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 38 results
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Optogenetic activators of apoptosis, necroptosis, and pyroptosis.

blue CRY2olig Caco-2 HaCaT HEK293T HeLa MCF7 RAW264.7 zebrafish in vivo Cell death
J Cell Biol, 14 Apr 2022 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.202109038 Link to full text
Abstract: Targeted and specific induction of cell death in an individual or groups of cells hold the potential for new insights into the response of tissues or organisms to different forms of death. Here, we report the development of optogenetically controlled cell death effectors (optoCDEs), a novel class of optogenetic tools that enables light-mediated induction of three types of programmed cell death (PCD)-apoptosis, pyroptosis, and necroptosis-using Arabidopsis thaliana photosensitive protein Cryptochrome-2. OptoCDEs enable a rapid and highly specific induction of PCD in human, mouse, and zebrafish cells and are suitable for a wide range of applications, such as sub-lethal cell death induction or precise elimination of single cells or cell populations in vitro and in vivo. As the proof-of-concept, we utilize optoCDEs to assess the differences in neighboring cell responses to apoptotic or necrotic PCD, revealing a new role for shingosine-1-phosphate signaling in regulating the efferocytosis of the apoptotic cell by epithelia.

WNK kinases sense molecular crowding and rescue cell volume via phase separation.

blue CRY2olig HEK293 Organelle manipulation
bioRxiv, 11 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.01.10.475707 Link to full text
Abstract: When challenged by hypertonicity, dehydrated cells must defend their volume to survive. This process requires the phosphorylation-dependent regulation of SLC12 cation chloride transporters by WNK kinases, but how these kinases are activated by cell shrinkage remains unknown. Within seconds of cell exposure to hypertonicity, WNK1 concentrates into membraneless droplets, initiating a phosphorylation-dependent signal that drives net ion influx via the SLC12 cotransporters to rescue volume. The formation of WNK1 condensates is driven by its intrinsically disordered C-terminus, whose evolutionarily conserved signatures are necessary for efficient phase separation and volume recovery. This disorder-encoded phase behavior occurs within physiological constraints and is activated in vivo by molecular crowding rather than changes in cell size. This allows WNK1 to bypass a strengthened ionic milieu that favors kinase inactivity and reclaim cell volume through condensate-mediated signal amplification. Thus, WNK kinases are physiological crowding sensors that phase separate to coordinate a cell volume rescue response.

Optogenetic Manipulation of Cell Migration with High Spatiotemporal Resolution Using Lattice Lightsheet Microscopy.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CRY2olig U-2 OS Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
bioRxiv, 2 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.01.02.474058 Link to full text
Abstract: Lattice lightsheet microscopy (LLSM) is modified with the aim of manipulating cellular behavior with subcellular resolution through three-dimensional (3D) optogenetic activation. In this study, we report a straightforward implementation of the activation source in LLSM in which the stimulating light can be generated by changing the spatial light modulator (SLM) patterns and the annual masks. As a result, a Bessel beam as a stimulation source is integrated into the LLSM without changing the optical configuration, achieving high spatiotemporal activation. We show that the energy power required for optogenetic reactions is lower than 1 nW (24 mW/cm2) and membrane ruffling can be activated at different locations within a cell with subcellular resolution. We also demonstrate guided cell migration using optogenetic stimulation for up to 6 h with 463 volume imaging without noticeable damage to cells.

CeLINC, a fluorescence-based protein-protein interaction assay in Caenorhabditis elegans.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CRY2olig C. elegans in vivo Organelle manipulation
Genetics, 10 Dec 2021 DOI: 10.1093/genetics/iyab163 Link to full text
Abstract: 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 Caenorhabditis elegans light-induced coclustering (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. Colocalization 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.

Activation of endoplasmic reticulum stress via clustering of inner nuclear membrane proteins.

blue CRY2olig HEK293FT U-2 OS Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 14 Sep 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.09.14.460295 Link to full text
Abstract: One of the major cellular mechanisms to ensure protein homeostasis is the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response. This pathway is typically triggered by accumulation of misfolded proteins in the ER lumen. Here we describe activation of ER stress via protein aggregation in the cell nucleus. We find in the premature aging disease Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS) activation of ER stress due to the aggregation of the diseases-causing progerin protein at the nuclear envelope. The presence of nucleoplasmic protein aggregates is sensed and signaled to the ER lumen via immobilization and clustering of theinner nuclear membrane protein SUN2, leading to activation of the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR). These results identify a nuclear trigger of ER stress and they provide insight into the molecular disease mechanisms of HGPS.

