Showing 1 - 25 of 53 results
Neuropeptidergic regulation of neuromuscular signaling in larval zebrafish alters swimming behavior and synaptic transmission.
The regulation of synaptic transmission is crucial for plasticity, homeostasis and learning. Chemical synaptic transmission is thus modulated to accommodate different activity levels, which also enables homeostatic scaling in pre- and postsynaptic compartments. In nematodes, cAMP signaling enhances cholinergic neuron output, and these neurons use neuropeptide signaling to modulate synaptic vesicle content. To explore if this mechanism is conserved in vertebrates, we studied the involvement of neuropeptides in cholinergic transmission at the neuromuscular junction of larval zebrafish. Optogenetic stimulation by photoactivated adenylyl cyclase (bPAC) resulted in elevated locomotion as measured in behavioural assays. Furthermore, post-synaptic patch-clamp recordings revealed that in bPAC transgenics, the frequency of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) was increased after photostimulation. These results suggested that cAMP-mediated activation of ZF motor neurons leads to increased fusion of SVs, consequently resulting in enhanced neuromuscular activity. We generated mutants lacking the neuropeptide processing enzyme carboxypeptidase E (cpe), and the most abundant neuropeptide precursor in motor neurons, tachykinin (tac1). Both mutants showed exaggerated locomotion after photostimulation. cpe mutants exhibit lower mEPSC frequency during photostimulation and less large-amplitude mEPSCs. In tac1 mutants mEPSC frequency was not affected but amplitudes were significantly smaller. Exaggerated locomotion in the mutants thus reflected upscaling of postsynaptic excitability. cpe and tac1 mutant muscles expressed more nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) on their surface. Thus, neuropeptide signaling regulates synaptic transmitter output in zebrafish motor neurons, and muscle cells homeostatically regulate nAChR surface expression, compensating reduced presynaptic input. This mechanism may be widely conserved in the animal kingdom.
Lifelong molecular consequences of high Glucocorticoids exposure during development
Early life stress (ELS) is one of the strongest risk factors for developing psychiatric disorders in humans. As conserved key stress hormones of vertebrates, glucocorticoids (GCs) are thought to play an important role in mediating the effects of ELS exposure in shaping adult phenotypes. In this process, early exposure to high level of GCs may induce molecular changes that alter developmental trajectory of an animal and primes differential adult responses. However, comprehensive characterization of identities of molecules that are targeted by developmental GC exposure is currently lacking. In our study, we describe lifelong molecular consequences of high level of developmental GC exposure using an optogenetic zebrafish model. First, we developed a new double-hit stress model using zebrafish by combining exposure to a high endogenous GC level during development and acute adulthood stress exposure. Our results establish that similar to ELS-exposed humans and rodents, developmental GC exposed zebrafish model shows altered behavior and stress hypersensitivity in adulthood. Second, we generated time-series gene expression profiles of the brains in larvae, in adult, and upon stress exposure to identify molecular alterations induced by high developmental GC exposure at different developmental stages. Third, we identify a set of GC-primed genes that show altered expression upon acute stress exposure only in animals exposed to a high developmental GC. Interestingly, our datasets of GC primed genes are enriched in risk factors identified for human psychiatric disorders. Lastly, we identify potential epigenetic regulatory elements and associated post-transcriptional modifications following high developmental GC exposure. Thus, we present a translationally relevant zebrafish model for studying stress hypersensitivity and alteration of behavior induced by exposure to elevated GC levels during development. Our study provides comprehensive datasets delineating potential molecular targets underlying the impact of developmental high GC exposure on adult responses.
Spatiotemporal control of RNA metabolism and CRISPR-Cas functions using engineered photoswitchable RNA-binding proteins.
