Showing 1 - 25 of 116 results
DMA-tudor interaction modules control the specificity of in vivo condensates.
Biomolecular condensation is a widespread mechanism of cellular compartmentalization. Because the ‘survival of motor neuron protein’ (SMN) is required for the formation of three different membraneless organelles (MLOs), we hypothesized that at least one region of SMN employs a unifying mechanism of condensation. Unexpectedly, we show here that SMN’s globular tudor domain was sufficient for dimerization-induced condensation in vivo, while its two intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) were not. The condensate-forming property of the SMN tudor domain required binding to its ligand, dimethylarginine (DMA), and was shared by at least seven additional tudor domains in six different proteins. Remarkably, asymmetric versus symmetric DMA determined whether two distinct nuclear MLOs – gems and Cajal bodies – were separate or overlapping. These findings show that the combination of a tudor domain bound to its DMA ligand – DMA-tudor – represents a versatile yet specific interaction module that regulates MLO assembly and defines their composition.
Novel culture system via wirelessly controllable optical stimulation of the FGF signaling pathway for human and pig pluripotency.
Stem cell fate is largely determined by cellular signaling networks and is heavily dependent on the supplementation of exogenous recombinant proteins into culture media; however, uneven distribution and inconsistent stability of recombinant proteins are closely associated with the spontaneous differentiation of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) and result in significant costs in large-scale manufacturing. Here, we report a novel PSC culture system via wirelessly controllable optical activation of the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling pathway without the need for supplementation of recombinant FGF2 protein, a key molecule for maintaining pluripotency of PSCs. Using a fusion protein between the cytoplasmic region of the FGF receptor-1 and a light-oxygen-voltage domain, we achieved tunable, blue light-dependent activation of FGF signaling in human and porcine PSCs. Our data demonstrate that a highly controllable optical stimulation of the FGF signaling pathway is sufficient for long-term maintenance of PSCs, without the loss of differentiation potential into three germ layers. This culture system will be a cost-effective platform for a large-scale stem cell culture.
Genetically-encoded biosensors for analyzing and controlling cellular process in yeast.
Yeast has been a robust platform to manufacture a broad range of biofuels, commodity chemicals, natural products and pharmaceuticals. The membrane-bound organelles in yeast provide us the means to access the specialized metabolism for various biosynthetic applications. The separation and compartmentalization of genetic and metabolic events presents us the opportunity to precisely control and program gene expression for higher order biological functions. To further advance yeast synthetic biology platform, genetically encoded biosensors and actuators haven been engineered for in vivo monitoring and controlling cellular processes with spatiotemporal resolutions. The dynamic response, sensitivity and operational range of these genetically encoded sensors are determined by the regulatory architecture, dynamic assemly and interactions of the related proteins and genetic elements. This review provides an update of the basic design principles underlying the allosteric transcription factors, GPCR and optogenetics-based sensors, aiming to precisely analyze and control yeast cellular processes for various biotechnological applications.
Collective ERK/Akt activity waves orchestrate epithelial homeostasis by driving apoptosis-induced survival.
Cell death events continuously challenge epithelial barrier function, yet are crucial to eliminate old or critically damaged cells. How such apoptotic events are spatio-temporally organized to maintain epithelial homeostasis remains unclear. We observe waves of Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase (ERK) and AKT serine/threonine kinase (Akt) activity pulses that originate from apoptotic cells and propagate radially to healthy surrounding cells. Such a propagation requires Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) signaling. At the single-cell level, ERK/Akt waves act as spatial survival signals that locally protect cells in the vicinity of the epithelial injury from apoptosis for a period of 3-4 hours. At the cell population level, ERK/Akt waves maintain epithelial homeostasis (EH) in response to mild or intense insults. Disruption of this spatial signaling system results in the inability of a model epithelial tissue to ensure barrier function in response to cellular stress.
Engineered Illumination Devices for Optogenetic Control of Cellular Signaling Dynamics.
