Showing 1 - 25 of 35 results
Conformational properties of LOV2 domain and its C450A variant within broad pH region.
LOV2 (Light-Oxygen-Voltage) domain from Avena sativa phototropin 1 (AsLOV2) belongs to the superfamily of PAS (Per-Arnt-Sim) domains, members of which function as signaling sensors. AsLOV2 undergoes a conformational change upon blue-light absorption by its FMN cofactor. AsLOV2 wild type (wt) is intensively studied as a photo-switchable element in conjugation with various proteins. On the other hand, its variant AsLOV2 with replaced cysteinyl residue C450, which is critical for the forming a covalent adduct with FMN upon irradiation, forms a precursor for some recently developed genetically encoded photosensitizers. In the presented work, we investigated conformational properties of AsLOV2 wt and its variant C450A by circular dichroism, tryptophan and FMN fluorescence, and differential scanning calorimetry in dependence on pH and temperature. We show that both variants are similarly sensitive towards pH of solvent. On the other hand, the mutation C450A leads to a more stable AsLOV2 variant in comparison with the wild type. Thermal transitions of the AsLOV2 proteins monitored by circular dichroism indicate the presence of significant residual structure in thermally-denatured states of both proteins in the pH range from 4 to 9. Both pH- and thermal- transitions of AsLOV2 are accompanied by FMN leaching to solvent. Higher stability, reversibility of thermal transitions, and efficiency of FMN rebinding in the case of C450A variant suggest that the cofactor release may be modulated by suitable mutations in combination with a suitable physicochemical perturbation. These findings can have implications for a design of genetically encoded photosensitizers.
Hydrogels With Tunable Mechanical Properties Based on Photocleavable Proteins.
Hydrogels with photo-responsive mechanical properties have found broad biomedical applications, including delivering bioactive molecules, cell culture, biosensing, and tissue engineering. Here, using a photocleavable protein, PhoCl, as the crosslinker we engineer two types of poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels whose mechanical stability can be weakened or strengthened, respectively, upon visible light illumination. In the photo weakening hydrogels, photocleavage leads to rupture of the protein crosslinkers, and decrease of the mechanical properties of the hydrogels. In contrast, in the photo strengthening hydrogels, by properly choosing the crosslinking positions, photocleavage does not rupture the crosslinking sites but exposes additional cryptical reactive cysteine residues. When reacting with extra maleimide groups in the hydrogel network, the mechanical properties of the hydrogels can be enhanced upon light illumination. Our study indicates that photocleavable proteins could provide more designing possibilities than the small-molecule counterparts. A proof-of-principle demonstration of spatially controlling the mechanical properties of hydrogels was also provided.
Designing protein structures and complexes with the molecular modeling program Rosetta.
Proteins perform an amazingly diverse set of functions in all aspects of life. Critical to the function of many proteins are the highly specific three-dimensional structures they adopt. For this reason, there is strong interest in learning how to rationally design proteins that adopt user-defined structures. Over the last 25-years there has been significant progress in the field of computational protein design as rotamer-based sequence optimization protocols have enabled accurate design of protein tertiary and quaternary structure. In this award article I will summarize how the molecular modeling program Rosetta is used to design new protein structures and describe how we have taken advantage of this capability to create proteins that have important applications in research and medicine. I will highlight three protein design stories: the use of protein interface design to create therapeutic bispecific antibodies, the engineering of light-inducible proteins that can be used to recruit proteins to specific locations in the cell, and the de novo design of new protein structures from pieces of naturally occurring proteins.
Light-induced dimerization approaches to control cellular processes.
Light-inducible approaches provide means to control biological systems with spatial and temporal resolution that is unmatched by traditional genetic perturbations. Recent developments of optogenetic and chemo-optogenetic systems for induced proximity in cells facilitate rapid and reversible manipulation of highly dynamic cellular processes and have become valuable tools in diverse biological applications. The new expansions of the toolbox facilitate control of signal transduction, genome editing, 'painting' patterns of active molecules onto cellular membranes and light-induced cell cycle control. A combination of light- and chemically induced dimerization approaches has also seen interesting progress. Here we provide an overview of the optogenetic systems and the emerging chemo-optogenetic systems, and discuss recent applications in tackling complex biological problems.
