Showing 1 - 25 of 58 results
A CRISPR-Cas9-Based Near-Infrared Upconversion-Activated DNA Methylation Editing System.
DNA methylation is a kind of a crucial epigenetic marker orchestrating gene expression, molecular function, and cellular phenotype. However, manipulating the methylation status of specific genes remains challenging. Here, a clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats-Cas9-based near-infrared upconversion-activated DNA methylation editing system (CNAMS) was designed for the optogenetic editing of DNA methylation. The fusion proteins of photosensitive CRY2PHR, the catalytic domain of DNMT3A or TET1, and the fusion proteins for CIBN and catalytically inactive Cas9 (dCas9) were engineered. The CNAMS could control DNA methylation editing in response to blue light, thus allowing methylation editing in a spatiotemporal manner. Furthermore, after combination with upconversion nanoparticles, the spectral sensitivity of DNA methylation editing was extended from the blue light to near-infrared (NIR) light, providing the possibility for remote DNA methylation editing. These results demonstrated a meaningful step forward toward realizing the specific editing of DNA methylation, suggesting the wide utility of our CNAMS for functional studies on epigenetic regulation and potential therapeutic strategies for related diseases.
A synthetic BRET-based optogenetic device for pulsatile transgene expression enabling glucose homeostasis in mice.
Pulsing cellular dynamics in genetic circuits have been shown to provide critical capabilities to cells in stress response, signaling and development. Despite the fascinating discoveries made in the past few years, the mechanisms and functional capabilities of most pulsing systems remain unclear, and one of the critical challenges is the lack of a technology that allows pulsatile regulation of transgene expression both in vitro and in vivo. Here, we describe the development of a synthetic BRET-based transgene expression (LuminON) system based on a luminescent transcription factor, termed luminGAVPO, by fusing NanoLuc luciferase to the light-switchable transcription factor GAVPO. luminGAVPO allows pulsatile and quantitative activation of transgene expression via both chemogenetic and optogenetic approaches in mammalian cells and mice. Both the pulse amplitude and duration of transgene expression are highly tunable via adjustment of the amount of furimazine. We further demonstrated LuminON-mediated blood-glucose homeostasis in type 1 diabetic mice. We believe that the BRET-based LuminON system with the pulsatile dynamics of transgene expression provides a highly sensitive tool for precise manipulation in biological systems that has strong potential for application in diverse basic biological studies and gene- and cell-based precision therapies in the future.
Liquid-liquid phase separation of light-inducible transcription factors increases transcription activation in mammalian cells and mice.
Light-inducible gene switches represent a key strategy for the precise manipulation of cellular events in fundamental and applied research. However, the performance of widely used gene switches is limited due to low tissue penetrance and possible phototoxicity of the light stimulus. To overcome these limitations, we engineer optogenetic synthetic transcription factors to undergo liquid-liquid phase separation in close spatial proximity to promoters. Phase separation of constitutive and optogenetic synthetic transcription factors was achieved by incorporation of intrinsically disordered regions. Supported by a quantitative mathematical model, we demonstrate that engineered transcription factor droplets form at target promoters and increase gene expression up to fivefold. This increase in performance was observed in multiple mammalian cells lines as well as in mice following in situ transfection. The results of this work suggest that the introduction of intrinsically disordered domains is a simple yet effective means to boost synthetic transcription factor activity.
Efficient photoactivatable Dre recombinase for cell type-specific spatiotemporal control of genome engineering in the mouse.
Precise genetic engineering in specific cell types within an intact organism is intriguing yet challenging, especially in a spatiotemporal manner without the interference caused by chemical inducers. Here we engineered a photoactivatable Dre recombinase based on the identification of an optimal split site and demonstrated that it efficiently regulated transgene expression in mouse tissues spatiotemporally upon blue light illumination. Moreover, through a double-floxed inverted open reading frame strategy, we developed a Cre-activated light-inducible Dre (CALID) system. Taking advantage of well-defined cell-type-specific promoters or a well-established Cre transgenic mouse strain, we demonstrated that the CALID system was able to activate endogenous reporter expression for either bulk or sparse labeling of CaMKIIα-positive excitatory neurons and parvalbumin interneurons in the brain. This flexible and tunable system could be a powerful tool for the dissection and modulation of developmental and genetic complexity in a wide range of biological systems.