RNA molecules perform various crucial roles in diverse cellular processes, from translating genetic information to decoding the genome, regulating gene expression and catalyzing chemical reactions. RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) play an essential role in regulating the diverse behaviors and functions of RNA in live cells, but techniques for the spatiotemporal control of RBP activities and RNA functions are rarely reported yet highly desirable. We recently reported the development of LicV, a synthetic photoswitchable RBP that can bind to a specific RNA sequence in response to blue light irradiation. LicV has been used successfully for the optogenetic control of RNA localization, splicing, translation and stability, as well as for the photoswitchable regulation of transcription and genomic locus labeling. Compared to classical genetic or pharmacologic perturbations, LicV-based light-switchable effectors have the advantages of large dynamic range between dark and light conditions and submicron and millisecond spatiotemporal resolutions. In this protocol, we provide an easy, efficient and generalizable strategy for engineering photoswitchable RBPs for the spatiotemporal control of RNA metabolism. We also provide a detailed protocol for the conversion of a CRISPR-Cas system to optogenetic control. The protocols typically take 2-3 d, including transfection and results analysis. Most of this protocol is applicable to the development of novel LicV-based photoswitchable effectors for the optogenetic control of other RNA metabolisms and CRISPR-Cas functions.
Full-field exposure of larval zebrafish to narrow waveband LED light sources at defined power and energy for optogenetic applications.
Optogenetic approaches in transparent zebrafish models have provided numerous insights into vertebrate neurobiology. The purpose of this study was to develop methods to activate light-sensitive transgene products simultaneously throughout an entire larval zebrafish.
Optogenetic Signaling Activation in Zebrafish Embryos.
Signaling pathways orchestrate fundamental biological processes, including development, regeneration, homeostasis, and disease. Methods to experimentally manipulate signaling are required to understand how signaling is interpreted in these wide-ranging contexts. Molecular optogenetic tools can provide reversible, tunable manipulations of signaling pathway activity with a high degree of spatiotemporal control and have been applied in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo. These tools couple light-responsive protein domains, such as the blue light homodimerizing light-oxygen-voltage sensing (LOV) domain, with signaling effectors to confer light-dependent experimental control over signaling. This protocol provides practical guidelines for using the LOV-based bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) and Nodal signaling activators bOpto-BMP and bOpto-Nodal in the optically accessible early zebrafish embryo. It describes two control experiments: A quick phenotype assay to determine appropriate experimental conditions, and an immunofluorescence assay to directly assess signaling. Together, these control experiments can help establish a pipeline for using optogenetic tools in early zebrafish embryos. These strategies provide a powerful platform to investigate the roles of signaling in development, health, and physiology.
Optogenetic manipulation of neuronal and cardiomyocyte functions in zebrafish using microbial rhodopsins and adenylyl cyclases.
Even though microbial photosensitive proteins have been used for optogenetics, their use should be optimized to precisely control cell and tissue functions in vivo. We exploited GtCCR4 and KnChR, cation channelrhodopsins from algae, BeGC1, a guanylyl cyclase rhodopsin from a fungus, and photoactivated adenylyl cyclases (PACs) from cyanobacteria (OaPAC) or bacteria (bPAC), to control cell functions in zebrafish. Optical activation of GtCCR4 and KnChR in the hindbrain reticulospinal V2a neurons, which are involved in locomotion, induced swimming behavior at relatively short latencies, whereas activation of BeGC1 or PACs achieved it at long latencies. Activation of GtCCR4 and KnChR in cardiomyocytes induced cardiac arrest, whereas activation of bPAC gradually induced bradycardia. KnChR activation led to an increase in intracellular Ca2+ in the heart, suggesting that depolarization caused cardiac arrest. These data suggest that these optogenetic tools can be used to reveal the function and regulation of zebrafish neurons and cardiomyocytes.
The Opto-inflammasome in zebrafish as a tool to study cell and tissue responses to speck formation and cell death.