Characterization and engineering of photoactivated adenylyl cyclases.
Cyclic nucleoside monophosphates (cNMP) serve as universal second messengers in signal transduction across prokaryotes and eukaryotes. As signaling often relies on transiently formed microdomains of elevated second messenger concentration, means to precisely perturb the spatiotemporal dynamics of cNMPs are uniquely poised for the interrogation of the underlying physiological processes. Optogenetics appears particularly suited as it affords light-dependent, accurate control in time and space of diverse cellular processes. Several sensory photoreceptors function as photoactivated adenylyl cyclases (PAC) and hence serve as light-regulated actuators for the control of intracellular levels of 3', 5'-cyclic adenosine monophosphate. To characterize PACs and to refine their properties, we devised a test bed for the facile analysis of these photoreceptors. Cyclase activity is monitored in bacterial cells via expression of a fluorescent reporter, and programmable illumination allows the rapid exploration of multiple lighting regimes. We thus probed two PACs responding to blue and red light, respectively, and observed significant dark activity for both. We next engineered derivatives of the red-light-sensitive PAC with altered responses to light, with one variant, denoted DdPAC, showing enhanced response to light. These PAC variants stand to enrich the optogenetic toolkit and thus facilitate the detailed analysis of cNMP metabolism and signaling.
Luminescence-activated nucleotide cyclase regulates spatial and temporal cAMP synthesis.
cAMP is a ubiquitous second messenger that regulates cellular proliferation, differentiation, attachment, migration, and several other processes. It has become increasingly evident that tight regulation of cAMP accumulation and localization confers divergent yet specific signaling to downstream pathways. Currently, few tools are available that have sufficient spatial and temporal resolution to study location-biased cAMP signaling. Here, we introduce a new fusion protein consisting of a light-activated adenylyl cyclase (bPAC) and luciferase (nLuc). This construct allows dual activation of cAMP production through temporally precise photostimulation or chronic chemical stimulation that can be fined-tuned to mimic physiological levels and duration of cAMP synthesis to trigger downstream events. By targeting this construct to different compartments, we show that cAMP produced in the cytosol and nucleus stimulates proliferation in thyroid cells. The bPAC-nLuc fusion construct adds a new reagent to the available toolkit to study cAMP-regulated processes in living cells.
Membrane dynamics induced by a PIP3 optogenetic tool.
Membrane dynamic structures such as filopodia, lamellipodia, and ruffles have important cellular functions in phagocytosis and cell motility, and in pathological states such as cancer metastasis. Phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate (PIP3) is a crucial lipid that regulates PIP3 dynamics. Investigations of how PIP3 is involved in these functions have mainly relied on pharmacological interventions, and therefore have not generated detailed spatiotemporal information of membrane dynamics upon PIP3 production. In the present study, we applied an optogenetic approach using the CRY2–CIBN system. Using this system, we revealed that local PIP3 generation induced directional cell motility and membrane ruffles in COS7 cells. Furthermore, combined with structured illumination microscopy (SIM), membrane dynamics were investigated with high spatial resolution. We observed PIP3-induced apical ruffles and unique actin fiber behavior in that a single actin fiber protruded from the plasma membrane was taken up into the plasma membrane without depolymerization. This system has the potential to investigate other high-level cell motility and dynamic behaviors such as cancer cell invasion and wound healing with high spatiotemporal resolution, and could provide new insights of biological sciences for membrane dynamics.
Plasticity in oligomerization, operator architecture, and DNA binding in the mode of action of a bacterial B12-based photoreceptor.