Spatially and temporally varying patterns of morphogen signals during development drive cell fate specification at the proper location and time. However, current in vitro methods typically do not allow for precise, dynamic spatiotemporal control of morphogen signaling and are thus insufficient to readily study how morphogen dynamics affect cell behavior. Here, we show that optogenetic Wnt/β-catenin pathway activation can be controlled at user-defined intensities, temporal sequences, and spatial patterns using engineered illumination devices for optogenetic photostimulation and light activation at variable amplitudes (LAVA). By patterning human embryonic stem cell (hESC) cultures with varying light intensities, LAVA devices enabled dose-responsive control of optoWnt activation and Brachyury expression. Furthermore, time-varying and spatially localized patterns of light revealed tissue patterning that models the embryonic presentation of Wnt signals in vitro. LAVA devices thus provide a low-cost, user-friendly method for high-throughput and spatiotemporal optogenetic control of cell signaling for applications in developmental and cell biology.
Clustering of the ζ-Chain Can Initiate T Cell Receptor Signaling.
T cell activation is initiated when ligand binding to the T cell receptor (TCR) triggers intracellular phosphorylation of the TCR-CD3 complex. However, it remains unknown how biophysical properties of TCR engagement result in biochemical phosphorylation events. Here, we constructed an optogenetic tool that induces spatial clustering of ζ-chain in a light controlled manner. We showed that spatial clustering of the ζ-chain intracellular tail alone was sufficient to initialize T cell triggering including phosphorylation of ζ-chain, Zap70, PLCγ, ERK and initiated Ca2+ flux. In reconstituted COS-7 cells, only Lck expression was required to initiate ζ-chain phosphorylation upon ζ-chain clustering, which leads to the recruitment of tandem SH2 domain of Zap70 from cell cytosol to the newly formed ζ-chain clusters at the plasma membrane. Taken together, our data demonstrated the biophysical relevance of receptor clustering in TCR signaling.
Optical Activation of TrkB Signaling.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), via activation of tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB), plays a critical role in neuronal proliferation, differentiation, survival, and death. Dysregulation of TrkB signaling is implicated in neurodegenerative disorders and cancers. Precise activation of TrkB signaling with spatial and temporal resolution is greatly desired to study the dynamic nature of TrkB signaling and its role in related diseases. Here we develop different optogenetic approaches that use light to activate TrkB signaling. Utilizing the photosensitive protein Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 (CRY2), the light-inducible homo-interaction of the intracellular domain of TrkB (iTrkB) in the cytosol or on the plasma membrane is able to induce the activation of downstream MAPK/ERK and PI3K/Akt signaling as well as the neurite outgrowth of PC12 cells. Moreover, we prove that such strategies are generalizable to other optical homo-dimerizers by demonstrating the optical TrkB activation based on the light-oxygen-voltage domain of aureochrome 1 from Vaucheria frigida. The results open up new possibilities of many other optical platforms to activate TrkB signaling to fulfill customized needs. By comparing all the different strategies, we find that the CRY2-integrated approach to achieve light-induced cell membrane recruitment and homo-interaction of iTrkB is most efficient in activating TrkB signaling. The optogenetic strategies presented are promising tools to investigate BDNF/TrkB signaling with tight spatial and temporal control.
CLIC4 is a cytokinetic cleavage furrow protein that regulates cortical cytoskeleton stability during cell division.
During mitotic cell division, the actomyosin cytoskeleton undergoes several dynamic changes that play key roles in progression through mitosis. Although the regulators of cytokinetic ring formation and contraction are well established, proteins that regulate cortical stability during anaphase and telophase have been understudied. Here, we describe a role for CLIC4 in regulating actin and actin regulators at the cortex and cytokinetic cleavage furrow during cytokinesis. We first describe CLIC4 as a new component of the cytokinetic cleavage furrow that is required for successful completion of mitotic cell division. We also demonstrate that CLIC4 regulates the remodeling of the sub-plasma-membrane actomyosin network within the furrow by recruiting MST4 kinase (also known as STK26) and regulating ezrin phosphorylation. This work identifies and characterizes new molecular players involved in regulating cortex stiffness and blebbing during the late stages of cytokinetic furrowing.
