Showing 1 - 6 of 6 results
Pulsatile illumination for photobiology and optogenetics.
Living organisms exhibit a wide range of intrinsic adaptive responses to incident light. Likewise, in optogenetics, biological systems are tailored to initiate predetermined cellular processes upon light exposure. As genetically encoded, light-gated actuators, sensory photoreceptors are at the heart of these responses in both the natural and engineered scenarios. Upon light absorption, photoreceptors enter a series of generally rapid photochemical reactions leading to population of the light-adapted signaling state of the receptor. Notably, this state persists for a while before thermally reverting to the original dark-adapted resting state. As a corollary, the inactivation of photosensitive biological circuits upon light withdrawal can exhibit substantial inertia. Intermittent illumination of suitable pulse frequency can hence maintain the photoreceptor in its light-adapted state while greatly reducing overall light dose, thereby mitigating adverse side effects. Moreover, several photoreceptor systems may be actuated sequentially with a single light color if they sufficiently differ in their inactivation kinetics. Here, we detail the construction of programmable illumination devices for the rapid and parallelized testing of biological responses to diverse lighting regimes. As the technology is based on open electronics and readily available, inexpensive components, it can be adopted by most laboratories at moderate expenditure. As we exemplify for two use cases, the programmable devices enable the facile interrogation of diverse illumination paradigms and their application in optogenetics and photobiology.
Synthetic cell-like membrane interfaces for probing dynamic protein-lipid interactions.
The ability to rapidly screen interactions between proteins and membrane-like interfaces would aid in establishing the structure-function of protein-lipid interactions, provide a platform for engineering lipid-interacting protein tools, and potentially inform the signaling mechanisms and dynamics of membrane-associated proteins. Here, we describe the preparation and application of water-in-oil (w/o) emulsions with lipid-stabilized droplet interfaces that emulate the plasma membrane inner leaflet with tunable composition. Fluorescently labeled proteins are easily visualized in these synthetic cell-like droplets on an automated inverted fluorescence microscope, thus allowing for both rapid screening of relative binding and spatiotemporally resolved analyses of for example, protein-interface association and dissociation dynamics and competitive interactions, using commonplace instrumentation. We provide protocols for droplet formation, automated imaging assays and analysis, and the production of the positive control protein BcLOV4, a natural photoreceptor with a directly light-regulated interaction with anionic membrane phospholipids that is useful for optogenetic membrane recruitment.
Optogenetic perturbation of the biochemical pathways that control cell behavior.
Optogenetic tools provide a level of spatial and temporal resolution needed to shed new light on dynamic intercellular processes. In this chapter we outline specific protocols for applying these tools to cell motility (optogenetic cofilin), apoptosis [optogenetic Bcl-like protein 4 (Bax)], and protein kinase-mediated signaling pathways [optogenetic cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA)]. The activity of these optogenetic species is regulated by the light-mediated dimerization of a cryptochrome/Cib protein pair, which controls the intracellular positioning of the protein of interest. The light induced recruitment of cofilin to the cytoskeleton is utilized for directed migration studies and filopodial dynamics. Light-triggered migration of Bax to the outer mitochondrial membrane induces cellular collapse and eventual apoptosis. Finally, the light-mediated movement of PKA to specific intracellular compartments offers the means to assess the consequences of PKA activity in a site-specific fashion via phosphoproteomic analysis.
Engineering and Application of LOV2-Based Photoswitches.
Cellular optogenetic switches, a novel class of biological tools, have improved our understanding of biological phenomena that were previously intractable. While the design and engineering of these proteins has historically varied, they are all based on borrowed elements from plant and bacterial photoreceptors. In general terms, each of the optogenetic switches designed to date exploits the endogenous light-induced change in photoreceptor conformation while repurposing its effect to target a different biological phenomenon. We focus on the well-characterized light-oxygen-voltage 2 (LOV2) domain from Avena sativa phototropin 1 as our cornerstone for design. While the function of the LOV2 domain in the context of the phototropin protein is not fully elucidated, its thorough biophysical characterization as an isolated domain has created a strong foundation for engineering of photoswitches. In this chapter, we examine the biophysical characteristics of the LOV2 domain that may be exploited to produce an optogenetic switch and summarize previous design efforts to provide guidelines for an effective design. Furthermore, we provide protocols for assays including fluorescence polarization, phage display, and microscopy that are optimized for validating, improving, and using newly designed photoswitches.
Light control of plasma membrane recruitment using the Phy-PIF system.
The ability to control the activity of intracellular signaling processes in live cells would be an extraordinarily powerful tool. Ideally, such an intracellular input would be (i) genetically encoded, (ii) able to be turned on and off in defined temporal or spatial patterns, (iii) fast to switch between on and off states, and (iv) orthogonal to other cellular processes. The light-gated interaction between fragments of two plant proteins--termed Phy and PIF--satisfies each of these constraints. In this system, Phy can be switched between two conformations using red and infrared light, while PIF only binds one of these states. This chapter describes known constraints for designing genetic constructs using Phy and PIF and provides protocols for expressing these constructs in mammalian cells, purifying the small molecule chromophore required for the system's light responsivity, and measuring light-gated binding by microscopy.
Spatiotemporal control of small GTPases with light using the LOV domain.
Signaling networks in living systems are coordinated through subcellular compartmentalization and precise timing of activation. These spatiotemporal aspects ensure the fidelity of signaling while contributing to the diversity and specificity of downstream events. This is studied through development of molecular tools that generate localized and precisely timed protein activity in living systems. To study the molecular events responsible for cytoskeletal changes in real time, we generated versions of Rho family GTPases whose interactions with downstream effectors is controlled by light. GTPases were grafted to the phototropin LOV (light, oxygen, or voltage) domain (Huala, E., Oeller, P. W., Liscum, E., Han, I., Larsen, E., and Briggs, W. R. (1997). Arabidopsis NPH1: A protein kinase with a putative redox-sensing domain. Science278, 2120-2123.) via an alpha helix on the LOV C-terminus (Wu, Y. I., Frey, D., Lungu, O. I., Jaehrig, A., Schlichting, I., Kuhlman, B., and Hahn, K. M. (2009). A genetically encoded photoactivatable Rac controls the motility of living cells. Nature461, 104-108.). The LOV domain sterically blocked the GTPase active site until it was irradiated. Exposure to 400-500nm light caused unwinding of the helix linking the LOV domain to the GTPase, relieving steric inhibition. The change was reversible and repeatable, and the protein could be returned to its inactive state simply by turning off the light. The LOV domain incorporates a flavin as the active chromophore. This naturally occurring molecule is incorporated simply upon expression of the LOV fusion in cells or animals, permitting ready control of GTPase function in different systems. In cultured single cells, light-activated Rac leads to membrane ruffling, protrusion, and migration. In collectively migrating border cells in the Drosophila ovary, focal activation of photoactivatable Rac (PA-Rac) in a single cell is sufficient to redirect the entire group. PA-Rac in a single cell also rescues the phenotype caused by loss of endogenous guidance receptor signaling in the whole group. These findings demonstrate that cells within the border cell cluster communicate and are guided collectively. Here, we describe optimization and application of PA-Rac using detailed examples that we hope will help others apply the approach to different proteins and in a variety of different cells, tissues, and organisms.