Showing 1 - 15 of 15 results
Illuminating pathogen-host intimacy through optogenetics.
The birth and subsequent evolution of optogenetics has resulted in an unprecedented advancement in our understanding of the brain. Its outstanding success does usher wider applications; however, the tool remains still largely relegated to neuroscience. Here, we introduce selected aspects of optogenetics with potential applications in infection biology that will not only answer long-standing questions about intracellular pathogens (parasites, bacteria, viruses) but also broaden the dimension of current research in entwined models. In this essay, we illustrate how a judicious integration of optogenetics with routine methods can illuminate the host-pathogen interactions in a way that has not been feasible otherwise.
Blue-Light Receptors for Optogenetics.
Sensory photoreceptors underpin light-dependent adaptations of organismal physiology, development, and behavior in nature. Adapted for optogenetics, sensory photoreceptors become genetically encoded actuators and reporters to enable the noninvasive, spatiotemporally accurate and reversible control by light of cellular processes. Rooted in a mechanistic understanding of natural photoreceptors, artificial photoreceptors with customized light-gated function have been engineered that greatly expand the scope of optogenetics beyond the original application of light-controlled ion flow. As we survey presently, UV/blue-light-sensitive photoreceptors have particularly allowed optogenetics to transcend its initial neuroscience applications by unlocking numerous additional cellular processes and parameters for optogenetic intervention, including gene expression, DNA recombination, subcellular localization, cytoskeleton dynamics, intracellular protein stability, signal transduction cascades, apoptosis, and enzyme activity. The engineering of novel photoreceptors benefits from powerful and reusable design strategies, most importantly light-dependent protein association and (un)folding reactions. Additionally, modified versions of these same sensory photoreceptors serve as fluorescent proteins and generators of singlet oxygen, thereby further enriching the optogenetic toolkit. The available and upcoming UV/blue-light-sensitive actuators and reporters enable the detailed and quantitative interrogation of cellular signal networks and processes in increasingly more precise and illuminating manners.
Bioprinting Living Biofilms through Optogenetic Manipulation.
In this paper, we present a new strategy for microprinting dense bacterial communities with a prescribed organization on a substrate. Unlike conventional bioprinting techniques that require bioinks, through optogenetic manipulation, we directly manipulated the behaviors of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to allow these living bacteria to autonomically form patterned biofilms following prescribed illumination. The results showed that through optogenetic manipulation, patterned bacterial communities with high spatial resolution (approximately 10 μm) could be constructed in 6 h. Thus, optogenetic manipulation greatly increases the range of available bioprinting techniques.
Seeing the light with BLUF proteins.
First described about 15 years ago, BLUF (Blue Light Using Flavin) domains are light-triggered switches that control enzyme activity or gene expression in response to blue light, remaining activated for seconds or even minutes after stimulation. The conserved, ferredoxin-like fold holds a flavin chromophore that captures the light and somehow triggers downstream events. BLUF proteins are found in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes and have a variety of architectures and oligomeric forms, but the BLUF domain itself seems to have a well-preserved structure and mechanism that have been the focus of intense study for a number of years. Crystallographic and NMR structures of BLUF domains have been solved, but the conflicting models have led to considerable debate about the atomic details of photo-activation. Advanced spectroscopic and computational methods have been used to analyse the early events after photon absorption, but these too have led to widely differing conclusions. New structural models are improving our understanding of the details of the mechanism and may lead to novel tailor-made tools for optogenetics.
Applications of hydrogen deuterium exchange (HDX) for the characterization of conformational dynamics in light-activated photoreceptors.
Rational design of optogenetic tools is inherently linked to the understanding of photoreceptor function. Structural analysis of elements involved in signal integration in individual sensor domains provides an initial idea of their mode of operation, but understanding how local structural rearrangements eventually affect signal transmission to output domains requires inclusion of the effector regions in the characterization. However, the dynamic nature of these assemblies renders their structural analysis challenging and therefore a combination of high- and low-resolution techniques is required to appreciate functional aspects of photoreceptors. This review focuses on the potential of hydrogen-deuterium exchange coupled to mass spectrometry (HDX-MS) for complementing the structural characterization of photoreceptors. In this respect, the ability of HDX-MS to provide information on conformational dynamics and the possibility to address multiple functionally relevant states in solution render this methodology ideally suitable. We highlight recent examples demonstrating the potential of HDX-MS and discuss how these results can help to improve existing optogenetic systems or guide the design of novel optogenetic tools.
Photochemistry of flavoprotein light sensors.
