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 393 results

Machine Learning-Assisted Engineering of Light, Oxygen, Voltage Photoreceptor Adduct Lifetime.

blue LOV domains Background
JAmChemSoc, 21 Nov 2023 DOI: 10.1021/jacsau.3c00440 Link to full text
Abstract: Naturally occurring and engineered flavin-binding, blue-light-sensing, light, oxygen, voltage (LOV) photoreceptor domains have been used widely to design fluorescent reporters, optogenetic tools, and photosensitizers for the visualization and control of biological processes. In addition, natural LOV photoreceptors with engineered properties were recently employed for optimizing plant biomass production in the framework of a plant-based bioeconomy. Here, the understanding and fine-tuning of LOV photoreceptor (kinetic) properties is instrumental for application. In response to blue-light illumination, LOV domains undergo a cascade of photophysical and photochemical events that yield a transient covalent FMN-cysteine adduct, allowing for signaling. The rate-limiting step of the LOV photocycle is the dark-recovery process, which involves adduct scission and can take between seconds and days. Rational engineering of LOV domains with fine-tuned dark recovery has been challenging due to the lack of a mechanistic model, the long time scale of the process, which hampers atomistic simulations, and a gigantic protein sequence space covering known mutations (combinatorial challenge). To address these issues, we used machine learning (ML) trained on scarce literature data and iteratively generated and implemented experimental data to design LOV variants with faster and slower dark recovery. Over the three prediction–validation cycles, LOV domain variants were successfully predicted, whose adduct-state lifetimes spanned 7 orders of magnitude, yielding optimized tools for synthetic (opto)biology. In summary, our results demonstrate ML as a viable method to guide the design of proteins even with limited experimental data and when no mechanistic model of the underlying physical principles is available.

Loss of Nrf1 rather than Nrf2 leads to inflammatory accumulation of lipids and reactive oxygen species in human hepatoma cells, which is alleviated by 2-bromopalmitate.

blue AsLOV2 cpLOV2 LOVTRAP HEK293T HeLa Hep G2 Neuro-2a U-2 OS Transgene expression Endogenous gene expression
Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Res, 21 Nov 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.11.06.565805 Link to full text
Abstract: Since Nrf1 and Nrf2 are essential for regulating the lipid metabolism pathways, their dysregulation has thus been shown to be critically involved in the non-controllable inflammatory transformation into cancer. Herein, we have explored the molecular mechanisms underlying their distinct regulation of lipid metabolism, by comparatively analyzing the changes in those lipid metabolism-related genes in Nrf1α-/- and/or Nrf2-/- cell lines relative to wild-type controls. The results revealed that loss of Nrf1α leads to lipid metabolism disorders. That is, its lipid synthesis pathway was up-regulated by the JNK-Nrf2-AP1 signaling, while its lipid decomposition pathway was down-regulated by the nuclear receptor PPAR-PGC1 signaling, thereby resulting in severe accumulation of lipids as deposited in lipid droplets. By contrast, knockout of Nrf2 gave rise to decreases in lipid synthesis and uptake capacity. These demonstrate that Nrf1 and Nrf2 contribute to significant differences in the cellular lipid metabolism profiles and relevant pathological responses. Further experimental evidence unraveled that lipid deposition in Nrf1α-/- cells resulted from CD36 up-regulation by activating the PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway, leading to abnormal activation of the inflammatory response. This was also accompanied by a series of adverse consequences, e.g., accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in Nrf1α-/- cells. Interestingly, treatment of Nrf1α-/- cells with 2-bromopalmitate (2BP) enabled the yield of lipid droplets to be strikingly alleviated, as accompanied by substantial abolishment of CD36 and critical inflammatory cytokines. Such Nrf1α-/- led inflammatory accumulation of lipids, as well as ROS, was significantly ameliorated by 2BP. Overall, this study provides a potential strategy for cancer prevention and treatment by precision targeting of Nrf1, Nrf2 alone or both.

