Showing 1 - 25 of 169 results
Emerging optogenetics technologies in biomedical applications.
Optogenetics is a cutting-edge technology that merges light control and genetics to achieve targeted control of tissue cells. Compared to traditional methods, optogenetics offers several advantages in terms of time and space precision, accuracy, and reduced damage to the research object. Currently, optogenetics is primarily used in pathway research, drug screening, gene expression regulation, and the stimulation of molecule release to treat various diseases. The selection of light-sensitive proteins is the most crucial aspect of optogenetic technology; structural changes occur or downstream channels are activated to achieve signal transmission or factor release, allowing efficient and controllable disease treatment. In this review, we examine the extensive research conducted in the field of biomedicine concerning optogenetics, including the selection of light-sensitive proteins, the study of carriers and delivery devices, and the application of disease treatment. Additionally, we offer critical insights and future implications of optogenetics in the realm of clinical medicine.
Direct investigation of cell contraction signal networks by light-based perturbation methods.
Cell contraction plays an important role in many physiological and pathophysiological processes. This includes functions in skeletal, heart, and smooth muscle cells, which lead to highly coordinated contractions of multicellular assemblies, and functions in non-muscle cells, which are often highly localized in subcellular regions and transient in time. While the regulatory processes that control cell contraction in muscle cells are well understood, much less is known about cell contraction in non-muscle cells. In this review, we focus on the mechanisms that control cell contraction in space and time in non-muscle cells, and how they can be investigated by light-based methods. The review particularly focusses on signal networks and cytoskeletal components that together control subcellular contraction patterns to perform functions on the level of cells and tissues, such as directional migration and multicellular rearrangements during development. Key features of light-based methods that enable highly local and fast perturbations are highlighted, and how experimental strategies can capitalize on these features to uncover causal relationships in the complex signal networks that control cell contraction.
Engineering of an Optogenetic T Cell Receptor Compatible with Fluorescence-Based Readouts.
Optogenetics offers a set of tools for the precise manipulation of signaling pathways. Here we exploit optogenetics to experimentally change the kinetics of protein-protein interactions on demand. We had developed a system in which the interaction of a modified T cell receptor (TCR) with an engineered ligand can be controlled by light. The ligand was the plant photoreceptor phytochrome B (PhyB) and the TCR included a TCRβ chain fused to GFP and a mutated PhyB-interacting factor (PIFS), resulting in the GFP-PIFS-TCR. We failed to engineer a nonfluorescent PIFS-fused TCR, since PIFS did not bind to PhyB when omitting GFP. Here we tested nine different versions of PIFS-fused TCRs. We found that the SNAP-PIFS-TCR was expressed well on the surface, bound to PhyB, and subsequently elicited activation signals. This receptor could be combined with a GFP reporter system in which the expression of GFP is driven by the transcription factor NF-AT.
Light-inducible T cell engagers trigger, tune, and shape the activation of primary T cells.
To mount appropriate responses, T cells integrate complex sequences of receptor stimuli perceived during transient interactions with antigen-presenting cells. Although it has been hypothesized that the dynamics of these interactions influence the outcome of T cell activation, methodological limitations have hindered its formal demonstration. Here, we have engineered the Light-inducible T cell engager (LiTE) system, a recombinant optogenetics-based molecular tool targeting the T cell receptor (TCR). The LiTE system constitutes a reversible molecular switch displaying exquisite reactivity. As proof of concept, we dissect how specific temporal patterns of TCR stimulation shape T cell activation. We established that CD4+ T cells respond to intermittent TCR stimulation more efficiently than their CD8+ T cells counterparts and provide evidence that distinct sequences of TCR stimulation encode different cytokine programs. Finally, we show that the LiTE system could be exploited to create light-activated bispecific T cell engagers and manipulate tumor cell killing. Overall, the LiTE system provides opportunities to understand how T cells integrate TCR stimulations and to trigger T cell cytotoxicity with high spatiotemporal control.
Quantitative insights in tissue growth and morphogenesis with optogenetics.
