Showing 101 - 117 of 117 results
Spatiotemporal control of gene expression by a light-switchable transgene system.
We developed a light-switchable transgene system based on a synthetic, genetically encoded light-switchable transactivator. The transactivator binds promoters upon blue-light exposure and rapidly initiates transcription of target transgenes in mammalian cells and in mice. This transgene system provides a robust and convenient way to spatiotemporally control gene expression and can be used to manipulate many biological processes in living systems with minimal perturbation.
In silico feedback for in vivo regulation of a gene expression circuit.
We show that difficulties in regulating cellular behavior with synthetic biological circuits may be circumvented using in silico feedback control. By tracking a circuit's output in Saccharomyces cerevisiae in real time, we precisely control its behavior using an in silico feedback algorithm to compute regulatory inputs implemented through a genetically encoded light-responsive module. Moving control functions outside the cell should enable more sophisticated manipulation of cellular processes whenever real-time measurements of cellular variables are possible.
Light-based feedback for controlling intracellular signaling dynamics.
The ability to apply precise inputs to signaling species in live cells would be transformative for interrogating and understanding complex cell-signaling systems. Here we report an 'optogenetic' method for applying custom signaling inputs using feedback control of a light-gated protein-protein interaction. We applied this strategy to perturb protein localization and phosphoinositide 3-kinase activity, generating time-varying signals and clamping signals to buffer against cell-to-cell variability or changes in pathway activity.
Function, structure and mechanism of bacterial photosensory LOV proteins.
LOV (light, oxygen or voltage) domains are protein photosensors that are conserved in bacteria, archaea, plants and fungi, and detect blue light via a flavin cofactor. LOV domains are present in both chemotrophic and phototrophic bacterial species, in which they are found amino-terminally of signalling and regulatory domains such as sensor histidine kinases, diguanylate cyclases-phosphodiesterases, DNA-binding domains and regulators of RNA polymerase σ-factors. In this Review, we describe the current state of knowledge about the function of bacterial LOV proteins, the structural basis of LOV domain-mediated signal transduction, and the use of LOV domains as genetically encoded photoswitches in synthetic biology.
Rapid blue-light-mediated induction of protein interactions in living cells.
Dimerizers allowing inducible control of protein-protein interactions are powerful tools for manipulating biological processes. Here we describe genetically encoded light-inducible protein-interaction modules based on Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 and CIB1 that require no exogenous ligands and dimerize on blue-light exposure with subsecond time resolution and subcellular spatial resolution. We demonstrate the utility of this system by inducing protein translocation, transcription and Cre recombinase-mediated DNA recombination using light.
Rationally improving LOV domain-based photoswitches.
Genetically encoded protein photosensors are promising tools for engineering optical control of cellular behavior; we are only beginning to understand how to couple these light detectors to effectors of choice. Here we report a method that increases the dynamic range of an artificial photoswitch based on the LOV2 domain of Avena sativa phototropin 1 (AsLOV2). This approach can potentially be used to improve many AsLOV2-based photoswitches.
Light-mediated activation reveals a key role for Rac in collective guidance of cell movement in vivo.
The small GTPase Rac induces actin polymerization, membrane ruffling and focal contact formation in cultured single cells but can either repress or stimulate motility in epithelial cells depending on the conditions. The role of Rac in collective epithelial cell movements in vivo, which are important for both morphogenesis and metastasis, is therefore difficult to predict. Recently, photoactivatable analogues of Rac (PA-Rac) have been developed, allowing rapid and reversible activation or inactivation of Rac using light. In cultured single cells, light-activated Rac leads to focal membrane ruffling, protrusion and migration. Here we show that focal activation of Rac is also sufficient to polarize an entire group of cells in vivo, specifically the border cells of the Drosophila ovary. Moreover, activation or inactivation of Rac in one cell of the cluster caused a dramatic response in the other cells, suggesting that the cells sense direction as a group according to relative levels of Rac activity. Communication between cells of the cluster required Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK) but not guidance receptor signalling. These studies further show that photoactivatable proteins are effective tools in vivo.
Induction of protein-protein interactions in live cells using light.
Protein-protein interactions are essential for many cellular processes. We have developed a technology called light-activated dimerization (LAD) to artificially induce protein hetero- and homodimerization in live cells using light. Using the FKF1 and GIGANTEA (GI) proteins of Arabidopsis thaliana, we have generated protein tags whose interaction is controlled by blue light. We demonstrated the utility of this system with LAD constructs that can recruit the small G-protein Rac1 to the plasma membrane and induce the local formation of lamellipodia in response to focal illumination. We also generated a light-activated transcription factor by fusing domains of GI and FKF1 to the DNA binding domain of Gal4 and the transactivation domain of VP16, respectively, showing that this technology is easily adapted to other systems. These studies set the stage for the development of light-regulated signaling molecules for controlling receptor activation, synapse formation and other signaling events in organisms.