Optogenetic activators of apoptosis, necroptosis and pyroptosis for probing cell death dynamics and bystander cell responses.

blue CRY2olig Caco-2 HaCaT HeLa MCF7 RAW264.7 Cell death
bioRxiv, 31 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.08.31.458313 Link to full text
Abstract: Targeted and specific induction of cell death in individual or groups of cells holds the potential for new insights into the response of tissues or organisms to different forms of death. Here we report the development of optogenetically-controlled cell death effectors (optoCDEs), a novel class of optogenetic tools that enables light-mediated induction of three types of programmed cell death (PCD) – apoptosis, pyroptosis and necroptosis – using Arabidopsis thaliana photosensitive protein Cryptochrome2. OptoCDEs enable rapid and highly specific induction of PCD in human, mouse and zebrafish cells and are suitable for a wide range of applications, such as sub-lethal cell death induction or precise elimination of single cells or cell populations in vitro and in vivo. As the proof-of-concept, we utilize optoCDEs to assess the differences in the neighboring cell response to apoptotic or necrotic PCD, revealing a new role for shingosine-1-phosphate signaling in regulating the efferocytosis of apoptotic cell by epithelia.

Interaction of tau with HNRNPA2B1 and N6-methyladenosine RNA mediates the progression of tauopathy.

blue CRY2olig HEK293T Neuro-2a primary mouse cortical neurons SH-SY5Y Organelle manipulation
Mol Cell, 20 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2021.07.038 Link to full text
Abstract: The microtubule-associated protein tau oligomerizes, but the actions of oligomeric tau (oTau) are unknown. We have used Cry2-based optogenetics to induce tau oligomers (oTau-c). Optical induction of oTau-c elicits tau phosphorylation, aggregation, and a translational stress response that includes stress granules and reduced protein synthesis. Proteomic analysis identifies HNRNPA2B1 as a principle target of oTau-c. The association of HNRNPA2B1 with endogenous oTau was verified in neurons, animal models, and human Alzheimer brain tissues. Mechanistic studies demonstrate that HNRNPA2B1 functions as a linker, connecting oTau with N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modified RNA transcripts. Knockdown of HNRNPA2B1 prevents oTau or oTau-c from associating with m6A or from reducing protein synthesis and reduces oTau-induced neurodegeneration. Levels of m6A and the m6A-oTau-HNRNPA2B1 complex are increased up to 5-fold in the brains of Alzheimer subjects and P301S tau mice. These results reveal a complex containing oTau, HNRNPA2B1, and m6A that contributes to the integrated stress response of oTau.

Photon Upconversion Hydrogels for 3D Optogenetics.

blue CRY2olig HeLa
Adv Funct Mater, 4 Jun 2021 DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202010907 Link to full text
Abstract: The ability to optically induce biological responses in 3D has been dwarfed by the physical limitations of visible light penetration to trigger photochemical processes. However, many biological systems are relatively transparent to low-energy light, which does not provide sufficient energy to induce photochemistry in 3D. To overcome this challenge, hydrogels that are capable of converting red or near-IR (NIR) light into blue light within the cell-laden 3D scaffolds are developed. The upconverted light can then excite optically active proteins in cells to trigger a photochemical response. The hydrogels operate by triplet–triplet annihilation upconversion. As proof-of-principle, it is found that the hydrogels trigger an optogenetic response by red/NIR irradiation of HeLa cells that have been engineered to express the blue-light sensitive protein Cry2olig. While it is remarkable to photoinduce the clustering of Cry2olig with blanket NIR irradiation in 3D, it is also demonstrated how the hydrogels trigger clustering within a single cell with great specificity and spatiotemporal control. In principle, these hydrogels may allow for photochemical control of cell function within 3D scaffolds, which can lead to a wealth of fundamental studies and biochemical applications.

Rac1 activation can generate untemplated, lamellar membrane ruffles.

blue AsLOV2 CRY2olig HeLa hTERT RPE-1 Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
BMC Biol, 13 Apr 2021 DOI: 10.1186/s12915-021-00997-3 Link to full text
Abstract: Membrane protrusions that occur on the dorsal surface of a cell are an excellent experimental system to study actin machinery at work in a living cell. Small GTPase Rac1 controls the membrane protrusions that form and encapsulate extracellular volumes to perform pinocytic or phagocytic functions.

