Showing 1 - 15 of 15 results
Improvement of Phycocyanobilin Synthesis for Genetically Encoded Phytochrome-Based Optogenetics.
Optogenetics is a powerful technique using photoresponsive proteins, and the light-inducible dimerization (LID) system, an optogenetic tool, allows to manipulate intracellular signaling pathways. One of the red/far-red responsive LID systems, phytochrome B (PhyB)-phytochrome interacting factor (PIF), has a unique property of controlling both association and dissociation by light on the second time scale, but PhyB requires a linear tetrapyrrole chromophore such as phycocyanobilin (PCB), and such chromophores are present only in higher plants and cyanobacteria. Here, we report that we further improved our previously developed PCB synthesis system (SynPCB) and successfully established a stable cell line containing a genetically encoded PhyB-PIF LID system. First, four genes responsible for PCB synthesis, namely, PcyA, HO1, Fd, and Fnr, were replaced with their counterparts derived from thermophilic cyanobacteria. Second, Fnr was truncated, followed by fusion with Fd to generate a chimeric protein, tFnr-Fd. Third, these genes were concatenated with P2A peptide cDNAs for polycistronic expression, resulting in an approximately 4-fold increase in PCB synthesis compared with the previous version. Finally, we incorporated the PhyB, PIF, and SynPCB system into drug inducible lentiviral and transposon vectors, which enabled us to induce PCB synthesis and the PhyB-PIF LID system by doxycycline treatment. These tools provide a new opportunity to advance our understanding of the causal relationship between intracellular signaling and cellular functions.
Unraveling the Mechanism of a LOV Domain Optogenetic Sensor: A Glutamine Lever Induces Unfolding of the Jα Helix.
Light-activated protein domains provide a convenient, modular, and genetically encodable sensor for optogenetics and optobiology. Although these domains have now been deployed in numerous systems, the precise mechanism of photoactivation and the accompanying structural dynamics that modulate output domain activity remain to be fully elucidated. In the C-terminal light, oxygen, voltage (LOV) domain of plant phototropins (LOV2), blue light activation leads to formation of an adduct between a conserved Cys residue and the embedded FMN chromophore, rotation of a conserved Gln (Q513), and unfolding of a helix (Jα-helix) which is coupled to the output partner. In the present work, we focus on the allosteric pathways leading to Jα helix unfolding in Avena sativa LOV2 (AsLOV2) using an interdisciplinary approach involving molecular dynamics simulations extending to 7 μs, time-resolved infrared spectroscopy, solution NMR spectroscopy, and in-cell optogenetic experiments. In the dark state, the side chain of N414 is hydrogen bonded to the backbone N-H of Q513. The simulations predict a lever-like motion of Q513 after Cys adduct formation resulting in loss of the interaction between the side chain of N414 and the backbone C=O of Q513, and formation of a transient hydrogen bond between the Q513 and N414 side chains. The central role of N414 in signal transduction was evaluated by site-directed mutagenesis supporting a direct link between Jα helix unfolding dynamics and the cellular function of the Zdk2-AsLOV2 optogenetic construct. Through this multifaceted approach, we show that Q513 and N414 are critical mediators of protein structural dynamics, linking the ultrafast (sub-ps) excitation of the FMN chromophore to the microsecond conformational changes that result in photoreceptor activation and biological function.
Photo-SNAP-tag, a Light-Regulated Chemical Labeling System.
Methods that allow labeling and tracking of proteins have been instrumental for understanding their function. Traditional methods for labeling proteins include fusion to fluorescent proteins or self-labeling chemical tagging systems such as SNAP-tag or Halo-tag. These latter approaches allow bright fluorophores or other chemical moieties to be attached to a protein of interest through a small fusion tag. In this work, we sought to improve the versatility of self-labeling chemical-tagging systems by regulating their activity with light. We used light-inducible dimerizers to reconstitute a split SNAP-tag (modified human O6-alkylguanine-DNA-alkyltransferase, hAGT) protein, allowing tight light-dependent control of chemical labeling. In addition, we generated a small split SNAP-tag fragment that can efficiently self-assemble with its complement fragment, allowing high labeling efficacy with a small tag. We envision these tools will extend the versatility and utility of the SNAP-tag chemical system for protein labeling applications.
Photocleavable Cadherin Inhibits Cell-to-Cell Mechanotransduction by Light.
