Showing 1 - 25 of 28 results
Single-Protein Tracking to Study Protein Interactions During Integrin-Based Migration.
Cell migration is a complex biophysical process which involves the coordination of molecular assemblies including integrin-dependent adhesions, signaling networks and force-generating cytoskeletal structures incorporating both actin polymerization and myosin activity. During the last decades, proteomic studies have generated impressive protein-protein interaction maps, although the subcellular location, duration, strength, sequence, and nature of these interactions are still concealed. In this chapter we describe how recent developments in superresolution microscopy (SRM) and single-protein tracking (SPT) start to unravel protein interactions and actions in subcellular molecular assemblies driving cell migration.
Control of Cell Migration Using Optogenetics.
Optogenetics uses light to manipulate protein localization or activity from subcellular to supra-cellular level with unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution. We used it to control the activity of the Cdc42 Rho GTPase, a major regulator of actin polymerization and cell polarity. In this chapter, we describe how to trigger and guide cell migration using optogenetics as a way to mimic EMT in an artificial yet highly controllable fashion.
Optogenetic Downregulation of Protein Levels to Control Programmed Cell Death in Mammalian Cells with a Dual Blue-Light Switch.
Optogenetic approaches facilitate the study of signaling and metabolic pathways in animal cell systems. In the past 10 years, a plethora of light-regulated switches for the targeted control over the induction of gene expression, subcellular localization of proteins, membrane receptor activity, and other cellular processes have been developed and successfully implemented. However, only a few tools have been engineered toward the quantitative and spatiotemporally resolved downregulation of proteins. Here we present a protocol for reversible and rapid blue light-induced reduction of protein levels in mammalian cells. By implementing a dual-regulated optogenetic switch (Blue-OFF), both repression of gene expression and degradation of the target protein are triggered simultaneously. We apply this system for the blue light-mediated control of programmed cell death. HEK293T cells are transfected with the proapoptotic proteins PUMA and BID integrated into the Blue-OFF system. Overexpression of these proteins leads to programmed cell death, which can be prevented by irradiation with blue light. This experimental approach is very straightforward, requires just simple hardware, and therefore can be easily implemented in state-of-the-art equipped mammalian cell culture labs. The system can be used for targeted cell signaling studies and biotechnological applications.
Dual Activation of cAMP Production Through Photostimulation or Chemical Stimulation.
cAMP is a crucial mediator of multiple cell signaling pathways. This cyclic nucleotide requires strict spatiotemporal control for effective function. Light-activated proteins have become a powerful tool to study signaling kinetics due to having quick on/off rates and minimal off-target effects. The photoactivated adenylyl cyclase from Beggiatoa (bPAC) produces cAMP rapidly upon stimulation with blue light. However, light delivery is not always feasible, especially in vivo. Hence, we created a luminescence-activated cyclase by fusing bPAC with nanoluciferase (nLuc) to allow chemical activation of cAMP activity. This dual-activated adenylyl cyclase can be stimulated using short bursts of light or long-term chemical activation with furimazine and other related luciferins. Together these can be used to mimic transient, chronic, and oscillating patterns of cAMP signaling. Moreover, when coupled to compartment-specific targeting domains, these reagents provide a new powerful tool for cAMP spatiotemporal dynamic studies. Here, we describe detailed methods for working with bPAC-nLuc in mammalian cells, stimulating cAMP production with light and luciferins, and measuring total cAMP accumulation.
Design and Application of Light-Regulated Receptor Tyrosine Kinases.
Understanding how the activity of membrane receptors and cellular signaling pathways shapes cell behavior is of fundamental interest in basic and applied research. Reengineering receptors to react to light instead of their cognate ligands allows for generating defined signaling inputs with high spatial and temporal precision and facilitates the dissection of complex signaling networks. Here, we describe fundamental considerations in the design of light-regulated receptor tyrosine kinases (Opto-RTKs) and appropriate control experiments. We also introduce methods for transient receptor expression in HEK293 cells, quantitative assessment of signaling activity in reporter gene assays, semiquantitative assessment of (in)activation time courses through Western blot (WB) analysis, and easy to implement light stimulation hardware.
Optogenetic Control of Gene Expression Using Cryptochrome 2 and a Light-Activated Degron.