A modular tool to query and inducibly disrupt biomolecular condensates.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CRY2olig Cos-7 HEK293T Organelle manipulation
Nat Commun, 22 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22096-1 Link to full text
Abstract: Dynamic membraneless compartments formed by protein condensates have multifunctional roles in cellular biology. Tools that inducibly trigger condensate formation have been useful for exploring their cellular function, however, there are few tools that provide inducible control over condensate disruption. To address this need we developed DisCo (Disassembly of Condensates), which relies on the use of chemical dimerizers to inducibly recruit a ligand to the condensate-forming protein, triggering condensate dissociation. We demonstrate use of DisCo to disrupt condensates of FUS, associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and to prevent formation of polyglutamine-containing huntingtin condensates, associated with Huntington's disease. In addition, we combined DisCo with a tool to induce condensates with light, CRY2olig, achieving bidirectional control of condensate formation and disassembly using orthogonal inputs of light and rapamycin. Our results demonstrate a method to manipulate condensate states that will have broad utility, enabling better understanding of the biological role of condensates in health and disease.

Optogenetic manipulation of cellular communication using engineered myosin motors.

blue CRY2olig Ambystoma mexicanum in vivo C3H/10T1/2 Cos-7 Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Nat Cell Biol, 1 Feb 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41556-020-00625-2 Link to full text
Abstract: Cells achieve highly efficient and accurate communication through cellular projections such as neurites and filopodia, yet there is a lack of genetically encoded tools that can selectively manipulate their composition and dynamics. Here, we present a versatile optogenetic toolbox of artificial multi-headed myosin motors that can move bidirectionally within long cellular extensions and allow for the selective transport of GFP-tagged cargo with light. Utilizing these engineered motors, we could transport bulky transmembrane receptors and organelles as well as actin remodellers to control the dynamics of both filopodia and neurites. Using an optimized in vivo imaging scheme, we further demonstrate that, upon limb amputation in axolotls, a complex array of filopodial extensions is formed. We selectively modulated these filopodial extensions and showed that they re-establish a Sonic Hedgehog signalling gradient during regeneration. Considering the ubiquitous existence of actin-based extensions, this toolbox shows the potential to manipulate cellular communication with unprecedented accuracy.

The proline-rich domain promotes Tau liquid-liquid phase separation in cells.

blue CRY2olig SH-SY5Y Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Organelle manipulation
J Cell Biol, 2 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.202006054 Link to full text
Abstract: Tau protein in vitro can undergo liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS); however, observations of this phase transition in living cells are limited. To investigate protein state transitions in living cells, we attached Cry2 to Tau and studied the contribution of each domain that drives the Tau cluster in living cells. Surprisingly, the proline-rich domain (PRD), not the microtubule binding domain (MTBD), drives LLPS and does so under the control of its phosphorylation state. Readily observable, PRD-derived cytoplasmic condensates underwent fusion and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching consistent with the PRD LLPS in vitro. Simulations demonstrated that the charge properties of the PRD predicted phase separation. Tau PRD formed heterotypic condensates with EB1, a regulator of plus-end microtubule dynamic instability. The specific domain properties of the MTBD and PRD serve distinct but mutually complementary roles that use LLPS in a cellular context to implement emergent functionalities that scale their relationship from binding α-beta tubulin heterodimers to the larger proportions of microtubules.

Nucleated transcriptional condensates amplify gene expression.

blue CRY2olig NIH/3T3 Endogenous gene expression Organelle manipulation
Nat Cell Biol, 14 Sep 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41556-020-00578-6 Link to full text
Abstract: Membraneless organelles or condensates form through liquid-liquid phase separation1-4, which is thought to underlie gene transcription through condensation of the large-scale nucleolus5-7 or in smaller assemblies known as transcriptional condensates8-11. Transcriptional condensates have been hypothesized to phase separate at particular genomic loci and locally promote the biomolecular interactions underlying gene expression. However, there have been few quantitative biophysical tests of this model in living cells, and phase separation has not yet been directly linked with dynamic transcriptional outputs12,13. Here, we apply an optogenetic approach to show that FET-family transcriptional regulators exhibit a strong tendency to phase separate within living cells, a process that can drive localized RNA transcription. We find that TAF15 has a unique charge distribution among the FET family members that enhances its interactions with the C-terminal domain of RNA polymerase II. Nascent C-terminal domain clusters at primed genomic loci lower the energetic barrier for nucleation of TAF15 condensates, which in turn further recruit RNA polymerase II to drive transcriptional output. These results suggest that positive feedback between interacting transcriptional components drives localized phase separation to amplify gene expression.