The oligomeric structures of plant cryptochromes.
Cryptochromes (CRYs) are a group of evolutionarily conserved flavoproteins found in many organisms. In plants, the well-studied CRY photoreceptor, activated by blue light, plays essential roles in plant growth and development. However, the mechanism of activation remains largely unknown. Here, we determined the oligomeric structures of the blue-light-perceiving PHR domain of Zea mays CRY1 and an Arabidopsis CRY2 constitutively active mutant. The structures form dimers and tetramers whose functional importance is examined in vitro and in vivo with Arabidopsis CRY2. Structure-based analysis suggests that blue light may be perceived by CRY to cause conformational changes, whose precise nature remains to be determined, leading to oligomerization that is essential for downstream signaling. This photoactivation mechanism may be widely used by plant CRYs. Our study reveals a molecular mechanism of plant CRY activation and also paves the way for design of CRY as a more efficient optical switch.
Structural insights into BIC-mediated inactivation of Arabidopsis cryptochrome 2.
Cryptochromes (CRYs) are blue-light receptors in plants that harbor FAD as a cofactor and regulate various physiological responses. Photoactivated CRYs undergo oligomerization, which increases the binding affinity to downstream signaling partners. Despite decades of research on the activation of CRYs, little is known about how they are inactivated. Binding of blue-light inhibitors of cryptochromes (BICs) to CRY2 suppresses its photoactivation, but the underlying mechanism remains unknown. Here, we report crystal structures of CRY2N (CRY2 PHR domain) and the BIC2-CRY2N complex with resolutions of 2.7 and 2.5 Å, respectively. In the BIC2-CRY2N complex, BIC2 exhibits an extremely extended structure that sinuously winds around CRY2N. In this way, BIC2 not only restrains the transfer of electrons and protons from CRY2 to FAD during photoreduction but also interacts with the CRY2 oligomer to return it to the monomer form. Uncovering the mechanism of CRY2 inactivation lays a solid foundation for the investigation of cryptochrome protein function.
Using optogenetics to tackle systems-level questions of multicellular morphogenesis.
Morphogenesis of multicellular systems is governed by precise spatiotemporal regulation of biochemical reactions and mechanical forces which together with environmental conditions determine the development of complex organisms. Current efforts in the field aim at decoding the system-level principles underlying the regulation of developmental processes. Toward this goal, optogenetics, the science of regulation of protein function with light, is emerging as a powerful new tool to quantitatively perturb protein function in vivo with unprecedented precision in space and time. In this review, we provide an overview of how optogenetics is helping to address system-level questions of multicellular morphogenesis and discuss future directions.
A STIMulating journey into optogenetic engineering.
Genetically-encoded calcium actuators (GECAs) stemmed from STIM1 have enabled optical activation of endogenous ORAI1 channels in both excitable and non-excitable tissues. These GECAs offer new non-invasive means to probe the structure-function relations of calcium channels and wirelessly control the behavior of awake mice.
Dynamic Fas signaling network regulates neural stem cell proliferation and memory enhancement.
Activation of Fas (CD95) is observed in various neurological disorders and can lead to both apoptosis and prosurvival outputs, yet how Fas signaling operates dynamically in the hippocampus is poorly understood. The optogenetic dissection of a signaling network can yield molecular-level explanations for cellular responses or fates, including the signaling dysfunctions seen in numerous diseases. Here, we developed an optogenetically activatable Fas that works in a physiologically plausible manner. Fas activation in immature neurons of the dentate gyrus triggered mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activation and subsequent brain-derived neurotrophic factor secretion. Phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk) in neural stem cells was induced under prolonged Fas activation. Repetitive activation of this signaling network yielded proliferation of neural stem cells and a transient increase in spatial working memory in mice. Our results demonstrate a novel Fas signaling network in the dentate gyrus and illuminate its consequences for adult neurogenesis and memory enhancement.
