Showing 1 - 25 of 61 results
A synthetic BRET-based optogenetic device for pulsatile transgene expression enabling glucose homeostasis in mice.
Pulsing cellular dynamics in genetic circuits have been shown to provide critical capabilities to cells in stress response, signaling and development. Despite the fascinating discoveries made in the past few years, the mechanisms and functional capabilities of most pulsing systems remain unclear, and one of the critical challenges is the lack of a technology that allows pulsatile regulation of transgene expression both in vitro and in vivo. Here, we describe the development of a synthetic BRET-based transgene expression (LuminON) system based on a luminescent transcription factor, termed luminGAVPO, by fusing NanoLuc luciferase to the light-switchable transcription factor GAVPO. luminGAVPO allows pulsatile and quantitative activation of transgene expression via both chemogenetic and optogenetic approaches in mammalian cells and mice. Both the pulse amplitude and duration of transgene expression are highly tunable via adjustment of the amount of furimazine. We further demonstrated LuminON-mediated blood-glucose homeostasis in type 1 diabetic mice. We believe that the BRET-based LuminON system with the pulsatile dynamics of transgene expression provides a highly sensitive tool for precise manipulation in biological systems that has strong potential for application in diverse basic biological studies and gene- and cell-based precision therapies in the future.
Resonance energy transfer sensitises and monitors in situ switching of LOV2-based optogenetic actuators.
Engineered light-dependent switches provide uniquely powerful opportunities to investigate and control cell regulatory mechanisms. Existing tools offer high spatiotemporal resolution, reversibility and repeatability. Cellular optogenetics applications remain limited with diffusible targets as the response of the actuator is difficult to independently validate. Blue light levels commonly needed for actuation can be cytotoxic, precluding long-term experiments. We describe a simple approach overcoming these obstacles. Resonance energy transfer can be used to constitutively or dynamically modulate actuation sensitivity. This simultaneously offers on-line monitoring of light-dependent switching and precise quantification of activation-relaxation properties in intact living cells. Applying this approach to different LOV2-based switches reveals that flanking sequences can lead to relaxation times up to 11-fold faster than anticipated. In situ-measured parameter values guide the design of target-inhibiting actuation trains with minimal blue-light exposure, and context-based optimisation can increase sensitivity and experimental throughput a further 10-fold without loss of temporal precision.
Optoribogenetic control of regulatory RNA molecules.
Short regulatory RNA molecules underpin gene expression and govern cellular state and physiology. To establish an alternative layer of control over these processes, we generated chimeric regulatory RNAs that interact reversibly and light-dependently with the light-oxygen-voltage photoreceptor PAL. By harnessing this interaction, the function of micro RNAs (miRs) and short hairpin (sh) RNAs in mammalian cells can be regulated in a spatiotemporally precise manner. The underlying strategy is generic and can be adapted to near-arbitrary target sequences. Owing to full genetic encodability, it establishes optoribogenetic control of cell state and physiology. The method stands to facilitate the non-invasive, reversible and spatiotemporally resolved study of regulatory RNAs and protein function in cellular and organismal environments.
Development of light-responsive protein binding in the monobody non-immunoglobulin scaffold.
Monobodies are synthetic non-immunoglobulin customizable protein binders invaluable to basic and applied research, and of considerable potential as future therapeutics and diagnostic tools. The ability to reversibly control their binding activity to their targets on demand would significantly expand their applications in biotechnology, medicine, and research. Here we present, as proof-of-principle, the development of a light-controlled monobody (OptoMB) that works in vitro and in cells and whose affinity for its SH2-domain target exhibits a 330-fold shift in binding affinity upon illumination. We demonstrate that our αSH2-OptoMB can be used to purify SH2-tagged proteins directly from crude E. coli extract, achieving 99.8% purity and over 40% yield in a single purification step. By virtue of their ability to be designed to bind any protein of interest, OptoMBs have the potential to find new powerful applications as light-switchable binders of untagged proteins with the temporal and spatial precision afforded by light.
