Showing 1 - 25 of 118 results
O-GlcNAc modification of nuclear pore complexes accelerates bidirectional transport.
Macromolecular transport across the nuclear envelope depends on facilitated diffusion through nuclear pore complexes (NPCs). The interior of NPCs contains a permeability barrier made of phenylalanine-glycine (FG) repeat domains that selectively facilitates the permeation of cargoes bound to nuclear transport receptors (NTRs). FG-repeat domains in NPCs are a major site of O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) modification, but the functional role of this modification in nucleocytoplasmic transport is unclear. We developed high-throughput assays based on optogenetic probes to quantify the kinetics of nuclear import and export in living human cells. We found that increasing O-GlcNAc modification of the NPC accelerated NTR-facilitated transport of proteins in both directions, and decreasing modification slowed transport. Superresolution imaging revealed strong enrichment of O-GlcNAc at the FG-repeat barrier. O-GlcNAc modification also accelerated passive permeation of a small, inert protein through NPCs. We conclude that O-GlcNAc modification accelerates nucleocytoplasmic transport by enhancing the nonspecific permeability of the FG-repeat barrier, perhaps by steric inhibition of interactions between FG repeats.
Optogenetic manipulation of cellular communication using engineered myosin motors.
Cells achieve highly efficient and accurate communication through cellular projections such as neurites and filopodia, yet there is a lack of genetically encoded tools that can selectively manipulate their composition and dynamics. Here, we present a versatile optogenetic toolbox of artificial multi-headed myosin motors that can move bidirectionally within long cellular extensions and allow for the selective transport of GFP-tagged cargo with light. Utilizing these engineered motors, we could transport bulky transmembrane receptors and organelles as well as actin remodellers to control the dynamics of both filopodia and neurites. Using an optimized in vivo imaging scheme, we further demonstrate that, upon limb amputation in axolotls, a complex array of filopodial extensions is formed. We selectively modulated these filopodial extensions and showed that they re-establish a Sonic Hedgehog signalling gradient during regeneration. Considering the ubiquitous existence of actin-based extensions, this toolbox shows the potential to manipulate cellular communication with unprecedented accuracy.
Control of SRC molecular dynamics encodes distinct cytoskeletal responses by specifying signaling pathway usage.
Upon activation by different transmembrane receptors, the same signaling protein can induce distinct cellular responses. A way to decipher the mechanisms of such pleiotropic signaling activity is to directly manipulate the decision-making activity that supports the selection between distinct cellular responses. We developed an optogenetic probe (optoSRC) to control SRC signaling, an example of a pleiotropic signaling node, and we demonstrated its ability to generate different acto-adhesive structures (lamellipodia or invadosomes) upon distinct spatio-temporal control of SRC kinase activity. The occurrence of each acto-adhesive structure was simply dictated by the dynamics of optoSRC nanoclusters in adhesive sites, which were dependent on the SH3 and Unique domains of the protein. The different decision-making events regulated by optoSRC dynamics induced distinct downstream signaling pathways, which we characterized using time-resolved proteomic and network analyses. Collectively, by manipulating the molecular mobility of SRC kinase activity, these experiments reveal the pleiotropy-encoding mechanism of SRC signaling.
TopBP1 assembles nuclear condensates to switch on ATR signaling.
ATR checkpoint signaling is crucial for cellular responses to DNA replication impediments. Using an optogenetic platform, we show that TopBP1, the main activator of ATR, self-assembles extensively to yield micrometer-sized condensates. These opto-TopBP1 condensates are functional entities organized in tightly packed clusters of spherical nano-particles. TopBP1 condensates are reversible, occasionally fuse, and co-localize with TopBP1 partner proteins. We provide evidence that TopBP1 condensation is a molecular switch that amplifies ATR activity to phosphorylate checkpoint kinase 1 (Chk1) and slow down replication forks. Single amino acid substitutions of key residues in the intrinsically disordered ATR activation domain disrupt TopBP1 condensation and consequently ATR/Chk1 signaling. In physiologic salt concentration and pH, purified TopBP1 undergoes liquid-liquid phase separation in vitro. We propose that the actuation mechanism of ATR signaling is the assembly of TopBP1 condensates driven by highly regulated multivalent and cooperative interactions.
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 Reveals Differential Promoter Interpretation of Transcription Factor Nuclear Translocation Dynamics.
