Showing 1 - 25 of 116 results
Spatially Defined Gene Delivery into Native Cells with the Red Light-Controlled OptoAAV Technology.
The OptoAAV technology allows spatially defined delivery of transgenes into native target cells down to single-cell resolution by the illumination with cell-compatible and tissue-penetrating red light. The system is based on an adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector of serotype 2 with an engineered capsid (OptoAAV) and a photoreceptor-containing adapter protein mediating the interaction of the OptoAAV with the surface of the target cell in response to low doses of red and far-red light. In this article, we first provide detailed protocols for the production, purification, and analysis of the OptoAAV and the adapter protein. Afterward, we describe in detail the application of the OptoAAV system for the light-controlled transduction of human cells with global and patterned illumination. © 2022 The Authors. Current Protocols published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. Basic Protocol 1: Production, purification, and analysis of PhyB-DARPinEGFR adapter protein Basic Protocol 2: Production, purification, and analysis of OptoAAV Basic Protocol 3: Red light-controlled viral transduction with the OptoAAV system Support Protocol: Spatially resolved transduction of two transgenes with the OptoAAV system.
Synthetic cells with self-activating optogenetic proteins communicate with natural cells.
Development of regulated cellular processes and signaling methods in synthetic cells is essential for their integration with living materials. Light is an attractive tool to achieve this, but the limited penetration depth into tissue of visible light restricts its usability for in-vivo applications. Here, we describe the design and implementation of bioluminescent intercellular and intracellular signaling mechanisms in synthetic cells, dismissing the need for an external light source. First, we engineer light generating SCs with an optimized lipid membrane and internal composition, to maximize luciferase expression levels and enable high-intensity emission. Next, we show these cells' capacity to trigger bioprocesses in natural cells by initiating asexual sporulation of dark-grown mycelial cells of the fungus Trichoderma atroviride. Finally, we demonstrate regulated transcription and membrane recruitment in synthetic cells using bioluminescent intracellular signaling with self-activating fusion proteins. These functionalities pave the way for deploying synthetic cells as embeddable microscale light sources that are capable of controlling engineered processes inside tissues.
Motor processivity and speed determine structure and dynamics of microtubule-motor assemblies.
Active matter systems can generate highly ordered structures, avoiding equilibrium through the consumption of energy by individual constituents. How the microscopic parameters that characterize the active agents are translated to the observed mesoscopic properties of the assembly has remained an open question. These active systems are prevalent in living matter; for example, in cells, the cytoskeleton is organized into structures such as the mitotic spindle through the coordinated activity of many motor proteins walking along microtubules. Here, we investigate how the microscopic motor-microtubule interactions affect the coherent structures formed in a reconstituted motor-microtubule system. This question is of deeper evolutionary significance as we suspect motor and microtubule type contribute to the shape and size of resulting structures. We explore key parameters experimentally and theoretically, using a variety of motors with different speeds, proces-sivities, and directionalities. We demonstrate that aster size depends on the motor used to create the aster, and develop a model for the distribution of motors and microtubules in steady-state asters that depends on parameters related to motor speed and processivity. Further, we show that network contraction rates scale linearly with the single-motor speed in quasi one-dimensional contraction experiments. In all, this theoretical and experimental work helps elucidate how microscopic motor properties are translated to the much larger scale of collective motor-microtubule assemblies.
B12-induced reassembly of split photoreceptor protein enables photoresponsive hydrogels with tunable mechanics.
Although the tools based on split proteins have found broad applications, ranging from controlled biological signaling to advanced molecular architectures, many of them suffer from drawbacks such as background reassembly, low thermodynamic stability, and static structural features. Here, we present a chemically inducible protein assembly method enabled by the dissection of the carboxyl-terminal domain of a B12-dependent photoreceptor, CarHC. The resulting segments reassemble efficiently upon addition of cobalamin (AdoB12, MeB12, or CNB12). Photolysis of the cofactors such as AdoB12 and MeB12 further leads to stable protein adducts harboring a bis-His-ligated B12. Split CarHC enables the creation of a series of protein hydrogels, of which the mechanics can be either photostrengthened or photoweakened, depending on the type of B12. These materials are also well suited for three dimensional cell culturing. Together, this new protein chemistry, featuring negligible background autoassembly, stable conjugation, and phototunability, has opened up opportunities for designing smart materials.