Optogenetic control of protein binding using light-switchable nanobodies.
A growing number of optogenetic tools have been developed to reversibly control binding between two engineered protein domains. In contrast, relatively few tools confer light-switchable binding to a generic target protein of interest. Such a capability would offer substantial advantages, enabling photoswitchable binding to endogenous target proteins in cells or light-based protein purification in vitro. Here, we report the development of opto-nanobodies (OptoNBs), a versatile class of chimeric photoswitchable proteins whose binding to proteins of interest can be enhanced or inhibited upon blue light illumination. We find that OptoNBs are suitable for a range of applications including reversibly binding to endogenous intracellular targets, modulating signaling pathway activity, and controlling binding to purified protein targets in vitro. This work represents a step towards programmable photoswitchable regulation of a wide variety of target proteins.
Exploiting natural chemical photosensitivity of anhydrotetracycline and tetracycline for dynamic and setpoint chemo-optogenetic control.
The transcriptional inducer anhydrotetracycline (aTc) and the bacteriostatic antibiotic tetracycline (Tc) are commonly used in all fields of biology for control of transcription or translation. A drawback of these and other small molecule inducers is the difficulty of their removal from cell cultures, limiting their application for dynamic control. Here, we describe a simple method to overcome this limitation, and show that the natural photosensitivity of aTc/Tc can be exploited to turn them into highly predictable optogenetic transcriptional- and growth-regulators. This new optogenetic class uniquely features both dynamic and setpoint control which act via population-memory adjustable through opto-chemical modulation. We demonstrate this method by applying it for dynamic gene expression control and for enhancing the performance of an existing optogenetic system. We then expand the utility of the aTc system by constructing a new chemical bandpass filter that increases its aTc response range. The simplicity of our method enables scientists and biotechnologists to use their existing systems employing aTc/Tc for dynamic optogenetic experiments without genetic modification.
A non-invasive far-red light-induced split-Cre recombinase system for controllable genome engineering in mice.
The Cre-loxP recombination system is a powerful tool for genetic manipulation. However, there are widely recognized limitations with chemically inducible Cre-loxP systems, and the UV and blue-light induced systems have phototoxicity and minimal capacity for deep tissue penetration. Here, we develop a far-red light-induced split Cre-loxP system (FISC system) based on a bacteriophytochrome optogenetic system and split-Cre recombinase, enabling optogenetical regulation of genome engineering in vivo solely by utilizing a far-red light (FRL). The FISC system exhibits low background and no detectable photocytotoxicity, while offering efficient FRL-induced DNA recombination. Our in vivo studies showcase the strong organ-penetration capacity of FISC system, markedly outperforming two blue-light-based Cre systems for recombination induction in the liver. Demonstrating its strong clinical relevance, we successfully deploy a FISC system using adeno-associated virus (AAV) delivery. Thus, the FISC system expands the optogenetic toolbox for DNA recombination to achieve spatiotemporally controlled, non-invasive genome engineering in living systems.
LITESEC-T3SS - Light-controlled protein delivery into eukaryotic cells with high spatial and temporal resolution.
Many bacteria employ a type III secretion system (T3SS) injectisome to translocate proteins into eukaryotic host cells. Although the T3SS can efficiently export heterologous cargo proteins, a lack of target cell specificity currently limits its application in biotechnology and healthcare. In this study, we exploit the dynamic nature of the T3SS to govern its activity. Using optogenetic interaction switches to control the availability of the dynamic cytosolic T3SS component SctQ, T3SS-dependent effector secretion can be regulated by light. The resulting system, LITESEC-T3SS (Light-induced translocation of effectors through sequestration of endogenous components of the T3SS), allows rapid, specific, and reversible activation or deactivation of the T3SS upon illumination. We demonstrate the light-regulated translocation of heterologous reporter proteins, and induction of apoptosis in cultured eukaryotic cells. LITESEC-T3SS constitutes a new method to control protein secretion and translocation into eukaryotic host cells with unparalleled spatial and temporal resolution.
