Showing 1 - 25 of 204 results
Precise control of microtubule disassembly in living cells.
Microtubules (MTs) are components of the evolutionarily conserved cytoskeleton, which tightly regulates various cellular activities. Our understanding of MTs is largely based on MT-targeting agents, which, however, are insufficient to dissect the dynamic mechanisms of specific MT populations due to their slow effects on the entire pool of MTs in cells. To address this limitation, we have used chemogenetics and optogenetics to disassemble specific MT subtypes by rapid recruitment of engineered MT-cleaving enzymes. Acute MT disassembly swiftly halted vesicular trafficking and lysosome dynamics. We also used this approach to disassemble MTs specifically modified by tyrosination and several MT-based structures including primary cilia, mitotic spindles, and intercellular bridges. These effects were rapidly reversed by inhibiting the activity or MT association of the cleaving enzymes. The disassembly of targeted MTs with spatial and temporal accuracy enables to uncover new insights of how MTs precisely regulate cellular architectures and functions.
Optogenetic perturbations of RNA expression in tissue space.
Quantifying gene expression in space, for example by spatial transcriptomics, is essential for describing the biology of cells and their interactions in complex tissues. Perturbation experiments, at single-cell resolution and conditional on both space and time, are necessary for dissecting the molecular mechanisms of these interactions. To this aim, we combined optogenetics and CRISPR technologies to activate or knock-down RNA of target genes, at single-cell resolution and in programmable spatial patterns. As a proof of principle, we optogenetically induced Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) signaling at a distinct spatial location within human neural organoids. This robustly induced known SHH spatial domains of gene expression, cell-autonomously and across the entire organoid. In principle, our approach can be used to induce or knock down RNAs from any gene of interest in specific spatial locations or patterns of complex biological systems.
An active tethering mechanism controls the fate of vesicles.
Vesicle tethers are thought to underpin the efficiency of intracellular fusion by bridging vesicles to their target membranes. However, the interplay between tethering and fusion has remained enigmatic. Here, through optogenetic control of either a natural tether-the exocyst complex-or an artificial tether, we report that tethering regulates the mode of fusion. We find that vesicles mainly undergo kiss-and-run instead of full fusion in the absence of functional exocyst. Full fusion is rescued by optogenetically restoring exocyst function, in a manner likely dependent on the stoichiometry of tether engagement with the plasma membrane. In contrast, a passive artificial tether produces mostly kissing events, suggesting that kiss-and-run is the default mode of vesicle fusion. Optogenetic control of tethering further shows that fusion mode has physiological relevance since only full fusion could trigger lamellipodial expansion. These findings demonstrate that active coupling between tethering and fusion is critical for robust membrane merger.
Revisiting the Role of TGFβ Receptor Internalization for Smad Signaling: It is Not Required in Optogenetic TGFβ Signaling Systems.
Endocytosis is an important process by which many signaling receptors reach their intracellular effectors. Accumulating evidence suggests that internalized receptors play critical roles in triggering cellular signaling, including transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) signaling. Despite intensive studies on the TGFβ pathway over the last decades, the necessity of TGFβ receptor endocytosis for downstream TGFβ signaling responses is a subject of debate. In this study, mathematical modeling and synthetic biology approaches are combined to re-evaluate whether TGFβ receptor internalization is indispensable for inducing Smad signaling. It is found that optogenetic systems with plasma membrane-tethered TGFβ receptors can induce fast and sustained Smad2 activation upon light stimulations. Modeling analysis suggests that endocytosis is precluded for the membrane-anchored optogenetic TGFβ receptors. Therefore, this study provides new evidence to support that TGFβ receptor internalization is not required for Smad2 activation.