Optogenetic tools allow for use of light as an external input to control cellular processes. When applied to regulate the function of transcription factors, optogenetic approaches provide a tunable, reversible, and bidirectional method to control gene expression. Herein, we present a detailed method to induce gene expression in mammalian cells using the light dependent dimerization of cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) and CIB1 to complement a split transcription factor. We also describe a protocol to disrupt gene expression with light by fusing a dimeric transcription factor to CRY2. When combined with a light-induced degron attached to the gene product, this method allows for rapid modulation of target protein abundance.
Engineering Optogenetic Protein Analogs.
This chapter provides an overview of the technologies we have developed to control proteins with light. First, we focus on the LOV domain, a versatile building block with reversible photo-response, kinetics tunable through mutagenesis, and ready expression in a broad range of cells and animals. Incorporation of LOV into proteins produced a variety of approaches: simple steric block of the active site released when irradiation lengthened a linker (PA-GTPases), reversible release from sequestration at mitochondria (LOVTRAP), and Z-lock, a method in which a light-cleavable bridge is placed where it occludes the active site. The latter two methods make use of Zdk, small engineered proteins that bind selectively to the dark state of LOV. In order to control endogenous proteins, inhibitory peptides are embedded in the LOV domain where they are exposed only upon irradiation (PKA and MLCK inhibition). Similarly, controlled exposure of a nuclear localization sequence and nuclear export sequence is used to reversibly send proteins into the nucleus. Another avenue of engineering makes use of the heterodimerization of FKBP and FRB proteins, induced by the small molecule rapamycin. We control rapamycin with light or simply add it to target cells. Incorporation of fused FKBP-FRB into kinases, guanine exchange factors, or GTPases leads to rapamycin-induced protein activation. Kinases are engineered so that they can interact with only a specific substrate upon activation. Recombination of split proteins using rapamycin-induced conformational changes minimizes spontaneous reassembly. Finally, we explore the insertion of LOV or rapamycin-responsive domains into proteins such that light-induced conformational changes exert allosteric control of the active site. We hope these design ideas will inspire new applications and broaden our reach towards dynamic biological processes that unfold when studied in vivo.
Optogenetic Control of Nucleocytoplasmic Protein Transport.
The transport of proteins between the nucleus and the cytosol is a vital process regulating cellular activity. The ability to spatiotemporally control the nucleocytoplasmic transport of a protein of interest allows for elucidating its function taking into account the dynamic and heterogeneous nature of biological processes contrary to conventional knockin, knockout, and chemically induced overexpression strategies. We recently developed two optogenetic tools, called LINuS and LEXY, for reversibly controlling with blue light the nuclear import and export of proteins of interest, respectively. Here we describe how to use them to control the localization of a protein of interest in cultured mammalian cells using a fluorescence microscope.
Optogenetic Techniques for Manipulating and Sensing G Protein-Coupled Receptor Signaling.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) form the largest class of membrane receptors in the mammalian genome with nearly 800 human genes encoding for unique subtypes. Accordingly, GPCR signaling is implicated in nearly all physiological processes. However, GPCRs have been difficult to study due in part to the complexity of their function which can lead to a plethora of converging or diverging downstream effects over different time and length scales. Classic techniques such as pharmacological control, genetic knockout and biochemical assays often lack the precision required to probe the functions of specific GPCR subtypes. Here we describe the rapidly growing set of optogenetic tools, ranging from methods for optical control of the receptor itself to optical sensing and manipulation of downstream effectors. These tools permit the quantitative measurements of GPCRs and their downstream signaling with high specificity and spatiotemporal precision.
Optogenetics and CRISPR: A New Relationship Built to Last.
Since the breakthrough discoveries that CRISPR-Cas9 nucleases can be easily programmed and employed to induce targeted double-strand breaks in mammalian cells, the gene editing field has grown exponentially. Today, CRISPR technologies based on engineered class II CRISPR effectors facilitate targeted modification of genes and RNA transcripts. Moreover, catalytically impaired CRISPR-Cas variants can be employed as programmable DNA binding domains and used to recruit effector proteins, such as transcriptional regulators, epigenetic modifiers or base-modifying enzymes, to selected genomic loci. The juxtaposition of CRISPR and optogenetics enables spatiotemporally confined and highly dynamic genome perturbations in living cells and animals and holds unprecedented potential for biology and biomedicine.Here, we provide an overview of the state-of-the-art methods for light-control of CRISPR effectors. We will detail the plethora of exciting applications enabled by these systems, including spatially confined genome editing, timed activation of endogenous genes, as well as remote control of chromatin-chromatin interactions. Finally, we will discuss limitations of current optogenetic CRISPR tools and point out routes for future innovation in this emerging field.
