Curated Optogenetic Publication Database

Search precisely and efficiently by using the advantage of the hand-assigned publication tags that allow you to search for papers involving a specific trait, e.g. a particular optogenetic switch or a host organism.

Showing 1 - 25 of 48 results

Control of SRC molecular dynamics encodes distinct cytoskeletal responses by specifying signaling pathway usage.

blue CRY2/CIB1 MDCK SYF Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
J Cell Sci, 25 Jan 2021 DOI: 10.1242/jcs.254599 Link to full text
Abstract: Upon activation by different transmembrane receptors, the same signaling protein can induce distinct cellular responses. A way to decipher the mechanisms of such pleiotropic signaling activity is to directly manipulate the decision-making activity that supports the selection between distinct cellular responses. We developed an optogenetic probe (optoSRC) to control SRC signaling, an example of a pleiotropic signaling node, and we demonstrated its ability to generate different acto-adhesive structures (lamellipodia or invadosomes) upon distinct spatio-temporal control of SRC kinase activity. The occurrence of each acto-adhesive structure was simply dictated by the dynamics of optoSRC nanoclusters in adhesive sites, which were dependent on the SH3 and Unique domains of the protein. The different decision-making events regulated by optoSRC dynamics induced distinct downstream signaling pathways, which we characterized using time-resolved proteomic and network analyses. Collectively, by manipulating the molecular mobility of SRC kinase activity, these experiments reveal the pleiotropy-encoding mechanism of SRC signaling.

Liquid-liquid phase separation of light-inducible transcription factors increases transcription activation in mammalian cells and mice.

blue red CRY2/CIB1 CRY2/CRY2 PhyB/PIF6 HEK293 mouse in vivo U-2 OS Transgene expression
Sci Adv, 1 Jan 2021 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd3568 Link to full text
Abstract: Light-inducible gene switches represent a key strategy for the precise manipulation of cellular events in fundamental and applied research. However, the performance of widely used gene switches is limited due to low tissue penetrance and possible phototoxicity of the light stimulus. To overcome these limitations, we engineer optogenetic synthetic transcription factors to undergo liquid-liquid phase separation in close spatial proximity to promoters. Phase separation of constitutive and optogenetic synthetic transcription factors was achieved by incorporation of intrinsically disordered regions. Supported by a quantitative mathematical model, we demonstrate that engineered transcription factor droplets form at target promoters and increase gene expression up to fivefold. This increase in performance was observed in multiple mammalian cells lines as well as in mice following in situ transfection. The results of this work suggest that the introduction of intrinsically disordered domains is a simple yet effective means to boost synthetic transcription factor activity.

Light control of RTK activity: from technology development to translational research.

blue cyan green red Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains pdDronpa Phytochromes Review
Chem Sci, 7 Sep 2020 DOI: 10.1039/d0sc03570j Link to full text
Abstract: Inhibition of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) by small molecule inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies is used to treat cancer. Conversely, activation of RTKs with their ligands, including growth factors and insulin, is used to treat diabetes and neurodegeneration. However, conventional therapies that rely on injection of RTK inhibitors or activators do not provide spatiotemporal control over RTK signaling, which results in diminished efficiency and side effects. Recently, a number of optogenetic and optochemical approaches have been developed that allow RTK inhibition or activation in cells and in vivo with light. Light irradiation can control RTK signaling non-invasively, in a dosed manner, with high spatio-temporal precision, and without the side effects of conventional treatments. Here we provide an update on the current state of the art of optogenetic and optochemical RTK technologies and the prospects of their use in translational studies and therapy.

Engineering a far-red light–activated split-Cas9 system for remote-controlled genome editing of internal organs and tumors.

red BphS HEK293 mouse in vivo Nucleic acid editing
Sci Adv, 10 Jul 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb1777 Link to full text
Abstract: It is widely understood that CRISPR-Cas9 technology is revolutionary, with well-recognized issues including the potential for off-target edits and the attendant need for spatiotemporal control of editing. Here, we describe a far-red light (FRL)–activated split-Cas9 (FAST) system that can robustly induce gene editing in both mammalian cells and mice. Through light-emitting diode–based FRL illumination, the FAST system can efficiently edit genes, including nonhomologous end joining and homology-directed repair, for multiple loci in human cells. Further, we show that FAST readily achieves FRL-induced editing of internal organs in tdTomato reporter mice. Finally, FAST was demonstrated to achieve FRL-triggered editing of the PLK1 oncogene in a mouse xenograft tumor model. Beyond extending the spectrum of light energies in optogenetic toolbox for CRISPR-Cas9 technologies, this study demonstrates how FAST system can be deployed for programmable deep tissue gene editing in both biological and biomedical contexts toward high precision and spatial specificity.