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.
Optogenetic regulation of embryo implantation in mice using photoactivatable CRISPR-Cas9.
Embryo implantation is achieved upon successful interaction between a fertilized egg and receptive endometrium and is mediated by spatiotemporal expression of implantation-associated molecules including leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF). Here we demonstrate, in mice, that LIF knockdown via a photoactivatable CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system and illumination with a light-emitting diode can spatiotemporally disrupt fertility. This system enables dissection of spatiotemporal molecular mechanisms associated with embryo implantation and provides a therapeutic strategy for temporal control of reproductive functions in vivo.
Spatiotemporal regulation of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation via upconversion optogenetic nanosystem.
Protein degradation technology, which is one of the most direct and effective ways to regulate the life activities of cells, is expected to be applied to the treatment of various diseases. However, current protein degradation technologies such as some small-molecule degraders which are unable to achieve spatiotemporal regulation, making them difficult to transform into clinical applications. In this article, an upconversion optogenetic nanosystem was designed to attain accurate regulation of protein degradation. This system worked via two interconnected parts: 1) the host cell expressed light-sensitive protein that could trigger the ubiquitinproteasome pathway upon blue-light exposure; 2) the light regulated light-sensitive protein by changing light conditions to achieve regulation of protein degradation. Experimental results based on model protein (Green Fluorescent Protein, GFP) validated that this system could fulfill protein degradation both in vitro (both Hela and 293T cells) and in vivo (by upconversion optogenetic nanosystem), and further demonstrated that we could reach spatiotemporal regulation by changing the illumination time (0–25 h) and the illumination frequency (the illuminating frequency of 0–30 s every 1 min). We further took another functional protein (The Nonstructural Protein 9, NSP9) into experiment. Results confirmed that the proliferation of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) was inhibited by degrading the NSP9 in this light-induced system, and PRRSV proliferation was affected by different light conditions (illumination time varies from 0–24 h). We expected this system could provide new perspectives into spatiotemporal regulation of protein degradation and help realize the clinical application transformation for treating diseases of protein degradation technology.
A non-invasive far-red light-induced split-Cre recombinase system for controllable genome engineering in mice.
The Cre-loxP recombination system is a powerful tool for genetic manipulation. However, there are widely recognized limitations with chemically inducible Cre-loxP systems, and the UV and blue-light induced systems have phototoxicity and minimal capacity for deep tissue penetration. Here, we develop a far-red light-induced split Cre-loxP system (FISC system) based on a bacteriophytochrome optogenetic system and split-Cre recombinase, enabling optogenetical regulation of genome engineering in vivo solely by utilizing a far-red light (FRL). The FISC system exhibits low background and no detectable photocytotoxicity, while offering efficient FRL-induced DNA recombination. Our in vivo studies showcase the strong organ-penetration capacity of FISC system, markedly outperforming two blue-light-based Cre systems for recombination induction in the liver. Demonstrating its strong clinical relevance, we successfully deploy a FISC system using adeno-associated virus (AAV) delivery. Thus, the FISC system expands the optogenetic toolbox for DNA recombination to achieve spatiotemporally controlled, non-invasive genome engineering in living systems.
Photoactivatable oncolytic adenovirus for optogenetic cancer therapy.
Virotherapy using oncolytic adenovirus is an effective anticancer strategy. However, the tumor selectivity of oncolytic adenoviruses is not enough high. To develop oncolytic adenovirus with a low risk of off-tumor toxicity, we constructed a photoactivatable oncolytic adenovirus (paOAd). In response to blue light irradiation, the expression of adenoviral E1 genes, which are necessary for adenoviral replication, is induced and replication of this adenovirus occurs. In vitro, efficient lysis of various human cancer cell lines was observed by paOAd infection followed by blue light irradiation. Importantly, there was no off-tumor toxicity unless the cells were irradiated by blue light. In vivo, tumor growth in a subcutaneous tumor model and a mouse model of liver cancer was significantly inhibited by paOAd infection followed by blue light irradiation. In addition, paOAd also showed a therapeutic effect on cancer stem cells. These results suggest that paOAd is useful as a safe and therapeutically effective cancer therapy.