Light-Oxygen-Voltage (LOV)-sensing domains: activation mechanism and optogenetic stimulation.

blue UV LOV domains UV receptors Review
J Mol Biol, 7 Nov 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2023.168356 Link to full text
Abstract: The light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domains of phototropins emerged as essential constituents of light-sensitive proteins, helping initiate blue light-triggered responses. Moreover, these domains have been identified across all kingdoms of life. LOV domains utilize flavin nucleotides as co-factors and undergo structural rearrangements upon exposure to blue light, which activates an effector domain that executes the final output of the photoreaction. LOV domains are versatile photoreceptors that play critical roles in cellular signaling and environmental adaptation; additionally, they can noninvasively sense and control intracellular processes with high spatiotemporal precision, making them ideal candidates for use in optogenetics, where a light signal is linked to a cellular process through a photoreceptor. The ongoing development of LOV-based optogenetic tools, driven by advances in structural biology, spectroscopy, computational methods, and synthetic biology, has the potential to revolutionize the study of biological systems and enable the development of novel therapeutic strategies.

Rapid characterization of anti-CRISPR proteins and optogenetically engineered variants using a versatile plasmid interference system.

blue AsLOV2 E. coli HEK293T Nucleic acid editing
Nucleic Acids Res, 1 Nov 2023 DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkad995 Link to full text
Abstract: Anti-CRISPR (Acr) proteins are encoded by mobile genetic elements to overcome the CRISPR immunity of prokaryotes, displaying promises as controllable tools for modulating CRISPR-based applications. However, characterizing novel anti-CRISPR proteins and exploiting Acr-related technologies is a rather long and tedious process. Here, we established a versatile plasmid interference with CRISPR interference (PICI) system in Escherichia coli for rapidly characterizing Acrs and developing Acr-based technologies. Utilizing the PICI system, we discovered two novel type II-A Acrs (AcrIIA33 and AcrIIA34), which can inhibit the activity of SpyCas9 by affecting DNA recognition of Cas9. We further constructed a circularly permuted AcrIIA4 (cpA4) protein and developed optogenetically engineered, robust AcrIIA4 (OPERA4) variants by combining cpA4 with the light-oxygen-voltage 2 (LOV2) blue light sensory domain. OPERA4 variants are robust light-dependent tools for controlling the activity of SpyCas9 by approximately 1000-fold change under switching dark-light conditions in prokaryotes. OPERA4 variants can achieve potent light-controllable genome editing in human cells as well. Together, our work provides a versatile screening system for characterizing Acrs and developing the Acr-based controllable tools.

Emerging optogenetics technologies in biomedical applications.

blue green near-infrared red UV violet Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Smart Med, 1 Nov 2023 DOI: 10.1002/smmd.20230026 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Optogenetic control of YAP reveals a dynamic communication code for stem cell fate and proliferation.

blue AsLOV2 mESCs Signaling cascade control Cell differentiation
Nat Commun, 30 Oct 2023 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-42643-2 Link to full text
Abstract: YAP is a transcriptional regulator that controls pluripotency, cell fate, and proliferation. How cells ensure the selective activation of YAP effector genes is unknown. This knowledge is essential to rationally control cellular decision-making. Here we leverage optogenetics, live-imaging of transcription, and cell fate analysis to understand and control gene activation and cell behavior. We reveal that cells decode the steady-state concentrations and timing of YAP activation to control proliferation, cell fate, and expression of the pluripotency regulators Oct4 and Nanog. While oscillatory YAP inputs induce Oct4 expression and proliferation optimally at frequencies that mimic native dynamics, cellular differentiation requires persistently low YAP levels. We identify the molecular logic of the Oct4 dynamic decoder, which acts through an adaptive change sensor. Our work reveals how YAP levels and dynamics enable multiplexing of information transmission for the regulation of developmental decision-making and establishes a platform for the rational control of these behaviors.