Optogenetic TDP-43 nucleation induces persistent insoluble species and progressive motor dysfunction in vivo.

blue CRY2olig D. melanogaster in vivo Organelle manipulation
Neurobiol Dis, 11 Sep 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.nbd.2020.105078 Link to full text
Abstract: TDP-43 is a predominantly nuclear DNA/RNA binding protein that is often mislocalized into insoluble cytoplasmic inclusions in post-mortem patient tissue in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders, most notably, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a fatal and progressive neuromuscular disorder. The underlying causes of TDP-43 proteinopathies remain unclear, but recent studies indicate the formation of these protein assemblies is driven by aberrant phase transitions of RNA deficient TDP-43. Technical limitations have prevented our ability to understand how TDP-43 proteinopathy relates to disease pathogenesis. Current animal models of TDP-43 proteinopathy often rely on overexpression of wild-type TDP-43 to non-physiological levels that may initiate neurotoxicity through nuclear gain of function mechanisms, or by the expression of disease-causing mutations found in only a fraction of ALS patients. New technologies allowing for light-responsive control of subcellular protein crowding provide a promising approach to drive intracellular protein aggregation, as we have previously demonstrated in vitro. Here we present a model for the optogenetic induction of TDP-43 aggregation in Drosophila that recapitulates key biochemical features seen in patient pathology, most notably light-inducible persistent insoluble species and progressive motor dysfunction. These data describe a photokinetic in vivo model that could be as a future platform to identify novel genetic and pharmacological modifiers of diseases associated with TDP-43 neuropathology.

Phosphofructokinase Relocalizes into Subcellular Compartments with Liquid-like Properties In Vivo.

blue CRY2olig C. elegans in vivo Organelle manipulation
Biophys J, 12 Aug 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2020.08.002 Link to full text
Abstract: Although much is known about the biochemical regulation of glycolytic enzymes, less is understood about how they are organized inside cells. We systematically examine the dynamic subcellular localization of glycolytic protein phosphofructokinase-1/PFK-1.1 in Caenorhabditis elegans. We determine that endogenous PFK-1.1 localizes to subcellular compartments in vivo. In neurons, PFK-1.1 forms phase-separated condensates near synapses in response to energy stress from transient hypoxia. Restoring animals to normoxic conditions results in cytosolic dispersion of PFK-1.1. PFK-1.1 condensates exhibit liquid-like properties, including spheroid shapes due to surface tension, fluidity due to deformations, and fast internal molecular rearrangements. Heterologous self-association domain cryptochrome 2 promotes formation of PFK-1.1 condensates and recruitment of aldolase/ALDO-1. PFK-1.1 condensates do not correspond to stress granules and might represent novel metabolic subcompartments. Our studies indicate that glycolytic protein PFK-1.1 can dynamically form condensates in vivo.

m6A-binding YTHDF proteins promote stress granule formation.

blue CRY2olig U-2 OS
Nat Chem Biol, 25 May 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41589-020-0524-y Link to full text
Abstract: Diverse RNAs and RNA-binding proteins form phase-separated, membraneless granules in cells under stress conditions. However, the role of the prevalent mRNA methylation, m6A, and its binding proteins in stress granule (SG) assembly remain unclear. Here, we show that m6A-modified mRNAs are enriched in SGs, and that m6A-binding YTHDF proteins are critical for SG formation. Depletion of YTHDF1/3 inhibits SG formation and recruitment of mRNAs to SGs. Both the N-terminal intrinsically disordered region and the C-terminal m6A-binding YTH domain of YTHDF proteins are important for SG formation. Super-resolution imaging further reveals that YTHDF proteins appear to be in a super-saturated state, forming clusters that often reside in the periphery of or at the junctions between SG core clusters, and potentially promote SG formation by reducing the activation energy barrier and critical size for SG condensate formation. Our results suggest a new function of the m6A-binding YTHDF proteins in regulating SG formation.