Newly discovered bacterial photoreceptors called CarH sense light by using 5'-deoxyadenosylcobalamin (AdoCbl). They repress their own expression and that of genes for carotenoid synthesis by binding in the dark to operator DNA as AdoCbl-bound tetramers, whose light-induced disassembly relieves repression. High-resolution structures of Thermus thermophilus CarHTt have provided snapshots of the dark and light states and have revealed a unique DNA-binding mode whereby only three out of four DNA binding domains contact an operator comprising three tandem direct repeats. To gain further insights into CarH photoreceptors and employing biochemical, spectroscopic, mutational and computational analyses, here we investigated CarHBm from Bacillus megaterium We found that apoCarHBm, unlike monomeric apoCarHTt, is an oligomeric molten globule that forms DNA-binding tetramers in the dark only upon AdoCbl binding, which requires a conserved W-x9-EH motif. Light relieved DNA binding by disrupting CarHBm tetramers to dimers, rather than to monomers as with CarHTt CarHBm operators resembled that of CarHTt, but were larger by one repeat and overlapped with the -35 or -10 promoter elements. This design persisted in a six-repeat, multipartite operator we discovered upstream of a gene encoding an Spx global redox-response regulator whose photoregulated expression links photooxidative and general redox responses in B. megaterium Interestingly, CarHBm recognized the smaller CarHTt operator, revealing an adaptability possibly related to the linker bridging the DNA- and AdoCbl-binding domains. Our findings highlight a remarkable plasticity in the mode of action of B12-based CarH photoreceptors, important for their biological functions and development as optogenetic tools.
Switchable inteins for conditional protein splicing.
Synthetic biologists aim at engineering controllable biological parts such as DNA, RNA and proteins in order to steer biological activities using external inputs. Proteins can be controlled in several ways, for instance by regulating the expression of their encoding genes with small molecules or light. However, post-translationally modifying pre-existing proteins to regulate their function or localization leads to faster responses. Conditional splicing of internal protein domains, termed inteins, is an attractive methodology for this purpose. Here we discuss methods to control intein activity with a focus on those compatible with applications in living cells.
Cyanobacteriochrome-based photoswitchable adenylyl cyclases (cPACs) for broad spectrum light regulation of cAMP levels in cells.
Class III adenylyl cyclases generate the ubiquitous second messenger cAMP from ATP often in response to environmental or cellular cues. During evolution, soluble adenylyl-cyclase catalytic domains have been repeatedly juxtaposed with signal-input domains to place cAMP synthesis under the control of a wide variety of these environmental and endogenous signals. Adenylyl cyclases with light-sensing domains have proliferated in photosynthetic species depending on light as an energy source, yet are also widespread in non-photosynthetic species. Among such naturally occurring light sensors, several flavin-based photoactivated adenylyl cyclases (PACs) have been adopted as optogenetic tools to manipulate cellular processes with blue light. In this report, we report the discovery of a cyanobacteriochrome-based photoswitchable adenylyl cyclase (cPAC) from the cyanobacterium Microcoleussp. PCC 7113. Unlike flavin-dependent PACs, which must thermally decay to be deactivated, cPAC exhibited a bistable photocycle whose adenylyl cyclase could be reversibly activated and inactivated by blue and green light, respectively. Through domain exchange experiments, we also document the ability to extend the wavelength-sensing specificity of cPAC into the near IR. In summary, our work has uncovered a cyanobacteriochrome-based adenylyl cyclase that holds great potential for design of bistable photoswitchable adenylyl cyclases to fine-tune cAMP-regulated processes in cells. tissues, and whole organisms with light across the visible spectrum and into near IR.
Emerging approaches for spatiotemporal control of targeted genome with inducible CRISPR-Cas9.
The breakthrough CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-Cas9 (CRISPR-associated protein 9) nuclease has revolutionized our ability in genome engineering. Although Cas9 is already a powerful tool for simple and efficient target endogenous gene manipulation, further engineering of Cas9 will improve the performance of Cas9, such as gene-editing efficiency and accuracy in vivo, and expand the application possibility of this Cas9 technology. The emerging inducible Cas9 methods, which can control the activity of Cas9 using an external stimulus such as chemicals and light, have the potential to provide spatiotemporal gene manipulation in user-defined cell population at a specific time and improve the accuracy of Cas9-mediated genome editing. In this review, we focus on the recent advance in inducible Cas9 technologies, especially light-inducible Cas9, and related methodologies, and also discuss future directions of this emerging tools.
Structure and monomer/dimer equilibrium for the guanylyl cyclase domain of the optogenetics protein RhoGC.