Engineering a far-red light–activated split-Cas9 system for remote-controlled genome editing of internal organs and tumors.
It is widely understood that CRISPR-Cas9 technology is revolutionary, with well-recognized issues including the potential for off-target edits and the attendant need for spatiotemporal control of editing. Here, we describe a far-red light (FRL)–activated split-Cas9 (FAST) system that can robustly induce gene editing in both mammalian cells and mice. Through light-emitting diode–based FRL illumination, the FAST system can efficiently edit genes, including nonhomologous end joining and homology-directed repair, for multiple loci in human cells. Further, we show that FAST readily achieves FRL-induced editing of internal organs in tdTomato reporter mice. Finally, FAST was demonstrated to achieve FRL-triggered editing of the PLK1 oncogene in a mouse xenograft tumor model. Beyond extending the spectrum of light energies in optogenetic toolbox for CRISPR-Cas9 technologies, this study demonstrates how FAST system can be deployed for programmable deep tissue gene editing in both biological and biomedical contexts toward high precision and spatial specificity.
Photoactivatable Cre recombinase 3.0 for in vivo mouse applications.
Optogenetic genome engineering tools enable spatiotemporal control of gene expression and provide new insight into biological function. Here, we report the new version of genetically encoded photoactivatable (PA) Cre recombinase, PA-Cre 3.0. To improve PA-Cre technology, we compare light-dimerization tools and optimize for mammalian expression using a CAG promoter, Magnets, and 2A self-cleaving peptide. To prevent background recombination caused by the high sequence similarity in the dimerization domains, we modify the codons for mouse gene targeting and viral production. Overall, these modifications significantly reduce dark leak activity and improve blue-light induction developing our new version, PA-Cre 3.0. As a resource, we have generated and validated AAV-PA-Cre 3.0 as well as two mouse lines that can conditionally express PA-Cre 3.0. Together these new tools will facilitate further biological and biomedical research.
Optogenetic stimulation of phosphoinositides reveals a critical role of primary cilia in eye pressure regulation.
Glaucoma is a group of progressive optic neuropathies that cause irreversible vision loss. Although elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is associated with the development and progression of glaucoma, the mechanisms for its regulation are not well understood. Here, we have designed CIBN/CRY2-based optogenetic constructs to study phosphoinositide regulation within distinct subcellular compartments. We show that stimulation of CRY2-OCRL, an inositol 5-phosphatase, increases aqueous humor outflow and lowers IOP in vivo, which is caused by a calcium-dependent actin rearrangement of the trabecular meshwork cells. Phosphoinositide stimulation also rescues defective aqueous outflow and IOP in a Lowe syndrome mouse model but not in IFT88fl/fl mice that lack functional cilia. Thus, our study is the first to use optogenetics to regulate eye pressure and demonstrate that tight regulation of phosphoinositides is critical for aqueous humor homeostasis in both normal and diseased eyes.
A combination of LightOn gene expression system and tumor microenvironment-responsive nanoparticle delivery system for targeted breast cancer therapy.
A light-switchable transgene system called LightOn gene expression system could regulate gene expression with a high on/off ratio under blue light, and have great potential for spatiotemporally controllable gene expression. We developed a nanoparticle drug delivery system (NDDS) to achieve tumor microenvironment-responsive and targeted delivery of diphtheria toxin A (DTA) fragment-encoded plasmids to tumor sites. The expression of DTA was induced by exposure to blue light. Nanoparticles composed of polyethylenimine and vitamin E succinate linked by a disulfide bond, and PEGylated hyaluronic acid modified with RGD peptide, accumulated in tumor tissues and were actively internalized into 4T1 cells via dual targeting to CD44 and αvβ3 receptors. The LightOn gene expression system was able to control target protein expression through regulation of the intensity or duration of blue light exposure. In vitro studies showed that light-induced DTA expression reduced 4T1 cell viability and induced apoptosis. Furthermore, the LightOn gene expression system enabled spatiotemporal control of the expression of DTA in a mouse 4T1 tumor xenograft model, which resulted in excellent antitumor effects, reduced tumor angiogenesis, and no systemic toxicity. The combination of the LightOn gene expression system and NDDS may be an effective strategy for treatment of breast cancer.