Precise integration of individual cell behaviors is indispensable for collective tissue morphogenesis and maintenance of tissue integrity. Organized multicellular behavior is achieved via mechanical coupling of individual cellular contractility, mediated by cell adhesion molecules at the cell-cell interface. Conventionally, gene depletion or laser microsurgery has been used for functional analysis of intercellular mechanotransduction. Nevertheless, these methods are insufficient to investigate either the spatiotemporal dynamics or the biomolecular contribution in cell-cell mechanical coupling within collective multicellular behaviors. Herein, we present our effort in adaption of PhoCl for attenuation of cell-to-cell tension transmission mediated by E-cadherin. To release intercellular contractile tension applied on E-cadherin molecules with external light, a genetically encoded photocleavable module called PhoCl was inserted into the intracellular domain of E-cadherin, thereby creating photocleavable cadherin (PC-cadherin). In response to light illumination, the PC-cadherin cleaved into two fragments inside cells, resulting in attenuating mechanotransduction at intercellular junctions in living epithelial cells. Light-induced perturbation of the intercellular tension balance with surrounding cells changed the cell shape in an epithelial cell sheet. The method is expected to enable optical manipulation of force-mediated cell-to-cell communications in various multicellular behaviors, which contributes to a deeper understanding of embryogenesis and oncogenesis.
LOV Domains in the Design of Photoresponsive Enzymes.
In nature, a multitude of mechanisms have emerged for regulating biological processes and, specifically, protein activity. Light as a natural regulatory element is of outstanding interest for studying and modulating protein activity because it can be precisely applied with regard to a site of action, instant of time, or intensity. Naturally occuring photoresponsive proteins, predominantly those containing a light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domain, have been characterized structurally and mechanistically and also conjugated to various proteins of interest. Immediate advantages of these new photoresponsive proteins such as genetic encoding, no requirement of chemical modification, and reversibility are paid by difficulties in predicting the envisaged activity or type and site of domain fusion. In this article, we summarize recent advances and give a survey on currently available design concepts for engineering photoswitchable proteins.
Generation of Optogenetically Modified Adenovirus Vector for Spatiotemporally Controllable Gene Therapy.
Gene therapy is expected to be utilized for the treatment of various diseases. However, the spatiotemporal resolution of current gene therapy technology is not high enough. In this study, we generated a new technology for spatiotemporally controllable gene therapy. We introduced optogenetic and CRISPR/Cas9 techniques into a recombinant adenovirus (Ad) vector, which is widely used in clinical trials and exhibits high gene transfer efficiency, to generate an illumination-dependent spatiotemporally controllable gene regulation system (designated the Opt/Cas-Ad system). We generated an Opt/Cas-Ad system that could regulate a potential tumor suppressor gene, and we examined the effectiveness of this system in cancer treatment using a xenograft tumor model. With the Opt/Cas-Ad system, highly selective tumor treatment could be performed by illuminating the tumor. In addition, Opt/Cas-Ad system-mediated tumor treatment could be stopped simply by turning off the light. We believe that our Opt/Cas-Ad system can enhance both the safety and effectiveness of gene therapy.
A single-chain photoswitchable CRISPR-Cas9 architecture for light-inducible gene editing and transcription.
Optical control of CRISPR-Cas9-derived proteins would be useful for restricting gene editing or transcriptional regulation to desired times and places. Optical control of Cas9 functions has been achieved with photouncageable unnatural amino acids or by using light-induced protein interactions to reconstitute Cas9-mediated functions from two polypeptides. However, these methods have only been applied to one Cas9 species and have not been used for optical control of different perturbations at two genes. Here, we use photodissociable dimeric fluorescent protein domains to engineer single-chain photoswitchable Cas9 (ps-Cas9) proteins in which the DNA-binding cleft is occluded at baseline and opened upon illumination. This design successfully controlled different species and functional variants of Cas9, mediated transcriptional activation more robustly than previous optogenetic methods, and enabled light-induced transcription of one gene and editing of another in the same cells. Thus, a single-chain photoswitchable architecture provides a general method to control a variety of Cas9-mediated functions.
A Photoactivatable Innate Immune Receptor for Optogenetic Inflammation.
Although spatial and temporal elements of immune activation mediate the intensity of the immune response, few tools exist to directly examine these effects. To elucidate the spatiotemporal aspects of innate immune responses, we designed an optogenetic pattern recognition receptor that activates in response to blue light. We demonstrate direct receptor activation, leading to spatial and temporal control of downstream signaling pathways in a variety of relevant cell types. We combined our platform with Bi-molecular Fluorescence Complementation (BiFC), resulting in selective fluorescent labeling of cells in which receptor activation has occurred.
Chemical and Biophysical Modulation of Cas9 for Tunable Genome Engineering.
The application of the CRISPR-Cas9 system for genome engineering has revolutionized the ability to interrogate genomes of mammalian cells. Programming the Cas9 endonuclease to induce DNA breaks at specified sites is achieved by simply modifying the sequence of its cognate guide RNA. Although Cas9-mediated genome editing has been shown to be highly specific, cleavage events at off-target sites have also been reported. Minimizing, and eventually abolishing, unwanted off-target cleavage remains a major goal of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology before its implementation for therapeutic use. Recent efforts have turned to chemical biology and biophysical approaches to engineer inducible genome editing systems for controlling Cas9 activity at the transcriptional and protein levels. Here, we review recent advancements to modulate Cas9-mediated genome editing by engineering split-Cas9 constructs, inteins, small molecules, protein-based dimerizing domains, and light-inducible systems.