Cells communicate with each other to jointly regulate cellular processes during cellular differentiation and tissue morphogenesis. This multiscale coordination arises through spatiotemporal activity of morphogens to pattern cell signaling and transcriptional factor activity. This coded information controls cell mechanics, proliferation, and differentiation to shape the growth and morphogenesis of organs. While many of the molecular components and physical interactions have been identified in key model developmental systems, there are still many unresolved questions related to the dynamics involved due to challenges in precisely perturbing and quantitatively measuring signaling dynamics. Recently, a broad range of synthetic optogenetic tools have been developed and employed to quantitatively define relationships between signal transduction and downstream cellular responses. These optogenetic tools can control intracellular activities at the single cell or whole tissue scale to direct subsequent biological processes. In this brief review, we highlight a selected set of studies that develop and implement optogenetic tools to unravel quantitative biophysical mechanisms for tissue growth and morphogenesis across a broad range of biological systems through the manipulation of morphogens, signal transduction cascades, and cell mechanics. More generally, we discuss how optogenetic tools have emerged as a powerful platform for probing and controlling multicellular development.
Design principles for engineering light-controlled antibodies.
Engineered antibodies are essential tools for research and advanced pharmacy. In the development of therapeutics, antibodies are excellent candidates as they offer both target recognition and modulation. Thanks to the latest advances in biotechnology, light-activated antibody fragments can be constructed to control spontaneous antigen interaction with high spatiotemporal precision. To implement conditional antigen binding, several optogenetic and optochemical engineering concepts have recently been developed. Here, we highlight the various strategies and discuss the features of opto-conditional antibodies. Each concept offers intrinsic advantages beneficial to different applications. In summary, the novel design approaches constitute a complementary toolset to promote current and upcoming antibody technologies with ultimate precision.
A Photoreceptor-Based Hydrogel with Red Light-Responsive Reversible Sol-Gel Transition as Transient Cellular Matrix.
Hydrogels with adjustable mechanical properties have been engineered as matrices for mammalian cells and allow the dynamic, mechano-responsive manipulation of cell fate and function. Recent research yields hydrogels, where biological photoreceptors translated optical signals into a reversible and adjustable change in hydrogel mechanics. While their initial application provides important insights into mechanobiology, broader implementation is limited by a small dynamic range of addressable stiffness. Herein, this limitation is overcome by developing a photoreceptor-based hydrogel with reversibly adjustable stiffness from ≈800 Pa to the sol state. The hydrogel is based on star-shaped polyethylene glycol, functionalized with the red/far-red light photoreceptor phytochrome B (PhyB), or phytochrome-interacting factor 6 (PIF6). Upon illumination with red light, PhyB heterodimerizes with PIF6, thus crosslinking the polymers and resulting in gelation. However, upon illumination with far-red light, the proteins dissociate and trigger a complete gel-to-sol transition. The hydrogel's light-responsive mechanical properties are comprehensively characterized and it is applied as a reversible extracellular matrix for the spatiotemporally controlled deposition of mammalian cells within a microfluidic chip. It is anticipated that this technology will open new avenues for the site- and time-specific positioning of cells and will contribute to overcome spatial restrictions.
A photoreceptor-based hydrogel with red light-responsive reversible sol-gel transition as transient cellular matrix.
Hydrogels with adjustable mechanical properties have been engineered as matrices for mammalian cells and allow the dynamic, mechano-responsive manipulation of cell fate and function. Recent research yielded hydrogels, where biological photoreceptors translated optical signals into a reversible and adjustable change in hydrogel mechanics. While their initial application provided important insights into mechanobiology, broader implementation is limited by a small dynamic range of addressable stiffness. Here, we overcome this limitation by developing a photoreceptor-based hydrogel with reversibly adjustable stiffness from 800 Pa to the sol state. The hydrogel is based on star-shaped polyethylene glycol, functionalized with the red/far-red light photoreceptor phytochrome B (PhyB), or phytochrome-interacting factor 6 (PIF6). Upon illumination with red light, PhyB heterodimerizes with PIF6, thus crosslinking the polymers and resulting in gelation. However, upon illumination with far-red light, the proteins dissociate and trigger a complete gel-to-sol transition. We comprehensively characterize the hydrogel’s light-responsive mechanical properties and apply it as reversible extracellular matrix for the spatiotemporally controlled deposition of mammalian cells within a microfluidic chip. We anticipate that this technology will open new avenues for the site- and time-specific positioning of cells and will contribute to overcome spatial restrictions.