Dynamic Fas signaling network regulates neural stem cell proliferation and memory enhancement.
Activation of Fas (CD95) is observed in various neurological disorders and can lead to both apoptosis and prosurvival outputs, yet how Fas signaling operates dynamically in the hippocampus is poorly understood. The optogenetic dissection of a signaling network can yield molecular-level explanations for cellular responses or fates, including the signaling dysfunctions seen in numerous diseases. Here, we developed an optogenetically activatable Fas that works in a physiologically plausible manner. Fas activation in immature neurons of the dentate gyrus triggered mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activation and subsequent brain-derived neurotrophic factor secretion. Phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk) in neural stem cells was induced under prolonged Fas activation. Repetitive activation of this signaling network yielded proliferation of neural stem cells and a transient increase in spatial working memory in mice. Our results demonstrate a novel Fas signaling network in the dentate gyrus and illuminate its consequences for adult neurogenesis and memory enhancement.
RecV recombinase system for in vivo targeted optogenomic modifications of single cells or cell populations.
Brain circuits comprise vast numbers of interconnected neurons with diverse molecular, anatomical and physiological properties. To allow targeting of individual neurons for structural and functional studies, we created light-inducible site-specific DNA recombinases based on Cre, Dre and Flp (RecVs). RecVs can induce genomic modifications by one-photon or two-photon light induction in vivo. They can produce targeted, sparse and strong labeling of individual neurons by modifying multiple loci within mouse and zebrafish genomes. In combination with other genetic strategies, they allow intersectional targeting of different neuronal classes. In the mouse cortex they enable sparse labeling and whole-brain morphological reconstructions of individual neurons. Furthermore, these enzymes allow single-cell two-photon targeted genetic modifications and can be used in combination with functional optical indicators with minimal interference. In summary, RecVs enable spatiotemporally precise optogenomic modifications that can facilitate detailed single-cell analysis of neural circuits by linking genetic identity, morphology, connectivity and function.
Establishment of a tTA-dependent photoactivatable Cre recombinase knock-in mouse model for optogenetic genome engineering.
The Cre-loxP recombination system is widely used to generate genetically modified mice for biomedical research. Recently, a highly efficient photoactivatable Cre (PA-Cre) based on reassembly of split Cre fragments has been established. This technology enables efficient DNA recombination that is activated upon blue light illumination with spatiotemporal precision. In this study, we generated a tTA-dependent photoactivatable Cre-loxP recombinase knock-in mouse model (TRE-PA-Cre mice) using a CRISPR/Cas9 system. These mice were crossed with ROSA26-tdTomato mice (Cre reporter mouse) to visualize DNA recombination as marked by tdTomato expression. We demonstrated that external noninvasive LED blue light illumination allows efficient DNA recombination in the liver of TRE-PA-Cre:ROSA26-tdTomato mice transfected with tTA expression vectors using hydrodynamic tail vein injection. The TRE-PA-Cre mouse established here promises to be useful for optogenetic genome engineering in a noninvasive, spatiotemporal, and cell-type specific manner in vivo.
Optogenetic manipulation of calcium signals in single T cells in vivo.
By offering the possibility to manipulate cellular functions with spatiotemporal control, optogenetics represents an attractive tool for dissecting immune responses. However, applying these approaches to single cells in vivo remains particularly challenging for immune cells that are typically located in scattering tissues. Here, we introduce an improved calcium actuator with sensitivity allowing for two-photon photoactivation. Furthermore, we identify an actuator/reporter combination that permits the simultaneous manipulation and visualization of calcium signals in individual T cells in vivo. With this strategy, we document the consequences of defined patterns of calcium signals on T cell migration, adhesion, and chemokine release. Manipulation of individual immune cells in vivo should open new avenues for establishing the functional contribution of single immune cells engaged in complex reactions.
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.
Optogenetic modulation of TrkB signaling in the mouse brain.