Gene expression is thought to be affected not only by the concentration of transcription factors (TFs) but also the dynamics of their nuclear translocation. Testing this hypothesis requires direct control of TF dynamics. Here, we engineer CLASP, an optogenetic tool for rapid and tunable translocation of a TF of interest. Using CLASP fused to Crz1, we observe that, for the same integrated concentration of nuclear TF over time, changing input dynamics changes target gene expression: pulsatile inputs yield higher expression than continuous inputs, or vice versa, depending on the target gene. Computational modeling reveals that a dose-response saturating at low TF input can yield higher gene expression for pulsatile versus continuous input, and that multi-state promoter activation can yield the opposite behavior. Our integrated tool development and modeling approach characterize promoter responses to Crz1 nuclear translocation dynamics, extracting quantitative features that may help explain the differential expression of target genes.
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.
Biliverdin reductase-A deficiency brighten and sensitize biliverdin-binding chromoproteins.
Tissue absorbance, light scattering, and autofluorescence are significantly lower in the near-infrared (NIR) range than in the visible range. Because of these advantages, NIR fluorescent proteins (FPs) are in high demand for in vivo imaging. Nevertheless, application of NIR FPs such as iRFP is still limited due to their dimness in mammalian cells. In contrast to GFP and its variants, iRFP requires biliverdin (BV) as a chromophore. The dimness of iRFP is at least partly due to rapid reduction of BV by biliverdin reductase A (BLVRA). Here, we established biliverdin reductase-a knockout (Blvra-/-) mice to increase the intracellular BV concentration and, thereby, to enhance iRFP fluorescence intensity. As anticipated, iRFP fluorescence intensity was significantly increased in all examined tissues of Blvra-/- mice. Similarly, the genetically encoded calcium indicator NIR-GECO1, which is engineered based on another NIR FP, mIFP, exhibited a marked increase in fluorescence intensity in mouse embryonic fibroblasts derived from Blvra-/- mice. We expanded this approach to an NIR light-sensing optogenetic tool, the BphP1-PpsR2 system, which also requires BV as a chromophore. Again, deletion of the Blvra gene markedly enhanced the light response in HeLa cells. These results indicate that the Blvra-/- mouse is a versatile tool for the in vivo application of NIR FPs and NIR light-sensing optogenetic tools. Key words: in vivo imaging, near-infrared fluorescent protein, biliverdin, biliverdin reductase, optogenetic tool.
Engineered Illumination Devices for Optogenetic Control of Cellular Signaling Dynamics.
Spatially and temporally varying patterns of morphogen signals during development drive cell fate specification at the proper location and time. However, current in vitro methods typically do not allow for precise, dynamic spatiotemporal control of morphogen signaling and are thus insufficient to readily study how morphogen dynamics affect cell behavior. Here, we show that optogenetic Wnt/β-catenin pathway activation can be controlled at user-defined intensities, temporal sequences, and spatial patterns using engineered illumination devices for optogenetic photostimulation and light activation at variable amplitudes (LAVA). By patterning human embryonic stem cell (hESC) cultures with varying light intensities, LAVA devices enabled dose-responsive control of optoWnt activation and Brachyury expression. Furthermore, time-varying and spatially localized patterns of light revealed tissue patterning that models the embryonic presentation of Wnt signals in vitro. LAVA devices thus provide a low-cost, user-friendly method for high-throughput and spatiotemporal optogenetic control of cell signaling for applications in developmental and cell biology.
Long-Range Optogenetic Control of Axon Guidance Overcomes Developmental Boundaries and Defects.
Axons connect neurons together, establishing the wiring architecture of neuronal networks. Axonal connectivity is largely built during embryonic development through highly constrained processes of axon guidance, which have been extensively studied. However, the inability to control axon guidance, and thus neuronal network architecture, has limited investigation of how axonal connections influence subsequent development and function of neuronal networks. Here, we use zebrafish motor neurons expressing a photoactivatable Rac1 to co-opt endogenous growth cone guidance machinery to precisely and non-invasively direct axon growth using light. Axons can be guided over large distances, within complex environments of living organisms, overriding competing endogenous signals and redirecting axons across potent repulsive barriers to construct novel circuitry. Notably, genetic axon guidance defects can be rescued, restoring functional connectivity. These data demonstrate that intrinsic growth cone guidance machinery can be co-opted to non-invasively build new connectivity, allowing investigation of neural network dynamics in intact living organisms.