The inflammasome is a conserved structure for the intracellular detection of danger or pathogen signals. As a large intracellular multiprotein signaling platform, it activates downstream effectors that initiate a rapid necrotic programmed cell death (PCD) termed pyroptosis and activation and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines to warn and activate surrounding cells. However, inflammasome activation is difficult to control experimentally on a single-cell level using canonical triggers. We constructed Opto-ASC, a light-responsive form of the inflammasome adaptor protein ASC (Apoptosis-Associated Speck-Like Protein Containing a CARD) which allows tight control of inflammasome formation in vivo. We introduced a cassette of this construct under the control of a heat shock element into zebrafish in which we can now induce ASC inflammasome (speck) formation in individual cells of the skin. We find that cell death resulting from ASC speck formation is morphologically distinct from apoptosis in periderm cells but not in basal cells. ASC-induced PCD can lead to apical or basal extrusion from the periderm. The apical extrusion in periderm cells depends on Caspb and triggers a strong Ca2+ signaling response in nearby cells.
A non-invasive photoactivatable split-Cre recombinase system for genome engineering in zebrafish.
The cyclic recombinase (Cre)/loxP recombination system is a powerful technique for in vivo cell labeling and tracking. However, achieving high spatiotemporal precision in cell tracking using this system is challenging due to the requirement for reliable tissue-specific promoters. In contrast, light-inducible systems offer superior regional confinement, tunability and non-invasiveness compared to conventional lineage tracing methods. Here, we took advantage of the unique strengths of the zebrafish to develop an easy-to-use highly efficient, genetically encoded, Magnets-based, light-inducible transgenic Cre/loxP system. Our system relies on the reassembly of split Cre fragments driven by the affinity of the Magnets and is controlled by the zebrafish ubiquitin promoter. We demonstrate that our system does not exhibit phototoxicity or leakiness in the dark, and it enables efficient and robust Cre/loxP recombination in various tissues and cell types at different developmental stages through noninvasive illumination with blue light. Our newly developed tool is expected to open novel opportunities for light-controlled tracking of cell fate and migration in vivo.
Rab8, Rab11, and Rab35 coordinate lumen and cilia formation during zebrafish left-right organizer development.
An essential process during Danio rerio's left-right organizer (Kupffer's Vesicle, KV) formation is the formation of a motile cilium by developing KV cells which extends into the KV lumen. Beating of motile cilia within the KV lumen directs fluid flow to establish the embryo's left-right axis. However, the timepoint at which KV cells start to form cilia and how cilia formation is coordinated with KV lumen formation have not been examined. We identified that nascent KV cells form cilia at their centrosomes at random intracellular positions that then move towards a forming apical membrane containing cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). Using optogenetic clustering approaches, we found that Rab35 positive membranes recruit Rab11 to modulate CFTR delivery to the apical membrane, which is required for lumen opening, and subsequent cilia extension into the lumen. Once the intracellular cilia reach the CFTR positive apical membrane, Arl13b-positive cilia extend and elongate in a Rab8 dependent manner into the forming lumen once the lumen reaches an area of 300 μm2. These studies demonstrate the need to acutely coordinate Rab8, Rab11, and Rab35-mediated membrane trafficking events to ensure appropriate timing in lumen and cilia formation during KV development.
Optogenetic inhibition of Gα signalling alters and regulates circuit functionality and early circuit formation.
Optogenetic techniques provide genetically targeted, spatially and temporally precise approaches to correlate cellular activities and physiological outcomes. In the nervous system, G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have essential neuromodulatory functions through binding extracellular ligands to induce intracellular signaling cascades. In this work, we develop and validate a new optogenetic tool that disrupt Gαq signaling through membrane recruitment of a minimal Regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS) domain. This approach, Photo-induced Modulation of Gα protein – Inhibition of Gαq (PiGM-Iq), exhibited potent and selective inhibition of Gαq signaling. We alter the behavior of C. elegans and Drosophila with outcomes consistent with GPCR-Gαq disruption. PiGM-Iq also changes axon guidance in culture dorsal root ganglia neurons in response to serotonin. PiGM-Iq activation leads to developmental deficits in zebrafish embryos and larvae resulting in altered neuronal wiring and behavior. By altering the choice of minimal RGS domain, we also show that this approach is amenable to Gαi signaling.
