Showing 1 - 25 of 146 results
Nucleated transcriptional condensates amplify gene expression.
Membraneless organelles or condensates form through liquid-liquid phase separation1-4, which is thought to underlie gene transcription through condensation of the large-scale nucleolus5-7 or in smaller assemblies known as transcriptional condensates8-11. Transcriptional condensates have been hypothesized to phase separate at particular genomic loci and locally promote the biomolecular interactions underlying gene expression. However, there have been few quantitative biophysical tests of this model in living cells, and phase separation has not yet been directly linked with dynamic transcriptional outputs12,13. Here, we apply an optogenetic approach to show that FET-family transcriptional regulators exhibit a strong tendency to phase separate within living cells, a process that can drive localized RNA transcription. We find that TAF15 has a unique charge distribution among the FET family members that enhances its interactions with the C-terminal domain of RNA polymerase II. Nascent C-terminal domain clusters at primed genomic loci lower the energetic barrier for nucleation of TAF15 condensates, which in turn further recruit RNA polymerase II to drive transcriptional output. These results suggest that positive feedback between interacting transcriptional components drives localized phase separation to amplify gene expression.
Optogenetic control of the lac operon for bacterial chemical and protein production.
Control of the lac operon with isopropyl β-D-1-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG) has been used to regulate gene expression in Escherichia coli for countless applications, including metabolic engineering and recombinant protein production. However, optogenetics offers unique capabilities, such as easy tunability, reversibility, dynamic induction strength and spatial control, that are difficult to obtain with chemical inducers. We have developed a series of circuits for optogenetic regulation of the lac operon, which we call OptoLAC, to control gene expression from various IPTG-inducible promoters using only blue light. Applying them to metabolic engineering improves mevalonate and isobutanol production by 24% and 27% respectively, compared to IPTG induction, in light-controlled fermentations scalable to at least two-litre bioreactors. Furthermore, OptoLAC circuits enable control of recombinant protein production, reaching yields comparable to IPTG induction but with easier tunability of expression. OptoLAC circuits are potentially useful to confer light control over other cell functions originally designed to be IPTG-inducible.
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.
Optogenetic control of protein binding using light-switchable nanobodies.
A growing number of optogenetic tools have been developed to reversibly control binding between two engineered protein domains. In contrast, relatively few tools confer light-switchable binding to a generic target protein of interest. Such a capability would offer substantial advantages, enabling photoswitchable binding to endogenous target proteins in cells or light-based protein purification in vitro. Here, we report the development of opto-nanobodies (OptoNBs), a versatile class of chimeric photoswitchable proteins whose binding to proteins of interest can be enhanced or inhibited upon blue light illumination. We find that OptoNBs are suitable for a range of applications including reversibly binding to endogenous intracellular targets, modulating signaling pathway activity, and controlling binding to purified protein targets in vitro. This work represents a step towards programmable photoswitchable regulation of a wide variety of target proteins.
Exploiting natural chemical photosensitivity of anhydrotetracycline and tetracycline for dynamic and setpoint chemo-optogenetic control.
The transcriptional inducer anhydrotetracycline (aTc) and the bacteriostatic antibiotic tetracycline (Tc) are commonly used in all fields of biology for control of transcription or translation. A drawback of these and other small molecule inducers is the difficulty of their removal from cell cultures, limiting their application for dynamic control. Here, we describe a simple method to overcome this limitation, and show that the natural photosensitivity of aTc/Tc can be exploited to turn them into highly predictable optogenetic transcriptional- and growth-regulators. This new optogenetic class uniquely features both dynamic and setpoint control which act via population-memory adjustable through opto-chemical modulation. We demonstrate this method by applying it for dynamic gene expression control and for enhancing the performance of an existing optogenetic system. We then expand the utility of the aTc system by constructing a new chemical bandpass filter that increases its aTc response range. The simplicity of our method enables scientists and biotechnologists to use their existing systems employing aTc/Tc for dynamic optogenetic experiments without genetic modification.
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.
Optogenetic control of gene expression in plants in the presence of ambient white light.