Spatiotemporal control of cell signalling using a light-switchable protein interaction.
Genetically encodable optical reporters, such as green fluorescent protein, have revolutionized the observation and measurement of cellular states. However, the inverse challenge of using light to control precisely cellular behaviour has only recently begun to be addressed; semi-synthetic chromophore-tethered receptors and naturally occurring channel rhodopsins have been used to perturb directly neuronal networks. The difficulty of engineering light-sensitive proteins remains a significant impediment to the optical control of most cell-biological processes. Here we demonstrate the use of a new genetically encoded light-control system based on an optimized, reversible protein-protein interaction from the phytochrome signalling network of Arabidopsis thaliana. Because protein-protein interactions are one of the most general currencies of cellular information, this system can, in principle, be generically used to control diverse functions. Here we show that this system can be used to translocate target proteins precisely and reversibly to the membrane with micrometre spatial resolution and at the second timescale. We show that light-gated translocation of the upstream activators of Rho-family GTPases, which control the actin cytoskeleton, can be used to precisely reshape and direct the cell morphology of mammalian cells. The light-gated protein-protein interaction that has been optimized here should be useful for the design of diverse light-programmable reagents, potentially enabling a new generation of perturbative, quantitative experiments in cell biology.
Mechanism-based tuning of a LOV domain photoreceptor.
Phototropin-like LOV domains form a cysteinyl-flavin adduct in response to blue light but show considerable variation in output signal and the lifetime of the photo-adduct signaling state. Mechanistic studies of the slow-cycling fungal LOV photoreceptor Vivid (VVD) reveal the importance of reactive cysteine conformation, flavin electronic environment and solvent accessibility for adduct scission and thermal reversion. Proton inventory, pH effects, base catalysis and structural studies implicate flavin N(5) deprotonation as rate-determining for recovery. Substitutions of active site residues Ile74, Ile85, Met135 and Met165 alter photoadduct lifetimes by over four orders of magnitude in VVD, and similar changes in other LOV proteins show analogous effects. Adduct state decay rates also correlate with changes in conformational and oligomeric properties of the protein necessary for signaling. These findings link natural sequence variation of LOV domains to function and provide a means to design broadly reactive light-sensitive probes.
A genetically encoded photoactivatable Rac controls the motility of living cells.
The precise spatio-temporal dynamics of protein activity are often critical in determining cell behaviour, yet for most proteins they remain poorly understood; it remains difficult to manipulate protein activity at precise times and places within living cells. Protein activity has been controlled by light, through protein derivatization with photocleavable moieties or using photoreactive small-molecule ligands. However, this requires use of toxic ultraviolet wavelengths, activation is irreversible, and/or cell loading is accomplished via disruption of the cell membrane (for example, through microinjection). Here we have developed a new approach to produce genetically encoded photoactivatable derivatives of Rac1, a key GTPase regulating actin cytoskeletal dynamics in metazoan cells. Rac1 mutants were fused to the photoreactive LOV (light oxygen voltage) domain from phototropin, sterically blocking Rac1 interactions until irradiation unwound a helix linking LOV to Rac1. Photoactivatable Rac1 (PA-Rac1) could be reversibly and repeatedly activated using 458- or 473-nm light to generate precisely localized cell protrusions and ruffling. Localized Rac activation or inactivation was sufficient to produce cell motility and control the direction of cell movement. Myosin was involved in Rac control of directionality but not in Rac-induced protrusion, whereas PAK was required for Rac-induced protrusion. PA-Rac1 was used to elucidate Rac regulation of RhoA in cell motility. Rac and Rho coordinate cytoskeletal behaviours with seconds and submicrometre precision. Their mutual regulation remains controversial, with data indicating that Rac inhibits and/or activates Rho. Rac was shown to inhibit RhoA in mouse embryonic fibroblasts, with inhibition modulated at protrusions and ruffles. A PA-Rac crystal structure and modelling revealed LOV-Rac interactions that will facilitate extension of this photoactivation approach to other proteins.
Structure and mechanism of a bacterial light-regulated cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase.