RhoGC is a fusion protein from the aquatic fungus Blastocladiella emersonii, combining a type I rhodopsin domain with a guanylyl cyclase domain. It has generated excitement as an optogenetics tool for the manipulation of cyclic nucleotide signaling pathways. To investigate the regulation of the cyclase activity, we isolated the guanylyl cyclase domain from Escherichia coli with (GCwCCRho) and without (GCRho) the coiled-coil linker. Both constructs were constitutively active but were monomeric as determined by size-exclusion chromatography and analytical ultracentrifugation, whereas other class III nucleotidyl cyclases are functional dimers. We also observed that crystals of GCRho have only a monomer in an asymmetric unit. Dimers formed when crystals were grown in the presence of the non-cyclizable substrate analog 2',3'-dideoxyguanosine-5'-triphosphate, MnCl2, and tartrate, but their quaternary structure did not conform to the canonical pairing expected for class III enzymes. Moreover, the structure contained a disulfide bond formed with an active-site Cys residue required for activity. We consider it unlikely that the disulfide would form under intracellular reducing conditions, raising the possibility that this unusual dimer might have a biologically relevant role in the regulation of full-length RhoGC. Although we did not observe it with direct methods, a functional dimer was identified as the active state by following the dependence of activity on total enzyme concentration. The low affinity observed for GCRho monomers is unusual for this enzyme class and suggests that dimer formation may contribute to light activation of the full-length protein.
Two independent but synchronized Gβγ subunit-controlled pathways are essential for trailing-edge retraction during macrophage migration.
Chemokine-induced directional cell migration is a universal cellular mechanism and plays crucial roles in numerous biological processes, including embryonic development, immune system function, and tissue remodeling and regeneration. During the migration of a stationary cell, the cell polarizes, forms lamellipodia at the leading edge (LE), and triggers the concurrent retraction of the trailing edge (TE). During cell migration governed by inhibitory G protein (Gi)-coupled receptors (GPCRs), G protein βγ (Gβγ) subunits control the LE signaling. Interestingly, TE retraction has been linked to the activation of the small GTPase Ras homolog family member A (RhoA) by the Gα12/13 pathway. However, it is not clear how the activation of Gi-coupled GPCRs at the LE orchestrates the TE retraction in RAW264.7 macrophages. Here, using an optogenetic approach involving an opsin to activate the Gi pathway in defined subcellular regions of RAW cells, we show that in addition to their LE activities, free Gβγ subunits also govern TE retraction by operating two independent, yet synchronized, pathways. The first pathway involves RhoA activation, which prevents dephosphorylation of the myosin light chain, allowing actomyosin contractility to proceed. The second pathway activates phospholipase Cβ and induces myosin light chain phosphorylation to enhance actomyosin contractility through increasing cytosolic calcium. We further show that both of these pathways are essential, and inhibition of either one is sufficient to abolish the Gi-coupled GPCR-governed TE retraction and subsequent migration of RAW cells.
Expression, purification, and spectral tuning of RhoGC, a retinylidene/guanylyl cyclase fusion protein and optogenetics tool from the aquatic fungus Blastocladiella emersonii.
RhoGC is a rhodopsin (Rho)-guanylyl cyclase (GC) gene fusion molecule that is central to zoospore phototaxis in the aquatic fungus Blastocladiella emersonii It has generated considerable excitement because of its demonstrated potential as a tool for optogenetic manipulation of cell-signaling pathways involving cyclic nucleotides. However, a reliable method for expressing and purifying RhoGC is currently lacking. We present here an expression and purification system for isolation of the full-length RhoGC protein expressed in HEK293 cells in detergent solution. The protein exhibits robust light-dependent guanylyl cyclase activity, whereas a truncated form lacking the 17- to 20-kDa N-terminal domain is completely inactive under identical conditions. Moreover, we designed several RhoGC mutants to increase the utility of the protein for optogenetic studies. The first class we generated has altered absorption spectra designed for selective activation by different wavelengths of light. Two mutants were created with blue-shifted (E254D, λmax = 390 nm; D380N, λmax = 506 nm) and one with red-shifted (D380E, λmax = 533 nm) absorption maxima relative to the wild-type protein (λmax = 527 nm). We also engineered a double mutant, E497K/C566D, that changes the enzyme to a specific, light-stimulated adenylyl cyclase that catalyzes the formation of cAMP from ATP. We anticipate that this expression/purification system and these RhoGC mutants will facilitate mechanistic and structural exploration of this important enzyme.