Non-neuromodulatory Optogenetic Tools in Zebrafish.
The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a popular vertebrate model organism to investigate molecular mechanisms driving development and disease. Due to its transparency at embryonic and larval stages, investigations in the living organism are possible with subcellular resolution using intravital microscopy. The beneficial optical characteristics of zebrafish not only allow for passive observation, but also active manipulation of proteins and cells by light using optogenetic tools. Initially, photosensitive ion channels have been applied for neurobiological studies in zebrafish to dissect complex behaviors on a cellular level. More recently, exciting non-neural optogenetic tools have been established to control gene expression or protein localization and activity, allowing for unprecedented non-invasive and precise manipulation of various aspects of cellular physiology. Zebrafish will likely be a vertebrate model organism at the forefront of in vivo application of non-neural optogenetic tools and pioneering work has already been performed. In this review, we provide an overview of non-neuromodulatory optogenetic tools successfully applied in zebrafish to control gene expression, protein localization, cell signaling, migration and cell ablation.
CLIC4 is a cytokinetic cleavage furrow protein that regulates cortical cytoskeleton stability during cell division.
During mitotic cell division, the actomyosin cytoskeleton undergoes several dynamic changes that play key roles in progression through mitosis. Although the regulators of cytokinetic ring formation and contraction are well established, proteins that regulate cortical stability during anaphase and telophase have been understudied. Here, we describe a role for CLIC4 in regulating actin and actin regulators at the cortex and cytokinetic cleavage furrow during cytokinesis. We first describe CLIC4 as a new component of the cytokinetic cleavage furrow that is required for successful completion of mitotic cell division. We also demonstrate that CLIC4 regulates the remodeling of the sub-plasma-membrane actomyosin network within the furrow by recruiting MST4 kinase (also known as STK26) and regulating ezrin phosphorylation. This work identifies and characterizes new molecular players involved in regulating cortex stiffness and blebbing during the late stages of cytokinetic furrowing.
Using optogenetics to tackle systems-level questions of multicellular morphogenesis.
Morphogenesis of multicellular systems is governed by precise spatiotemporal regulation of biochemical reactions and mechanical forces which together with environmental conditions determine the development of complex organisms. Current efforts in the field aim at decoding the system-level principles underlying the regulation of developmental processes. Toward this goal, optogenetics, the science of regulation of protein function with light, is emerging as a powerful new tool to quantitatively perturb protein function in vivo with unprecedented precision in space and time. In this review, we provide an overview of how optogenetics is helping to address system-level questions of multicellular morphogenesis and discuss future directions.
A STIMulating journey into optogenetic engineering.
Genetically-encoded calcium actuators (GECAs) stemmed from STIM1 have enabled optical activation of endogenous ORAI1 channels in both excitable and non-excitable tissues. These GECAs offer new non-invasive means to probe the structure-function relations of calcium channels and wirelessly control the behavior of awake mice.
Lights, cytoskeleton, action: Optogenetic control of cell dynamics.
Cell biology is moving from observing molecules to controlling them in real time, a critical step towards a mechanistic understanding of how cells work. Initially developed from light-gated ion channels to control neuron activity, optogenetics now describes any genetically encoded protein system designed to accomplish specific light-mediated tasks. Recent photosensitive switches use many ingenious designs that bring spatial and temporal control within reach for almost any protein or pathway of interest. This next generation optogenetics includes light-controlled protein-protein interactions and shape-shifting photosensors, which in combination with live microscopy enable acute modulation and analysis of dynamic protein functions in living cells. We provide a brief overview of various types of optogenetic switches. We then discuss how diverse approaches have been used to control cytoskeleton dynamics with light through Rho GTPase signaling, microtubule and actin assembly, mitotic spindle positioning and intracellular transport and highlight advantages and limitations of different experimental strategies.
Actin waves transport RanGTP to the neurite tip to regulate non-centrosomal microtubules in neurons.
Microtubule (MT) is the most abundant cytoskeleton in neurons and controls multiple facets of their development. While the MT-organizing center (MTOC) in mitotic cells is typically located at the centrosome, MTOC in neurons switches to non-centrosomal sites. A handful of cellular components have been shown to promote non-centrosomal MT (ncMT) formation in neurons, yet the regulation mechanism remains unknown. Here we demonstrate that the small GTPase Ran is a key regulator of ncMTs in neurons. Using an optogenetic tool that enables light-induced local production of RanGTP, we demonstrate that RanGTP promotes ncMT plus-end growth along the neurite. Additionally, we discovered that actin waves drive the anterograde transport of RanGTP. Pharmacological disruption of actin waves abolishes the enrichment of RanGTP and reduces growing ncMT plus-ends at the neurite tip. These observations identify a novel regulation mechanism of ncMTs and pinpoint an indirect connection between the actin and MT cytoskeletons in neurons.