Controlling protein stability with SULI, a highly sensitive tag for stabilization upon light induction.
Optogenetics tools for precise temporal and spatial control of protein abundance are valuable in studying diverse complex biological processes. In the present study, we engineer a monomeric tag of stabilization upon light induction (SULI) for yeast and zebrafish based on a single light-oxygen-voltage domain from Neurospora crassa. Proteins of interest fused with SULI are stable upon light illumination but are readily degraded after transfer to dark conditions. SULI shows a high dynamic range and a high tolerance to fusion at different positions of the target protein. Further studies reveal that SULI-mediated degradation occurs through a lysine ubiquitination-independent proteasome pathway. We demonstrate the usefulness of SULI in controlling the cell cycle in yeast and regulating protein stability in zebrafish, respectively. Overall, our data indicate that SULI is a simple and robust tool to quantitatively and spatiotemporally modulate protein levels for biotechnological or biomedical applications.
A Single-Component Optogenetic Gal4-UAS System Allows Stringent Control of Gene Expression in Zebrafish and Drosophila.
The light-regulated Gal4-UAS system has offered new ways to control cellular activities with precise spatial and temporal resolution in zebrafish and Drosophila. However, the existing optogenetic Gal4-UAS systems suffer from having multiple protein components and a dependence on extraneous light-sensitive cofactors, which increase the technical complexity and limit the portability of these systems. To overcome these limitations, we herein describe the development of a novel optogenetic Gal4-UAS system (ltLightOn) for both zebrafish and Drosophila based on a single light-switchable transactivator, termed GAVPOLT, which dimerizes and binds to gene promoters to activate transgene expression upon blue light illumination. The ltLightOn system is independent of exogenous cofactors and exhibits a more than 2400-fold ON/OFF gene expression ratio, allowing quantitative, spatial, and temporal control of gene expression. We further demonstrate the usefulness of the ltLightOn system in regulating zebrafish embryonic development by controlling the expression of lefty1 by light. We believe that this single-component optogenetic system will be immensely useful in understanding the gene function and behavioral circuits in zebrafish and Drosophila.
Rapid and reversible optogenetic silencing of synaptic transmission by clustering of synaptic vesicles.
Acutely silencing specific neurons informs about their functional roles in circuits and behavior. Existing optogenetic silencers include ion pumps, channels, metabotropic receptors, and tools that damage the neurotransmitter release machinery. While the former hyperpolarize the cell, alter ionic gradients or cellular biochemistry, the latter allow only slow recovery, requiring de novo synthesis. Thus, tools combining fast activation and reversibility are needed. Here, we use light-evoked homo-oligomerization of cryptochrome CRY2 to silence synaptic transmission, by clustering synaptic vesicles (SVs). We benchmark this tool, optoSynC, in Caenorhabditis elegans, zebrafish, and murine hippocampal neurons. optoSynC clusters SVs, observable by electron microscopy. Locomotion silencing occurs with tauon ~7.2 s and recovers with tauoff ~6.5 min after light-off. optoSynC can inhibit exocytosis for several hours, at very low light intensities, does not affect ion currents, biochemistry or synaptic proteins, and may further allow manipulating different SV pools and the transfer of SVs between them.
Optogenetic Protein Cleavage in Zebrafish Embryos.
A wide array of optogenetic tools is available that allow for precise spatiotemporal control over many cellular processes. These tools have been especially popular among zebrafish researchers who take advantage of the embryo's transparency. However, photocleavable optogenetic proteins have not been utilized in zebrafish. We demonstrate successful optical control of protein cleavage in embryos using PhoCl, a photocleavable fluorescent protein. This optogenetic tool offers temporal and spatial control over protein cleavage events, which we demonstrate in light-triggered protein translocation and apoptosis.
Optogenetic control of YAP cellular localisation and function.