The clinical potential of optogenetic interrogation of pathogenesis.
Opsin-based optogenetics has emerged as a powerful biomedical tool using light to control protein conformation. Such capacity has been initially demonstrated to control ion flow across the cell membrane, enabling precise control of action potential in excitable cells such as neurons or muscle cells. Further advancement in optogenetics incorporates a greater variety of photoactivatable proteins and results in flexible control of biological processes, such as gene expression and signal transduction, with commonly employed light sources such as LEDs or lasers in optical microscopy. Blessed by the precise genetic targeting specificity and superior spatiotemporal resolution, optogenetics offers new biological insights into physiological and pathological mechanisms underlying health and diseases. Recently, its clinical potential has started to be capitalized, particularly for blindness treatment, due to the convenient light delivery into the eye.
Opto-APC: Engineering of cells that display phytochrome B on their surface for optogenetic studies of cell-cell interactions.
The kinetics of a ligand-receptor interaction determine the responses of the receptor-expressing cell. One approach to experimentally and reversibly change this kinetics on demand is optogenetics. We have previously developed a system in which the interaction of a modified receptor with an engineered ligand can be controlled by light. In this system the ligand is a soluble Phytochrome B (PhyB) tetramer and the receptor is fused to a mutated PhyB-interacting factor (PIFS). However, often the natural ligand is not soluble, but expressed as a membrane protein on another cell. This allows ligand-receptor interactions in two dimensions. Here, we developed a strategy to generate cells that display PhyB as a membrane-bound protein by expressing the SpyCatcher fused to a transmembrane domain in HEK-293T cells and covalently coupling purified PhyB-SpyTag to these cells. As proof-of-principle, we use Jurkat T cells that express a GFP-PIFS-T cell receptor and show that these cells can be stimulated by the PhyB-coupled HEK-293T cells in a light dependent manner. Thus, we call the PhyB-coupled cells opto-antigen presenting cells (opto-APCs). Our work expands the toolbox of optogenetic technologies, allowing two-dimensional ligand-receptor interactions to be controlled by light.
Orthogonal Light-Dependent Membrane Adhesion Induces Social Self-Sorting and Member-Specific DNA Communication in Synthetic Cell Communities.
Developing orthogonal chemical communication pathways in diverse synthetic cell communities is a considerable challenge due to the increased crosstalk and interference associated with large numbers of different types of sender-receiver pairs. Herein, the authors control which sender-receiver pairs communicate in a three-membered community of synthetic cells through red and blue light illumination. Semipermeable protein-polymer-based synthetic cells (proteinosomes) with complementary membrane-attached protein adhesion communicate through single-stranded DNA oligomers and synergistically process biochemical information within a community consisting of one sender and two different receiver populations. Different pairs of red and blue light-responsive protein-protein interactions act as membrane adhesion mediators between the sender and receivers such that they self-assemble and socially self-sort into different multicellular structures under red and blue light. Consequently, distinct sender-receiver pairs come into the signaling range depending on the light illumination and are able to communicate specifically without activation of the other receiver population. Overall, this work shows how photoswitchable membrane adhesion gives rise to different self-sorting protocell patterns that mediate member-specific DNA-based communication in ternary populations of synthetic cells and provides a step towards the design of orthogonal chemical communication networks in diverse communities of synthetic cells.
Using optogenetics to investigate the shared mechanisms of apical-basal polarity and mitosis.
The initiation of apical-basal (AB) polarity and the process of mitotic cell division are both characterised by the generation of specialised plasma membrane and cortical domains. These are generated using shared mechanisms, such as asymmetric protein accumulation, Rho GTPase signalling, cytoskeletal reorganisation, vesicle trafficking and asymmetric phosphoinositide distribution. In epithelial tissue, the coordination of AB polarity and mitosis in space and time is important both during initial epithelial development and to maintain tissue integrity and ensure appropriate cell differentiation at later stages. Whilst significant progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms underlying cell division and AB polarity, it has so far been challenging to fully unpick the complex interrelationship between polarity, signalling, morphogenesis, and cell division. However, the recent emergence of optogenetic protein localisation techniques is now allowing researchers to reversibly control protein activation, localisation and signalling with high spatiotemporal resolution. This has the potential to revolutionise our understanding of how subcellular processes such as apical-basal polarity are integrated with cell behaviours such as mitosis and how these processes impact whole tissue morphogenesis. So far, these techniques have been used to investigate processes such as cleavage furrow ingression, mitotic spindle positioning, and in vivo epithelial morphogenesis. This review describes some of the key shared mechanisms of cell division and apical-basal polarity establishment, how they are coordinated during development and how the advance of optogenetic techniques is furthering this research field.