CLIC4 is a cytokinetic cleavage furrow protein that regulates cortical cytoskeleton stability during cell division.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CRY2/CRY2 HeLa Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
J Cell Sci, 14 May 2020 DOI: 10.1242/jcs.241117 Link to full text
Abstract: During mitotic cell division, the actomyosin cytoskeleton undergoes several dynamic changes that play key roles in progression through mitosis. Although the regulators of cytokinetic ring formation and contraction are well established, proteins that regulate cortical stability during anaphase and telophase have been understudied. Here, we describe a role for CLIC4 in regulating actin and actin regulators at the cortex and cytokinetic cleavage furrow during cytokinesis. We first describe CLIC4 as a new component of the cytokinetic cleavage furrow that is required for successful completion of mitotic cell division. We also demonstrate that CLIC4 regulates the remodeling of the sub-plasma-membrane actomyosin network within the furrow by recruiting MST4 kinase (also known as STK26) and regulating ezrin phosphorylation. This work identifies and characterizes new molecular players involved in regulating cortex stiffness and blebbing during the late stages of cytokinetic furrowing.

Optogenetic stimulation of phosphoinositides reveals a critical role of primary cilia in eye pressure regulation.

blue CRY2/CIB1 GM01676 hTERT RPE-1 human retinal pigment epithelium cells mouse in vivo Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Sci Adv, 29 Apr 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay8699 Link to full text
Abstract: Glaucoma is a group of progressive optic neuropathies that cause irreversible vision loss. Although elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is associated with the development and progression of glaucoma, the mechanisms for its regulation are not well understood. Here, we have designed CIBN/CRY2-based optogenetic constructs to study phosphoinositide regulation within distinct subcellular compartments. We show that stimulation of CRY2-OCRL, an inositol 5-phosphatase, increases aqueous humor outflow and lowers IOP in vivo, which is caused by a calcium-dependent actin rearrangement of the trabecular meshwork cells. Phosphoinositide stimulation also rescues defective aqueous outflow and IOP in a Lowe syndrome mouse model but not in IFT88fl/fl mice that lack functional cilia. Thus, our study is the first to use optogenetics to regulate eye pressure and demonstrate that tight regulation of phosphoinositides is critical for aqueous humor homeostasis in both normal and diseased eyes.

Dynamic Fas signaling network regulates neural stem cell proliferation and memory enhancement.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HeLa mouse in vivo primary rat hippocampal neurons rat astrocytes rat oligodendrocyte Signaling cascade control
Sci Adv, 22 Apr 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz9691 Link to full text
Abstract: Activation of Fas (CD95) is observed in various neurological disorders and can lead to both apoptosis and prosurvival outputs, yet how Fas signaling operates dynamically in the hippocampus is poorly understood. The optogenetic dissection of a signaling network can yield molecular-level explanations for cellular responses or fates, including the signaling dysfunctions seen in numerous diseases. Here, we developed an optogenetically activatable Fas that works in a physiologically plausible manner. Fas activation in immature neurons of the dentate gyrus triggered mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activation and subsequent brain-derived neurotrophic factor secretion. Phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk) in neural stem cells was induced under prolonged Fas activation. Repetitive activation of this signaling network yielded proliferation of neural stem cells and a transient increase in spatial working memory in mice. Our results demonstrate a novel Fas signaling network in the dentate gyrus and illuminate its consequences for adult neurogenesis and memory enhancement.