YAP, an effector of the Hippo signalling pathway, promotes organ growth and regeneration. Prolonged YAP activation results in uncontrolled proliferation and cancer. Therefore, exogenous regulation of YAP activity has potential translational applications. We present a versatile optogenetic construct (optoYAP) for manipulating YAP localisation, and consequently its activity and function. We attach a LOV2 domain that photocages a nuclear localisation signal (NLS) to the N-terminus of YAP. In 488 nm light, the LOV2 domain unfolds, exposing the NLS, which shuttles optoYAP into the nucleus. Nuclear import of optoYAP is reversible and tuneable by light intensity. In cell culture, activated optoYAP promotes YAP target gene expression and cell proliferation. Similarly, optofYap can be used in zebrafish embryos to modulate target genes. We demonstrate that optoYAP can override a cell's response to substrate stiffness to generate anchorage-independent growth. OptoYAP is functional in both cell culture and in vivo, providing a powerful tool to address basic research questions and therapeutic applications in regeneration and disease.
GPCR-dependent spatiotemporal cAMP generation confers functional specificity in cardiomyocytes and cardiac responses.
Cells interpret a variety of signals through G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), and stimulate the generation of second messengers such as cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). A long-standing puzzle is deciphering how GPCRs elicit different responses, despite generating similar levels of cAMP. We previously showed that GPCRs generate cAMP from both the plasma membrane and the Golgi apparatus. Here, we demonstrate that cardiomyocytes distinguish between subcellular cAMP inputs to cue different outputs. We show that generating cAMP from the Golgi by an optogenetic approach or activated GPCR leads to regulation of a specific PKA target that increases rate of cardiomyocyte relaxation. In contrast, cAMP generation from the plasma membrane activates a different PKA target that increases contractile force. We validated the physiological consequences of these observations in intact zebrafish and mice. Thus, the same GPCR regulates distinct molecular and physiological pathways depending on its subcellular location despite generating cAMP in each case.
Optogenetic activators of apoptosis, necroptosis, and pyroptosis.
Targeted and specific induction of cell death in an individual or groups of cells hold the potential for new insights into the response of tissues or organisms to different forms of death. Here, we report the development of optogenetically controlled cell death effectors (optoCDEs), a novel class of optogenetic tools that enables light-mediated induction of three types of programmed cell death (PCD)-apoptosis, pyroptosis, and necroptosis-using Arabidopsis thaliana photosensitive protein Cryptochrome-2. OptoCDEs enable a rapid and highly specific induction of PCD in human, mouse, and zebrafish cells and are suitable for a wide range of applications, such as sub-lethal cell death induction or precise elimination of single cells or cell populations in vitro and in vivo. As the proof-of-concept, we utilize optoCDEs to assess the differences in neighboring cell responses to apoptotic or necrotic PCD, revealing a new role for shingosine-1-phosphate signaling in regulating the efferocytosis of the apoptotic cell by epithelia.
Optogenetic Phase Transition of TDP-43 in Spinal Motor Neurons of Zebrafish Larvae.
Abnormal protein aggregation and selective neuronal vulnerability are two major hallmarks of neurodegenerative diseases. Causal relationships between these features may be interrogated by controlling the phase transition of a disease-associated protein in a vulnerable cell type, although this experimental approach has been limited so far. Here, we describe a protocol to induce phase transition of the RNA/DNA-binding protein TDP-43 in spinal motor neurons of zebrafish larvae for modeling cytoplasmic aggregation of TDP-43 occurring in degenerating motor neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We describe a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-based genetic method to deliver an optogenetic TDP-43 variant selectively to spinal motor neurons of zebrafish. The high translucency of zebrafish larvae allows for the phase transition of the optogenetic TDP-43 in the spinal motor neurons by a simple external illumination using a light-emitting diode (LED) against unrestrained fish. We also present a basic workflow of live imaging of the zebrafish spinal motor neurons and image analysis with freely available Fiji/ImageJ software to characterize responses of the optogenetic TDP-43 to the light illumination. This protocol enables the characterization of TDP-43 phase transition and aggregate formation in an ALS-vulnerable cellular environment, which should facilitate an investigation of its cellular and behavioral consequences.