Three major classes of flavin photosensors, light oxygen voltage (LOV) domains, blue light sensor using FAD (BLUF) proteins and cryptochromes (CRYs), regulate diverse biological activities in response to blue light. Recent studies of structure, spectroscopy and chemical mechanism have provided unprecedented insight into how each family operates at the molecular level. In general, the photoexcitation of the flavin cofactor leads to changes in redox and protonation states that ultimately remodel protein conformation and molecular interactions. For LOV domains, issues remain regarding early photochemical events, but common themes in conformational propagation have emerged across a diverse family of proteins. For BLUF proteins, photoinduced electron transfer reactions critical to light conversion are defined, but the subsequent rearrangement of hydrogen bonding networks key for signaling remains highly controversial. For CRYs, the relevant photocycles are actively debated, but mechanistic and functional studies are converging. Despite these challenges, our current understanding has enabled the engineering of flavoprotein photosensors for control of signaling processes within cells.
Guiding lights: recent developments in optogenetic control of biochemical signals.
Optogenetics arises from the innovative application of microbial opsins in mammalian neurons and has since been a powerful technology that fuels the advance of our knowledge in neuroscience. In recent years, there has been growing interest in designing optogenetic tools extendable to broader cell types and biochemical signals. To date, a variety of photoactivatable proteins (refers to induction of protein activity in contrast to fluorescence) have been developed based on the understanding of plant and microbial photoreceptors including phototropins, blue light sensors using flavin adenine dinucleotide proteins, cryptochromes, and phytochromes. Such tools offered researchers reversible, quantitative, and precise spatiotemporal control of enzymatic activity, protein-protein interaction, protein translocation, as well as gene transcription in cells and in whole animals. In this review, we will briefly introduce these photosensory proteins, describe recent developments in optogenetics, and compare and contrast different methods based on their advantages and limitations.
Light detection and signal transduction in the BLUF photoreceptors.
BLUF (sensor of blue light using FAD) domain-containing proteins are one of three types of flavin-binding, blue-light-sensing proteins found in many bacteria and some algae. The other types of blue-light-sensing proteins are the cryptochromes and the light, oxygen, voltage (LOV) domain-containing proteins. BLUF proteins control a wide variety of light-dependent physiological activities including photosystem synthesis, biofilm formation and the photoavoidance response. The BLUF domain photochemical reaction is unique in that only small chromophore structural changes are involved in the light activation process, because the rigid flavin moiety is involved, rather than an isomerizable chromophore (e.g. phytochromobilin in phytochromes and retinal in rhodopsins). Recent spectroscopic, biochemical and structural studies have begun to elucidate how BLUF domains transmit the light-induced signal and identify related, subsequent changes in the domain structures. Herein, I review progress made to date concerning the physiological functions and the phototransduction mechanism of BLUF proteins.
LOV to BLUF: flavoprotein contributions to the optogenetic toolkit.
Optogenetics is an emerging field that combines optical and genetic approaches to non-invasively interfere with cellular events with exquisite spatiotemporal control. Although it arose originally from neuroscience, optogenetics is widely applicable to the study of many different biological systems and the range of applications arising from this technology continues to increase. Moreover, the repertoire of light-sensitive proteins used for devising new optogenetic tools is rapidly expanding. Light, Oxygen, or Voltage sensing (LOV) and Blue-Light-Utilizing flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) (BLUF) domains represent new contributors to the optogenetic toolkit. These small (100-140-amino acids) flavoprotein modules are derived from plant and bacterial photoreceptors that respond to UV-A/blue light. In recent years, considerable progress has been made in uncovering the photoactivation mechanisms of both LOV and BLUF domains. This knowledge has been applied in the design of synthetic photoswitches and fluorescent reporters with applications in cell biology and biotechnology. In this review, we summarize the photochemical properties of LOV and BLUF photosensors and highlight some of the recent advances in how these flavoproteins are being employed to artificially regulate and image a variety of biological processes.
The evolution of flavin-binding photoreceptors: an ancient chromophore serving trendy blue-light sensors.
Photoreceptor flavoproteins of the LOV, BLUF, and cryptochrome families are ubiquitous among the three domains of life and are configured as UVA/blue-light systems not only in plants-their original arena-but also in prokaryotes and microscopic algae. Here, we review these proteins' structure and function, their biological roles, and their evolution and impact in the living world, and underline their growing application in biotechnologies. We present novel developments such as the interplay of light and redox stimuli, emerging enzymatic and biological functions, lessons on evolution from picoalgae, metagenomics analysis, and optogenetics applications.
Old chromophores, new photoactivation paradigms, trendy applications: flavins in blue light-sensing photoreceptors.
The knowledge on the mechanisms by which blue light (BL) is sensed by diverse and numerous organisms, and of the physiological responses elicited by the BL photoreceptors, has grown remarkably during the last two decades. The basis for this "blue revival" was set by the identification and molecular characterization of long sought plant BL sensors, employing flavins as chromophores, chiefly cryptochromes and phototropins. The latter photosensors are the foundation members of the so-called light, oxygen, voltage (LOV)-protein family, largely spread among archaea, bacteria, fungi and plants. The accumulation of sequenced microbial genomes during the last years has added the BLUF (Blue Light sensing Using FAD) family to the BL photoreceptors and yielded the opportunity for intense "genome mining," which has presented to us the intriguing wealth of BL sensing in prokaryotes. In this contribution we provide an update of flavin-based BL sensors of the LOV and BLUF type, from prokaryotic microorganisms, with special emphasis to their light-activation pathways and molecular signal-transduction mechanisms. Rather than being a fully comprehensive review, this research collects the most recent discoveries and aims to unveil and compare signaling pathways and mechanisms of BL sensors.