Temperature Sensitive Singlet Oxygen Photosensitization by LOV-Derived Fluorescent Flavoproteins.
Optogenetic sensitizers that selectively produce a given reactive oxygen species (ROS) constitute a promising tool for studying cell signaling processes with high levels of spatiotemporal control. However, to harness the full potential of this tool for live cell studies, the photophysics of currently available systems need to be explored further and optimized. Of particular interest in this regard, are the flavoproteins miniSOG and SOPP, both of which (1) contain the chromophore flavin mononucleotide, FMN, in a LOV-derived protein enclosure, and (2) photosensitize the production of singlet oxygen, O2(a(1)Δg). Here we present an extensive experimental study of the singlet and triplet state photophysics of FMN in SOPP and miniSOG over a physiologically relevant temperature range. Although changes in temperature only affect the singlet excited state photophysics slightly, the processes that influence the deactivation of the triplet excited state are more sensitive to temperature. Most notably, for both proteins, the rate constant for quenching of (3)FMN by ground state oxygen, O2(X(3)Σg(-)), increases ∼10-fold upon increasing the temperature from 10 to 43 °C, while the oxygen-independent channels of triplet state deactivation are less affected. As a consequence, this increase in temperature results in higher yields of O2(a(1)Δg) formation for both SOPP and miniSOG. We also show that the quantum yields of O2(a(1)Δg) production by both miniSOG and SOPP are mainly limited by the fraction of FMN triplet states quenched by O2(X(3)Σg(-)). The results presented herein provide a much-needed quantitative framework that will facilitate the future development of optogenetic ROS sensitizers.
Femtosecond to Millisecond Dynamics of Light Induced Allostery in the Avena sativa LOV Domain.
The rational engineering of photosensor proteins underpins the field of optogenetics, in which light is used for spatiotemporal control of cell signaling. Optogenetic elements function by converting electronic excitation of an embedded chromophore into structural changes on the microseconds to seconds time scale, which then modulate the activity of output domains responsible for biological signaling. Using time-resolved vibrational spectroscopy coupled with isotope labeling, we have mapped the structural evolution of the LOV2 domain of the flavin binding phototropin Avena sativa (AsLOV2) over 10 decades of time, reporting structural dynamics between 100 fs and 1 ms after optical excitation. The transient vibrational spectra contain contributions from both the flavin chromophore and the surrounding protein matrix. These contributions are resolved and assigned through the study of four different isotopically labeled samples. High signal-to-noise data permit the detailed analysis of kinetics associated with the light activated structural evolution. A pathway for the photocycle consistent with the data is proposed. The earliest events occur in the flavin binding pocket, where a subpicosecond perturbation of the protein matrix occurs. In this perturbed environment, the previously characterized reaction between triplet state isoalloxazine and an adjacent cysteine leads to formation of the adduct state; this step is shown to exhibit dispersive kinetics. This reaction promotes coupling of the optical excitation to successive time-dependent structural changes, initially in the β-sheet and then α-helix regions of the AsLOV2 domain, which ultimately gives rise to Jα-helix unfolding, yielding the signaling state. This model is tested through point mutagenesis, elucidating in particular the key mediating role played by Q513.
Unfolding of the C-Terminal Jα Helix in the LOV2 Photoreceptor Domain Observed by Time-Resolved Vibrational Spectroscopy.