Light-powered Escherichia coli cell division for chemical production.
Cell division can perturb the metabolic performance of industrial microbes. The C period of cell division starts from the initiation to the termination of DNA replication, whereas the D period is the bacterial division process. Here, we first shorten the C and D periods of E. coli by controlling the expression of the ribonucleotide reductase NrdAB and division proteins FtsZA through blue light and near-infrared light activation, respectively. It increases the specific surface area to 3.7 μm-1 and acetoin titer to 67.2 g·L-1. Next, we prolong the C and D periods of E. coli by regulating the expression of the ribonucleotide reductase NrdA and division protein inhibitor SulA through blue light activation-repression and near-infrared (NIR) light activation, respectively. It improves the cell volume to 52.6 μm3 and poly(lactate-co-3-hydroxybutyrate) titer to 14.31 g·L-1. Thus, the optogenetic-based cell division regulation strategy can improve the efficiency of microbial cell factories.
Photoactivatable Cre recombinase 3.0 for in vivo mouse applications.
Optogenetic genome engineering tools enable spatiotemporal control of gene expression and provide new insight into biological function. Here, we report the new version of genetically encoded photoactivatable (PA) Cre recombinase, PA-Cre 3.0. To improve PA-Cre technology, we compare light-dimerization tools and optimize for mammalian expression using a CAG promoter, Magnets, and 2A self-cleaving peptide. To prevent background recombination caused by the high sequence similarity in the dimerization domains, we modify the codons for mouse gene targeting and viral production. Overall, these modifications significantly reduce dark leak activity and improve blue-light induction developing our new version, PA-Cre 3.0. As a resource, we have generated and validated AAV-PA-Cre 3.0 as well as two mouse lines that can conditionally express PA-Cre 3.0. Together these new tools will facilitate further biological and biomedical research.
Cell-in-the-loop pattern formation with optogenetically emulated cell-to-cell signaling.
Designing and implementing synthetic biological pattern formation remains challenging due to underlying theoretical complexity as well as the difficulty of engineering multicellular networks biochemically. Here, we introduce a cell-in-the-loop approach where living cells interact through in silico signaling, establishing a new testbed to interrogate theoretical principles when internal cell dynamics are incorporated rather than modeled. We present an easy-to-use theoretical test to predict the emergence of contrasting patterns in gene expression among laterally inhibiting cells. Guided by the theory, we experimentally demonstrate spontaneous checkerboard patterning in an optogenetic setup, where cell-to-cell signaling is emulated with light inputs calculated in silico from real-time gene expression measurements. The scheme successfully produces spontaneous, persistent checkerboard patterns for systems of sixteen patches, in quantitative agreement with theoretical predictions. Our research highlights how tools from dynamical systems theory may inform our understanding of patterning, and illustrates the potential of cell-in-the-loop for engineering synthetic multicellular systems.
Cytokinetic bridge triggers de novo lumen formation in vivo.
Multicellular rosettes are transient epithelial structures that serve as intermediates during diverse organ formation. We have identified a unique contributor to rosette formation in zebrafish Kupffer's vesicle (KV) that requires cell division, specifically the final stage of mitosis termed abscission. KV utilizes a rosette as a prerequisite before forming a lumen surrounded by ciliated epithelial cells. Our studies identify that KV-destined cells remain interconnected by cytokinetic bridges that position at the rosette's center. These bridges act as a landmark for directed Rab11 vesicle motility to deliver an essential cargo for lumen formation, CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator). Here we report that premature bridge cleavage through laser ablation or inhibiting abscission using optogenetic clustering of Rab11 result in disrupted lumen formation. We present a model in which KV mitotic cells strategically place their cytokinetic bridges at the rosette center, where Rab11-associated vesicles transport CFTR to aid in lumen establishment.
Optogenetic manipulation of calcium signals in single T cells in vivo.