An optimized toolbox for the optogenetic control of intracellular transport.
Cellular functioning relies on active transport of organelles by molecular motors. To explore how intracellular organelle distributions affect cellular functions, several optogenetic approaches enable organelle repositioning through light-inducible recruitment of motors to specific organelles. Nonetheless, robust application of these methods in cellular populations without side effects has remained challenging. Here, we introduce an improved toolbox for optogenetic control of intracellular transport that optimizes cellular responsiveness and limits adverse effects. To improve dynamic range, we employed improved optogenetic heterodimerization modules and engineered a photosensitive kinesin-3, which is activated upon blue light-sensitive homodimerization. This opto-kinesin prevented motor activation before experimental onset, limited dark-state activation, and improved responsiveness. In addition, we adopted moss kinesin-14 for efficient retrograde transport with minimal adverse effects on endogenous transport. Using this optimized toolbox, we demonstrate robust reversible repositioning of (endogenously tagged) organelles within cellular populations. More robust control over organelle motility will aid in dissecting spatial cell biology and transport-related diseases.
A Live-Cell Screen for Altered Erk Dynamics Reveals Principles of Proliferative Control.
Complex, time-varying responses have been observed widely in cell signaling, but how specific dynamics are generated or regulated is largely unknown. One major obstacle has been that high-throughput screens are typically incompatible with the live-cell assays used to monitor dynamics. Here, we address this challenge by screening a library of 429 kinase inhibitors and monitoring extracellular-regulated kinase (Erk) activity over 5 h in more than 80,000 single primary mouse keratinocytes. Our screen reveals both known and uncharacterized modulators of Erk dynamics, including inhibitors of non-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) that increase Erk pulse frequency and overall activity. Using drug treatment and direct optogenetic control, we demonstrate that drug-induced changes to Erk dynamics alter the conditions under which cells proliferate. Our work opens the door to high-throughput screens using live-cell biosensors and reveals that cell proliferation integrates information from Erk dynamics as well as additional permissive cues.
Tissue-Scale Mechanical Coupling Reduces Morphogenetic Noise to Ensure Precision during Epithelial Folding.
Morphological constancy is universal in developing systems. It is unclear whether precise morphogenesis stems from faithful mechanical interpretation of gene expression patterns. We investigate the formation of the cephalic furrow, an epithelial fold that is precisely positioned with a linear morphology. Fold initiation is specified by a precise genetic code with single-cell row resolution. This positional code activates and spatially confines lateral myosin contractility to induce folding. However, 20% of initiating cells are mis-specified because of fluctuating myosin intensities at the cellular level. Nevertheless, the furrow remains linearly aligned. We find that lateral myosin is planar polarized, integrating contractile membrane interfaces into supracellular "ribbons." Local reduction of mechanical coupling at the "ribbons" using optogenetics decreases furrow linearity. Furthermore, 3D vertex modeling indicates that polarized, interconnected contractility confers morphological robustness against noise. Thus, tissue-scale mechanical coupling functions as a denoising mechanism to ensure morphogenetic precision despite noisy decoding of positional information.
Spatiotemporal control of phosphatidic acid signaling with optogenetic, engineered phospholipase Ds.
Phosphatidic acid (PA) is both a central phospholipid biosynthetic intermediate and a multifunctional lipid second messenger produced at several discrete subcellular locations. Organelle-specific PA pools are believed to play distinct physiological roles, but tools with high spatiotemporal control are lacking for unraveling these pleiotropic functions. Here, we present an approach to precisely generate PA on demand on specific organelle membranes. We exploited a microbial phospholipase D (PLD), which produces PA by phosphatidylcholine hydrolysis, and the CRY2-CIBN light-mediated heterodimerization system to create an optogenetic PLD (optoPLD). Directed evolution of PLD using yeast membrane display and IMPACT, a chemoenzymatic method for visualizing cellular PLD activity, yielded a panel of optoPLDs whose range of catalytic activities enables mimicry of endogenous, physiological PLD signaling. Finally, we applied optoPLD to elucidate that plasma membrane, but not intracellular, pools of PA can attenuate the oncogenic Hippo signaling pathway. OptoPLD represents a powerful and precise approach for revealing spatiotemporally defined physiological functions of PA.