Optogenetic activation of receptors has advantages compared with chemical or ligand treatment because of its high spatial and temporal precision. Especially in the brain, the use of a genetically encoded light-tunable receptor is superior to direct infusion or systemic drug treatment. We applied light activatable TrkB receptor in mouse brain with reduced basal activity by incorporating Cry2PHR mutant, Opto-cytTrkB(E281A). Upon AAV mediated gene delivery, this form was expressed at sufficient levels in the mouse hippocampus (HPC) and medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) retaining normal canonical signal transduction by blue light stimulus, even by delivery of non-invasive LED light on the mouse head. Within target cells, where its expression was driven by a cell type-specific promoter, Opto-cytTrkB(E281A)-mediated TrkB signaling could be controlled by adjusting light-stimulation conditions. We further demonstrated that Opto-cytTrkB(E281A) could locally induce TrkB signaling in axon terminals in the MEC-HPC. In summary, Opto-cytTrkB(E281A) will be useful for elucidating time- and region-specific roles of TrkB signaling ranging from cellular function to neural circuit mechanisms.
Non-invasive optical control of endogenous Ca2+ channels in awake mice.
Optogenetic approaches for controlling Ca2+ channels provide powerful means for modulating diverse Ca2+-specific biological events in space and time. However, blue light-responsive photoreceptors are, in principle, considered inadequate for deep tissue stimulation unless accompanied by optic fiber insertion. Here, we present an ultra-light-sensitive optogenetic Ca2+ modulator, named monSTIM1 encompassing engineered cryptochrome2 for manipulating Ca2+ signaling in the brain of awake mice through non-invasive light delivery. Activation of monSTIM1 in either excitatory neurons or astrocytes of mice brain is able to induce Ca2+-dependent gene expression without any mechanical damage in the brain. Furthermore, we demonstrate that non-invasive Ca2+ modulation in neurons can be sufficiently and effectively translated into changes in behavioral phenotypes of awake mice.
A time-dependent role for the transcription factor CREB in neuronal allocation to an engram underlying a fear memory revealed using a novel in vivo optogenetic tool to modulate CREB function.
The internal representation of an experience is thought to be encoded by long-lasting physical changes to the brain ("engrams") (Josselyn et al. Nat Rev Neurosci 16:521-534, 2015; Josselyn et al. J Neurosci 37:4647-4657, 2017; Schacter. 2001; Tonegawa et al. Neuron 87:918-931, 2015). Previously, we (Han et al. Science 316:457-460, 2007) and others (Zhou et al. Nat Neurosci 12:1438-1443, 2009) showed within the lateral amygdala (LA), a region critical for auditory conditioned fear, eligible neurons compete against one other for allocation to an engram. Neurons with relatively higher function of the transcription factor CREB were more likely to be allocated to the engram. In these studies, though, CREB function was artificially increased for several days before training. Precisely when increased CREB function is important for allocation remains an unanswered question. Here, we took advantage of a novel optogenetic tool (opto-DN-CREB) (Ali et al. Chem Biol 22:1531-1539, 2015) to gain spatial and temporal control of CREB function in freely behaving mice. We found increasing CREB function in a small, random population of LA principal neurons in the minutes-hours, but not 24 h, before training was sufficient to enhance memory, likely because these neurons were preferentially allocated to the underlying engram. However, similarly increasing CREB activity in a small population of random LA neurons immediately after training disrupted subsequent memory retrieval, likely by disrupting the precise spatial and temporal patterns of offline post-training neuronal activity and/or function required for consolidation. These findings reveal the importance of the timing of CREB activity in regulating allocation and subsequent memory retrieval, and further, highlight the potential of optogenetic approaches to control protein function with temporal specificity in behaving animals.
Blue light-triggered optogenetic system for treating uveal melanoma.