An Optogenetic Toolbox for Synergistic Regulation of Protein Abundance.
Optogenetic tools have been proven to be useful in regulating cellular processes via an external signal. Light can be applied with high spatial and temporal precision as well as easily modulated in quantity and quality. Natural photoreceptors of the light oxygen voltage (LOV) domain family have been characterized in depth, especially the LOV2 domain of Avena sativa (As) phototropin 1 and its derivatives. Information on the behavior of LOV2 variants with changes in the photocycle or the light response has been recorded. Here, we applied well-described photocycle mutations on the AsLOV2 domain of a photosensitive transcription factor (psTF) as well as its variant that is part of the photosensitive degron (psd) psd3 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In vivo and in vitro measurements revealed that each photoreceptor component of the light-sensitive transcription factor and the psd3 module can be modulated in its light sensitivity by mutations that are known to prolong or shorten the dark-reversion time of AsLOV2. Yet, only two of the mutations showed differences in the in vivo behavior in the context of the psd3 module. For the AsLOV2 domain in the context of the psTF, we observed different characteristics for all four variants. Molecular dynamics simulations showed distinct influences of the shortened Jα helix and the V416L mutation in the context of the psd3 photoreceptor. In conclusion, we demonstrated the tunability of two optogenetic tools with a set of mutations that affect the photocycle of the inherent photoreceptors. As these optogenetic tools are concurrent in their action, pleiotropic effects on target protein abundance are achievable with the simultaneous action of the diverse photoreceptor variants.
A novel mechanism of bulk cytoplasmic transport by cortical dynein in Drosophila ovary.
Cytoplasmic dynein, a major minus-end directed microtubule motor, plays essential roles in eukaryotic cells. Drosophila oocyte growth is mainly dependent on the contribution of cytoplasmic contents from the interconnected sister cells, nurse cells. We have previously shown that cytoplasmic dynein is required for Drosophila oocyte growth, and assumed that it transports cargoes along microtubule tracks from nurse cells to the oocyte. Here we report that instead transporting cargoes along microtubules into the oocyte, cortical dynein actively moves microtubules in nurse cells and from nurse cells to the oocyte via the cytoplasmic bridges, the ring canals. We demonstrate this microtubule movement is sufficient to drag even inert cytoplasmic particles through the ring canals to the oocyte. Furthermore, replacing dynein with a minus-end directed plant kinesin linked to the actin cortex is sufficient for transporting organelles and cytoplasm to the oocyte and driving its growth. These experiments show that cortical dynein can perform bulk cytoplasmic transport by gliding microtubules along the cell cortex and through the ring canals to the oocyte. We propose that the dynein-driven microtubule flow could serve as a novel mode of cargo transport for fast cytoplasmic transfer to support rapid oocyte growth.
OptoAssay - Light-controlled Dynamic Bioassay Using Optogenetic Switches.
Circumventing the limitations of current bioassays, we introduce the first light-controlled assay, the OptoAssay, towards wash- and pump-free point-of-care diagnostics. Extending the capabilities of standard bioassays with light-dependent and reversible interaction of optogenetic switches, OptoAssays enable a bi-directional movement of assay components, only by changing the wavelength of light. Combined with smartphones, OptoAssays obviate the need for external flow control systems like pumps or valves and signal readout devices.
Gigavalent display of proteins on monodisperse polyacrylamide hydrogels as a versatile modular platform for functional assays and protein engineering.
