Showing 1 - 8 of 8 results
Light-induced local gene expression in primary chick cell culture system.
The ability to manipulate gene expression at a specific region in a tissue or cell culture system is critical for analysis of target gene function. For chick embryos/cells, several gene introduction/induction methods have been established such as those involving retrovirus, electroporation, sonoporation, and lipofection. However, these methods have limitations in the accurate induction of localized gene expression. Here we demonstrate the effective application of a recently developed light-dependent gene expression induction system (LightOn system) using the Neurospora crassa photoreceptor Vivid fused with a Gal4 DNA binding domain and p65 activation domain (GAVPO) that alters its activity in response to light stimulus in a primary chicken cell culture system. We show that the gene expression level and induction specificity in this system are strongly dependent on the light irradiation conditions. Especially, the irradiation interval is an important parameter for modulating gene expression; for shorter time intervals, higher induction specificity can be achieved. Further, by adjusting light irradiation conditions, the expression level in primary chicken cells can be regulated in a multiple step manner, in contrast to the binary expression seen for gene disruption or introduction (i.e., null or overexpression). This result indicates that the light-dependent expression control method can be a useful technique in chick models to examine how gene funtion is affected by gradual changes in gene expression levels. We applied this light-induction system to regulate Sox9 expression in cultures of chick limb mesenchyme cells and showed that induced SOX9 protein could modulate expression of downstream genes.
Twist-dependent ratchet functioning downstream from Dorsal revealed using a light-inducible degron.
Graded transcription factors are pivotal regulators of embryonic patterning, but whether their role changes over time is unclear. A light-regulated protein degradation system was used to assay temporal dependence of the transcription factor Dorsal in dorsal-ventral axis patterning of Drosophila embryos. Surprisingly, the high-threshold target gene snail only requires Dorsal input early but not late when Dorsal levels peak. Instead, late snail expression can be supported by action of the Twist transcription factor, specifically, through one enhancer, sna.distal This study demonstrates that continuous input is not required for some Dorsal targets and downstream responses, such as twist, function as molecular ratchets.
Principles and applications of optogenetics in developmental biology.
The development of multicellular organisms is controlled by highly dynamic molecular and cellular processes organized in spatially restricted patterns. Recent advances in optogenetics are allowing protein function to be controlled with the precision of a pulse of laser light in vivo, providing a powerful new tool to perturb developmental processes at a wide range of spatiotemporal scales. In this Primer, we describe the most commonly used optogenetic tools, their application in developmental biology and in the nascent field of synthetic morphogenesis.
Optogenetic perturbation and bioluminescence imaging to analyze cell-to-cell transfer of oscillatory information.
Cells communicate with each other to coordinate their gene activities at the population level through signaling pathways. It has been shown that many gene activities are oscillatory and that the frequency and phase of oscillatory gene expression encode various types of information. However, whether or how such oscillatory information is transmitted from cell to cell remains unknown. Here, we developed an integrated approach that combines optogenetic perturbations and single-cell bioluminescence imaging to visualize and reconstitute synchronized oscillatory gene expression in signal-sending and signal-receiving processes. We found that intracellular and intercellular periodic inputs of Notch signaling entrain intrinsic oscillations by frequency tuning and phase shifting at the single-cell level. In this way, the oscillation dynamics are transmitted through Notch signaling, thereby synchronizing the population of oscillators. Thus, this approach enabled us to control and monitor dynamic cell-to-cell transfer of oscillatory information to coordinate gene expression patterns at the population level.
TAEL: a zebrafish-optimized optogenetic gene expression system with fine spatial and temporal control.
Here, we describe an optogenetic gene expression system optimized for use in zebrafish. This system overcomes the limitations of current inducible expression systems by enabling robust spatial and temporal regulation of gene expression in living organisms. Because existing optogenetic systems show toxicity in zebrafish, we re-engineered the blue-light-activated EL222 system for minimal toxicity while exhibiting a large range of induction, fine spatial precision and rapid kinetics. We validate several strategies to spatially restrict illumination and thus gene induction with our new TAEL (TA4-EL222) system. As a functional example, we show that TAEL is able to induce ectopic endodermal cells in the presumptive ectoderm via targeted sox32 induction. We also demonstrate that TAEL can be used to resolve multiple roles of Nodal signaling at different stages of embryonic development. Finally, we show how inducible gene editing can be achieved by combining the TAEL and CRISPR/Cas9 systems. This toolkit should be a broadly useful resource for the fish community.
Reversible optogenetic control of kinase activity during differentiation and embryonic development.
A limited number of signaling pathways are repeatedly used to regulate a wide variety of processes during development and differentiation. The lack of tools to manipulate signaling pathways dynamically in space and time has been a major technical challenge for biologists. Optogenetic techniques, which utilize light to control protein functions in a reversible fashion, hold promise for modulating intracellular signaling networks with high spatial and temporal resolution. Applications of optogenetics in multicellular organisms, however, have not been widely reported. Here, we create an optimized bicistronic optogenetic system using Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) protein and the N-terminal domain of cryptochrome-interacting basic-helix-loop-helix (CIBN). In a proof-of-principle study, we develop an optogenetic Raf kinase that allows reversible light-controlled activation of the Raf/MEK/ERK signaling cascade. In PC12 cells, this system significantly improves light-induced cell differentiation compared with co-transfection. When applied to Xenopus embryos, this system enables blue light-dependent reversible Raf activation at any desired developmental stage in specific cell lineages. Our system offers a powerful optogenetic tool suitable for manipulation of signaling pathways with high spatial and temporal resolution in a wide range of experimental settings.
Ultradian oscillations and pulses: coordinating cellular responses and cell fate decisions.
Biological clocks play key roles in organismal development, homeostasis and function. In recent years, much work has focused on circadian clocks, but emerging studies have highlighted the existence of ultradian oscillators - those with a much shorter periodicity than 24 h. Accumulating evidence, together with recently developed optogenetic approaches, suggests that such ultradian oscillators play important roles during cell fate decisions, and analyzing the functional links between ultradian oscillation and cell fate determination will contribute to a deeper understanding of the design principle of developing embryos. In this Review, we discuss the mechanisms of ultradian oscillatory dynamics and introduce examples of ultradian oscillators in various biological contexts. We also discuss how optogenetic technology has been used to elucidate the biological significance of ultradian oscillations.
Live imaging of multicolor-labeled cells in Drosophila.
We describe LOLLIbow, a Brainbow-based live imaging system with applications in developmental biology and neurobiology. The development of an animal, including the environmentally sensitive adaptation of its brain, is thought to proceed through continual orchestration among diverse cell types as they divide, migrate, transform and interact with one another within the body. To facilitate direct visualization of such dynamic morphogenesis by individual cells in vivo, we have modified the original Brainbow for Drosophila in which live imaging is practical during much of its development. Our system offers permanent fluorescent labels that reveal fine morphological details of individual cells without requiring dissection or fixation of the samples. It also features a non-invasive means to control the timing of stochastic tricolor cell labeling with a light pulse. We demonstrate applicability of the new system in a variety of settings that could benefit from direct imaging of the developing multicellular organism with single-cell resolution.