrol of protein activity has become a helpful strategy for regulating biological pathways. Herein, a method for the precise and reversible photocontrol of oxidase activity was developed by using the conformational change of the AsLOV2 domain.
The AsLOV2 domain was inserted into the nonconserved sites exposed on the surface of the AdhP protein, and the alov9 fusion was successfully screened for subsequent optical experiments under the assumption that neither of these actions affected the original activity of AdhP protein. The activity of alov9 was noticeably inhibited when the fusion was exposed to 470 nm blue light and recovered within 30 min. As a result, we could precisely and reversibly photocontrol alov9 activity through the optimization of several parameters, including cofactor concentration, light intensity, and illumination time.
An efficient method was developed for the photoinhibition of enzymatic activity based on the insertion of the light-sensitive AsLOV2 domain, providing new ideas for photocontrolling metabolic pathways without carriers in the future.
Light controlled cell-to-cell adhesion and chemical communication in minimal synthetic cells.
Decorating GUVs, used as minimal synthetic cell models, with photoswitchable proteins allows controlling the adhesion between them and their assembly into multicellular structures with light. Thereby, the chemical communication between a sender and a receiver GUV, which strongly depends on their spatial proximity, can also be photoregulated.
Revisiting and Redesigning Light-Activated Cyclic-Mononucleotide Phosphodiesterases.
As diffusible second messengers, cyclic nucleoside monophosphates (cNMPs) relay and amplify molecular signals in myriad cellular pathways. The triggering of downstream physiological responses often requires defined cNMP gradients in time and space, generated through the concerted action of nucleotidyl cyclases and phosphodiesterases (PDEs). In an approach denoted optogenetics, sensory photoreceptors serve as genetically encoded, light-responsive actuators to enable the noninvasive, reversible, and spatiotemporally precise control of manifold cellular processes, including cNMP metabolism. Although nature provides efficient photoactivated nucleotidyl cyclases, light-responsive PDEs are scarce. Through modular recombination of a bacteriophytochrome photosensor and the effector of human PDE2A, we previously generated the light-activated, cNMP-specific PDE LAPD. By pursuing parallel design strategies, we here report a suite of derivative PDEs with enhanced amplitude and reversibility of photoactivation. Opposite to LAPD, far-red light completely reverts prior activation by red light in several PDEs. These improved PDEs thus complement photoactivated nucleotidyl cyclases and extend the sensitivity of optogenetics to red and far-red light. More generally, our study informs future efforts directed at designing bacteriophytochrome photoreceptors.