Synthesis of a Light-Controlled Phytochrome-Based Extracellular Matrix with Reversibly Adjustable Mechanical Properties.
Synthetic extracellular matrices with reversibly adjustable mechanical properties are essential for the investigation of how cells respond to dynamic mechanical cues as occurring in living organisms. One interesting approach to engineer dynamic biomaterials is the incorporation of photoreceptors from cyanobacteria or plants into polymer materials. Here, we give an overview of existing photoreceptor-based biomaterials and describe a detailed protocol for the synthesis of a phytochrome-based extracellular matrix (CyPhyGel). Using cell-compatible light in the red and far-red spectrum, the mechanical properties of this matrix can be adjusted in a fully reversible, wavelength-specific, and dose-dependent manner with high spatiotemporal control.
Light-Inducible CRISPR Labeling.
CRISPR labeling is a powerful technique to study the chromatin architecture in live cells. In CRISPR labeling, a catalytically dead CRISPR-Cas9 mutant is employed as programmable DNA-binding domain to recruit fluorescent proteins to selected genomic loci. The fluorescently labeled loci can then be identified as fluorescent spots and tracked over time by microscopy. A limitation of this approach is the lack of temporal control of the labeling process itself: Cas9 binds to the g(uide)RNA-complementary target loci as soon as it is expressed. The decoration of the genome with Cas9 molecules will, however, interfere with gene regulation and-possibly-affect the genome architecture itself. The ability to switch on and off Cas9 DNA binding in CRISPR labeling experiments would thus be important to enable more precise interrogations of the chromatin spatial organization and dynamics and could further be used to study Cas9 DNA binding kinetics directly in living human cells.Here, we describe a detailed protocol for light-inducible CRISPR labeling. Our method employs CASANOVA, an engineered, optogenetic anti-CRISPR protein, which efficiently traps the Streptococcus pyogenes (Spy)Cas9 in the dark, but permits Cas9 DNA targeting upon illumination with blue light. Using telomeres as exemplary target loci, we detail the experimental steps required for inducible CRISPR labeling with CASANOVA. We also provide instructions on how to analyze the resulting microscopy data in a fully automated fashion.
Optogenetics: Rho GTPases Activated by Light in Living Macrophages.
Genetically encoded optogenetic tools are increasingly popular and useful for perturbing signaling pathways with high spatial and temporal resolution in living cells. Here, we show basic procedures employed to implement optogenetics of Rho GTPases in a macrophage cell line. Methods described here are generally applicable to other genetically encoded optogenetic tools utilizing the blue-green spectrum of light for activation, designed for specific proteins and enzymatic targets important for immune cell functions.
Optogenetic Control of Microtubule Dynamics.
Light can be controlled with high spatial and temporal accuracy. Therefore, optogenetics is an attractive experimental approach to modulate intracellular cytoskeleton dynamics at much faster timescales than by genetic modification. For example, in mammalian cells, microtubules (MTs) grow tens of micrometers per minute and many intracellular MT functions are mediated by a complex of +TIP proteins that dynamically associate with growing MT plus ends. EB1 is a central component of this +TIP protein network, and we recently developed a photo-inactivated π-EB1 by inserting a blue light-sensitive LOV2/Zdk1 module between the EB1 MT-binding domain and the +TIP adaptor domain. Blue light-induced π-EB1 photodissociation results in disassembly of the +TIP complex and strongly attenuates MT growth in mammalian cells.In this chapter, we discuss theoretical and practical aspects of how to perform high-resolution live-cell microscopy in combination with π-EB1 photodissociation. However, these techniques are broadly applicable to other LOV2-based and likely other blue light-sensitive optogenetics. In addition to being a tool to investigate +TIP functions acutely and with subcellular resolution, because of its dramatic and rapid change in intracellular localization, π-EB1 can serve as a powerful tool to test and characterize optogenetic illumination setups. We describe protocols on how to achieve micrometer-scale intracellular control of π-EB1 activity using patterned illumination, and we introduce a do-it-yourself LED cube design compatible with transmitted light microscopy in multiwell plates.
Light-Induced Transcription Activation for Time-Lapse Microscopy Experiments in Living Cells.