Optogenetic Tools for Control of Public Goods in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Microorganisms live in dense and diverse communities, with interactions between cells guiding community development and phenotype. The ability to perturb specific intercellular interactions in space and time provides a powerful route to determining the critical interactions and design rules for microbial communities. Approaches using optogenetic tools to modulate these interactions offer promise, as light can be exquisitely controlled in space and time. We report new plasmids for rapid integration of an optogenetic system into Saccharomyces cerevisiae to engineer light control of expression of a gene of interest. In a proof-of-principle study, we demonstrate the ability to control a model cooperative interaction, namely, the expression of the enzyme invertase (SUC2) which allows S. cerevisiae to hydrolyze sucrose and utilize it as a carbon source. We demonstrate that the strength of this cooperative interaction can be tuned in space and time by modulating light intensity and through spatial control of illumination. Spatial control of light allows cooperators and cheaters to be spatially segregated, and we show that the interplay between cooperative and inhibitory interactions in space can lead to pattern formation. Our strategy can be applied to achieve spatiotemporal control of expression of a gene of interest in S. cerevisiae to perturb both intercellular and interspecies interactions. IMPORTANCE Recent advances in microbial ecology have highlighted the importance of intercellular interactions in controlling the development, composition, and resilience of microbial communities. In order to better understand the role of these interactions in governing community development, it is critical to be able to alter them in a controlled manner. Optogenetically controlled interactions offer advantages over static perturbations or chemically controlled interactions, as light can be manipulated in space and time and does not require the addition of nutrients or antibiotics. Here, we report a system for rapidly achieving light control of a gene of interest in the important model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae and demonstrate that by controlling expression of the enzyme invertase, we can control cooperative interactions. This approach will be useful for understanding intercellular and interspecies interactions in natural and synthetic microbial consortia containing S. cerevisiae and serves as a proof of principle for implementing this approach in other consortia.
Mapping the dynamic transfer functions of eukaryotic gene regulation.
Biological information can be encoded within the dynamics of signaling components, which has been implicated in a broad range of physiological processes including stress response, oncogenesis, and stem cell differentiation. To study the complexity of information transfer across the eukaryotic promoter, we screened 119 dynamic conditions-modulating the pulse frequency, amplitude, and pulse width of light-regulating the binding of an epigenome editor to a fluorescent reporter. This system revealed tunable gene expression and filtering behaviors and provided a quantification of the limit to the amount of information that can be reliably transferred across a single promoter as ∼1.7 bits. Using a library of over 100 orthogonal chromatin regulators, we further determined that chromatin state could be used to tune mutual information and expression levels, as well as completely alter the input-output transfer function of the promoter. This system unlocks the information-rich content of eukaryotic gene regulation.
Mechanical worrying drives cell migration in crowded environments.
Migratory cells navigate through crowded 3D microenvironments in vivo. Amoeboid cells, such as immune cells and some cancer cells, are thought to do so by deforming their bodies to squeeze through tight spaces.1 Yet large populations of nearly spherical amoeboid cells migrate2–4 in microenvironments too dense5,6 to move through without extensive shape deformations. How they do so is unknown. We used high-resolution light-sheet microscopy to visualize metastatic melanoma cells in dense environments, finding that cells maintain a round morphology as they migrate and create a path through which to move via bleb-driven mechanical degradation and subsequent macropinocytosis of extracellular matrix components. Proteolytic degradation of the extracellular matrix via matrix metalloproteinases is not required. Membrane blebs are short-lived relative to the timescale of migration, and thus persistence in their polarization is critical for productive ablation of the extracellular matrix. Interactions between small but long-lived cortical adhesions and collagen at the cell front induce PI-3 Kinase signaling that drive bleb enlargement via branched actin polymerization. Large blebs in turn abrade collagen, creating a feedback between extracellular matrix structure, cell morphology, and cell polarization that results in both path generation and persistent cell movement.
Rab11 endosomes coordinate centrosome number and movement following mitotic exit.
The last stage of cell division involves two daughter cells remaining interconnected by a cytokinetic bridge that is cleaved in a process called abscission. During pre-abscission, we identified that the centrosome moves in a Rab11-dependent manner towards the cytokinetic bridge in human cells grown in culture and in an in vivo vertebrate model, Danio rerio (zebrafish). Rab11-endosomes are dynamically organized in a Rab11-GTP dependent manner at the centrosome during pre-abscission and this organization is required for the centrosome protein, pericentrin, to be enriched at the centrosome. Using zebrafish embryos, we found that reduction in pericentrin expression or optogenetically disrupting Rab11-endosome function inhibited centrosome movement towards the cytokinetic bridge and abscission resulting in daughter cells prone to being binucleated and/or having supernumerary centrosomes. These studies suggest that Rab11-endosomes contribute to centrosome function during pre-abscission by regulating pericentrin organization resulting in appropriate centrosome movement towards the cytokinetic bridge and subsequent abscission.