Optogenetics is the genetic approach for controlling cellular processes with light. It provides spatiotemporal, quantitative and reversible control over biological signaling and metabolic processes, overcoming limitations of chemically inducible systems. However, optogenetics lags in plant research because ambient light required for growth leads to undesired system activation. We solved this issue by developing plant usable light-switch elements (PULSE), an optogenetic tool for reversibly controlling gene expression in plants under ambient light. PULSE combines a blue-light-regulated repressor with a red-light-inducible switch. Gene expression is only activated under red light and remains inactive under white light or in darkness. Supported by a quantitative mathematical model, we characterized PULSE in protoplasts and achieved high induction rates, and we combined it with CRISPR-Cas9-based technologies to target synthetic signaling and developmental pathways. We applied PULSE to control immune responses in plant leaves and generated Arabidopsis transgenic plants. PULSE opens broad experimental avenues in plant research and biotechnology.
LITESEC-T3SS - Light-controlled protein delivery into eukaryotic cells with high spatial and temporal resolution.
Many bacteria employ a type III secretion system (T3SS) injectisome to translocate proteins into eukaryotic host cells. Although the T3SS can efficiently export heterologous cargo proteins, a lack of target cell specificity currently limits its application in biotechnology and healthcare. In this study, we exploit the dynamic nature of the T3SS to govern its activity. Using optogenetic interaction switches to control the availability of the dynamic cytosolic T3SS component SctQ, T3SS-dependent effector secretion can be regulated by light. The resulting system, LITESEC-T3SS (Light-induced translocation of effectors through sequestration of endogenous components of the T3SS), allows rapid, specific, and reversible activation or deactivation of the T3SS upon illumination. We demonstrate the light-regulated translocation of heterologous reporter proteins, and induction of apoptosis in cultured eukaryotic cells. LITESEC-T3SS constitutes a new method to control protein secretion and translocation into eukaryotic host cells with unparalleled spatial and temporal resolution.
The oligomeric structures of plant cryptochromes.
Cryptochromes (CRYs) are a group of evolutionarily conserved flavoproteins found in many organisms. In plants, the well-studied CRY photoreceptor, activated by blue light, plays essential roles in plant growth and development. However, the mechanism of activation remains largely unknown. Here, we determined the oligomeric structures of the blue-light-perceiving PHR domain of Zea mays CRY1 and an Arabidopsis CRY2 constitutively active mutant. The structures form dimers and tetramers whose functional importance is examined in vitro and in vivo with Arabidopsis CRY2. Structure-based analysis suggests that blue light may be perceived by CRY to cause conformational changes, whose precise nature remains to be determined, leading to oligomerization that is essential for downstream signaling. This photoactivation mechanism may be widely used by plant CRYs. Our study reveals a molecular mechanism of plant CRY activation and also paves the way for design of CRY as a more efficient optical switch.
Structural insights into BIC-mediated inactivation of Arabidopsis cryptochrome 2.
Cryptochromes (CRYs) are blue-light receptors in plants that harbor FAD as a cofactor and regulate various physiological responses. Photoactivated CRYs undergo oligomerization, which increases the binding affinity to downstream signaling partners. Despite decades of research on the activation of CRYs, little is known about how they are inactivated. Binding of blue-light inhibitors of cryptochromes (BICs) to CRY2 suppresses its photoactivation, but the underlying mechanism remains unknown. Here, we report crystal structures of CRY2N (CRY2 PHR domain) and the BIC2-CRY2N complex with resolutions of 2.7 and 2.5 Å, respectively. In the BIC2-CRY2N complex, BIC2 exhibits an extremely extended structure that sinuously winds around CRY2N. In this way, BIC2 not only restrains the transfer of electrons and protons from CRY2 to FAD during photoreduction but also interacts with the CRY2 oligomer to return it to the monomer form. Uncovering the mechanism of CRY2 inactivation lays a solid foundation for the investigation of cryptochrome protein function.
Light-powered Escherichia coli cell division for chemical production.
Cell division can perturb the metabolic performance of industrial microbes. The C period of cell division starts from the initiation to the termination of DNA replication, whereas the D period is the bacterial division process. Here, we first shorten the C and D periods of E. coli by controlling the expression of the ribonucleotide reductase NrdAB and division proteins FtsZA through blue light and near-infrared light activation, respectively. It increases the specific surface area to 3.7 μm-1 and acetoin titer to 67.2 g·L-1. Next, we prolong the C and D periods of E. coli by regulating the expression of the ribonucleotide reductase NrdA and division protein inhibitor SulA through blue light activation-repression and near-infrared (NIR) light activation, respectively. It improves the cell volume to 52.6 μm3 and poly(lactate-co-3-hydroxybutyrate) titer to 14.31 g·L-1. Thus, the optogenetic-based cell division regulation strategy can improve the efficiency of microbial cell factories.