Ligand-independent receptor clustering modulates transmembrane signaling: a new paradigm.
Cell-surface receptors mediate communication between cells and their environment. Lateral membrane organization and dynamic receptor cluster formation are fundamental in signal transduction and cell signaling. However, it is not yet fully understood how receptor clustering modulates a wide variety of physiologically relevant processes. Recent growing evidence indicates that biological responses triggered by membrane receptors can be modulated even in the absence of the natural receptor ligand. We review the most recent findings on how ligand-independent receptor clustering can regulate transmembrane signaling. We discuss the latest technologies to control receptor assembly, such as DNA nanotechnology, optogenetics, and optochemistry, focusing on the biological relevance and unraveling of ligand-independent signaling.
Shedding light on current trends in molecular optogenetics.
Molecular optogenetics is a highly dynamic research field. In the past two years, the field was characterized by the development of new allosteric switches as well as the forward integration of optogenetics research towards application. Further, two areas of research have significantly gathered momentum, the use of optogenetics to control liquid-liquid phase separation as well as the application of optogenetic tools in the extracellular space. Here, we review these areas and discuss future directions.
Illuminating bacterial behaviors with optogenetics.
Optogenetic approaches enable light-mediated control of cellular activities using genetically encoded photoreceptors. While optogenetic technology is already well established in neuroscience and fundamental research, the implementation of optogenetic tools in bacteriology is still emerging. Engineered bacteria with the specific optogenetic system that function at the transcriptional or post-translational level can sense and respond to light, allowing optogenetic control of bacterial behaviors. In this review, we give a brief overview of available optogenetic systems, including their mode of action, classification, and engineering strategies, and focus on optogenetic control of bacterial behaviors with the highlight of strategies for use of optogenetic systems.
Recent advances in cellular optogenetics for photomedicine.
Since the successful introduction of exogenous photosensitive proteins, channelrhodopsin, to neurons, optogenetics has enabled substantial understanding of profound brain function by selectively manipulating neural circuits. In an optogenetic system, optical stimulation can be precisely delivered to brain tissue to achieve regulation of cellular electrical activity with unprecedented spatio-temporal resolution in living organisms. In recent years, the development of various optical actuators and novel light-delivery techniques has greatly expanded the scope of optogenetics, enabling the control of other signal pathways in non-neuronal cells for different biomedical applications, such as phototherapy and immunotherapy. This review focuses on the recent advances in optogenetic regulation of cellular activities for photomedicine. We discuss emerging optogenetic tools and light-delivery platforms, along with a survey of optogenetic execution in mammalian and microbial cells.
Engineering of optogenetic devices for biomedical applications in mammalian synthetic biology.
Gene- and cell-based therapies are the next frontiers in the field of medicine. Both are transformative and innovative therapies; however, a lack of safety data limits the translation of such promising technologies to the clinic. Improving the safety and promoting the clinical translation of these therapies can be achieved by tightly regulating the release and delivery of therapeutic outputs. In recent years, the rapid development of optogenetic technology has provided opportunities to develop precision-controlled gene- and cell-based therapies, in which light is introduced to precisely and spatiotemporally manipulate the behaviour of genes and cells. This review focuses on the development of optogenetic tools and their applications in biomedicine, including photoactivated genome engineering and phototherapy for diabetes and tumours. The prospects and challenges of optogenetic tools for future clinical applications are also discussed.
Plant optogenetics: Applications and perspectives.