Lights on and action! Controlling microbial gene expression by light.
Light-mediated control of gene expression and thus of any protein function and metabolic process in living microbes is a rapidly developing field of research in the areas of functional genomics, systems biology, and biotechnology. The unique physical properties of the environmental factor light allow for an independent photocontrol of various microbial processes in a noninvasive and spatiotemporal fashion. This mini review describes recently developed strategies to generate photo-sensitive expression systems in bacteria and yeast. Naturally occurring and artificial photoswitches consisting of light-sensitive input domains derived from different photoreceptors and regulatory output domains are presented and individual properties of light-controlled expression systems are discussed.
Structure and mechanism of a bacterial light-regulated cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase.
The ability to respond to light is crucial for most organisms. BLUF is a recently identified photoreceptor protein domain that senses blue light using a FAD chromophore. BLUF domains are present in various proteins from the Bacteria, Euglenozoa and Fungi. Although structures of single-domain BLUF proteins have been determined, none are available for a BLUF protein containing a functional output domain; the mechanism of light activation in this new class of photoreceptors has thus remained poorly understood. Here we report the biochemical, structural and mechanistic characterization of a full-length, active photoreceptor, BlrP1 (also known as KPN_01598), from Klebsiella pneumoniae. BlrP1 consists of a BLUF sensor domain and a phosphodiesterase EAL output domain which hydrolyses cyclic dimeric GMP (c-di-GMP). This ubiquitous second messenger controls motility, biofilm formation, virulence and antibiotic resistance in the Bacteria. Crystal structures of BlrP1 complexed with its substrate and metal ions involved in catalysis or in enzyme inhibition provide a detailed understanding of the mechanism of the EAL-domain c-di-GMP phosphodiesterases. These structures also sketch out a path of light activation of the phosphodiesterase output activity. Photon absorption by the BLUF domain of one subunit of the antiparallel BlrP1 homodimer activates the EAL domain of the second subunit through allosteric communication transmitted through conserved domain-domain interfaces.
Structure and insight into blue light-induced changes in the BlrP1 BLUF domain.
BLUF domains (sensors of blue light using flavin adenine dinucleotide) are a group of flavin-containing blue light photosensory domains from a variety of bacterial and algal proteins. While spectroscopic studies have indicated that these domains reorganize their interactions with an internally bound chromophore upon illumination, it remains unclear how these are converted into structural and functional changes. To address this, we have solved the solution structure of the BLUF domain from Klebsiella pneumoniae BlrP1, a light-activated c-di-guanosine 5'-monophosphate phosphodiesterase which consists of a sensory BLUF and a catalytic EAL (Glu-Ala-Leu) domain [Schmidt et. al. (2008) J. Bacteriol. 187, 4774-4781]. Our dark state structure of the sensory domain shows that it adopts a standard BLUF domain fold followed by two C-terminal alpha helices which adopt a novel orientation with respect to the rest of the domain. Comparison of NMR spectra acquired under dark and light conditions suggests that residues throughout the BlrP1 BLUF domain undergo significant light-induced chemical shift changes, including sites clustered on the beta(4)beta(5) loop, beta(5) strand, and alpha(3)alpha(4) loop. Given that these changes were observed at several sites on the helical cap, over 15 A from chromophore, our data suggest a long-range signal transduction process in BLUF domains.
Photodynamics of blue-light-regulated phosphodiesterase BlrP1 protein from Klebsiella pneumoniae and its photoreceptor BLUF domain.
The BlrP1 protein from the enteric bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae consists of a BLUF and an EAL domain
and may activate c-di-GMP phosphodiesterase by blue-light. The full-length protein, BlrP1, and its BLUF
domain, BlrP1_BLUF, are characterized by optical absorption and emission spectroscopy. The cofactor
FAD in its oxidized redox state (FADox) is brought from the dark-adapted receptor state to the 10-nm
red-shifted putative signalling state by violet light exposure. The recovery to the receptor state occurs
with a time constant of about 1 min. The quantum yield of signalling state formation is about 0.17 for
BlrP1_BLUF and about 0.08 for BlrP1. The fluorescence efficiency of the FADox cofactor is small due to
photo-induced reductive electron transfer. Prolonged light exposure converts FADox in the signalling state
to the fully reduced hydroquinone form FADredH and causes low-efficient chromophore release with
subsequent photo-degradation. The photo-cycle and photo-reduction dynamics in the receptor state
and in the signalling state are discussed.