Application of optogenetic Amyloid-β distinguishes between metabolic and physical damage in neurodegeneration.
The brains of Alzheimer's Disease patients show a decrease in brain mass and a preponderance of extracellular Amyloid-β plaques. These plaques are formed by aggregation of polypeptides that are derived from the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP). Amyloid-β plaques are thought to play either a direct or an indirect role in disease progression, however the exact role of aggregation and plaque formation in the aetiology of Alzheimer's Disease is subject to debate as the biological effects of soluble and aggregated Amyloid-β peptides are difficult to separate in vivo. To investigate the consequences of formation of Amyloid-β oligomers in living tissues, we developed a fluorescently tagged, optogenetic Amyloid-β peptide that oligomerizes rapidly in the presence of blue light. We applied this system to the crucial question of how intracellular Amyloid-β oligomers underlie the pathologies of Alzheimer's Disease. We use Drosophila, C. elegans and D. rerio to show that, although both expression and induced oligomerization of Amyloid-β were detrimental to lifespan and healthspan, we were able to separate the metabolic and physical damage caused by light-induced Amyloid-β oligomerization from Amyloid-β expression alone. The physical damage caused by Amyloid-β oligomers also recapitulated the catastrophic tissue loss that is a hallmark of late AD. We show that the lifespan deficit induced by Amyloid-β oligomers was reduced with Li+ treatment. Our results present the first model to separate different aspects of disease progression.
An Optogenetic Method to Study Signal Transduction in Intestinal StemCell Homeostasis.
Homeostasis in adult organs involves replacement of cells from a stem cell pool maintained in specialized niches regulated by extracellular signals. This cell-to-cell communication employs signal transduction pathways allowing cells to respond with a variety of behaviors. To study these cellular behaviors, signaling must be perturbed within tissues in precise patterns, a technique recently made possible by the development of optogenetic tools. We developed tools to study signal transduction in vivo in an adult fly midgut stem cell model where signaling was regulated by the application of light. Activation was achieved by clustering of membrane receptors EGFR and Toll, while inactivation was achieved by clustering the downstream activators ERK/Rolled and NFκB/Dorsal in the cytoplasm, preventing nuclear translocation and transcriptional activation. We show that both pathways contribute to stem and transit amplifying cell numbers and affect the lifespan of adult flies. We further present new approaches to overcome overexpression phenotypes and novel methods for the integration of optogenetics into the already-established genetic toolkit of Drosophila.
Robustness of epithelial sealing is an emerging property of local ERK feedbacks driven by cell elimination.
While the pathways regulating apoptosis and cell extrusion are rather well described1,2, what regulates the precise spatio-temporal distribution of cell elimination in tissues remains largely unknown. This is particularly relevant for epithelia with high rates of cell elimination, a widespread situation during embryogenesis3-6 and homeostasis7, where concomitant death of neigbours could impair the maintenance of epithelial sealing. However, the extent to which epithelial tissues can cope with concomitant cell death, and whether any mechanism regulates such occurrence have never been explored so far. Here, using the Drosophila pupal notum (a single layer epithelium) and a new optogenetic tool to trigger caspase activation and cell extrusion, we first show that concomitant death of clusters of at least three cells is sufficient to transiently impair epithelial sealing. Such clustered extrusion was almost never observed in vivo, suggesting the existence of a mechanism preventing concomitant elimination of neighbours. Statistical analysis of cell death distribution in the notum highlighted a transient and local protective phase occurring near every dying cell. This protection is driven by a transient activation of ERK in the direct neighbours of extruding cells which reverts caspase activation and prevents elimination of cells in clusters. Altogether, this study demonstrates that the distribution of cell elimination in epithelia is an emerging property of transient and local feedbacks through ERK activation which is required to maintain epithelial sealing in conditions of high rate of cell elimination.
Optogenetic manipulation of calcium signals in single T cells in vivo.