The ability to respond to light is crucial for most organisms. BLUF is a recently identified photoreceptor protein domain that senses blue light using a FAD chromophore. BLUF domains are present in various proteins from the Bacteria, Euglenozoa and Fungi. Although structures of single-domain BLUF proteins have been determined, none are available for a BLUF protein containing a functional output domain; the mechanism of light activation in this new class of photoreceptors has thus remained poorly understood. Here we report the biochemical, structural and mechanistic characterization of a full-length, active photoreceptor, BlrP1 (also known as KPN_01598), from Klebsiella pneumoniae. BlrP1 consists of a BLUF sensor domain and a phosphodiesterase EAL output domain which hydrolyses cyclic dimeric GMP (c-di-GMP). This ubiquitous second messenger controls motility, biofilm formation, virulence and antibiotic resistance in the Bacteria. Crystal structures of BlrP1 complexed with its substrate and metal ions involved in catalysis or in enzyme inhibition provide a detailed understanding of the mechanism of the EAL-domain c-di-GMP phosphodiesterases. These structures also sketch out a path of light activation of the phosphodiesterase output activity. Photon absorption by the BLUF domain of one subunit of the antiparallel BlrP1 homodimer activates the EAL domain of the second subunit through allosteric communication transmitted through conserved domain-domain interfaces.
Activation of protein splicing with light in yeast.
Spatiotemporal regulation of protein function is a key feature of living systems; experimental tools that provide such control are of great utility. Here we report a genetically encoded system for controlling a post-translational process, protein splicing, with light. Studies in Saccharomyces cerevisiae demonstrate that fusion of a photodimerization system from Arabidopsis thaliana to an artificially split intein permits rapid activation of protein splicing to yield a new protein product.
Fast manipulation of cellular cAMP level by light in vivo.
The flagellate Euglena gracilis contains a photoactivated adenylyl cyclase (PAC), consisting of the flavoproteins PACalpha and PACbeta. Here we report functional expression of PACs in Xenopus laevis oocytes, HEK293 cells and in Drosophila melanogaster, where neuronal expression yields light-induced changes in behavior. The activity of PACs is strongly and reversibly enhanced by blue light, providing a powerful tool for light-induced manipulation of cAMP in animal cells.
Synthetic biology: engineering Escherichia coli to see light.
We have designed a bacterial system that is switched between different states by red light. The system consists of a synthetic sensor kinase that allows a lawn of bacteria to function as a biological film, such that the projection of a pattern of light on to the bacteria produces a high-definition (about 100 megapixels per square inch), two-dimensional chemical image. This spatial control of bacterial gene expression could be used to 'print' complex biological materials, for example, and to investigate signalling pathways through precise spatial and temporal control of their phosphorylation steps.
A light-switchable gene promoter system.
Regulatable transgene systems providing easily controlled, conditional induction or repression of expression are indispensable tools in biomedical and agricultural research and biotechnology. Several such systems have been developed for eukaryotes. Most of these rely on the administration of either exogenous chemicals or heat shock. Despite the general success of many of these systems, the potential for problems, such as toxic, unintended, or pleiotropic effects of the inducing chemical or treatment, can impose limitations on their use. We have developed a promoter system that can be induced, rapidly and reversibly, by short pulses of light. This system is based on the known red light-induced binding of the plant photoreceptor phytochrome to the protein PIF3 and the reversal of this binding by far-red light. We show here that yeast cells expressing two chimeric proteins, a phytochrome-GAL4-DNA-binding-domain fusion and a PIF3-GAL4-activation-domain fusion, are induced by red light to express selectable or "scorable" marker genes containing promoters with a GAL4 DNA-binding site, and that this induction is rapidly abrogated by subsequent far-red light. We further show that the extent of induction can be controlled precisely by titration of the number of photons delivered to the cells by the light pulse. Thus, this system has the potential to provide rapid, noninvasive, switchable control of the expression of a desired gene to a preselected level in any suitable cell by simple exposure to a light signal.
Binding of phytochrome B to its nuclear signalling partner PIF3 is reversibly induced by light.
The phytochrome photoreceptor family directs plant gene expression by switching between biologically inactive and active conformers in response to the sequential absorption of red and farred photons. Several intermediates that act late in the phytochrome signalling pathway have been identified, but fewer have been identified that act early in the pathway. We have cloned a nuclear basic helix-loop-helix protein, PIF3, which can bind to non-photoactive carboxy-terminal fragments of phytochromes A and B and functions in phytochrome signalling in vivo. Here we show that full-length photoactive phytochrome B binds PIF3 in vitro only upon light-induced conversion to its active form, and that photoconversion back to its inactive form causes dissociation from PIF3. We conclude that photosensory signalling by phytochrome B involves light-induced, conformer-specific recognition of the putative transcriptional regulator PIF3, providing a potential mechanism for direct photoregulation of gene expression.