Using optogenetics to link myosin patterns to contractile cell behaviors during convergent extension.
Distinct patterns of actomyosin contractility are often associated with particular epithelial tissue shape changes during development. For example, a planar-polarized pattern of myosin II localization regulated by Rho1 signaling during Drosophila body axis elongation is thought to drive cell behaviors that contribute to convergent extension. However, it is not well understood how specific aspects of a myosin pattern influence the multiple cell behaviors, including cell intercalation, cell shape changes, and apical cell area fluctuations, that simultaneously occur during morphogenesis. Here, we developed two optogenetic tools, optoGEF and optoGAP, to activate or deactivate Rho1 signaling, respectively. We used these tools to manipulate myosin patterns at the apical side of the germband epithelium during Drosophila axis elongation and analyzed the effects on contractile cell behaviors. We show that uniform activation or inactivation of Rho1 signaling across the apical surface of the germband is sufficient to disrupt the planar-polarized pattern of myosin at cell junctions on the timescale of 3-5 min, leading to distinct changes in junctional and medial myosin patterns in optoGEF and optoGAP embryos. These two perturbations to Rho1 activity both disrupt axis elongation and cell intercalation but have distinct effects on cell area fluctuations and cell packings that are linked with changes in the medial and junctional myosin pools. These studies demonstrate that acute optogenetic perturbations to Rho1 activity are sufficient to rapidly override the endogenous planar-polarized myosin pattern in the germband during axis elongation. Moreover, our results reveal that the levels of Rho1 activity and the balance between medial and junctional myosin play key roles not only in organizing the cell rearrangements that are known to directly contribute to axis elongation but also in regulating cell area fluctuations and cell packings, which have been proposed to be important factors influencing the mechanics of tissue deformation and flow.
Optogenetic tools for public goods control in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Microorganisms live in dense and diverse communities, with interactions between cells guiding community development and phenotype. The ability to perturb specific intercellular interactions in space and time provides a powerful route to determining the critical interactions and design rules for microbial communities. Approaches using optogenetic tools to modulate these interactions offer promise, as light can be exquisitely controlled in space and time. We report new plasmids for rapid integration of an optogenetic system into Saccharomyces cerevisiae to engineer light-control of expression of a gene of interest. In a proof-of-principle study, we demonstrate the ability to control a model cooperative interaction, namely the expression of the enzyme invertase (SUC2) which allows S. cerevisiae to hydrolyze sucrose and utilize it as a carbon source. We demonstrate that the strength of this cooperative interaction can be tuned in space and time by modulating light intensity and through spatial control of illumination. Spatial control of light allows cooperators and cheaters to be spatially segregated, and we show that the interplay between cooperative and inhibitory interactions in space can lead to pattern formation. Our strategy can be applied to achieve spatiotemporal control of expression of a gene of interest in Saccharomyces cerevisiae to perturb both intercellular and interspecies interactions.
Light-inducible deformation of mitochondria in live cells.
Mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, are dynamic organelles that undergo constant morphological changes. Increasing evidence indicates that mitochondria morphologies and functions can be modulated by mechanical cues. However, the mechano-sensing and -responding properties of mitochondria and the relation between mitochondrial morphologies and functions are unclear due to the lack of methods to precisely exert mechano-stimulation on and deform mitochondria inside live cells. Here, we present an optogenetic approach that uses light to induce deformation of mitochondria by recruiting molecular motors to the outer mitochondrial membrane via light-activated protein-protein hetero-dimerization. Mechanical forces generated by motor proteins distort the outer membrane, during which the inner mitochondrial membrane can also be deformed. Moreover, this optical method can achieve subcellular spatial precision and be combined with different optical dimerizers and molecular motors. This method presents a mitochondria-specific mechano-stimulator for studying mitochondria mechanobiology and the interplay between mitochondria shapes and functions.
CeLINC, a fluorescence-based protein-protein interaction assay in C. elegans.