Optogenetics for sensors: On-demand fluorescent labeling of histone epigenetics.

blue AsLOV2 HeLa Epigenetic modification
Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 29 Oct 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2023.149174 Link to full text
Abstract: Post-translational modifications of histones to a large extent determine the functional state of chromatin loci. Dynamic visualization of histone modifications with genetically encoded fluorescent sensors makes it possible to monitor changes in the epigenetic state of a single living cell. At the same time, the sensors can potentially compete with endogenous factors recognizing these modifications. Thus, prolonged binding of the sensors to chromatin can affect normal epigenetic regulation. Here, we report an optogenetic sensor for live-cell visualization of histone H3 methylated at lysine-9 (H3K9me3) named MPP8-LAMS (MPP8-based light-activated modification sensor). MPP8-LAMS consists of several fusion protein parts (from N- to C-terminus): i) nuclear export signal (NES), ii) far-red fluorescent protein Katushka, iii) H3K9me3-binding reader domain of the human M phase phosphoprotein 8 (MPP8), iv) the light-responsive AsLOV2 domain, which exposes a nuclear localization signal (NLS) upon blue light stimulation. In the dark, due to the NES, MPP8-LAMS is localized in the cytosol. Under blue light illumination, MPP8-LAMS underwent an efficient translocation from cytosol to nucleus, enabling visualization of H3K9me3-enriched loci. Such an on-demand visualization minimizes potential impact on cell physiology as most of the time the sensor is separated from its target. In general, the present work extends the application of optogenetics to the area of advanced use of genetically encoded sensors.

Turn-On Protein Switches for Controlling Actin Binding in Cells.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293T HeLa MDCK Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
bioRxiv, 26 Oct 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.10.26.561921 Link to full text
Abstract: Within a shared cytoplasm, filamentous actin (F-actin) plays numerous and critical roles across the cell body. Cells rely on actin-binding proteins (ABPs) to organize F-actin and to integrate its polymeric characteristics into diverse cellular processes. Yet, the multitude of ABPs that engage with and shape F-actin make studying a single ABP’s influence on cellular activities a significant challenge. Moreover, without a means of manipulating actin-binding subcellularly, harnessing the F-actin cytoskeleton for synthetic biology purposes remains elusive. Here, we describe a suite of designed proteins, Controllable Actin-binding Switch Tools (CASTs), whose actin-binding behavior can be controlled with external stimuli. CASTs were developed that respond to different external inputs, providing options for turn-on kinetics and enabling orthogonality. Being genetically encoded, we show that CASTs can be inserted into native protein sequences to control F-actin association locally and engineered into new structures to control cell and tissue shape and behavior.

Direct investigation of cell contraction signal networks by light-based perturbation methods.

blue cyan red Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Pflugers Arch, 18 Oct 2023 DOI: 10.1007/s00424-023-02864-2 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Reversible photoregulation of cell-cell adhesions with opto-E-cadherin.

blue AsLOV2 A-431 HeLa MDA-MB-231 NCTC clone 929 Control of cell-cell / cell-material interactions
Nat Commun, 9 Oct 2023 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-41932-0 Link to full text
Abstract: E-cadherin-based cell-cell adhesions are dynamically and locally regulated in many essential processes, including embryogenesis, wound healing and tissue organization, with dysregulation manifesting as tumorigenesis and metastasis. However, the lack of tools that would provide control of the high spatiotemporal precision observed with E-cadherin adhesions hampers investigation of the underlying mechanisms. Here, we present an optogenetic tool, opto-E-cadherin, that allows reversible control of E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesions with blue light. With opto-E-cadherin, functionally essential calcium binding is photoregulated such that cells expressing opto-E-cadherin at their surface adhere to each other in the dark but not upon illumination. Consequently, opto-E-cadherin provides remote control over multicellular aggregation, E-cadherin-associated intracellular signalling and F-actin organization in 2D and 3D cell cultures. Opto-E-cadherin also allows switching of multicellular behaviour between single and collective cell migration, as well as of cell invasiveness in vitro and in vivo. Overall, opto-E-cadherin is a powerful optogenetic tool capable of controlling cell-cell adhesions at the molecular, cellular and behavioural level that opens up perspectives for the study of dynamics and spatiotemporal control of E-cadherin in biological processes.