By offering the possibility to manipulate cellular functions with spatiotemporal control, optogenetics represents an attractive tool for dissecting immune responses. However, applying these approaches to single cells in vivo remains particularly challenging for immune cells that are typically located in scattering tissues. Here, we introduce an improved calcium actuator with sensitivity allowing for two-photon photoactivation. Furthermore, we identify an actuator/reporter combination that permits the simultaneous manipulation and visualization of calcium signals in individual T cells in vivo. With this strategy, we document the consequences of defined patterns of calcium signals on T cell migration, adhesion, and chemokine release. Manipulation of individual immune cells in vivo should open new avenues for establishing the functional contribution of single immune cells engaged in complex reactions.
Optogenetic modulation of TrkB signaling in the mouse brain.
Optogenetic activation of receptors has advantages compared with chemical or ligand treatment because of its high spatial and temporal precision. Especially in the brain, the use of a genetically encoded light-tunable receptor is superior to direct infusion or systemic drug treatment. We applied light activatable TrkB receptor in mouse brain with reduced basal activity by incorporating Cry2PHR mutant, Opto-cytTrkB(E281A). Upon AAV mediated gene delivery, this form was expressed at sufficient levels in the mouse hippocampus (HPC) and medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) retaining normal canonical signal transduction by blue light stimulus, even by delivery of non-invasive LED light on the mouse head. Within target cells, where its expression was driven by a cell type-specific promoter, Opto-cytTrkB(E281A)-mediated TrkB signaling could be controlled by adjusting light-stimulation conditions. We further demonstrated that Opto-cytTrkB(E281A) could locally induce TrkB signaling in axon terminals in the MEC-HPC. In summary, Opto-cytTrkB(E281A) will be useful for elucidating time- and region-specific roles of TrkB signaling ranging from cellular function to neural circuit mechanisms.
Non-invasive optical control of endogenous Ca2+ channels in awake mice.
Optogenetic approaches for controlling Ca2+ channels provide powerful means for modulating diverse Ca2+-specific biological events in space and time. However, blue light-responsive photoreceptors are, in principle, considered inadequate for deep tissue stimulation unless accompanied by optic fiber insertion. Here, we present an ultra-light-sensitive optogenetic Ca2+ modulator, named monSTIM1 encompassing engineered cryptochrome2 for manipulating Ca2+ signaling in the brain of awake mice through non-invasive light delivery. Activation of monSTIM1 in either excitatory neurons or astrocytes of mice brain is able to induce Ca2+-dependent gene expression without any mechanical damage in the brain. Furthermore, we demonstrate that non-invasive Ca2+ modulation in neurons can be sufficiently and effectively translated into changes in behavioral phenotypes of awake mice.
Optogenetic approaches to investigate spatiotemporal signaling during development.
Embryogenesis is coordinated by signaling pathways that pattern the developing organism. Many aspects of this process are not fully understood, including how signaling molecules spread through embryonic tissues, how signaling amplitude and dynamics are decoded, and how multiple signaling pathways cooperate to pattern the body plan. Optogenetic approaches can be used to address these questions by providing precise experimental control over a variety of biological processes. Here, we review how these strategies have provided new insights into developmental signaling and discuss how they could contribute to future investigations.
Optical activation of TrkB receptors.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), via activation of tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB), plays a critical role in neuronal proliferation, differentiation, survival, and death. Dysregulation of TrkB signaling is implicated in neurodegenerative disorders and cancers. Precise activation of TrkB receptors with spatial and temporal resolution is greatly desired to study the dynamic nature of TrkB signaling and its role in related diseases. Here we develop different optogenetic approaches that use light to activate TrkB receptors. Utilizing the photosensitive protein Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 (CRY2), the light-inducible homo-interaction of the intracellular domain of TrkB (iTrkB) in the cytosol or on the plasma membrane is able to induce the activation of downstream MAPK/ERK and PI3K/Akt signaling as well as the neurite outgrowth of PC12 cells. Moreover, we prove that such strategies are generalizable to other optical homo-dimerizers by demonstrating the optical TrkB activation based on the light-oxygen-voltage domain of aureochrome 1 from Vaucheria frigida. The results open up new possibilities of many other optical platforms to activate TrkB receptors to fulfill customized needs. By comparing all the different strategies, we find that the CRY2-integrated approach to achieve light-induced cell membrane recruitment and homo-interaction of iTrkB is most efficient in activating TrkB receptors. The optogenetic strategies presented are promising tools to investigate BDNF/TrkB signaling with tight spatial and temporal control.