Nuclear actin regulates inducible transcription by enhancing RNA polymerase II clustering.

blue CRY2olig U-2 OS Organelle manipulation
Sci Adv, 15 Apr 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay6515 Link to full text
Abstract: Gene expression in response to external stimuli underlies a variety of fundamental cellular processes. However, how the transcription machinery is regulated under these scenarios is largely unknown. Here, we discover a novel role of nuclear actin in inducible transcriptional regulation using next-generation transcriptome sequencing and super-resolution microscopy. The RNA-seq data reveal that nuclear actin is required for the establishment of the serum-induced transcriptional program. Using super-resolution imaging, we found a remarkable enhancement of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) clustering upon serum stimulation and this enhancement requires the presence of nuclear actin. To study the molecular mechanisms, we firstly observed that Pol II clusters co-localized with the serum-response genes and nuclear actin polymerized in adjacent to Pol II clusters upon serum stimulation. Furthermore, N-WASP and Arp2/3 are reported to interact with Pol II, and we demonstrated N-WASP is required for serum-enhanced Pol II clustering. Importantly, using an optogenetic tool, we revealed that N-WASP phase-separated with the carboxy-terminal domain of Pol II and nuclear actin. In addition to serum stimulation, we found nuclear actin also essential in enhancing Pol II clustering upon interferon-γ treatment. Taken together, our work unveils nuclear actin promotes the formation of transcription factory on inducible genes, acting as a general mechanism underlying the rapid response to environmental cues.

Exosome-based delivery of super-repressor IκBα relieves sepsis-associated organ damage and mortality.

blue CRY2/CIB1 HEK293T
Sci Adv, 8 Apr 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz6980 Link to full text
Abstract: As extracellular vesicles that play an active role in intercellular communication by transferring cellular materials to recipient cells, exosomes offer great potential as a natural therapeutic drug delivery vehicle. The inflammatory responses in various disease models can be attenuated through introduction of super-repressor IκB (srIκB), which is the dominant active form of IκBα and can inhibit translocation of nuclear factor κB into the nucleus. An optogenetically engineered exosome system (EXPLOR) that we previously developed was implemented for loading a large amount of srIκB into exosomes. We showed that intraperitoneal injection of purified srIκB-loaded exosomes (Exo-srIκBs) attenuates mortality and systemic inflammation in septic mouse models. In a biodistribution study, Exo-srIκBs were observed mainly in the neutrophils, and in monocytes to a lesser extent, in the spleens and livers of mice. Moreover, we found that Exo-srIκB alleviates inflammatory responses in monocytic THP-1 cells and human umbilical vein endothelial cells.

Actin waves transport RanGTP to the neurite tip to regulate non-centrosomal microtubules in neurons.

blue LOVTRAP HeLa primary mouse cortical neurons primary mouse hippocampal neurons Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
J Cell Sci, 6 Apr 2020 DOI: 10.1242/jcs.241992 Link to full text
Abstract: Microtubule (MT) is the most abundant cytoskeleton in neurons and controls multiple facets of their development. While the MT-organizing center (MTOC) in mitotic cells is typically located at the centrosome, MTOC in neurons switches to non-centrosomal sites. A handful of cellular components have been shown to promote non-centrosomal MT (ncMT) formation in neurons, yet the regulation mechanism remains unknown. Here we demonstrate that the small GTPase Ran is a key regulator of ncMTs in neurons. Using an optogenetic tool that enables light-induced local production of RanGTP, we demonstrate that RanGTP promotes ncMT plus-end growth along the neurite. Additionally, we discovered that actin waves drive the anterograde transport of RanGTP. Pharmacological disruption of actin waves abolishes the enrichment of RanGTP and reduces growing ncMT plus-ends at the neurite tip. These observations identify a novel regulation mechanism of ncMTs and pinpoint an indirect connection between the actin and MT cytoskeletons in neurons.

Engineering light-controllable CAR T cells for cancer immunotherapy.

blue AsLOV2 CRY2/CIB1 HEK293T human T cells Jurkat mouse in vivo Endogenous gene expression
Sci Adv, 19 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay9209 Link to full text
Abstract: T cells engineered to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) can recognize and engage with target cancer cells with redirected specificity for cancer immunotherapy. However, there is a lack of ideal CARs for solid tumor antigens, which may lead to severe adverse effects. Here, we developed a light-inducible nuclear translocation and dimerization (LINTAD) system for gene regulation to control CAR T activation. We first demonstrated light-controllable gene expression and functional modulation in human embryonic kidney 293T and Jurkat T cell lines. We then improved the LINTAD system to achieve optimal efficiency in primary human T cells. The results showed that pulsed light stimulations can activate LINTAD CAR T cells with strong cytotoxicity against target cancer cells, both in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, our LINTAD system can serve as an efficient tool to noninvasively control gene activation and activate inducible CAR T cells for precision cancer immunotherapy.