Current Trends of Bacterial and Fungal Optoproteins for Novel Optical Applications.

blue cyan near-infrared red UV BLUF domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Int J Mol Sci, 29 Sep 2023 DOI: 10.3390/ijms241914741 Link to full text
Abstract: Photoproteins, luminescent proteins or optoproteins are a kind of light-response protein responsible for the conversion of light into biochemical energy that is used by some bacteria or fungi to regulate specific biological processes. Within these specific proteins, there are groups such as the photoreceptors that respond to a given light wavelength and generate reactions susceptible to being used for the development of high-novel applications, such as the optocontrol of metabolic pathways. Photoswitchable proteins play important roles during the development of new materials due to their capacity to change their conformational structure by providing/eliminating a specific light stimulus. Additionally, there are bioluminescent proteins that produce light during a heatless chemical reaction and are useful to be employed as biomarkers in several fields such as imaging, cell biology, disease tracking and pollutant detection. The classification of these optoproteins from bacteria and fungi as photoreceptors or photoresponse elements according to the excitation-emission spectrum (UV-Vis-IR), as well as their potential use in novel applications, is addressed in this article by providing a structured scheme for this broad area of knowledge.

Allosteric regulation of kinase activity in living cells.

blue cyan red Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
bioRxiv, 25 Sep 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.07.19.549709 Link to full text
Abstract: The dysregulation of protein kinases is associated with multiple diseases due to the kinases’ involvement in a variety of cell signaling pathways. Manipulating protein kinase function, by controlling the active site, is a promising therapeutic and investigative strategy to mitigate and study diseases. Kinase active sites share structural similarities making it difficult to specifically target one kinase, allosteric control allows specific regulation and study of kinase function without directly targeting the active site. Allosteric sites are distal to the active site but coupled via a dynamic network of inter-atomic interactions between residues in the protein. Establishing an allosteric control over a kinase requires understanding the allosteric wiring of the protein. Computational techniques offer effective and inexpensive mapping of the allosteric sites on a protein. Here, we discuss methods to map and regulate allosteric communications in proteins, and strategies to establish control over kinase functions in live cells and organisms. Protein molecules, or “sensors” are engineered to function as tools to control allosteric activity of the protein as these sensors have high spatiotemporal resolution and help in understanding cell phenotypes after immediate activation or inactivation of a kinase. Traditional methods used to study protein functions, such as knockout, knockdown, or mutation, cannot offer a sufficiently high spatiotemporal resolution. We discuss the modern repertoire of tools to regulate protein kinases as we enter a new era in deciphering cellular signaling and developing novel approaches to treat diseases associated with signal dysregulation.

Photoactivatable base editors for spatiotemporally controlled genome editing in vivo.

blue AsLOV2 CRY2/CIB1 Magnets HEK293T mouse in vivo Transgene expression Nucleic acid editing
Biomaterials, 13 Sep 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2023.122328 Link to full text
Abstract: CRISPR-based base editors (BEs) are powerful tools for precise nucleotide substitution in a wide range of organisms, but spatiotemporal control of base editing remains a daunting challenge. Herein, we develop a photoactivatable base editor (Mag-ABE) for spatiotemporally controlled genome editing in vivo for the first time. The base editing activity of Mag-ABE can be activated by blue light for spatiotemporal regulation of both EGFP reporter gene and various endogenous genes editing. Meanwhile, the Mag-ABE prefers to edit A4 and A5 positions rather than to edit A6 position, showing the potential to decrease bystander editing of traditional adenine base editors. After integration with upconversion nanoparticles as a light transducer, the Mag-ABE is further applied for near-infrared (NIR) light-activated base editing of liver in transgenic reporter mice successfully. This study opens a promising way to improve the operability, safety, and precision of base editing.