To understand cell biological processes, like signalling pathways, protein movements, or metabolic processes, precise tools for manipulation are desired. Optogenetics allows to control cellular processes by light and can be applied at a high temporal and spatial resolution. In the last three decades, various optogenetic applications have been developed for animal, fungal, and prokaryotic cells. However, using optogenetics in plants has been difficult due to biological and technical issues, like missing cofactors, the presence of endogenous photoreceptors, or the necessity of light for photosynthesis, which potentially activates optogenetic tools constitutively. Recently developed tools overcome these limitations, making the application of optogenetics feasible also in plants. Here, we highlight the most useful recent applications in plants and give a perspective for future optogenetic approaches in plants science.
Optogenetic technologies in translational cancer research.
Gene and cell therapies are widely recognized as future cancer therapeutics but poor controllability limits their clinical applications. Optogenetics, the use of light-controlled proteins to precisely spatiotemporally regulate the activity of genes and cells, opens up new possibilities for cancer treatment. Light of specific wavelength can activate the immune response, oncolytic activity and modulate cell signaling in tumor cells non-invasively, in dosed manner, with tissue confined action and without side effects of conventional therapies. Here, we review optogenetic approaches in cancer research, their clinical potential and challenges of incorporating optogenetics in cancer therapy. We critically discuss beneficial combinations of optogenetic technologies with therapeutic nanobodies, T-cell activation and CAR-T cell approaches, genome editors and oncolytic viruses. We consider viral vectors and nanoparticles for delivering optogenetic payloads and activating light to tumors. Finally, we highlight herein the prospects for integrating optogenetics into immunotherapy as a novel, fast, reversible and safe approach to cancer treatment.
Spatially Defined Gene Delivery into Native Cells with the Red Light-Controlled OptoAAV Technology.
The OptoAAV technology allows spatially defined delivery of transgenes into native target cells down to single-cell resolution by the illumination with cell-compatible and tissue-penetrating red light. The system is based on an adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector of serotype 2 with an engineered capsid (OptoAAV) and a photoreceptor-containing adapter protein mediating the interaction of the OptoAAV with the surface of the target cell in response to low doses of red and far-red light. In this article, we first provide detailed protocols for the production, purification, and analysis of the OptoAAV and the adapter protein. Afterward, we describe in detail the application of the OptoAAV system for the light-controlled transduction of human cells with global and patterned illumination. © 2022 The Authors. Current Protocols published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. Basic Protocol 1: Production, purification, and analysis of PhyB-DARPinEGFR adapter protein Basic Protocol 2: Production, purification, and analysis of OptoAAV Basic Protocol 3: Red light-controlled viral transduction with the OptoAAV system Support Protocol: Spatially resolved transduction of two transgenes with the OptoAAV system.
Molecular Research on Oral Diseases and Related Biomaterials: A Journey from Oral Cell Models to Advanced Regenerative Perspectives.
Oral diseases such as gingivitis, periodontitis, and oral cancer affect millions of people worldwide. Much research has been conducted to understand the pathogenetic mechanisms of these diseases and translate this knowledge into therapeutics. This review aims to take the reader on a journey from the initial molecular discoveries to complex regenerative issues in oral medicine. For this, a semi-systematic literature search was carried out in Medline and Web of Science databases to retrieve the primary literature describing oral cell models and biomaterial applications in oral regenerative medicine. First, an in vitro cell model of gingival keratinocytes is discussed, which illustrates patho- and physiologic principles in the context of oral epithelial homeostasis and carcinogenesis and represents a cellular tool to understand biomaterial-based approaches for periodontal tissue regeneration. Consequently, a layered gradient nonwoven (LGN) is described, which demonstrates that the key features of biomaterials serve as candidates for oral tissue regeneration. LGN supports proper tissue formation and obeys the important principles for molecular mechanotransduction. Furthermore, current biomaterial-based tissue regeneration trends, including polymer modifications, cell-based treatments, antimicrobial peptides and optogenetics, are introduced to represent the full spectrum of current approaches to oral disease mitigation and prevention. Altogether, this review is a foray through established and new concepts in oral regenerative medicine and illustrates the process of knowledge translation from basic molecular and cell biological research to future clinical applications.
Peeking under the hood of early embryogenesis: Using tools and synthetic biology to understand native control systems and sculpt tissues.