Interactions among proteins are fundamental for life and determining whether two particular proteins physically interact can be essential for fully understanding a protein’s function. We present C. elegans light-induced co-clustering (CeLINC), an optical binary protein-protein interaction assay to determine whether two proteins interact in vivo. Based on CRY2/CIB1 light-dependent oligomerization, CeLINC can rapidly and unambiguously identify protein-protein interactions between pairs of fluorescently tagged proteins. A fluorescently tagged bait protein is captured using a nanobody directed against the fluorescent protein (GFP or mCherry) and brought into artificial clusters within the cell. Co-localization of a fluorescently tagged prey protein in the cluster indicates a protein interaction. We tested the system with an array of positive and negative reference protein pairs. Assay performance was extremely robust with no false positives detected in the negative reference pairs. We then used the system to test for interactions among apical and basolateral polarity regulators. We confirmed interactions seen between PAR-6, PKC-3, and PAR-3, but observed no physical interactions among the basolateral Scribble module proteins LET-413, DLG-1, and LGL-1. We have generated a plasmid toolkit that allows use of custom promoters or CRY2 variants to promote flexibility of the system. The CeLINC assay is a powerful and rapid technique that can be widely applied in C. elegans due to the universal plasmids that can be used with existing fluorescently tagged strains without need for additional cloning or genetic modification of the genome. Summary We have developed a protein-protein interaction assay for C. elegans to investigate whether pairs of proteins interact in vivo. C. elegans light-induced co-clustering (CeLINC) is based on trapping a fluorescently-tagged bait protein into artificial clusters, and observing whether candidate interacting prey proteins co-cluster with the bait protein. CeLINC can be widely applied as a single set of universal plasmids can be used with existing strains expressing fluorescently-tagged proteins.
Exosome-based delivery of super-repressor IκBα ameliorates kidney ischemia-reperfusion injury.
Ischemia-reperfusion injury is a major cause of acute kidney injury. Recent studies on the pathophysiology of ischemia-reperfusion-induced acute kidney injury showed that immunologic responses significantly affect kidney ischemia-reperfusion injury and repair. Nuclear factor (NF)-ĸB signaling, which controls cytokine production and cell survival, is significantly involved in ischemia-reperfusion-induced acute kidney injury, and its inhibition can ameliorate ischemic acute kidney injury. Using EXPLOR, a novel, optogenetically engineered exosome technology, we successfully delivered the exosomal super-repressor inhibitor of NF-ĸB (Exo-srIĸB) into B6 wild type mice before/after kidney ischemia-reperfusion surgery, and compared outcomes with those of a control exosome (Exo-Naïve)-injected group. Exo-srIĸB treatment resulted in lower levels of serum blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, and neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin in post-ischemic mice than in the Exo-Naïve treatment group. Systemic delivery of Exo-srIĸB decreased NF-ĸB activity in post-ischemic kidneys and reduced apoptosis. Post-ischemic kidneys showed decreased gene expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and adhesion molecules with Exo-srIĸB treatment as compared with the control. Intravital imaging confirmed the uptake of exosomes in neutrophils and macrophages. Exo-srIĸB treatment also significantly affected post-ischemic kidney immune cell populations, lowering neutrophil, monocyte/macrophage, and T cell frequencies than those in the control. Thus, modulation of NF-ĸB signaling through exosomal delivery can be used as a novel therapeutic method for ischemia-reperfusion-induced acute kidney injury.
Optogenetic Control of the Canonical Wnt Signaling Pathway During Xenopus laevis Embryonic Development.
Optogenetics uses light-inducible protein-protein interactions to precisely control the timing, localization, and intensity of signaling activity. The precise spatial and temporal resolution of this emerging technology has proven extremely attractive to the study of embryonic development, a program faithfully replicated to form the same organism from a single cell. We have previously performed a comparative study for optogenetic activation of receptor tyrosine kinases, where we found that the cytoplasm-to-membrane translocation-based optogenetic systems outperform the membrane-anchored dimerization systems in activating the receptor tyrosine kinase signaling in live Xenopus embryos. Here, we determine if this engineering strategy can be generalized to other signaling pathways involving membrane-bound receptors. As a proof of concept, we demonstrate that the cytoplasm-to-membrane translocation of the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein-6 (LRP6), a membrane-bound coreceptor for the canonical Wnt pathway, triggers Wnt activity. Optogenetic activation of LRP6 leads to axis duplication in developing Xenopus embryos, indicating that the cytoplasm-to-membrane translocation of the membrane-bound receptor could be a generalizable strategy for the construction of optogenetic systems.