Temperature-responsive optogenetic probes of cell signaling.
We describe single-component optogenetic probes whose activation dynamics depend on both light and temperature. We used the BcLOV4 photoreceptor to stimulate Ras and phosphatidyl inositol-3-kinase signaling in mammalian cells, allowing activation over a large dynamic range with low basal levels. Surprisingly, we found that BcLOV4 membrane translocation dynamics could be tuned by both light and temperature such that membrane localization spontaneously decayed at elevated temperatures despite constant illumination. Quantitative modeling predicted BcLOV4 activation dynamics across a range of light and temperature inputs and thus provides an experimental roadmap for BcLOV4-based probes. BcLOV4 drove strong and stable signal activation in both zebrafish and fly cells, and thermal inactivation provided a means to multiplex distinct blue-light sensitive tools in individual mammalian cells. BcLOV4 is thus a versatile photosensor with unique light and temperature sensitivity that enables straightforward generation of broadly applicable optogenetic tools.
Light-Induced GFP Expression in Zebrafish Embryos using the Optogenetic TAEL/C120 System.
Inducible gene expression systems are an invaluable tool for studying biological processes. Optogenetic expression systems can provide precise control over gene expression timing, location, and amplitude using light as the inducing agent. In this protocol, an optogenetic expression system is used to achieve light-inducible gene expression in zebrafish embryos. This system relies on an engineered transcription factor called TAEL based on a naturally occurring light-activated transcription factor from the bacterium E. litoralis. When illuminated with blue light, TAEL dimerizes, binds to its cognate regulatory element called C120, and activates transcription. This protocol uses transgenic zebrafish embryos that express the TAEL transcription factor under the control of the ubiquitous ubb promoter. At the same time, the C120 regulatory element drives the expression of a fluorescent reporter gene (GFP). Using a simple LED panel to deliver activating blue light, induction of GFP expression can first be detected after 30 min of illumination and reaches a peak of more than 130-fold induction after 3 h of light treatment. Expression induction can be assessed by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) and by fluorescence microscopy. This method is a versatile and easy-to-use approach for optogenetic gene expression.
Rab11 endosomes coordinate centrosome number and movement following mitotic exit.
The last stage of cell division involves two daughter cells remaining interconnected by a cytokinetic bridge that is cleaved in a process called abscission. During pre-abscission, we identified that the centrosome moves in a Rab11-dependent manner towards the cytokinetic bridge in human cells grown in culture and in an in vivo vertebrate model, Danio rerio (zebrafish). Rab11-endosomes are dynamically organized in a Rab11-GTP dependent manner at the centrosome during pre-abscission and this organization is required for the centrosome protein, pericentrin, to be enriched at the centrosome. Using zebrafish embryos, we found that reduction in pericentrin expression or optogenetically disrupting Rab11-endosome function inhibited centrosome movement towards the cytokinetic bridge and abscission resulting in daughter cells prone to being binucleated and/or having supernumerary centrosomes. These studies suggest that Rab11-endosomes contribute to centrosome function during pre-abscission by regulating pericentrin organization resulting in appropriate centrosome movement towards the cytokinetic bridge and subsequent abscission.
Vertebrate cells differentially interpret ciliary and extraciliary cAMP.
Hedgehog pathway components and select G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) localize to the primary cilium, an organelle specialized for signal transduction. We investigated whether cells distinguish between ciliary and extraciliary GPCR signaling. To test whether ciliary and extraciliary cyclic AMP (cAMP) convey different information, we engineered optogenetic and chemogenetic tools to control the subcellular site of cAMP generation. Generating equal amounts of ciliary and cytoplasmic cAMP in zebrafish and mammalian cells revealed that ciliary cAMP, but not cytoplasmic cAMP, inhibited Hedgehog signaling. Modeling suggested that the distinct geometries of the cilium and cell body differentially activate local effectors. The search for effectors identified a ciliary pool of protein kinase A (PKA). Blocking the function of ciliary PKA, but not extraciliary PKA, activated Hedgehog signal transduction and reversed the effects of ciliary cAMP. Therefore, cells distinguish ciliary and extraciliary cAMP using functionally and spatially distinct pools of PKA, and different subcellular pools of cAMP convey different information.