Gene expression can be monitored in living cells via the binding of fluorescently tagged proteins to RNA repeats engineered into a reporter transcript. This approach makes it possible to trace temporal changes of RNA production in real time in living cells to dissect transcription regulation. For a mechanistic analysis of the underlying activation process, it is essential to induce gene expression with high accuracy. Here, we describe how this can be accomplished with an optogenetic approach termed blue light-induced chromatin recruitment (BLInCR). It employs the recruitment of an activator protein to a target promoter via the interaction between the PHR and CIBN plant protein domains. This process occurs within seconds after setting the light trigger and is reversible. Protocols for continuous activation as well as pulsed activation and reactivation with imaging either by laser scanning confocal microscopy or automated widefield microscopy are provided. For the semiautomated quantification of the resulting image series, an approach has been implemented in a set of scripts in the R programming language. Thus, the complete workflow of the BLInCR method is described for mechanistic studies of the transcription activation process as well as the persistence and memory of the activated state.
Optogenetic Control of Subcellular Protein Location and Signaling in Vertebrate Embryos.
This chapter describes the use of optogenetic heterodimerization in single cells within whole-vertebrate embryos. This method allows the use of light to reversibly bind together an "anchor" protein and a "bait" protein. Proteins can therefore be directed to specific subcellular compartments, altering biological processes such as cell polarity and signaling. I detail methods for achieving transient expression of fusion proteins encoding the phytochrome heterodimerization system in early zebrafish embryos (Buckley et al., Dev Cell 36(1):117-126, 2016) and describe the imaging parameters used to achieve subcellular light patterning.
Optogenetic Control of Cell Migration.
Subcellular optogenetics allows specific proteins to be optically activated or inhibited at a restricted subcellular location in intact living cells. It provides unprecedented control of dynamic cell behaviors. Optically modulating the activity of signaling molecules on one side of a cell helps optically control cell polarization and directional cell migration. Combining subcellular optogenetics with live cell imaging of the induced molecular and cellular responses in real time helps decipher the spatially and temporally dynamic molecular mechanisms that control a stereotypical complex cell behavior, cell migration. Here we describe methods for optogenetic control of cell migration by targeting three classes of key signaling switches that mediate directional cellular chemotaxis-G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), heterotrimeric G proteins, and Rho family monomeric G proteins.
CRISPR/dCas9 Switch Systems for Temporal Transcriptional Control.
In a swift revolution, CRISPR/Cas9 has reshaped the means and ease of interrogating biological questions. Particularly, mutants that result in a nuclease-deactivated Cas9 (dCas9) provide scientists with tools to modulate transcription of genomic loci at will by targeting transcriptional effector domains. To interrogate the temporal order of events during transcriptional regulation, rapidly inducible CRISPR/dCas9 systems provide previously unmet molecular tools. In only a few years of time, numerous light and chemical-inducible switches have been applied to CRISPR/dCas9 to generate dCas9 switches. As these inducible switch systems are able to modulate dCas9 directly at the protein level, they rapidly affect dCas9 stability, activity, or target binding and subsequently rapidly influence downstream transcriptional events. Here we review the current state of such biotechnological CRISPR/dCas9 enhancements. Specifically we provide details on their flaws and strengths and on the differences in molecular design between the switch systems. With this we aim to provide a selection guide for researchers with keen interest in rapid temporal control over transcriptional modulation through the CRISPR/dCas9 system.
Using Light-Activated Enzymes for Modulating Intracellular c-di-GMP Levels in Bacteria.
Signaling pathways involving second messenger c-di-GMP regulate various aspects of bacterial physiology and behavior. We describe the use of a red light-activated diguanylate cyclase (c-di-GMP synthase) and a blue light-activated c-di-GMP phosphodiesterase (hydrolase) for manipulating intracellular c-di-GMP levels in bacterial cells. We illustrate the application of these enzymes in regulating several c-di-GMP-dependent phenotypes, i.e., motility and biofilm phenotypes in E. coli and chemotactic behavior in the alphaproteobacterium Azospirillum brasilense. We expect these light-activated enzymes to be also useful in regulating c-di-GMP-dependent processes occurring at the fast timescale, for spatial control of bacterial populations, as well as for analyzing c-di-GMP-dependent phenomena at the single-cell level.
Recent advances in the development of light-inducible transgene expression systems have overcome many inherent drawbacks of conventional chemically regulated systems. The latest generation of those light-regulated systems that are specifically responsive to different wavelengths allows spatiotemporal control of gene expression in a so far unprecedented manner.In this chapter, we first describe the available light-inducible gene expression systems compatible with mammalian cells and explain their underlying mechanisms. Afterward, we give a detailed protocol for the implementation of a UVB light-inducible expression system in mammalian cells.
Optogenetic Control of Ras/Erk Signaling Using the Phy-PIF System.