Light-triggered reactions of biological photoreceptors have gained immense attention for their role as molecular switches in their native organisms and for optogenetic application. The light, oxygen, and voltage 2 (LOV2) sensing domain of plant phototropin binds a C-terminal Jα helix that is docked on a β-sheet and unfolds upon light absorption by the flavin mononucleotide (FMN) chromophore. In this work, the signal transduction pathway of LOV2 from Avena sativa was investigated using time-resolved infrared spectroscopy from picoseconds to microseconds. In D2O buffer, FMN singlet-to-triplet conversion occurs in 2 ns and formation of the covalent cysteinyl-FMN adduct in 10 μs. We observe a two-step unfolding of the Jα helix: The first phase occurs concomitantly with Cys-FMN covalent adduct formation in 10 μs, along with hydrogen-bond rupture of the FMN C4═O with Gln-513, motion of the β-sheet, and an additional helical element. The second phase occurs in approximately 240 μs. The final spectrum at 500 μs is essentially identical to the steady-state light-minus-dark Fourier transform infrared spectrum, indicating that Jα helix unfolding is complete on that time scale.
Chromophore Structure of Photochromic Fluorescent Protein Dronpa: Acid-Base Equilibrium of Two Cis Configurations.
Dronpa is a novel photochromic fluorescent protein that exhibits fast response to light. The present article is the first report of the resonance and preresonance Raman spectra of Dronpa. We used the intensity and frequency of Raman bands to determine the structure of the Dronpa chromophore in two thermally stable photochromic states. The acid-base equilibrium in one photochromic state was observed by spectroscopic pH titration. The Raman spectra revealed that the chromophore in this state shows a protonation/deprotonation transition with a pKa of 5.2 ± 0.3 and maintains the cis configuration. The observed resonance Raman bands showed that the other photochromic state of the chromophore is in a trans configuration. The results demonstrate that Raman bands selectively enhanced for the chromophore yield valuable information on the molecular structure of the chromophore in photochromic fluorescent proteins after careful elimination of the fluorescence background.
Optogenetic Inhibitor of the Transcription Factor CREB.
Current approaches for optogenetic control of transcription do not mimic the activity of endogenous transcription factors, which act at numerous sites in the genome in a complex interplay with other factors. Optogenetic control of dominant negative versions of endogenous transcription factors provides a mechanism for mimicking the natural regulation of gene expression. Here we describe opto-DN-CREB, a blue-light-controlled inhibitor of the transcription factor CREB created by fusing the dominant negative inhibitor A-CREB to photoactive yellow protein (PYP). A light-driven conformational change in PYP prevents coiled-coil formation between A-CREB and CREB, thereby activating CREB. Optogenetic control of CREB function was characterized in vitro, in HEK293T cells, and in neurons where blue light enabled control of expression of the CREB targets NR4A2 and c-Fos. Dominant negative inhibitors exist for numerous transcription factors; linking these to optogenetic domains offers a general approach for spatiotemporal control of native transcriptional events.
Ubiquitous Structural Signaling in Bacterial Phytochromes.
The phytochrome family of light-switchable proteins has long been studied by biochemical, spectroscopic and crystallographic means, while a direct probe for global conformational signal propagation has been lacking. Using solution X-ray scattering, we find that the photosensory cores of several bacterial phytochromes undergo similar large-scale structural changes upon red-light excitation. The data establish that phytochromes with ordinary and inverted photocycles share a structural signaling mechanism and that a particular conserved histidine, previously proposed to be involved in signal propagation, in fact tunes photoresponse.
Optogenetic control of molecular motors and organelle distributions in cells.
Intracellular transport and distribution of organelles play important roles in diverse cellular functions, including cell polarization, intracellular signaling, cell survival, and apoptosis. Here, we report an optogenetic strategy to control the transport and distribution of organelles by light. This is achieved by optically recruiting molecular motors onto organelles through the heterodimerization of Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) and its interacting partner CIB1. CRY2 and CIB1 dimerize within subseconds upon exposure to blue light, which requires no exogenous ligands and low intensity of light. We demonstrate that mitochondria, peroxisomes, and lysosomes can be driven toward the cell periphery upon light-induced recruitment of kinesin, or toward the cell nucleus upon recruitment of dynein. Light-induced motor recruitment and organelle movements are repeatable, reversible, and can be achieved at subcellular regions. This light-controlled organelle redistribution provides a new strategy for studying the causal roles of organelle transport and distribution in cellular functions in living cells.
CRISPR-Cas9-based photoactivatable transcription system.