Shape-morphing living composites.

blue CRY2/CIB1 S. cerevisiae Transgene expression
Sci Adv, 17 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax8582 Link to full text
Abstract: This work establishes a means to exploit genetic networks to create living synthetic composites that change shape in response to specific biochemical or physical stimuli. Baker's yeast embedded in a hydrogel forms a responsive material where cellular proliferation leads to a controllable increase in the composite volume of up to 400%. Genetic manipulation of the yeast enables composites where volume change on exposure to l-histidine is 14× higher than volume change when exposed to d-histidine or other amino acids. By encoding an optogenetic switch into the yeast, spatiotemporally controlled shape change is induced with pulses of dim blue light (2.7 mW/cm2). These living, shape-changing materials may enable sensors or medical devices that respond to highly specific cues found within a biological milieu.

Stick-slip dynamics of cell adhesion triggers spontaneous symmetry breaking and directional migration of mesenchymal cells on one-dimensional lines.

blue CRY2/CIB1 NIH/3T3 Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Sci Adv, 3 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau5670 Link to full text
Abstract: Directional cell motility relies on the ability of single cells to establish a front-rear polarity and can occur in the absence of external cues. The initiation of migration has often been attributed to the spontaneous polarization of cytoskeleton components, while the spatiotemporal evolution of cell-substrate interaction forces has yet to be resolved. Here, we establish a one-dimensional microfabricated migration assay that mimics the complex in vivo fibrillar environment while being compatible with high-resolution force measurements, quantitative microscopy, and optogenetics. Quantification of morphometric and mechanical parameters of NIH-3T3 fibroblasts and RPE1 epithelial cells reveals a generic stick-slip behavior initiated by contractility-dependent stochastic detachment of adhesive contacts at one side of the cell, which is sufficient to trigger cell motility in 1D in the absence of pre-established polarity. A theoretical model validates the crucial role of adhesion dynamics, proposing that front-rear polarity can emerge independently of a complex self-polarizing system.

Structural Basis of Design and Engineering for Advanced Plant Optogenetics.

blue green red UV BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Trends Plant Sci, 4 Nov 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2019.10.002 Link to full text
Abstract: In optogenetics, light-sensitive proteins are specifically expressed in target cells and light is used to precisely control the activity of these proteins at high spatiotemporal resolution. Optogenetics initially used naturally occurring photoreceptors to control neural circuits, but has expanded to include carefully designed and engineered photoreceptors. Several optogenetic constructs are based on plant photoreceptors, but their application to plant systems has been limited. Here, we present perspectives on the development of plant optogenetics, considering different levels of design complexity. We discuss how general principles of light-driven signal transduction can be coupled with approaches for engineering protein folding to develop novel optogenetic tools. Finally, we explore how the use of computation, networks, circular permutation, and directed evolution could enrich optogenetics.

Signal transduction in photoreceptor histidine kinases.

blue red LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Protein Sci, 20 Aug 2019 DOI: 10.1002/pro.3705 Link to full text
Abstract: Two-component systems (TCS) constitute the predominant means by which prokaryotes read out and adapt to their environment. Canonical TCSs comprise a sensor histidine kinase (SHK), usually a transmembrane receptor, and a response regulator (RR). In signal-dependent manner, the SHK autophosphorylates and in turn transfers the phosphoryl group to the RR which then elicits downstream responses, often in form of altered gene expression. SHKs also catalyze the hydrolysis of the phospho-RR, hence, tightly adjusting the overall degree of RR phosphorylation. Photoreceptor histidine kinases are a subset of mostly soluble, cytosolic SHKs that sense light in the near-ultraviolet to near-infrared spectral range. Owing to their experimental tractability, photoreceptor histidine kinases serve as paradigms and provide unusually detailed molecular insight into signal detection, decoding, and regulation of SHK activity. The synthesis of recent results on receptors with light-oxygen-voltage, bacteriophytochrome and microbial rhodopsin sensor units identifies recurring, joint signaling strategies. Light signals are initially absorbed by the sensor module and converted into subtle rearrangements of α helices, mostly through pivoting and rotation. These conformational transitions propagate through parallel coiled-coil linkers to the effector unit as changes in left-handed superhelical winding. Within the effector, subtle conformations are triggered that modulate the solvent accessibility of residues engaged in the kinase and phosphatase activities. Taken together, a consistent view of the entire trajectory from signal detection to regulation of output emerges. The underlying allosteric mechanisms could widely apply to TCS signaling in general.