By offering the possibility to manipulate cellular functions with spatiotemporal control, optogenetics represents an attractive tool for dissecting immune responses. However, applying these approaches to single cells in vivo remains particularly challenging for immune cells that are typically located in scattering tissues. Here, we introduce an improved calcium actuator with sensitivity allowing for two-photon photoactivation. Furthermore, we identify an actuator/reporter combination that permits the simultaneous manipulation and visualization of calcium signals in individual T cells in vivo. With this strategy, we document the consequences of defined patterns of calcium signals on T cell migration, adhesion, and chemokine release. Manipulation of individual immune cells in vivo should open new avenues for establishing the functional contribution of single immune cells engaged in complex reactions.
Optogenetic engineering to probe the molecular choreography of STIM1-mediated cell signaling.
Genetically encoded photoswitches have enabled spatial and temporal control of cellular events to achieve tailored functions in living cells, but their applications to probe the structure-function relations of signaling proteins are still underexplored. We illustrate herein the incorporation of various blue light-responsive photoreceptors into modular domains of the stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1) to manipulate protein activity and faithfully recapitulate STIM1-mediated signaling events. Capitalizing on these optogenetic tools, we identify the molecular determinants required to mediate protein oligomerization, intramolecular conformational switch, and protein-target interactions. In parallel, we have applied these synthetic devices to enable light-inducible gating of calcium channels, conformational switch, dynamic protein-microtubule interactions and assembly of membrane contact sites in a reversible manner. Our optogenetic engineering approach can be broadly applied to aid the mechanistic dissection of cell signaling, as well as non-invasive interrogation of physiological processes with high precision.
Optogenetic modulation of TDP-43 oligomerization accelerates ALS-related pathologies in the spinal motor neurons.
Cytoplasmic aggregation of TDP-43 characterizes degenerating neurons in most cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Here, we develop an optogenetic TDP-43 variant (opTDP-43), whose multimerization status can be modulated in vivo through external light illumination. Using the translucent zebrafish neuromuscular system, we demonstrate that short-term light stimulation reversibly induces cytoplasmic opTDP-43 mislocalization, but not aggregation, in the spinal motor neuron, leading to an axon outgrowth defect associated with myofiber denervation. In contrast, opTDP-43 forms pathological aggregates in the cytoplasm after longer-term illumination and seeds non-optogenetic TDP-43 aggregation. Furthermore, we find that an ALS-linked mutation in the intrinsically disordered region (IDR) exacerbates the light-dependent opTDP-43 toxicity on locomotor behavior. Together, our results propose that IDR-mediated TDP-43 oligomerization triggers both acute and long-term pathologies of motor neurons, which may be relevant to the pathogenesis and progression of ALS.
Minimally disruptive optical control of protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B.
Protein tyrosine phosphatases regulate a myriad of essential subcellular signaling events, yet they remain difficult to study in their native biophysical context. Here we develop a minimally disruptive optical approach to control protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B)-an important regulator of receptor tyrosine kinases and a therapeutic target for the treatment of diabetes, obesity, and cancer-and we use that approach to probe the intracellular function of this enzyme. Our conservative architecture for photocontrol, which consists of a protein-based light switch fused to an allosteric regulatory element, preserves the native structure, activity, and subcellular localization of PTP1B, affords changes in activity that match those elicited by post-translational modifications inside the cell, and permits experimental analyses of the molecular basis of optical modulation. Findings indicate, most strikingly, that small changes in the activity of PTP1B can cause large shifts in the phosphorylation states of its regulatory targets.
Optogenetic regulation of endogenous proteins.