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.
Controlling mRNA localization with light.
Abstract not available.
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.
Cell-in-the-loop pattern formation with optogenetically emulated cell-to-cell signaling.
Designing and implementing synthetic biological pattern formation remains challenging due to underlying theoretical complexity as well as the difficulty of engineering multicellular networks biochemically. Here, we introduce a cell-in-the-loop approach where living cells interact through in silico signaling, establishing a new testbed to interrogate theoretical principles when internal cell dynamics are incorporated rather than modeled. We present an easy-to-use theoretical test to predict the emergence of contrasting patterns in gene expression among laterally inhibiting cells. Guided by the theory, we experimentally demonstrate spontaneous checkerboard patterning in an optogenetic setup, where cell-to-cell signaling is emulated with light inputs calculated in silico from real-time gene expression measurements. The scheme successfully produces spontaneous, persistent checkerboard patterns for systems of sixteen patches, in quantitative agreement with theoretical predictions. Our research highlights how tools from dynamical systems theory may inform our understanding of patterning, and illustrates the potential of cell-in-the-loop for engineering synthetic multicellular systems.
Cytokinetic bridge triggers de novo lumen formation in vivo.
Multicellular rosettes are transient epithelial structures that serve as intermediates during diverse organ formation. We have identified a unique contributor to rosette formation in zebrafish Kupffer's vesicle (KV) that requires cell division, specifically the final stage of mitosis termed abscission. KV utilizes a rosette as a prerequisite before forming a lumen surrounded by ciliated epithelial cells. Our studies identify that KV-destined cells remain interconnected by cytokinetic bridges that position at the rosette's center. These bridges act as a landmark for directed Rab11 vesicle motility to deliver an essential cargo for lumen formation, CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator). Here we report that premature bridge cleavage through laser ablation or inhibiting abscission using optogenetic clustering of Rab11 result in disrupted lumen formation. We present a model in which KV mitotic cells strategically place their cytokinetic bridges at the rosette center, where Rab11-associated vesicles transport CFTR to aid in lumen establishment.
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.
Optogenetic engineering to probe the molecular choreography of STIM1-mediated cell signaling.
Genetically encoded photoswitches have enabled spatial and temporal control of cellular events to achieve tailored functions in living cells, but their applications to probe the structure-function relations of signaling proteins are still underexplored. We illustrate herein the incorporation of various blue light-responsive photoreceptors into modular domains of the stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1) to manipulate protein activity and faithfully recapitulate STIM1-mediated signaling events. Capitalizing on these optogenetic tools, we identify the molecular determinants required to mediate protein oligomerization, intramolecular conformational switch, and protein-target interactions. In parallel, we have applied these synthetic devices to enable light-inducible gating of calcium channels, conformational switch, dynamic protein-microtubule interactions and assembly of membrane contact sites in a reversible manner. Our optogenetic engineering approach can be broadly applied to aid the mechanistic dissection of cell signaling, as well as non-invasive interrogation of physiological processes with high precision.
Optogenetic modulation of TDP-43 oligomerization accelerates ALS-related pathologies in the spinal motor neurons.
Cytoplasmic aggregation of TDP-43 characterizes degenerating neurons in most cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Here, we develop an optogenetic TDP-43 variant (opTDP-43), whose multimerization status can be modulated in vivo through external light illumination. Using the translucent zebrafish neuromuscular system, we demonstrate that short-term light stimulation reversibly induces cytoplasmic opTDP-43 mislocalization, but not aggregation, in the spinal motor neuron, leading to an axon outgrowth defect associated with myofiber denervation. In contrast, opTDP-43 forms pathological aggregates in the cytoplasm after longer-term illumination and seeds non-optogenetic TDP-43 aggregation. Furthermore, we find that an ALS-linked mutation in the intrinsically disordered region (IDR) exacerbates the light-dependent opTDP-43 toxicity on locomotor behavior. Together, our results propose that IDR-mediated TDP-43 oligomerization triggers both acute and long-term pathologies of motor neurons, which may be relevant to the pathogenesis and progression of ALS.
Optogenetic control of single mRNA spatiotemporal dynamics.
Abstract not available.