Quantitative insights in tissue growth and morphogenesis with optogenetics.

blue cyan red Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Phys Biol, 7 Sep 2023 DOI: 10.1088/1478-3975/acf7a1 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Cell Cycle Control by Optogenetically Regulated Cell Cycle Inhibitor Protein p21.

blue AsLOV2 CRY2/CIB1 CHO-K1 HEK293T Cell cycle control
Biology (Basel), 31 Aug 2023 DOI: 10.3390/biology12091194 Link to full text
Abstract: The progression through the cell cycle phases is driven by cyclin-dependent kinases and cyclins as their regulatory subunits. As nuclear protein, the cell cycle inhibitor p21/CDKN1A arrests the cell cycle at the growth phase G1 by inhibiting the activity of cyclin-dependent kinases. The G1 phase correlates with increased cell size and cellular productivity. Here, we applied an optogenetic approach to control the subcellular localization of p21 and its nuclear functions. To generate light-controllable p21, appropriate fusions with the blue light switch cryptochrome 2/CIBN and the AsLOV-based light-inducible nuclear localization signal, LINuS, were used. Both systems, p21-CRY2/CIB1 and p21-LINuS, increased the amounts of cells arrested in the G1 phase correlating with the increased cell-specific productivity of the reporter-protein-secreted alkaline phosphatase. Varying the intervals of blue LED light exposure and the light dose enable the fine-tuning of the systems. Light-controllable p21 implemented in producer cell lines could be applied to steer the uncoupling of cell proliferation and cell cycle arrest at the G1 phase optimizing the production of biotherapeutic proteins.

Selective induction of programmed cell death using synthetic biology tools.

blue green near-infrared red UV violet BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Semin Cell Dev Biol, 17 Aug 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2023.07.012 Link to full text
Abstract: Regulated cell death (RCD) controls the removal of dispensable, infected or malignant cells, and is thus essential for development, homeostasis and immunity of multicellular organisms. Over the last years different forms of RCD have been described (among them apoptosis, necroptosis, pyroptosis and ferroptosis), and the cellular signaling pathways that control their induction and execution have been characterized at the molecular level. It has also become apparent that different forms of RCD differ in their capacity to elicit inflammation or an immune response, and that RCD pathways show a remarkable plasticity. Biochemical and genetic studies revealed that inhibition of a given pathway often results in the activation of back-up cell death mechanisms, highlighting close interconnectivity based on shared signaling components and the assembly of multivalent signaling platforms that can initiate different forms of RCD. Due to this interconnectivity and the pleiotropic effects of 'classical' cell death inducers, it is challenging to study RCD pathways in isolation. This has led to the development of tools based on synthetic biology that allow the targeted induction of RCD using chemogenetic or optogenetic methods. Here we discuss recent advances in the development of such toolset, highlighting their advantages and limitations, and their application for the study of RCD in cells and animals.

Design principles for engineering light-controlled antibodies.

blue red Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Trends Biotechnol, 26 Jul 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2023.06.006 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Optogenetic control of Cdc48 for dynamic metabolic engineering in yeast.

blue AsLOV2 CRY2/CIB1 S. cerevisiae Cell cycle control
Metab Eng, 7 Jul 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.ymben.2023.06.013 Link to full text
Abstract: Dynamic metabolic engineering is a strategy to switch key metabolic pathways in microbial cell factories from biomass generation to accumulation of target products. Here, we demonstrate that optogenetic intervention in the cell cycle of budding yeast can be used to increase production of valuable chemicals, such as the terpenoid β-carotene or the nucleoside analog cordycepin. We achieved optogenetic cell-cycle arrest in the G2/M phase by controlling activity of the ubiquitin-proteasome system hub Cdc48. To analyze the metabolic capacities in the cell cycle arrested yeast strain, we studied their proteomes by timsTOF mass spectrometry. This revealed widespread, but highly distinct abundance changes of metabolic key enzymes. Integration of the proteomics data in protein-constrained metabolic models demonstrated modulation of fluxes directly associated with terpenoid production as well as metabolic subsystems involved in protein biosynthesis, cell wall synthesis, and cofactor biosynthesis. These results demonstrate that optogenetically triggered cell cycle intervention is an option to increase the yields of compounds synthesized in a cellular factory by reallocation of metabolic resources.