Techniques of protein regulation, such as conditional gene expression, RNA interference, knock-in and knock-out, lack sufficient spatiotemporal accuracy, while optogenetic tools suffer from non-physiological response due to overexpression artifacts. Here we present a near-infrared light-activatable optogenetic system, which combines the specificity and orthogonality of intrabodies with the spatiotemporal precision of optogenetics. We engineer optically-controlled intrabodies to regulate genomically expressed protein targets and validate the possibility to further multiplex protein regulation via dual-wavelength optogenetic control. We apply this system to regulate cytoskeletal and enzymatic functions of two non-tagged endogenous proteins, actin and RAS GTPase, involved in complex functional networks sensitive to perturbations. The optogenetically-enhanced intrabodies allow fast and reversible regulation of both proteins, as well as simultaneous monitoring of RAS signaling with visible-light biosensors, enabling all-optical approach. Growing number of intrabodies should make their incorporation into optogenetic tools the versatile technology to regulate endogenous targets.
Tunable light and drug induced depletion of target proteins.
Biological processes in development and disease are controlled by the abundance, localization and modification of cellular proteins. We have developed versatile tools based on recombinant E3 ubiquitin ligases that are controlled by light or drug induced heterodimerization for nanobody or DARPin targeted depletion of endogenous proteins in cells and organisms. We use this rapid, tunable and reversible protein depletion for functional studies of essential proteins like PCNA in DNA repair and to investigate the role of CED-3 in apoptosis during Caenorhabditis elegans development. These independent tools can be combined for spatial and temporal depletion of different sets of proteins, can help to distinguish immediate cellular responses from long-term adaptation effects and can facilitate the exploration of complex networks.
Dynamic organelle distribution initiates actin-based spindle migration in mouse oocytes.
Migration of meiosis-I (MI) spindle from the cell center to a sub-cortical location is a critical step for mouse oocytes to undergo asymmetric meiotic cell division. In this study, we investigate the mechanism by which formin-2 (FMN2) orchestrates the initial movement of MI spindle. By defining protein domains responsible for targeting FMN2, we show that spindle-periphery localized FMN2 is required for spindle migration. The spindle-peripheral FMN2 nucleates short actin bundles from vesicles derived likely from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and concentrated in a layer outside the spindle. This layer is in turn surrounded by mitochondria. A model based on polymerizing actin filaments pushing against mitochondria, thus generating a counter force on the spindle, demonstrated an inherent ability of this system to break symmetry and evolve directional spindle motion. The model is further supported through experiments involving spatially biasing actin nucleation via optogenetics and disruption of mitochondrial distribution and dynamics.
Non-invasive optical control of endogenous Ca2+ channels in awake mice.
Optogenetic approaches for controlling Ca2+ channels provide powerful means for modulating diverse Ca2+-specific biological events in space and time. However, blue light-responsive photoreceptors are, in principle, considered inadequate for deep tissue stimulation unless accompanied by optic fiber insertion. Here, we present an ultra-light-sensitive optogenetic Ca2+ modulator, named monSTIM1 encompassing engineered cryptochrome2 for manipulating Ca2+ signaling in the brain of awake mice through non-invasive light delivery. Activation of monSTIM1 in either excitatory neurons or astrocytes of mice brain is able to induce Ca2+-dependent gene expression without any mechanical damage in the brain. Furthermore, we demonstrate that non-invasive Ca2+ modulation in neurons can be sufficiently and effectively translated into changes in behavioral phenotypes of awake mice.
High-performance chemical- and light-inducible recombinases in mammalian cells and mice.
Site-specific DNA recombinases are important genome engineering tools. Chemical- and light-inducible recombinases, in particular, enable spatiotemporal control of gene expression. However, inducible recombinases are scarce due to the challenge of engineering high performance systems, thus constraining the sophistication of genetic circuits and animal models that can be created. Here we present a library of >20 orthogonal inducible split recombinases that can be activated by small molecules, light and temperature in mammalian cells and mice. Furthermore, we engineer inducible split Cre systems with better performance than existing systems. Using our orthogonal inducible recombinases, we create a genetic switchboard that can independently regulate the expression of 3 different cytokines in the same cell, a tripartite inducible Flp, and a 4-input AND gate. We quantitatively characterize the inducible recombinases for benchmarking their performances, including computation of distinguishability of outputs. This library expands capabilities for multiplexed mammalian gene expression control.