The Ras/Erk signaling pathway plays a central role in diverse cellular processes ranging from development to immune cell activation to neural plasticity to cancer. In recent years, this pathway has been widely studied using live-cell fluorescent biosensors, revealing complex Erk dynamics that arise in many cellular contexts. Yet despite these high-resolution tools for measurement, the field has lacked analogous tools for control over Ras/Erk signaling in live cells. Here, we provide detailed methods for one such tool based on the optical control of Ras activity, which we call "Opto-SOS." Expression of the Opto-SOS constructs can be coupled with a live-cell reporter of Erk activity to reveal highly quantitative input-to-output maps of the pathway. Detailed herein are protocols for expressing the Opto-SOS system in cultured cells, purifying the small molecule cofactor necessary for optical stimulation, imaging Erk responses using live-cell microscopy, and processing the imaging data to quantify Ras/Erk signaling dynamics.
Light-Regulated Protein Kinases Based on the CRY2-CIB1 System.
Optogenetic approaches enable the control of biological processes in a time- and space-resolved manner. These light-based methods are noninvasive and by using light as sole activator minimize side effects in contrast to chemical inducers. Here, we provide a protocol for the targeted control of the activity of protein kinases in mammalian cells based on the photoreceptor cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) of Arabidopsis thaliana and its interaction partner CIB1. Blue light (450 nm)-induced binding of CRY2 to CIB1 allows the recruitment of a chimeric cytosolic protein kinase AKT1 to the plasma membrane accompanied with stimulation of its kinase activity. This protocol comprises the transient and stable implementation of the light-regulated system into mammalian cells and its stimulation by blue light-emitting diodes (450 nm) irradiation as well as analysis of the light-activated AKT1.
Development of a Synthetic Switch to Control Protein Stability in Eukaryotic Cells with Light.
In eukaryotic cells, virtually all regulatory processes are influenced by proteolysis. Thus, synthetic control of protein stability is a powerful approach to influence cellular behavior. To achieve this, selected target proteins are modified with a conditional degradation sequence (degron) that responds to a distinct signal. For development of a synthetic degron, an appropriate sensor domain is fused with a degron such that activity of the degron is under control of the sensor. This chapter describes the development of a light-activated, synthetic degron in the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This photosensitive degron module is composed of the light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) 2 photoreceptor domain of Arabidopsis thaliana phototropin 1 and a degron derived from murine ornithine decarboxylase (ODC). Excitation of the photoreceptor with blue light induces a conformational change that leads to exposure and activation of the degron. Subsequently, the protein is targeted for degradation by the proteasome. Here, the strategy for degron module development and optimization is described in detail together with experimental aspects, which were pivotal for successful implementation of light-controlled proteolysis. The engineering of the photosensitive degron (psd) module may well serve as a blueprint for future development of sophisticated synthetic switches.
LOV2-Controlled Photoactivation of Protein Trans-Splicing.
Protein trans-splicing is a posttranslational modification that joins two protein fragments together via a peptide a bond in a process that does not require exogenous cofactors. Towards achieving cellular control, synthetically engineered systems have used a variety of stimuli such as small molecules and light. Recently, split inteins have been engineered to be photoactive by the LOV2 domain (named LOVInC). Herein, we discuss (1) designing of LOV2-activated target proteins (e.g., inteins), (2) selecting feasible splice sites for the extein, and (3) imaging cells that express LOVInC-based target exteins.
Controlling Protein Activity and Degradation Using Blue Light.
Regulation of protein stability is a fundamental process in eukaryotic cells and pivotal to, e.g., cell cycle progression, faithful chromosome segregation, or protein quality control. Synthetic regulation of protein stability requires conditional degradation sequences (degrons) that induce a stability switch upon a specific signal. Fusion to a selected target protein permits to influence virtually every process in a cell. Light as signal is advantageous due to its precise applicability in time, space, quality, and quantity. Light control of protein stability was achieved by fusing the LOV2 photoreceptor domain of Arabidopsis thaliana phototropin1 with a synthetic degron (cODC1) derived from the carboxy-terminal degron of ornithine decarboxylase to obtain the photosensitive degron (psd) module. The psd module can be attached to the carboxy terminus of target proteins that are localized to the cytosol or nucleus to obtain light control over their stability. Blue light induces structural changes in the LOV2 domain, which in turn lead to activation of the degron and thus proteasomal degradation of the whole fusion protein. Variants of the psd module with diverse characteristics are useful to fine-tune the stability of a selected target at permissive (darkness) and restrictive conditions (blue light).