Shining a light on RhoA: Optical control of cell contractility.

blue Cryptochromes LOV domains Review
Int J Biochem Cell Biol, 20 Jun 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocel.2023.106442 Link to full text
Abstract: In addition to biochemical and electrochemical signaling, cells also rely extensively on mechanical signaling to regulate their behavior. While a number of tools have been adapted from physics and engineering to manipulate cell mechanics, they typically require specialized equipment or lack spatiotemporal precision. Alternatively, a recent, more elegant approach is to use light itself to modulate the mechanical equilibrium inside the cell. This approach leverages the power of optogenetics, which can be controlled in a fully reversible manner in both time and space, to tune RhoA signaling, the master regulator of cellular contractility. We review here the fundamentals of this approach, including illustrating the tunability and flexibility that optogenetics offers, and demonstrate how this tool can be used to modulate both internal cytoskeletal flows and contractile force generation. Together these features highlight the advantages that optogenetics offers for investigating mechanical interactions in cells.

Light-switchable transcription factors obtained by direct screening in mammalian cells.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293T Transgene expression
Nat Commun, 2 Jun 2023 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-38993-6 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic tools can provide fine spatial and temporal control over many biological processes. Yet the development of new light-switchable protein variants remains challenging, and the field still lacks general approaches to engineering or discovering protein variants with light-switchable biological functions. Here, we adapt strategies for protein domain insertion and mammalian-cell expression to generate and screen a library of candidate optogenetic tools directly in mammalian cells. The approach is based on insertion of the AsLOV2 photoswitchable domain at all possible positions in a candidate protein of interest, introduction of the library into mammalian cells, and light/dark selection for variants with photoswitchable activity. We demonstrate the approach's utility using the Gal4-VP64 transcription factor as a model system. Our resulting LightsOut transcription factor exhibits a > 150-fold change in transcriptional activity between dark and blue light conditions. We show that light-switchable function generalizes to analogous insertion sites in two additional Cys6Zn2 and C2H2 zinc finger domains, providing a starting point for optogenetic regulation of a broad class of transcription factors. Our approach can streamline the identification of single-protein optogenetic switches, particularly in cases where structural or biochemical knowledge is limited.

Optogenetic Methods in Plant Biology.

blue red UV BLUF domains CarH Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Annu Rev Plant Biol, 22 May 2023 DOI: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-071122-094840 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics is a technique employing natural or genetically engineered photoreceptors in transgene organisms to manipulate biological activities with light. Light can be turned on or off, and adjusting its intensity and duration allows optogenetic fine-tuning of cellular processes in a noninvasive and spatiotemporally resolved manner. Since the introduction of Channelrhodopsin-2 and phytochrome-based switches nearly 20 years ago, optogenetic tools have been applied in a variety of model organisms with enormous success, but rarely in plants. For a long time, the dependence of plant growth on light and the absence of retinal, the rhodopsin chromophore, prevented the establishment of plant optogenetics until recent progress overcame these difficulties. We summarize the recent results of work in the field to control plant growth and cellular motion via green light-gated ion channels and present successful applications to light-control gene expression with single or combined photoswitches in plants. Furthermore, we highlight the technical requirements and options for future plant optogenetic research.

Light-responsive nanomedicine for cancer immunotherapy.

blue Cryptochromes LOV domains Review
Acta Pharm Sin B, 19 May 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.apsb.2023.05.016 Link to full text
Abstract: Immunotherapy emerged as a paradigm shift in cancer treatments, which can effectively inhibit cancer progression by activating the immune system. Remarkable clinical outcomes have been achieved through recent advances in cancer immunotherapy, including checkpoint blockades, adoptive cellular therapy, cancer vaccine, and tumor microenvironment modulation. However, extending the application of immunotherapy in cancer patients has been limited by the low response rate and side effects such as autoimmune toxicities. With great progress being made in nanotechnology, nanomedicine has been exploited to overcome biological barriers for drug delivery. Given the spatiotemporal control, light-responsive nanomedicine is of great interest in designing precise modality for cancer immunotherapy. Herein, we summarized current research utilizing light-responsive nanoplatforms to enhance checkpoint blockade immunotherapy, facilitate targeted delivery of cancer vaccines, activate immune cell functions, and modulate tumor microenvironment. The clinical translation potential of those designs is highlighted and challenges for the next breakthrough in cancer immunotherapy are discussed.