Cell patterning by secretion-induced plasma membrane flows.
Cells self-organize using reaction-diffusion and fluid-flow principles. Whether bulk membrane flows contribute to cell patterning has not been established. Here, using mathematical modelling, optogenetics and synthetic probes, we show that polarized exocytosis causes lateral membrane flows away from regions of membrane insertion. Plasma membrane-associated proteins with sufficiently low diffusion and/or detachment rates couple to the flows and deplete from areas of exocytosis. In rod-shaped fission yeast cells, zones of Cdc42 GTPase activity driving polarized exocytosis are limited by GTPase activating proteins (GAPs). We show that membrane flows pattern the GAP Rga4 distribution and that coupling of a synthetic GAP to membrane flows is sufficient to establish the rod shape. Thus, membrane flows induced by Cdc42-dependent exocytosis form a negative feedback restricting the zone of Cdc42 activity.
Optical regulation of endogenous RhoA reveals selection of cellular responses by signal amplitude.
How protein signaling networks respond to different input strengths is an important but poorly understood problem in cell biology. For example, the small GTPase RhoA regulates both focal adhesion (FA) growth or disassembly, but whether RhoA serves as a switch selecting between cellular outcomes, or if outcomes are simply modulated by additional factors in the cell, is not clear. Here, we develop a photoswitchable RhoA guanine exchange factor, psRhoGEF, to precisely control endogenous RhoA activity. We also develop a FRET-based biosensor to allow visualization of RhoA activity together with psRhoGEF control. Using these new optical tools, we discover that low levels of RhoA activation preferentially induce FA disassembly in a Src-dependent manner, while high levels induce both FA growth and disassembly in a ROCK-dependent manner. Thus, rheostatic control of RhoA activation with photoswitchable RhoGEF reveals that cells can use signal amplitude to produce multiple responses to a single biochemical signal.
PIP2 regulation of TRPC5 channel activation and desensitization.
Transient receptor potential canonical type 5 (TRPC5) ion channels are expressed in the brain and kidney, and have been identified as promising therapeutic targets whose selective inhibition can protect against diseases driven by a leaky kidney filter, such as Focal Segmental Glomerular Sclerosis (FSGS). TRPC5 channels are activated by elevated levels of extracellular Ca2+or lanthanide ions, but also by G protein (Gq/11) stimulation. Phosphatidylinositol bisphosphate (PIP2) hydrolysis by phospholipase C (PLC) enzymes leads to protein kinase C (PKC)-mediated phosphorylation of TRPC5 channels and their subsequent desensitization. However, the roles of PIP2 in activation and maintenance of TRPC5 channel activity via its hydrolysis product diacyl glycerol (DAG), as well as the mechanism of desensitization of TRPC5 activity by DAG-stimulated PKC activity remain unclear. Here, we designed experiments to distinguish between the processes underlying channel activation and inhibition. Using whole-cell patch clamp, we employed an optogenetic tool to dephosphorylate PIP2 and assess channel-PIP2 interactions influenced by activators, such as DAG, or inhibitors, such as PKC phosphorylation. Using total internal reflection microscopy, we assessed channel cell surface density. We show that PIP2 controls both the PKC-mediated inhibition as well as the DAG- and lanthanide-mediated activation of TRPC5 currents via control of gating rather than channel cell surface density. These mechanistic insights promise to aid in the development of more selective and precise inhibitors to block TRPC5 channel activity, and to illuminate new opportunities for targeted therapies for a group of chronic kidney diseases for which there is currently a great unmet need.
Cell division in tissues enables macrophage infiltration.