Optogenetic control of mRNA localization and translation in live cells.
Despite efforts to visualize the spatio-temporal dynamics of single messenger RNAs, the ability to precisely control their function has lagged. This study presents an optogenetic approach for manipulating the localization and translation of specific mRNAs by trapping them in clusters. This clustering greatly amplified reporter signals, enabling endogenous RNA-protein interactions to be clearly visualized in single cells. Functionally, this sequestration reduced the ability of mRNAs to access ribosomes, markedly attenuating protein synthesis. A spatio-temporally resolved analysis indicated that sequestration of endogenous β-actin mRNA attenuated cell motility through the regulation of focal-adhesion dynamics. These results suggest a mechanism highlighting the indispensable role of newly synthesized β-actin protein for efficient cell migration. This platform may be broadly applicable for use in investigating the spatio-temporal activities of specific mRNAs in various biological processes.
Minimally disruptive optical control of protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B.
Protein tyrosine phosphatases regulate a myriad of essential subcellular signaling events, yet they remain difficult to study in their native biophysical context. Here we develop a minimally disruptive optical approach to control protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B)-an important regulator of receptor tyrosine kinases and a therapeutic target for the treatment of diabetes, obesity, and cancer-and we use that approach to probe the intracellular function of this enzyme. Our conservative architecture for photocontrol, which consists of a protein-based light switch fused to an allosteric regulatory element, preserves the native structure, activity, and subcellular localization of PTP1B, affords changes in activity that match those elicited by post-translational modifications inside the cell, and permits experimental analyses of the molecular basis of optical modulation. Findings indicate, most strikingly, that small changes in the activity of PTP1B can cause large shifts in the phosphorylation states of its regulatory targets.
Optogenetic regulation of endogenous proteins.
Techniques of protein regulation, such as conditional gene expression, RNA interference, knock-in and knock-out, lack sufficient spatiotemporal accuracy, while optogenetic tools suffer from non-physiological response due to overexpression artifacts. Here we present a near-infrared light-activatable optogenetic system, which combines the specificity and orthogonality of intrabodies with the spatiotemporal precision of optogenetics. We engineer optically-controlled intrabodies to regulate genomically expressed protein targets and validate the possibility to further multiplex protein regulation via dual-wavelength optogenetic control. We apply this system to regulate cytoskeletal and enzymatic functions of two non-tagged endogenous proteins, actin and RAS GTPase, involved in complex functional networks sensitive to perturbations. The optogenetically-enhanced intrabodies allow fast and reversible regulation of both proteins, as well as simultaneous monitoring of RAS signaling with visible-light biosensors, enabling all-optical approach. Growing number of intrabodies should make their incorporation into optogenetic tools the versatile technology to regulate endogenous targets.
Tunable light and drug induced depletion of target proteins.
Biological processes in development and disease are controlled by the abundance, localization and modification of cellular proteins. We have developed versatile tools based on recombinant E3 ubiquitin ligases that are controlled by light or drug induced heterodimerization for nanobody or DARPin targeted depletion of endogenous proteins in cells and organisms. We use this rapid, tunable and reversible protein depletion for functional studies of essential proteins like PCNA in DNA repair and to investigate the role of CED-3 in apoptosis during Caenorhabditis elegans development. These independent tools can be combined for spatial and temporal depletion of different sets of proteins, can help to distinguish immediate cellular responses from long-term adaptation effects and can facilitate the exploration of complex networks.
Dynamic organelle distribution initiates actin-based spindle migration in mouse oocytes.
Migration of meiosis-I (MI) spindle from the cell center to a sub-cortical location is a critical step for mouse oocytes to undergo asymmetric meiotic cell division. In this study, we investigate the mechanism by which formin-2 (FMN2) orchestrates the initial movement of MI spindle. By defining protein domains responsible for targeting FMN2, we show that spindle-periphery localized FMN2 is required for spindle migration. The spindle-peripheral FMN2 nucleates short actin bundles from vesicles derived likely from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and concentrated in a layer outside the spindle. This layer is in turn surrounded by mitochondria. A model based on polymerizing actin filaments pushing against mitochondria, thus generating a counter force on the spindle, demonstrated an inherent ability of this system to break symmetry and evolve directional spindle motion. The model is further supported through experiments involving spatially biasing actin nucleation via optogenetics and disruption of mitochondrial distribution and dynamics.