Engineered allostery in light-regulated LOV-Turbo enables precise spatiotemporal control of proximity labeling in living cells.

blue AsLOV2 iLID E. coli HEK293T mouse in vivo rat cortical neurons S. cerevisiae Transgene expression
Nat Methods, 15 May 2023 DOI: 10.1038/s41592-023-01880-5 Link to full text
Abstract: The incorporation of light-responsive domains into engineered proteins has enabled control of protein localization, interactions and function with light. We integrated optogenetic control into proximity labeling, a cornerstone technique for high-resolution proteomic mapping of organelles and interactomes in living cells. Through structure-guided screening and directed evolution, we installed the light-sensitive LOV domain into the proximity labeling enzyme TurboID to rapidly and reversibly control its labeling activity with low-power blue light. 'LOV-Turbo' works in multiple contexts and dramatically reduces background in biotin-rich environments such as neurons. We used LOV-Turbo for pulse-chase labeling to discover proteins that traffic between endoplasmic reticulum, nuclear and mitochondrial compartments under cellular stress. We also showed that instead of external light, LOV-Turbo can be activated by bioluminescence resonance energy transfer from luciferase, enabling interaction-dependent proximity labeling. Overall, LOV-Turbo increases the spatial and temporal precision of proximity labeling, expanding the scope of experimental questions that can be addressed with proximity labeling.

OptIC Notch reveals mechanism that regulates receptor interactions with CSL.

blue AsLOV2 CRY2/CIB1 D. melanogaster in vivo Signaling cascade control
Development, 12 May 2023 DOI: 10.1242/dev.201785 Link to full text
Abstract: Active Notch signalling is elicited through receptor-ligand interactions that result in release of the Notch intracellular domain (NICD), which translocates into the nucleus. NICD activates transcription at target genes forming a complex with the DNA-binding transcription factor CSL (CBF1/Su(H)/Lag-1) and co-activator Mastermind. Despite this, CSL lacks its own nuclear localisation sequence, and it remains unclear where the tripartite complex is formed. To probe mechanisms involved, we designed an optogenetic approach to control NICD release (OptIC-Notch) and monitored consequences on complex formation and target gene activation. Strikingly we observed that, when uncleaved, OptIC-Notch sequestered CSL in the cytoplasm. Hypothesising that exposure of a juxta membrane ΦWΦP motif is key to sequestration, we masked this motif with a second light sensitive domain in OptIC-Notch{ω}, which was sufficient to prevent CSL sequestration. Furthermore, NICD produced by light-induced cleavage of OptIC-Notch or OptIC-Notch{ω} chaperoned CSL into the nucleus and induced target gene expression, showing efficient light controlled activation. Our results demonstrate that exposure of the ΦWΦP motif leads to CSL recruitment and suggest this can occur in the cytoplasm prior to nuclear entry.

Optogenetic control of YAP can enhance the rate of wound healing.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293T MKN28 rat cardiomyocytes Signaling cascade control
Cell Mol Biol Lett, 11 May 2023 DOI: 10.1186/s11658-023-00446-9 Link to full text
Abstract: Tissues need to regenerate to restore function after injury. Yet, this regenerative capacity varies significantly between organs and between species. For example, in the heart, some species retain full regenerative capacity throughout their lifespan but human cardiac cells display a limited ability to repair the injury. After a myocardial infarction, the function of cardiomyocytes is impaired and reduces the ability of the heart to pump, causing heart failure. Therefore, there is a need to restore the function of an injured heart post myocardial infarction. We investigate in cell culture the role of the Yes-associated protein (YAP), a transcriptional co-regulator with a pivotal role in growth, in driving repair after injury.
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