Migration of cells through diverse tissues is essential for development, immune response and cancer metastasis. To reach their destination, cells must overcome the resistance imposed by complex microenvironments, composed of neighboring cells and extracellular matrix (ECM). While migration through pores and tracks in ECM has been well studied, little is known about cellular traversal into confining cell-dense tissues. Here by combining quantitative live imaging with genetic and optogenetic perturbations we identify a crucial role for cell division during cell migration into tissues. We find that normal embryonic invasion by Drosophila macrophages between the ectoderm and mesoderm absolutely requires division of an epithelial ectodermal cell at the site of entry. Dividing ectodermal cells disassemble ECM attachment formed by Integrin-mediated focal adhesions next to mesodermal cells, allowing macrophages to move their nuclei ahead and invade. Decreasing or increasing the frequency of ectodermal division correspondingly either hinders or promotes macrophage invasion. Reducing the levels of focal adhesion components in the ectoderm allows macrophage entry even in the absence of division. Our study demonstrates the critical importance of division at the entry site to enable in vivo cell invasion by relieving the steric impediment caused by focal adhesions. We thus provide a new perspective on the regulation of cellular movement into tissues.
Optogenetic relaxation of actomyosin contractility uncovers mechanistic roles of cortical tension during cytokinesis.
Actomyosin contractility generated cooperatively by nonmuscle myosin II and actin filaments plays essential roles in a wide range of biological processes, such as cell motility, cytokinesis, and tissue morphogenesis. However, it is still unknown how actomyosin contractility generates force and maintains cellular morphology. Here, we demonstrate an optogenetic method to induce relaxation of actomyosin contractility. The system, named OptoMYPT, combines a catalytic subunit of the type I phosphatase-binding domain of MYPT1 with an optogenetic dimerizer, so that it allows light-dependent recruitment of endogenous PP1c to the plasma membrane. Blue-light illumination was sufficient to induce dephosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains and decrease in traction force at the subcellular level. The OptoMYPT system was further employed to understand the mechanics of actomyosin-based cortical tension and contractile ring tension during cytokinesis. We found that the relaxation of cortical tension at both poles by OptoMYPT accelerated the furrow ingression rate, revealing that the cortical tension substantially antagonizes constriction of the cleavage furrow. Based on these results, the OptoMYPT system will provide new opportunities to understand cellular and tissue mechanics.
Optogenetic-based Localization of Talin to the Plasma Membrane Promotes Activation of β3 Integrins.
Interaction of talin with the cytoplasmic tails of integrin β triggers integrin activation, leading to an increase of integrin affinity/avidity for extracellular ligands. In talin knockout mice, loss of talin interaction with platelet integrin αIIbβ3 causes a severe hemostatic defect, and loss of talin interaction with endothelial cell integrin αVβ3 affects angiogenesis. In normal cells, talin is auto-inhibited and localized in the cytoplasm. Here we employed an optogenetic platform to assess whether recruitment of full-length talin to the plasma membrane was sufficient to induce integrin activation. A dimerization module (CRY2 fused to the N-terminus of talin; CIBN-CAAX) responsive to 450 nm (blue) light was inserted into CHO cells and endothelial cells also expressing αIIbβ3 or αVβ3, respectively. Thus, exposure of the cells to blue light caused a rapid and reversible recruitment of CRY2-talin to the CIBN-CAAX-decorated plasma membrane. This resulted in β3 integrin activation in both cell types, as well as increasing migration of the endothelial cells. However, membrane recruitment of talin was not sufficient for integrin activation, as membrane-associated Rap1-GTP was also required. Moreover, talin mutations that interfered with its direct binding to Rap1 abrogated β3 integrin activation. Altogether, these results define a role for the plasma membrane recruitment of talin in β3 integrin activation, and they suggest a nuanced sequence of events thereafter involving Rap1-GTP.
A single-chain and fast-responding light-inducible Cre recombinase as a novel optogenetic switch.
Optogenetics enables genome manipulations with high spatiotemporal resolution, opening exciting possibilities for fundamental and applied biological research. Here, we report the development of LiCre, a novel light-inducible Cre recombinase. LiCre is made of a single flavin-containing protein comprising the AsLOV2 photoreceptor domain of Avena sativa fused to a Cre variant carrying destabilizing mutations in its N-terminal and C-terminal domains. LiCre can be activated within minutes of illumination with blue light, without the need of additional chemicals. When compared to existing photoactivatable Cre recombinases based on two split units, LiCre displayed faster and stronger activation by light as well as a lower residual activity in the dark. LiCre was efficient both in yeast, where it allowed us to control the production of β-carotene with light, and in human cells. Given its simplicity and performances, LiCre is particularly suited for fundamental and biomedical research, as well as for controlling industrial bioprocesses.