NF-κB signaling dynamics is controlled by a dose-sensing autoregulatory loop.

blue CRY2olig NIH/3T3 Signaling cascade control
Sci Signal, 30 Apr 2019 DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aau3568 Link to full text
Abstract: Over the last decade, multiple studies have shown that signaling proteins activated in different temporal patterns, such as oscillatory, transient, and sustained, can result in distinct gene expression patterns or cell fates. However, the molecular events that ensure appropriate stimulus- and dose-dependent dynamics are not often understood and are difficult to investigate. Here, we used single-cell analysis to dissect the mechanisms underlying the stimulus- and dose-encoding patterns in the innate immune signaling network. We found that Toll-like receptor (TLR) and interleukin-1 receptor (IL-1R) signaling dynamics relied on a dose-dependent, autoinhibitory loop that rendered cells refractory to further stimulation. Using inducible gene expression and optogenetics to perturb the network at different levels, we identified IL-1R-associated kinase 1 (IRAK1) as the dose-sensing node responsible for limiting signal flow during the innate immune response. Although the kinase activity of IRAK1 was not required for signal propagation, it played a critical role in inhibiting the nucleocytoplasmic oscillations of the transcription factor NF-κB. Thus, protein activities that may be "dispensable" from a topological perspective can nevertheless be essential in shaping the dynamic response to the external environment.

Optogenetic manipulation of stomatal kinetics improves carbon assimilation, water use, and growth.

blue AsLOV2 A. thaliana in vivo
Science, 29 Mar 2019 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw0046 Link to full text
Abstract: Stomata serve dual and often conflicting roles, facilitating carbon dioxide influx into the plant leaf for photosynthesis and restricting water efflux via transpiration. Strategies for reducing transpiration without incurring a cost for photosynthesis must circumvent this inherent coupling of carbon dioxide and water vapor diffusion. We expressed the synthetic, light-gated K+ channel BLINK1 in guard cells surrounding stomatal pores in Arabidopsis to enhance the solute fluxes that drive stomatal aperture. BLINK1 introduced a K+ conductance and accelerated both stomatal opening under light exposure and closing after irradiation. Integrated over the growth period, BLINK1 drove a 2.2-fold increase in biomass in fluctuating light without cost in water use by the plant. Thus, we demonstrate the potential of enhancing stomatal kinetics to improve water use efficiency without penalty in carbon fixation.

Cortical mitochondria regulate insulin secretion by local Ca2+ buffering.

blue CRY2/CIB1 INS-1E MIN6 Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Organelle manipulation
J Cell Sci, 29 Mar 2019 DOI: 10.1242/jcs.228544 Link to full text
Abstract: Mitochondria play an essential role in regulating insulin secretion from beta cells by providing ATP needed for the membrane depolarization that results in voltage-dependent Ca2+ influx and subsequent insulin granule exocytosis. Ca2+, in turn, is also rapidly taken up by the mitochondria and exerts important feedback regulation of metabolism. The aim of this study was to determine if the distribution of mitochondria within beta cells is important for the secretory capacity of these cells. We find that cortically localized mitochondria are abundant in beta cells, and that these mitochondria redistribute towards the cell interior following depolarization. The redistribution requires Ca2+-induced remodeling of the cortical F-actin network. Using light-regulated motor proteins, we increased the cortical density of mitochondria 2-fold and found that this blunted the voltage-dependent increase in cytosolic Ca2+ concentration and suppressed insulin secretion. The activity-dependent changes in mitochondria distribution are likely important for the generation of Ca2+ microdomains required for efficient insulin granule release.