Structural details of light activation of the LOV2-based photoswitch PA-Rac1.
Optical control of cellular processes is an emerging approach for studying biological systems, affording control with high spatial and temporal resolution. Specifically designed artificial photoswitches add an interesting extension to naturally occurring light-regulated functionalities. However, despite a great deal of structural information, the generation of new tools cannot be based fully on rational design yet; in many cases design is limited by our understanding of molecular details of light activation and signal transduction. Our biochemical and biophysical studies on the established optogenetic tool PA-Rac1, the photoactivatable small GTPase Rac1, reveal how unexpected details of the sensor-effector interface, such as metal coordination, significantly affect functionally important structural elements of this photoswitch. Together with solution scattering experiments, our results favor differences in the population of pre-existing conformations as the underlying allosteric activation mechanism of PA-Rac1, rather than the assumed release of the Rac1 domain from the caging photoreceptor domain. These results have implications for the design of new optogenetic tools and highlight the importance of including molecular details of the sensor-effector interface, which is however difficult to assess during the initial design of novel artificial photoswitches.
Optical control of protein function through unnatural amino acid mutagenesis and other optogenetic approaches.
Biological processes are naturally regulated with high spatial and temporal resolution at the molecular, cellular, and systems level. To control and study processes with the same resolution, light-sensitive groups and domains have been employed to optically activate and deactivate protein function. Optical control is a noninvasive technique in which the amplitude, wavelength, spatial location, and timing of the light illumination can be easily controlled. This review focuses on applications of genetically encoded unnatural amino acids containing light-removable protecting groups to optically trigger protein function, while also discussing select optogenetic approaches using natural light-sensitive domains to engineer optical control of biological processes.
Optical control of the Ca2+ concentration in a live specimen with a genetically encoded Ca2+-releasing molecular tool.
Calcium ion (Ca2+) is an important second messenger implicated in the control of many different cellular processes in living organisms. Ca2+ is typically studied by direct visualization using chemically or genetically encoded indicators. A complementary, and perhaps more useful, approach involves direct manipulation of Ca2+ concentration; tools for this exist but are rather poorly developed compared to the indicators at least. Here, we report a photoactivatable Ca2+-releasing protein, photoactivatable Ca2+ releaser (PACR), made by the insertion of a photosensitive protein domain (LOV2) into a Ca2+ binding protein (calmodulin fused with the M13 peptide). As the PACR is genetically encoded, and unlike conventional optical control tools (e.g., channel rhodopsin) not membrane bound, we are able to restrict expression within the cell, to allow subcellular perturbation of Ca2+ levels. In whole animals, we are able to control the behavior of Caenorhabditis elegans with light by expressing the PACR only in the touch neuron.
Genetically engineered photoinducible homodimerization system with improved dimer-forming efficiency.
Vivid (VVD) is a photoreceptor derived from Neurospora Crassa that rapidly forms a homodimer in response to blue light. Although VVD has several advantages over other photoreceptors as photoinducible homodimerization system, VVD has a critical limitation in its low dimer-forming efficiency. To overcome this limitation of wild-type VVD, here we conduct site-directed saturation mutagenesis in the homodimer interface of VVD. We have found that the Ile52Cys mutation of VVD (VVD-52C) substantially improves its homodimer-forming efficiency up to 180%. We have demonstrated the utility of VVD-52C for making a light-inducible gene expression system more robust. In addition, using VVD-52C, we have developed photoactivatable caspase-9, which enables optical control of apoptosis of mammalian cells. The present genetically engineered photoinducible homodimerization system can provide a powerful tool to optically control a broad range of molecular processes in the cell.
General method for regulating protein stability with light.
Post-translational regulation of protein abundance in cells is a powerful tool for studying protein function. Here, we describe a novel genetically encoded protein domain that is degraded upon exposure to nontoxic blue light. We demonstrate that fusion proteins containing this domain are rapidly degraded in cultured cells and in zebrafish upon illumination.
Blue light-mediated manipulation of transcription factor activity in vivo.
We developed a novel technique for manipulating the activity of transcription factors with blue light (termed "PICCORO") using the bacterial BLUF-type photoreceptor protein PixD. The chimeric dominant-negative T-box transcription factor No Tail formed heterologous complexes with a PixD decamer in a light-dependent manner, and these complexes affected transcription repressor activity. When applied to zebrafish embryos, PICCORO permitted regulation of the activity of the mutant No Tail in response to 472-nm light provided by a light-emitting diode.