The robust modularity of biological components that are assembled into complex functional systems is central to synthetic biology. Here we apply modular “plug and play” design principles to a microscale solid phase protein display system that enables protein purification and functional assays for biotherapeutics. Specifically, we capture protein molecules from cell lysates on polyacrylamide hydrogel display beads (‘PHD beads’), made in microfluidic droplet generators. These monodisperse PHD beads are decorated with predefined amounts of anchors, methacrylate-PEG-benzylguanine (BG) and methacrylate-PEG-chloroalkane (CA). Anchors form covalent bonds with fusion proteins bearing cognate tag recognition (SNAP and Halo-tags) in specific, orthogonal and stable fashion. Given that these anchors are copolymerised throughout the 3D structure of the beads, proteins are also distributed across the entire bead sphere, allowing attachment of ∼109 protein molecules per bead (Ø 20 μm). This mode of attachment reaches a higher density than possible on widely used surface-modified beads, and additionally mitigates surface effects that often complicate studies with proteins on beads. We showcase a diverse array of protein modules that enable the secondary capture of proteins, either non-covalently (IgG and SUMO-tag) or covalently (SpyCatcher, SpyTag, SnpCatcher and SnpTag). Proteins can be displayed in their monomeric forms, but also reformatted as a multivalent display (using secondary capture modules that create branches) to test the contributions of avidity and multivalency towards protein function. Finally, controlled release of modules by irradiation of light is achieved by incorporating the photocleavable protein PhoCl: irradiation severs the displayed protein from the solid support, so that functional assays can be carried out in solution. As a demonstration of the utility of valency engineering, an antibody drug screen is performed, in which an anti-TRAIL-R1 scFv protein is released into solution as monomers-hexamers, showing a ∼50-fold enhanced potency in the pentavalent format. The ease of protein purification on solid support, quantitative control over presentation and release of proteins and choice of valency make this experimental format a versatile, modular platform for large scale functional analysis of proteins, in bioassays of protein-protein interactions, enzymatic catalysis and bacteriolysis.
Engineering Photoresponsive Ligand Tethers for Mechanical Regulation of Stem Cells.
Regulating stem cell functions by precisely controlling the nanoscale presentation of bioactive ligands has a substantial impact on tissue engineering and regenerative medicine but remains a major challenge. Here it is shown that bioactive ligands can become mechanically "invisible" by increasing their tether lengths to the substrate beyond a critical length, providing a way to regulate mechanotransduction without changing the biochemical conditions. Building on this finding, light switchable tethers are rationally designed, whose lengths can be modulated reversibly by switching a light-responsive protein, pdDronpa, in between monomer and dimer states. This allows the regulation of the adhesion, spreading, and differentiation of stem cells by light on substrates of well-defined biochemical and physical properties. Spatiotemporal regulation of differential cell fates on the same substrate is further demonstrated, which may represent an important step toward constructing complex organoids or mini tissues by spatially defining the mechanical cues of the cellular microenvironment with light.
Light-Responsive Dynamic Protein Hydrogels Based on LOVTRAP.
Protein-based hydrogels can mimic many aspects of native extracellular matrices (ECMs) and are promising biomedical materials that find various applications in cell proliferation, drug/cell delivery, and tissue engineering. To be adapted for different tasks, it is important that the mechanical and/or biochemical properties of protein-based hydrogels can be regulated by external stimuli. Light as a regulation stimulus is of advantage because it can be easily applied in demanded spatiotemporal manners. The noncovalent binding between the light-oxygen-voltage-sensing domain 2 (LOV2) and its binding partner ZDark1 (zdk1), named as LOVTRAP, is a light-responsive interaction. The binding affinity of LOVTRAP is much higher in dark than that under blue light irradiation. Taking advantage of these light-responsive interactions, herein we endeavored to use LOVTRAP as a crosslinking mechanism to engineer light-responsive protein hydrogels. Using LOV2-containing and zdk1-containing multifunctional protein building blocks, we successfully engineered a light-responsive protein hydrogel whose viscoelastic properties can change in response to light: in the dark, the hydrogel showed higher storage modulus; under blue light irradiation, the storage modulus decreased. Due to the noncovalent nature of the LOVTRAP, the engineered LOVTRAP protein hydrogels displayed shear-thinning and self-healing properties and served as an excellent injectable protein hydrogel. We anticipated that this new class of light-responsive protein hydrogels will broaden the scope of dynamic protein hydrogels and help develop other light-responsive protein hydrogels for biomedical applications.