Perspective Tools for Optogenetics and Photopharmacology: From Design to Implementation.

blue green red UV Cryptochromes LOV domains Opsins Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Prog Photon Sci, 24 Jan 2019 DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-05974-3_8 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics and photopharmacology are two perspective modern methodologies for control and monitoring of biological processes from an isolated cell to complex cell assemblies and organisms. Both methodologies use optically active components that being introduced into the cells of interest allow for optical control or monitoring of different cellular processes. In optogenetics, genetic materials are introduced into the cells to express light-sensitive proteins or protein constructs. In photopharmacology, photochromic compounds are delivered into a cell directly but not produced inside the cell from a genetic material. The development of both optogenetics and photopharmacology is inseparable from the design of improved tools (protein constructs or organic molecules) optimized for specific applications. Herein, we review the main tools that are used in modern optogenetics and photopharmaclogy and describe the types of cellular processes that can be controlled by these tools. Although a large number of different kinds of optogenetic tools exist, their performance can be evaluated with a limited number of metrics that have to be optimized for specific applications.We classify thesemetrics and describe the ways of their improvement.

Engineering a light-responsive, quorum quenching biofilm to mitigate biofouling on water purification membranes.

blue red BphS EB1 E. coli Control of cell-cell / cell-material interactions Immediate control of second messengers Multichromatic
Sci Adv, 7 Dec 2018 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau1459 Link to full text
Abstract: Quorum quenching (QQ) has been reported to be a promising approach for membrane biofouling control. Entrapment of QQ bacteria in porous matrices is required to retain them in continuously operated membrane processes and to prevent uncontrollable biofilm formation by the QQ bacteria on membrane surfaces. It would be more desirable if the formation and dispersal of biofilms by QQ bacteria could be controlled so that the QQ bacterial cells are self-immobilized, but the QQ biofilm itself still does not compromise membrane performance. In this study, we engineered a QQ bacterial biofilm whose growth and dispersal can be modulated by light through a dichromatic, optogenetic c-di-GMP gene circuit in which the bacterial cells sense near-infrared (NIR) light and blue light to adjust its biofilm formation by regulating the c-di-GMP level. We also demonstrated the potential application of the engineered light-responsive QQ biofilm in mitigating biofouling of water purification forward osmosis membranes. The c-di-GMP-targeted optogenetic approach for controllable biofilm development we have demonstrated here should prove widely applicable for designing other controllable biofilm-enabled applications such as biofilm-based biocatalysis.

Light‐Controlled Mammalian Cells and Their Therapeutic Applications in Synthetic Biology.

blue cyan green near-infrared red UV BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Adv Sci, 30 Sep 2018 DOI: 10.1002/advs.201800952 Link to full text
Abstract: The ability to remote control the expression of therapeutic genes in mammalian cells in order to treat disease is a central goal of synthetic biology‐inspired therapeutic strategies. Furthermore, optogenetics, a combination of light and genetic sciences, provides an unprecedented ability to use light for precise control of various cellular activities with high spatiotemporal resolution. Recent work to combine optogenetics and therapeutic synthetic biology has led to the engineering of light‐controllable designer cells, whose behavior can be regulated precisely and noninvasively. This Review focuses mainly on non‐neural optogenetic systems, which are often used in synthetic biology, and their applications in genetic programing of mammalian cells. Here, a brief overview of the optogenetic tool kit that is available to build light‐sensitive mammalian cells is provided. Then, recently developed strategies for the control of designer cells with specific biological functions are summarized. Recent translational applications of optogenetically engineered cells are also highlighted, ranging from in vitro basic research to in vivo light‐controlled gene therapy. Finally, current bottlenecks, possible solutions, and future prospects for optogenetics in synthetic biology are discussed.

Cancer mutations and targeted drugs can disrupt dynamic signal encoding by the Ras-Erk pathway.

red PhyB/PIF6 16HBE14o- BEAS-2B HCC827 II-18 NCI-H1395 NCI-H441 NIH/3T3 Signaling cascade control Cell cycle control
Science, 31 Aug 2018 DOI: 10.1126/science.aao3048 Link to full text
Abstract: The Ras-Erk (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) pathway encodes information in its dynamics; the duration and frequency of Erk activity can specify distinct cell fates. To enable dynamic encoding, temporal information must be accurately transmitted from the plasma membrane to the nucleus. We used optogenetic profiling to show that both oncogenic B-Raf mutations and B-Raf inhibitors can cause corruption of this transmission, so that short pulses of input Ras activity are distorted into abnormally long Erk outputs. These changes can reshape downstream transcription and cell fates, resulting in improper decisions to proliferate. These findings illustrate how altered dynamic signal transmission properties, and not just constitutively increased signaling, can contribute to cell proliferation and perhaps cancer, and how optogenetic profiling can dissect mechanisms of signaling dysfunction in disease.