Optogenetic Control of RhoA to Probe Subcellular Mechanochemical Circuitry.
Spatiotemporal localization of protein function is essential for physiological processes from subcellular to tissue scales. Genetic and pharmacological approaches have played instrumental roles in isolating molecular components necessary for subcellular machinery. However, these approaches have limited capabilities to reveal the nature of the spatiotemporal regulation of subcellular machineries like those of cytoskeletal organelles. With the recent advancement of optogenetic probes, the field now has a powerful tool to localize cytoskeletal stimuli in both space and time. Here, we detail the use of tunable light-controlled interacting protein tags (TULIPs) to manipulate RhoA signaling in vivo. This is an optogenetic dimerization system that rapidly, reversibly, and efficiently directs a cytoplasmic RhoGEF to the plasma membrane for activation of RhoA using light. We first compare this probe to other available optogenetic systems and outline the engineering logic for the chosen recruitable RhoGEFs. We also describe how to generate the cell line, spatially control illumination, confirm optogenetic control of RhoA, and mechanically induce cell-cell junction deformation in cultured tissues. Together, these protocols detail how to probe the mechanochemical circuitry downstream of RhoA signaling. © 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Basic Protocol 1: Generation of a stable cell line expressing TULIP constructs Basic Protocol 2: Preparation of collagen substrate for imaging Basic Protocol 3: Transient transfection for visualization of downstream effectors Basic Protocol 4: Calibration of spatial illumination Basic Protocol 5: Optogenetic activation of a region of interest.
Rapid Dynamics of Signal-Dependent Transcriptional Repression by Capicua.
Optogenetic perturbations, live imaging, and time-resolved ChIP-seq assays in Drosophila embryos were used to dissect the ERK-dependent control of the HMG-box repressor Capicua (Cic), which plays critical roles in development and is deregulated in human spinocerebellar ataxia and cancers. We established that Cic target genes are activated before significant downregulation of nuclear localization of Cic and demonstrated that their activation is preceded by fast dissociation of Cic from the regulatory DNA. We discovered that both Cic-DNA binding and repression are rapidly reinstated in the absence of ERK activation, revealing that inductive signaling must be sufficiently sustained to ensure robust transcriptional response. Our work provides a quantitative framework for the mechanistic analysis of dynamics and control of transcriptional repression in development.
Pulsatile MAPK Signaling Modulates p53 Activity to Control Cell Fate Decisions at the G2 Checkpoint for DNA Damage.
Cell-autonomous changes in p53 expression govern the duration and outcome of cell-cycle arrest at the G2 checkpoint for DNA damage. Here, we report that mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling integrates extracellular cues with p53 dynamics to determine cell fate at the G2 checkpoint. Optogenetic tools and quantitative cell biochemistry reveal transient oscillations in MAPK activity dependent on ataxia-telangiectasia-mutated kinase after DNA damage. MAPK inhibition alters p53 dynamics and p53-dependent gene expression after checkpoint enforcement, prolonging G2 arrest. In contrast, sustained MAPK signaling induces the phosphorylation of CDC25C, and consequently, the accumulation of pro-mitotic kinases, thereby relaxing checkpoint stringency and permitting cells to evade prolonged G2 arrest and senescence induction. We propose a model in which this MAPK-mediated mechanism integrates extracellular cues with cell-autonomous p53-mediated signals, to safeguard genomic integrity during tissue proliferation. Early steps in oncogene-driven carcinogenesis may imbalance this tumor-suppressive mechanism to trigger genome instability.
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.
Recent advances in the use of genetically encodable optical tools to elicit and monitor signaling events.
Cells rely on a complex network of spatiotemporally regulated signaling activities to effectively transduce information from extracellular cues to intracellular machinery. To probe this activity architecture, researchers have developed an extensive molecular tool kit of fluorescent biosensors and optogenetic actuators capable of monitoring and manipulating various signaling activities with high spatiotemporal precision. The goal of this review is to provide readers with an overview of basic concepts and recent advances in the development and application of genetically encodable biosensors and optogenetic tools for understanding signaling activity.