Cell to Cell Signaling through Light in Artificial Cell Communities: Glowing Predator Lures Prey.
Cells commonly communicate with each other through diffusible molecules but nonchemical communication remains elusive. While bioluminescent organisms communicate through light to find prey or attract mates, it is still under debate if signaling through light is possible at the cellular level. Here, we demonstrate that cell to cell signaling through light is possible in artificial cell communities derived from biomimetic vesicles. In our design, artificial sender cells produce an intracellular light signal, which triggers the adhesion to receiver cells. Unlike soluble molecules, the light signal propagates fast, independent of diffusion and without the need for a transporter across membranes. To obtain a predator-prey relationship, the luminescence predator cells is loaded with a secondary diffusible poison, which is transferred to the prey cell upon adhesion and leads to its lysis. This design provides a blueprint for light based intercellular communication, which can be used for programing artificial and natural cell communities.
Engineering a Blue Light Inducible SpyTag System (BLISS).
The SpyCatcher/SpyTag protein conjugation system has recently exploded in popularity due to its fast kinetics and high yield under biologically favorable conditions in both in vitro and intracellular settings. The utility of this system could be expanded by introducing the ability to spatially and temporally control the conjugation event. Taking inspiration from photoreceptor proteins in nature, we designed a method to integrate light dependency into the protein conjugation reaction. The light-oxygen-voltage domain 2 of Avena sativa (AsLOV2) undergoes a dramatic conformational change in its c-terminal Jα-helix in response to blue light. By inserting SpyTag into the different locations of the Jα-helix, we created a blue light inducible SpyTag system (BLISS). In this design, the SpyTag is blocked from reacting with the SpyCatcher in the dark, but upon irradiation with blue light, the Jα-helix of the AsLOV2 undocks to expose the SpyTag. We tested several insertion sites and characterized the kinetics. We found three variants with dynamic ranges over 15, which were active within different concentration ranges. These could be tuned using SpyCatcher variants with different reaction kinetics. Further, the reaction could be instantaneously quenched by removing light. We demonstrated the spatial aspect of this light control mechanism through photopatterning of two fluorescent proteins. This system offers opportunities for many other biofabrication and optogenetics applications.
Bioluminescent Synthetic Cells Communicate with Natural Cells and Self-Activate Light-Responsive Proteins.
Development of regulated cellular processes and signaling methods in synthetic cells is essential for their integration with living materials. Light is an attractive tool to achieve this, but the limited penetration depth into tissue of visible light restricts its usability for in-vivo applications. Here, we describe the synthesis and application of blue-light-generating synthetic cells using bioluminescence, dismissing the need for an external light source. First, the lipid membrane and internal composition of light-producing synthetic cells were optimized to enable high-intensity emission. Next, we show these cells’ capacity for triggering bioprocesses in natural cells by initiating asexual sporulation of dark-grown mycelial cells of the fungus Trichoderma atroviride in a quorum-sensing like mechanism. Finally, we demonstrate regulated transcription and membrane recruitment in synthetic cells using bioluminescent self-activating fusion proteins. These functionalities pave the way for deploying synthetic cells as embeddable microscale light sources that are capable of activating engineered processes inside tissues.
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.
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.
An Optogenetic Platform to Dynamically Control the Stiffness of Collagen Hydrogels.