Early embryogenesis requires rapid division of pluripotent blastomeres, regulated genome activation, precise spatiotemporal signaling to pattern cell fate, and morphogenesis to shape primitive tissue architectures. The complexity of this process has inspired researchers to move beyond simple genetic perturbation into engineered devices and synthetic biology tools to permit temporal and spatial manipulation of the control systems guiding development. By precise alteration of embryo organization, it is now possible to advance beyond basic analytical strategies and directly test the sufficiency of models for developmental regulation. Separately, advances in micropatterning and embryoid culture have facilitated the bottom-up construction of complex embryo tissues allowing ex vivo systems to recapitulate even later stages of development. Embryos fertilized and grown ex vivo offer an excellent opportunity to exogenously perturb fundamental pathways governing embryogenesis. Here we review the technologies developed to thermally modulate the embryo cell cycle, and optically regulate morphogen and signaling pathways in space and time, specifically in the blastula embryo. Additionally, we highlight recent advances in cell patterning in two and three dimensions that have helped reveal the self-organizing properties and gene regulatory networks guiding early embryo organization.
Engineered Cas9 extracellular vesicles as a novel gene editing tool.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have shown promise as biological delivery vehicles, but therapeutic applications require efficient cargo loading. Here, we developed new methods for CRISPR/Cas9 loading into EVs through reversible heterodimerization of Cas9-fusions with EV sorting partners. Cas9-loaded EVs were collected from engineered Expi293F cells using standard methodology, characterized using nanoparticle tracking analysis, western blotting, and transmission electron microscopy and analysed for CRISPR/Cas9-mediated functional gene editing in a Cre-reporter cellular assay. Light-induced dimerization using Cryptochrome 2 combined with CD9 or a Myristoylation-Palmitoylation-Palmitoylation lipid modification resulted in efficient loading with approximately 25 Cas9 molecules per EV and high functional delivery with 51% gene editing of the Cre reporter cassette in HEK293 and 25% in HepG2 cells, respectively. This approach was also effective for targeting knock-down of the therapeutically relevant PCSK9 gene with 6% indel efficiency in HEK293. Cas9 transfer was detergent-sensitive and associated with the EV fractions after size exclusion chromatography, indicative of EV-mediated transfer. Considering the advantages of EVs over other delivery vectors we envision that this study will prove useful for a range of therapeutic applications, including CRISPR/Cas9 mediated genome editing.
Design and engineering of light-sensitive protein switches.
Engineered, light-sensitive protein switches are used to interrogate a broad variety of biological processes. These switches are typically constructed by genetically fusing naturally occurring light-responsive protein domains with functional domains from other proteins. Protein activity can be controlled using a variety of mechanisms including light-induced colocalization, caging, and allosteric regulation. Protein design efforts have focused on reducing background signaling, maximizing the change in activity upon light stimulation, and perturbing the kinetics of switching. It is common to combine structure-based modeling with experimental screening to identify ideal fusion points between domains and discover point mutations that optimize switching. Here, we introduce commonly used light-sensitive domains and summarize recent progress in using them to regulate protein activity.
Optogenetic tools for microbial synthetic biology.
Chemical induction is one of the most common modalities used to manipulate gene expression in living systems. However, chemical induction can be toxic or expensive that compromise the economic feasibility when it comes to industrial-scale synthetic biology applications. These complications have driven the pursuit of better induction systems. Optogenetics technique can be a solution as it not only enables dynamic control with unprecedented spatiotemporal precision but also is inexpensive and eco-friendlier. The optogenetic technique harnesses natural light-sensing modules that are genetically encodable and re-programmable in various hosts. By further engineering these modules to connect with the microbial regulatory machinery, gene expression and protein activity can be finely tuned simply through light irradiation. Recent works on applying optogenetics to microbial synthetic biology have yielded remarkable achievements. To further expand the usability of optogenetics, more optogenetic tools with greater portability that are compatible with different microbial hosts need to be developed. This review focuses on non-opsin optogenetic systems and the current state of optogenetic advancements in microbes, by showcasing the different designs and functions of optogenetic tools, followed by an insight into the optogenetic approaches used to circumvent challenges in synthetic biology.