TAEL 2.0: An Improved Optogenetic Expression System for Zebrafish.
Inducible gene expression systems are valuable tools for studying biological processes. We previously developed an optogenetic gene expression system called TAEL that is optimized for use in zebrafish. When illuminated with blue light, TAEL transcription factors dimerize and activate gene expression downstream of the TAEL-responsive C120 promoter. By using light as the inducing agent, the TAEL/C120 system overcomes limitations of traditional inducible expression systems by enabling fine spatial and temporal regulation of gene expression. In this study, we describe ongoing efforts to improve the TAEL/C120 system. We made modifications to both the TAEL transcriptional activator and the C120 regulatory element, collectively referred to as TAEL 2.0. We demonstrate that TAEL 2.0 consistently induces higher levels of reporter gene expression and at a faster rate, but with comparable background and toxicity as the original TAEL system. With these improvements, we were able to create functional stable transgenic lines to express the TAEL 2.0 transcription factor either ubiquitously or with a tissue-specific promoter. We demonstrate that the ubiquitous line in particular can be used to induce expression at late embryonic and larval stages, addressing a major deficiency of the original TAEL system. This improved optogenetic expression system will be a broadly useful resource for the zebrafish community.
An Irf6-Esrp1/2 regulatory axis controls midface morphogenesis in vertebrates.
Irf6 and Esrp1 are important for palate development across vertebrates. In zebrafish, we found that irf6 regulates the expression of esrp1 We detailed overlapping Irf6 and Esrp1/2 expression in mouse orofacial epithelium. In zebrafish, irf6 and esrp1/2 share expression in periderm, frontonasal ectoderm and oral epithelium. Genetic disruption of irf6 and esrp1/2 in zebrafish resulted in cleft of the anterior neurocranium. The esrp1/2 mutant also developed cleft of the mouth opening. Lineage tracing of cranial neural crest cells revealed that the cleft resulted not from migration defect, but from impaired chondrogenesis. Analysis of aberrant cells within the cleft revealed expression of sox10, col1a1 and irf6, and these cells were adjacent to krt4 + and krt5 + cells. Breeding of mouse Irf6; Esrp1; Esrp2 compound mutants suggested genetic interaction, as the triple homozygote and the Irf6; Esrp1 double homozygote were not observed. Further, Irf6 heterozygosity reduced Esrp1/2 cleft severity. These studies highlight the complementary analysis of Irf6 and Esrp1/2 in mouse and zebrafish, and identify a unique aberrant cell population in zebrafish expressing sox10, col1a1 and irf6 Future work characterizing this cell population will yield additional insight into cleft pathogenesis.
Use of Optogenetic Amyloid-β to Monitor Protein Aggregation in Drosophila melanogaster, Danio rerio and Caenorhabditis elegans.
Alzheimer's Disease (AD) has long been associated with accumulation of extracellular amyloid plaques (Aβ) originating from the Amyloid Precursor Protein. Plaques have, however, been discovered in healthy individuals and not all AD brains show plaques, suggesting that extracellular Aβ aggregates may play a smaller role than anticipated. One limitation to studying Aβ peptide in vivo during disease progression is the inability to induce aggregation in a controlled manner. We developed an optogenetic method to induce Aβ aggregation and tested its biological influence in three model organisms-D. melanogaster, C. elegans and D. rerio. We generated a fluorescently labeled, optogenetic Aβ peptide that oligomerizes rapidly in vivo in the presence of blue light in all organisms. Here, we detail the procedures for expressing this fusion protein in animal models, investigating the effects on the nervous system using time lapse light-sheet microscopy, and performing metabolic assays to measure changes due to intracellular Aβ aggregation. This method, employing optogenetics to study the pathology of AD, allows spatial and temporal control in vivo that cannot be achieved by any other method at present.