The extracellular matrix (ECM) comprises a meshwork of biomacromolecules whose composition, architecture, and macroscopic properties, such as mechanics, instruct cell fate decisions during development and disease progression. Current methods implemented in mechanotransduction studies either fail to capture real-time mechanical dynamics or utilize synthetic polymers that lack the fibrillar nature of their natural counterparts. Here we present an optogenetic-inspired tool to construct light-responsive ECM mimetic hydrogels comprised exclusively of natural ECM proteins. Optogenetic tools offer seconds temporal resolution and submicron spatial resolution, permitting researchers to probe cell signaling dynamics with unprecedented precision. Here we demonstrated our approach of using SNAP-tag and its thiol-targeted substrate, benzylguanine-maleimide, to covalently attach blue-light-responsive proteins to collagen hydrogels. The resulting material (OptoGel), in addition to encompassing the native biological activity of collagen, stiffens upon exposure to blue light and softens in the dark. Optogels have immediate use in dissecting the cellular response to acute mechanical inputs and may also have applications in next-generation biointerfacing prosthetics.
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.
Dynamically tunable light responsive silk-elastin-like proteins.
Dynamically tunable biomaterials are of particular interest in the field of biomedical engineering because of the potential utility for shape-change materials, drug and cell delivery and tissue regeneration. Stimuli-responsive proteins formed into hydrogels are potential candidates for such systems, due to the genetic tailorability and control over structure-function relationships. Here we report the synthesis of genetically engineered Silk-Elastin-Like Protein (SELP) photoresponsive hydrogels. Polymerization of the SELPs and monomeric adenosylcobalamin (AdoB12)-dependent photoreceptor C-terminal adenosylcobalamin binding domain (CarHC) was achieved using genetically encoded SpyTag-SpyCatcher peptide-protein pairs under mild physiological conditions. The hydrogels exhibited a partial collapse of the crosslinked molecular network with both decreased loss and storage moduli upon exposure to visible light. The materials were also evaluated for cytotoxicity and the encapsulation and release of L929 murine fibroblasts from 3D cultures. The design of these photo-responsible proteins provides new stimuli-responsive SELP-CarHC hydrogels for dynamically tunable protein-based materials.
Injectable, photoresponsive hydrogels for delivering neuroprotective proteins enabled by metal-directed protein assembly.
Axon regeneration constitutes a fundamental challenge for regenerative neurobiology, which necessitates the use of tailor-made biomaterials for controllable delivery of cells and biomolecules. An increasingly popular approach for creating these materials is to directly assemble engineered proteins into high-order structures, a process that often relies on sophisticated protein chemistry. Here, we present a simple approach for creating injectable, photoresponsive hydrogels via metal-directed assembly of His6-tagged proteins. The B12-dependent photoreceptor protein CarHC can complex with transition metal ions through an amino-terminal His6-tag, which can further undergo a sol-gel transition upon addition of AdoB12, leading to the formation of hydrogels with marked injectability and photodegradability. The inducible phase transitions further enabled facile encapsulation and release of cells and proteins. Injecting the Zn2+-coordinated gels decorated with leukemia inhibitory factor into injured mouse optic nerves led to prolonged cellular signaling and enhanced axon regeneration. This study illustrates a powerful strategy for designing injectable biomaterials.
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.
Multistimuli Sensing Adhesion Unit for the Self-Positioning of Minimal Synthetic Cells.
Cells have the ability to sense different environmental signals and position themselves accordingly in order to support their survival. Introducing analogous capabilities to the bottom-up assembled minimal synthetic cells is an important step for their autonomy. Here, a minimal synthetic cell which combines a multistimuli sensitive adhesion unit with an energy conversion module is reported, such that it can adhere to places that have the right environmental parameters for ATP production. The multistimuli sensitive adhesion unit senses light, pH, oxidative stress, and the presence of metal ions and can regulate the adhesion of synthetic cells to substrates in response to these stimuli following a chemically coded logic. The adhesion unit is composed of the light and redox responsive protein interaction of iLID and Nano and the pH sensitive and metal ion mediated binding of protein His-tags to Ni2+ -NTA complexes. Integration of the adhesion unit with a light to ATP conversion module into one synthetic cell allows it to adhere to places under blue light illumination, non-oxidative conditions, at neutral pH and in the presence of metal ions, which are the right conditions to synthesize ATP. Thus, the multistimuli responsive adhesion unit allows synthetic cells to self-position and execute their functions.
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.