Composition-dependent thermodynamics of intracellular phase separation.

blue CRY2olig HeLa Organelle manipulation
Nature, 6 May 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2256-2 Link to full text
Abstract: Intracellular bodies such as nucleoli, Cajal bodies and various signalling assemblies represent membraneless organelles, or condensates, that form via liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS)1,2. Biomolecular interactions-particularly homotypic interactions mediated by self-associating intrinsically disordered protein regions-are thought to underlie the thermodynamic driving forces for LLPS, forming condensates that can facilitate the assembly and processing of biochemically active complexes, such as ribosomal subunits within the nucleolus. Simplified model systems3-6 have led to the concept that a single fixed saturation concentration is a defining feature of endogenous LLPS7-9, and has been suggested as a mechanism for intracellular concentration buffering2,7,8,10. However, the assumption of a fixed saturation concentration remains largely untested within living cells, in which the richly multicomponent nature of condensates could complicate this simple picture. Here we show that heterotypic multicomponent interactions dominate endogenous LLPS, and give rise to nucleoli and other condensates that do not exhibit a fixed saturation concentration. As the concentration of individual components is varied, their partition coefficients change in a manner that can be used to determine the thermodynamic free energies that underlie LLPS. We find that heterotypic interactions among protein and RNA components stabilize various archetypal intracellular condensates-including the nucleolus, Cajal bodies, stress granules and P-bodies-implying that the composition of condensates is finely tuned by the thermodynamics of the underlying biomolecular interaction network. In the context of RNA-processing condensates such as the nucleolus, this manifests in the selective exclusion of fully assembled ribonucleoprotein complexes, providing a thermodynamic basis for vectorial ribosomal RNA flux out of the nucleolus. This methodology is conceptually straightforward and readily implemented, and can be broadly used to extract thermodynamic parameters from microscopy images. These approaches pave the way for a deeper understanding of the thermodynamics of multicomponent intracellular phase behaviour and its interplay with the nonequilibrium activity that is characteristic of endogenous condensates.

Nuclear actin regulates inducible transcription by enhancing RNA polymerase II clustering.

blue CRY2olig U-2 OS Organelle manipulation
Sci Adv, 15 Apr 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay6515 Link to full text
Abstract: Gene expression in response to external stimuli underlies a variety of fundamental cellular processes. However, how the transcription machinery is regulated under these scenarios is largely unknown. Here, we discover a novel role of nuclear actin in inducible transcriptional regulation using next-generation transcriptome sequencing and super-resolution microscopy. The RNA-seq data reveal that nuclear actin is required for the establishment of the serum-induced transcriptional program. Using super-resolution imaging, we found a remarkable enhancement of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) clustering upon serum stimulation and this enhancement requires the presence of nuclear actin. To study the molecular mechanisms, we firstly observed that Pol II clusters co-localized with the serum-response genes and nuclear actin polymerized in adjacent to Pol II clusters upon serum stimulation. Furthermore, N-WASP and Arp2/3 are reported to interact with Pol II, and we demonstrated N-WASP is required for serum-enhanced Pol II clustering. Importantly, using an optogenetic tool, we revealed that N-WASP phase-separated with the carboxy-terminal domain of Pol II and nuclear actin. In addition to serum stimulation, we found nuclear actin also essential in enhancing Pol II clustering upon interferon-γ treatment. Taken together, our work unveils nuclear actin promotes the formation of transcription factory on inducible genes, acting as a general mechanism underlying the rapid response to environmental cues.

Optogenetic modulation of TDP-43 oligomerization accelerates ALS-related pathologies in the spinal motor neurons.

blue CRY2olig zebrafish in vivo
Nat Commun, 21 Feb 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-14815-x Link to full text
Abstract: Cytoplasmic aggregation of TDP-43 characterizes degenerating neurons in most cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Here, we develop an optogenetic TDP-43 variant (opTDP-43), whose multimerization status can be modulated in vivo through external light illumination. Using the translucent zebrafish neuromuscular system, we demonstrate that short-term light stimulation reversibly induces cytoplasmic opTDP-43 mislocalization, but not aggregation, in the spinal motor neuron, leading to an axon outgrowth defect associated with myofiber denervation. In contrast, opTDP-43 forms pathological aggregates in the cytoplasm after longer-term illumination and seeds non-optogenetic TDP-43 aggregation. Furthermore, we find that an ALS-linked mutation in the intrinsically disordered region (IDR) exacerbates the light-dependent opTDP-43 toxicity on locomotor behavior. Together, our results propose that IDR-mediated TDP-43 oligomerization triggers both acute and long-term pathologies of motor neurons, which may be relevant to the pathogenesis and progression of ALS.