Uveal melanoma is the most common intraocular primary malignancy in adults and has been considered a fatal disease for decades. Optogenetics is an emerging technique that can control the activation of signaling components via irradiation with visible light. The clinical translation of optogenetics has been limited because of the need for surgical implantation of electrodes and relatively shallow tissue penetration. As visible light easily penetrates the eyes, we hypothesized that an optogenetics approach can be an effective treatment of uveal melanoma without surgery. In this study, we evaluated the feasibility of this strategy by using a genetically encoded optogenetic system based on reversible blue light-induced binding pairs between Fas-CIB1-EGFP and CRY2-mCherry-FADD. Subretinal injection of B16 cells was performed to create a uveal melanoma model. Plasmids pairs were co-transfected into B16 cells. We found that blue light irradiation dynamically controlled the translocation of FADD to Fas on the plasma membrane and induced the apoptosis of B16 cells transfected with the optogenetic nanosystem in vitro. Moreover, the blue light-controlled optogenetic nanosystem suppressed the growth of uveal melanoma in vivo by inducing apoptosis. These results suggest that light-controlled optogenetic therapy can be used as a potential novel therapeutic strategy for uveal melanoma.
Visualization of a blue light transmission area in living animals using light-induced nuclear translocation of fluorescent proteins.
Optical manipulations are widely used to analyze neuronal functions in vivo. Blue light is frequently used to activate channelrhodopsins or LOV domains, although the degrees of its absorption and scattering are higher than those of longer wavelength light. High spatial resolution of optical manipulation is easily achieved in vitro, while the light is unevenly scattered and absorbed in tissues due to many factors. It is difficult to spatially measure a blue light transmission area in vivo. Here, we propose a genetic method to visualize blue light transmission in the brain and other organs using light-induced nuclear translocation of fluorescent proteins with a LOV domain. A light-inducible nuclear localization signal (LINuS) consists of a LOV2 domain fused with a nuclear localization signal (NLS). We confirmed that blue light illumination induced reversible translocation of NES-tdTomato-LINuS from the cytosol to the nucleus within 30 min in HEK293 cells. By employing a PHP.eb capsid that can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, retro-orbital sinus injection of adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors induced scattered expression of nuclear export signal (NES)-tdTomato-LINuS in the brain. We confirmed that 30-min transcranial blue light illumination induced nuclear translocation of NES-tdTomato-LINuS in the cortex, the hippocampus, and even the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus. We also found that mice exposed to blue light in a shaved abdominal area exhibited a substantial increase in nuclear translocation in the ventral surface lobe of the liver. These results provide a simple way to obtain useful information on light transmission in tissues without any transgenic animals or skillful procedures.
FRET-assisted photoactivation of flavoproteins for in vivo two-photon optogenetics.
Optical dimerizers have been developed to untangle signaling pathways, but they are of limited use in vivo, partly due to their inefficient activation under two-photon (2P) excitation. To overcome this problem, we developed Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-assisted photoactivation, or FRAPA. On 2P excitation, mTagBFP2 efficiently absorbs and transfers the energy to the chromophore of CRY2. Based on structure-guided engineering, a chimeric protein with 40% FRET efficiency was developed and named 2P-activatable CRY2, or 2paCRY2. 2paCRY2 was employed to develop a RAF1 activation system named 2paRAF. In three-dimensionally cultured cells expressing 2paRAF, extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) was efficiently activated by 2P excitation at single-cell resolution. Photoactivation of ERK was also accomplished in the epidermal cells of 2paRAF-expressing mice. We further developed an mTFP1-fused LOV domain that exhibits efficient response to 2P excitation. Collectively, FRAPA will pave the way to single-cell optical control of signaling pathways in vivo.
A split CRISPR-Cpf1 platform for inducible genome editing and gene activation.
The CRISPR-Cpf1 endonuclease has recently been demonstrated as a powerful tool to manipulate targeted gene sequences. Here, we performed an extensive screening of split Cpf1 fragments and identified a pair that, combined with inducible dimerization domains, enables chemical- and light-inducible genome editing in human cells. We also identified another split Cpf1 pair that is spontaneously activated. The newly generated amino and carboxyl termini of the spontaneously activated split Cpf1 can be repurposed as de novo fusion sites of artificial effector domains. Based on this finding, we generated an improved split dCpf1 activator, which has the potential to activate endogenous genes more efficiently than a previously established dCas9 activator. Finally, we showed that the split dCpf1 activator can efficiently activate target genes in mice. These results demonstrate that the present split Cpf1 provides an efficient and sophisticated genome manipulation in the fields of basic research and biotechnological applications.