Single-Molecule Analysis and Engineering of DNA Motors.
Molecular motors are diverse enzymes that transduce chemical energy into mechanical work and, in doing so, perform critical cellular functions such as DNA replication and transcription, DNA supercoiling, intracellular transport, and ATP synthesis. Single-molecule techniques have been extensively used to identify structural intermediates in the reaction cycles of molecular motors and to understand how substeps in energy consumption drive transitions between the intermediates. Here, we review a broad spectrum of single-molecule tools and techniques such as optical and magnetic tweezers, atomic force microscopy (AFM), single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer (smFRET), nanopore tweezers, and hybrid techniques that increase the number of observables. These methods enable the manipulation of individual biomolecules via the application of forces and torques and the observation of dynamic conformational changes in single motor complexes. We also review how these techniques have been applied to study various motors such as helicases, DNA and RNA polymerases, topoisomerases, nucleosome remodelers, and motors involved in the condensation, segregation, and digestion of DNA. In-depth analysis of mechanochemical coupling in molecular motors has made the development of artificially engineered motors possible. We review techniques such as mutagenesis, chemical modifications, and optogenetics that have been used to re-engineer existing molecular motors to have, for instance, altered speed, processivity, or functionality. We also discuss how single-molecule analysis of engineered motors allows us to challenge our fundamental understanding of how molecular motors transduce energy.
Locally Activating TrkB Receptor Generates Actin Waves and Specifies Axonal Fate.
Actin waves are filamentous actin (F-actin)-rich structures that initiate in the somato-neuritic area and move toward neurite ends. The upstream cues that initiate actin waves are poorly understood. Here, using an optogenetic approach (Opto-cytTrkB), we found that local activation of the TrkB receptor around the neurite end initiates actin waves and triggers neurite elongation. During actin wave generation, locally activated TrkB signaling in the distal neurite was functionally connected with preferentially localized Rac1 and its signaling pathways in the proximal region. Moreover, TrkB activity changed the location of ankyrinG--the master organizer of the axonal initial segment-and initiated the stimulated neurite to acquire axonal characteristics. Taken together, these findings suggest that local Opto-cytTrkB activation switches the fate from minor to major axonal neurite during neuronal polarization by generating actin waves.
Principles and applications of optogenetics in developmental biology.
The development of multicellular organisms is controlled by highly dynamic molecular and cellular processes organized in spatially restricted patterns. Recent advances in optogenetics are allowing protein function to be controlled with the precision of a pulse of laser light in vivo, providing a powerful new tool to perturb developmental processes at a wide range of spatiotemporal scales. In this Primer, we describe the most commonly used optogenetic tools, their application in developmental biology and in the nascent field of synthetic morphogenesis.
Optogenetics sheds new light on tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
Optogenetics has demonstrated great potential in the fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, from basic research to clinical applications. Spatiotemporal encoding during individual development has been widely identified and is considered a novel strategy for regeneration. A as a noninvasive method with high spatiotemporal resolution, optogenetics are suitable for this strategy. In this review, we discuss roles of dynamic signal coding in cell physiology and embryonic development. Several optogenetic systems are introduced as ideal optogenetic tools, and their features are compared. In addition, potential applications of optogenetics for tissue engineering are discussed, including light-controlled genetic engineering and regulation of signaling pathways. Furthermore, we present how emerging biomaterials and photoelectric technologies have greatly promoted the clinical application of optogenetics and inspired new concepts for optically controlled therapies. Our summation of currently available data conclusively demonstrates that optogenetic tools are a promising method for elucidating and simulating developmental processes, thus providing vast prospects for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications.