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Applications of Upconversion Nanoparticles in Cellular Optogenetics.
Upconversion-mediated optogenetics is an emerging powerful technique to remotely control and manipulate the deep-tissue protein functions and signaling pathway activation. This technique uses lanthanide upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) as light transducers and through near-infrared light to indirectly activate the traditional optogenetic proteins. With the merits of high spatiotemporal resolution and minimal invasiveness, this technique enables cell-type specific manipulation of cellular activities in deep tissues as well as in living animals. In this review, we introduce the latest development of optogenetic modules and UCNPs, with emphasis on the integration of UCNPs with cellular optogenetics and their biomedical applications on the control of neural/brain activity, cancer therapy and cardiac optogenetics in vivo. Furthermore, we analyze the current developed strategies to optimize and advance the upconversion-mediated optogenetics and discuss the remaining challenges of its further applications in biomedical study and clinical translational research. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Optogenetics harnesses photoactivatable proteins to optically stimulate and control intracellular activities. UCNPs-mediated NIR-activatable optogenetics uses lanthanide upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) as light transducers and utilizes near-infrared (NIR) light to indirectly activate the traditional optogenetic proteins. The integration of UCNPs with cellular optogenetics has showed great promise in biomedical applications in regulating neural/brain activity, cancer therapy and cardiac optogenetics in vivo. The evolution and optimization of functional UCNPs and the discovery and engineering of novel optogenetic modules would both contribute to the advance of such unique hybrid technology, which may lead to discoveries in biomedical research and provide new treatments for human diseases.
Dynamically tunable light responsive silk-elastin-like proteins.
Dynamically tunable biomaterials are of particular interest in the field of biomedical engineering because of the potential utility for shape-change materials, drug and cell delivery and tissue regeneration. Stimuli-responsive proteins formed into hydrogels are potential candidates for such systems, due to the genetic tailorability and control over structure-function relationships. Here we report the synthesis of genetically engineered Silk-Elastin-Like Protein (SELP) photoresponsive hydrogels. Polymerization of the SELPs and monomeric adenosylcobalamin (AdoB12)-dependent photoreceptor C-terminal adenosylcobalamin binding domain (CarHC) was achieved using genetically encoded SpyTag-SpyCatcher peptide-protein pairs under mild physiological conditions. The hydrogels exhibited a partial collapse of the crosslinked molecular network with both decreased loss and storage moduli upon exposure to visible light. The materials were also evaluated for cytotoxicity and the encapsulation and release of L929 murine fibroblasts from 3D cultures. The design of these photo-responsible proteins provides new stimuli-responsive SELP-CarHC hydrogels for dynamically tunable protein-based materials.
Generic and reversible opto-trapping of biomolecules.
Molecular traps can control activity and abundance of many biological factors. Here, we report the development of a generic opto-trap to reversibly bind and release biomolecules with high spatiotemporal control by illumination with noninvasive and cell-compatible red and far-red light. We use the Arapidopsis thaliana photoreceptor phytochrome B to regulate the release of diverse proteins from a variety of material scaffolds. Fusion of a short 100 amino acids "PIF-tag", derived from the phytochrome interacting factor 6, renders arbitrary molecules opto-trap-compatible. Reversible opto-trapping of target molecules enables novel possibilities for future developments in diagnostics, therapeutics and basic research.