Flotillins promote T cell receptor sorting through a fast Rab5-Rab11 endocytic recycling axis.
The targeted endocytic recycling of the T cell receptor (TCR) to the immunological synapse is essential for T cell activation. Despite this, the mechanisms that underlie the sorting of internalised receptors into recycling endosomes remain poorly understood. To build a comprehensive picture of TCR recycling during T cell activation, we developed a suite of new imaging and quantification tools centred on photoactivation of fluorescent proteins. We show that the membrane-organising proteins, flotillin-1 and -2, are required for TCR to reach Rab5-positive endosomes immediately after endocytosis and for transfer from Rab5- to Rab11a-positive compartments. We further observe that after sorting into in Rab11a-positive vesicles, TCR recycles to the plasma membrane independent of flotillin expression. Our data suggest a mechanism whereby flotillins delineate a fast Rab5-Rab11a endocytic recycling axis and functionally contribute to regulate the spatial organisation of these endosomes.
Optogenetic control of Bacillus subtilis gene expression.
The Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis exhibits complex spatial and temporal gene expression signals. Although optogenetic tools are ideal for studying such processes, none has been engineered for this organism. Here, we port a cyanobacterial light sensor pathway comprising the green/red photoreversible two-component system CcaSR, two metabolic enzymes for production of the chromophore phycocyanobilin (PCB), and an output promoter to control transcription of a gene of interest into B. subtilis. Following an initial non-functional design, we optimize expression of pathway genes, enhance PCB production via a translational fusion of the biosynthetic enzymes, engineer a strong chimeric output promoter, and increase dynamic range with a miniaturized photosensor kinase. Our final design exhibits over 70-fold activation and rapid response dynamics, making it well-suited to studying a wide range of gene regulatory processes. In addition, the synthetic biology methods we develop to port this pathway should make B. subtilis easier to engineer in the future.
Reversible induction of mitophagy by an optogenetic bimodular system.
Autophagy-mediated degradation of mitochondria (mitophagy) is a key process in cellular quality control. Although mitophagy impairment is involved in several patho-physiological conditions, valuable methods to induce mitophagy with low toxicity in vivo are still lacking. Herein, we describe a new optogenetic tool to stimulate mitophagy, based on light-dependent recruitment of pro-autophagy protein AMBRA1 to mitochondrial surface. Upon illumination, AMBRA1-RFP-sspB is efficiently relocated from the cytosol to mitochondria, where it reversibly mediates mito-aggresome formation and reduction of mitochondrial mass. Finally, as a proof of concept of the biomedical relevance of this method, we induced mitophagy in an in vitro model of neurotoxicity, fully preventing cell death, as well as in human T lymphocytes and in zebrafish in vivo. Given the unique features of this tool, we think it may turn out to be very useful for a wide range of both therapeutic and research applications.
Neurotrophin receptor tyrosine kinases regulated with near-infrared light.
Optical control over the activity of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) provides an efficient way to reversibly and non-invasively map their functions. We combined catalytic domains of Trk (tropomyosin receptor kinase) family of RTKs, naturally activated by neurotrophins, with photosensory core module of DrBphP bacterial phytochrome to develop opto-kinases, termed Dr-TrkA and Dr-TrkB, reversibly switchable on and off with near-infrared and far-red light. We validated Dr-Trk ability to reversibly light-control several RTK pathways, calcium level, and demonstrated that their activation triggers canonical Trk signaling. Dr-TrkA induced apoptosis in neuroblastoma and glioblastoma, but not in other cell types. Absence of spectral crosstalk between Dr-Trks and blue-light-activatable LOV-domain-based translocation system enabled intracellular targeting of Dr-TrkA independently of its activation, additionally modulating Trk signaling. Dr-Trks have several superior characteristics that make them the opto-kinases of choice for regulation of RTK signaling: high activation range, fast and reversible photoswitching, and multiplexing with visible-light-controllable optogenetic tools.