Independent Control over Multiple Cell Types in Space and Time Using Orthogonal Blue and Red Light Switchable Cell Interactions.

blue red CRY2/CIB1 PhyB/PIF6 MDA-MB-231 Control of cell-cell / cell-material interactions
Adv Sci, 17 Jun 2018 DOI: 10.1002/advs.201800446 Link to full text
Abstract: Independent control over multiple cell–material interactions with high spatiotemporal resolution is a key for many biomedical applications and understanding cell biology, as different cell types can perform different tasks in a multicellular context. In this study, the binding of two different cell types to materials is orthogonally controlled with blue and red light providing independent regulation in space and time. Cells expressing the photoswitchable protein cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) on cell surface bind to N‐truncated CRY‐interacting basic helix–loop–helix protein 1 (CIBN)‐immobilized substrates under blue light and cells expressing the photoswitchable protein phytochrome B (PhyB ) on cell surface bind to phytochrome interaction factor 6 (PIF6)‐immobilized substrates under red light, respectively. These light‐switchable cell interactions provide orthogonal and noninvasive control using two wavelengths of visible light. Moreover, both cell–material interactions are dynamically switched on under light and reversible in the dark. The specificity of the CRY2/CIBN and PhyB/PIF6 interactions and their response to different wavelengths of light allow selectively activating the binding of one cell type with blue and the other cell type with red light in the presence of the other cell type.

Real-time observation of light-controlled transcription in living cells.

blue CRY2/CIB1 U-2 OS
J Cell Sci, 9 Nov 2017 DOI: 10.1242/jcs.205534 Link to full text
Abstract: Gene expression is tightly regulated in space and time. To dissect this process with high temporal resolution, we introduce an optogenetic tool termed blue light-induced chromatin recruitment (BLInCR) that combines rapid and reversible light-dependent recruitment of effector proteins with a real-time readout for transcription. We used BLInCR to control the activity of a cluster of reporter genes in the human osteosarcoma cell line U2OS by reversibly recruiting the viral transactivator VP16. RNA production was detectable ∼2 min after VP16 recruitment and readily decreased when VP16 dissociated from the cluster in the absence of light. Quantitative assessment of the activation process revealed biphasic activation kinetics with a pronounced early phase in cells treated with the histone deacetylase inhibitor SAHA. Comparison with kinetic models of transcription activation suggests that the gene cluster undergoes a maturation process when activated. We anticipate that BLInCR will facilitate the study of transcription dynamics in living cells.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.

Optogenetic interrogation of integrin αVβ3 function in endothelial cells.

blue TULIP murine lung endothelial cells Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
J Cell Sci, 1 Sep 2017 DOI: 10.1242/jcs.205203 Link to full text
Abstract: αVβ3 is reported to promote angiogenesis in some model systems but not in others. Here we used optogenetics to study effects of αVβ3 interaction with the intracellular adapter, kindlin-2, on endothelial cell functions potentially relevant to angiogenesis. Since interaction of kindlin-2 with αVβ3 requires the C-terminal three residues of the β3 cytoplasmic tail (Arg-Gly-Thr; RGT), optogenetic probes LOVpep and ePDZ1 were fused to β3ΔRGT-GFP and mCherry-kindlin2, respectively, and expressed in β3-null microvascular endothelial cells. Exposure of the cells to 450 nm (blue) light caused rapid and specific interaction of kindlin-2 with αVβ3 as assessed by immunofluorescence and TIRF microscopy, and it led to increased endothelial cell migration, podosome formation and angiogenic sprouting. Analyses of kindlin-2 mutants indicated that interaction of kindlin-2 with other kindlin-2 binding partners, including c-Src, actin, integrin-linked kinase and phosphoinositides, were also likely necessary for these endothelial cell responses. Thus, kindlin-2 promotes αVβ3-dependent angiogenic functions of endothelial cells through its simultaneous interactions with β3 and several other binding partners. Optogenetic approaches should find further use in clarifying spatiotemporal aspects of vascular cell biology.
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