Targeted endogenous gene activation is necessary for understanding complex gene networks and has great potential in medical and industrial applications. The CRISPR-Cas system offers simple and powerful tools for this purpose. However, these CRISPR-Cas-based tools for activating user-defined genes are unable to offer precise temporal control of gene expression, despite the fact that many biological phenomena are regulated by highly dynamic patterns of gene expression. Here we created a light-inducible, user-defined, endogenous gene activation system based on CRISPR-Cas9. We demonstrated that this CRISPR-Cas9-based transcription system can allow rapid and reversible targeted gene activation by light. In addition, using this system, we have exemplified photoactivation of multiple user-defined endogenous genes in mammalian cells. The present CRISPR-Cas9-based transcription system offers simple and versatile approaches for precise endogenous gene activation in basic biological research and biotechnology applications.
Optogenetics for gene expression in mammalian cells.
Molecular switches that are controlled by chemicals have evolved as central research instruments in mammalian cell biology. However, these tools are limited in terms of their spatiotemporal resolution due to freely diffusing inducers. These limitations have recently been addressed by the development of optogenetic, genetically encoded, and light-responsive tools that can be controlled with the unprecedented spatiotemporal precision of light. In this article, we first provide a brief overview of currently available optogenetic tools that have been designed to control diverse cellular processes. Then, we focus on recent developments in light-controlled gene expression technologies and provide the reader with a guideline for choosing the most suitable gene expression system.
Spatiotemporal control of fibroblast growth factor receptor signals by blue light.
Fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs) regulate diverse cellular behaviors that should be exquisitely controlled in space and time. We engineered an optically controlled FGFR (optoFGFR1) by exploiting cryptochrome 2, which homointeracts upon blue light irradiation. OptoFGFR1 can rapidly and reversibly control intracellular FGFR1 signaling within seconds by illumination with blue light. At the subcellular level, localized activation of optoFGFR1 induced cytoskeletal reorganization. Utilizing the high spatiotemporal precision of optoFGFR1, we efficiently controlled cell polarity and induced directed cell migration. OptoFGFR1 provides an effective means to precisely control FGFR signaling and is an important optogenetic tool that can be used to study diverse biological processes both in vitro and in vivo.
Blue light-induced dimerization of monomeric aureochrome-1 enhances its affinity for the target sequence.
Aureochrome-1 (AUREO1) is a blue light (BL) receptor that mediates the branching response in stramenopile alga, Vaucheria frigida. AUREO1 contains a basic leucine zipper (bZIP) domain in the central region and a light-oxygen-voltage sensing (LOV) domain at the C terminus, and has been suggested to function as a light-regulated transcription factor. We have previously reported that preparations of recombinant AUREO1 contained the complete coding sequence (full-length, FL) and N-terminal truncated protein (ZL) containing bZIP and LOV domains, and suggested that wild-type ZL (ZLwt2) was in a dimer form with intermolecular disulfide linkages at Cys(162) and Cys(182) (Hisatomi, O., Takeuchi, K., Zikihara, K., Ookubo, Y., Nakatani, Y., Takahashi, F., Tokutomi, S., and Kataoka, H. (2013) Plant Cell Physiol. 54, 93-106). In the present study, we report the photoreactions, oligomeric structures, and DNA binding of monomeric cysteine to serine-mutated ZL (ZLC2S), DTT-treated ZL (DTT-ZL), and FL (DTT-FL). Recombinant AUREO1 showed similar spectral properties and dark regeneration kinetics to those of dimeric ZLwt2. Dynamic light scattering and size exclusion chromatography revealed that ZLC2S and DTT-ZL were monomeric in the dark state. Dissociation of intermolecular disulfide bonds of ZLwt2 was in equilibrium with a midpoint oxidation-redox potential of approximately -245 ± 15 mV. BL induced the dimerization of monomeric ZL, which subsequently increased its affinity for the target sequence. Also, DTT-FL was monomeric in the dark state and underwent BL-induced dimerization, which led to formation of the FL2·DNA complex. Taken together, our results suggest that monomeric AUREO1 is present in vivo, with dimerization playing a key role in its role as a BL-regulated transcription factor.