Transient light-activated gene expression in Chinese hamster ovary cells.
Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells are widely used for industrial production of biopharmaceuticals. Many genetic, chemical, and environmental approaches have been developed to modulate cellular pathways to improve titers. However, these methods are often irreversible or have off-target effects. Development of techniques which are precise, tunable, and reversible will facilitate temporal regulation of target pathways to maximize titers. In this study, we investigate the use of optogenetics in CHO cells. The light-activated CRISPR-dCas9 effector (LACE) system was first transiently transfected to express eGFP in a light-inducible manner. Then, a stable system was tested using lentiviral transduction.
A CRISPR-Cas9-Based Near-Infrared Upconversion-Activated DNA Methylation Editing System.
DNA methylation is a kind of a crucial epigenetic marker orchestrating gene expression, molecular function, and cellular phenotype. However, manipulating the methylation status of specific genes remains challenging. Here, a clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats-Cas9-based near-infrared upconversion-activated DNA methylation editing system (CNAMS) was designed for the optogenetic editing of DNA methylation. The fusion proteins of photosensitive CRY2PHR, the catalytic domain of DNMT3A or TET1, and the fusion proteins for CIBN and catalytically inactive Cas9 (dCas9) were engineered. The CNAMS could control DNA methylation editing in response to blue light, thus allowing methylation editing in a spatiotemporal manner. Furthermore, after combination with upconversion nanoparticles, the spectral sensitivity of DNA methylation editing was extended from the blue light to near-infrared (NIR) light, providing the possibility for remote DNA methylation editing. These results demonstrated a meaningful step forward toward realizing the specific editing of DNA methylation, suggesting the wide utility of our CNAMS for functional studies on epigenetic regulation and potential therapeutic strategies for related diseases.
Transcription activation is enhanced by multivalent interactions independent of liquid-liquid phase separation.
Transcription factors (TFs) consist of a DNA binding and an activation domain (AD) that are considered to be independent and exchangeable modules. However, recent studies conclude that also the physico-chemical properties of the AD can control TF assembly at chromatin via driving a phase separation into “transcriptional condensates”. Here, we dissected the mechanism of transcription activation at a reporter gene array with real-time single-cell fluorescence microscopy readouts. Our comparison of different synthetic TFs reveals that the phase separation propensity of the AD correlates with high transcription activation capacity by increasing binding site occupancy, residence time and the recruitment of co-activators. However, we find that the actual formation of phase separated TF liquid-like droplets has a neutral or inhibitory effect on transcription induction. Thus, our study suggests that the ability of a TF to phase separate reflects the functionally important property of the AD to establish multivalent interactions but does not by itself enhance transcription.
A synthetic BRET-based optogenetic device for pulsatile transgene expression enabling glucose homeostasis in mice.
Pulsing cellular dynamics in genetic circuits have been shown to provide critical capabilities to cells in stress response, signaling and development. Despite the fascinating discoveries made in the past few years, the mechanisms and functional capabilities of most pulsing systems remain unclear, and one of the critical challenges is the lack of a technology that allows pulsatile regulation of transgene expression both in vitro and in vivo. Here, we describe the development of a synthetic BRET-based transgene expression (LuminON) system based on a luminescent transcription factor, termed luminGAVPO, by fusing NanoLuc luciferase to the light-switchable transcription factor GAVPO. luminGAVPO allows pulsatile and quantitative activation of transgene expression via both chemogenetic and optogenetic approaches in mammalian cells and mice. Both the pulse amplitude and duration of transgene expression are highly tunable via adjustment of the amount of furimazine. We further demonstrated LuminON-mediated blood-glucose homeostasis in type 1 diabetic mice. We believe that the BRET-based LuminON system with the pulsatile dynamics of transgene expression provides a highly sensitive tool for precise manipulation in biological systems that has strong potential for application in diverse basic biological studies and gene- and cell-based precision therapies in the future.