Non-invasive optical control of endogenous Ca2+ channels in awake mice.

blue CRY2/CRY2 CRY2clust CRY2olig HeLa mouse in vivo Immediate control of second messengers
Nat Commun, 10 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-14005-4 Link to full text
Abstract: 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 inhibition of Delta reveals digital Notch signaling output during tissue differentiation.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CRY2olig D. melanogaster in vivo Signaling cascade control
EMBO Rep, 31 Oct 2019 DOI: 10.15252/embr.201947999 Link to full text
Abstract: Spatio-temporal regulation of signalling pathways plays a key role in generating diverse responses during the development of multicellular organisms. The role of signal dynamics in transferring signalling information in vivo is incompletely understood. Here we employ genome engineering in Drosophila melanogaster to generate a functional optogenetic allele of the Notch ligand Delta (opto-Delta), which replaces both copies of the endogenous wild type locus. Using clonal analysis, we show that optogenetic activation blocks Notch activation through cis-inhibition in signal-receiving cells. Signal perturbation in combination with quantitative analysis of a live transcriptional reporter of Notch pathway activity reveals differential tissue- and cell-scale regulatory modes. While at the tissue-level the duration of Notch signalling determines the probability with which a cellular response will occur, in individual cells Notch activation acts through a switch-like mechanism. Thus, time confers regulatory properties to Notch signalling that exhibit integrative digital behaviours during tissue differentiation.

Controlling the material properties and rRNA processing function of the nucleolus using light.

blue CRY2olig NIH/3T3 Xenopus oocytes Organelle manipulation
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 9 Aug 2019 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1903870116 Link to full text
Abstract: The nucleolus is a prominent nuclear condensate that plays a central role in ribosome biogenesis by facilitating the transcription and processing of nascent ribosomal RNA (rRNA). A number of studies have highlighted the active viscoelastic nature of the nucleolus, whose material properties and phase behavior are a consequence of underlying molecular interactions. However, the ways in which the material properties of the nucleolus impact its function in rRNA biogenesis are not understood. Here we utilize the Cry2olig optogenetic system to modulate the viscoelastic properties of the nucleolus. We show that above a threshold concentration of Cry2olig protein, the nucleolus can be gelled into a tightly linked, low mobility meshwork. Gelled nucleoli no longer coalesce and relax into spheres but nonetheless permit continued internal molecular mobility of small proteins. These changes in nucleolar material properties manifest in specific alterations in rRNA processing steps, including a buildup of larger rRNA precursors and a depletion of smaller rRNA precursors. We propose that the flux of processed rRNA may be actively tuned by the cell through modulating nucleolar material properties, which suggests the potential of materials-based approaches for therapeutic intervention in ribosomopathies.

Phase separation of 53BP1 determines liquid-like behavior of DNA repair compartments.

blue CRY2olig U-2 OS Organelle manipulation
EMBO J, 1 Jul 2019 DOI: 10.15252/embj.2018101379 Link to full text
Abstract: The DNA damage response (DDR) generates transient repair compartments to concentrate repair proteins and activate signaling factors. The physicochemical properties of these spatially confined compartments and their function remain poorly understood. Here, we establish, based on live cell microscopy and CRISPR/Cas9-mediated endogenous protein tagging, that 53BP1-marked repair compartments are dynamic, show droplet-like behavior, and undergo frequent fusion and fission events. 53BP1 assembly, but not the upstream accumulation of γH2AX and MDC1, is highly sensitive to changes in osmotic pressure, temperature, salt concentration and to disruption of hydrophobic interactions. Phase separation of 53BP1 is substantiated by optoDroplet experiments, which further allowed dissection of the 53BP1 sequence elements that cooperate for light-induced clustering. Moreover, we found the tumor suppressor protein p53 to be enriched within 53BP1 optoDroplets, and conditions that disrupt 53BP1 phase separation impair 53BP1-dependent induction of p53 and diminish p53 target gene expression. We thus suggest that 53BP1 phase separation integrates localized DNA damage recognition and repair factor assembly with global p53-dependent gene activation and cell fate decisions.

LADL: light-activated dynamic looping for endogenous gene expression control.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CRY2olig mESCs Epigenetic modification Endogenous gene expression
Nat Methods, 24 Jun 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41592-019-0436-5 Link to full text
Abstract: Mammalian genomes are folded into tens of thousands of long-range looping interactions. The cause-and-effect relationship between looping and genome function is poorly understood, and the extent to which loops are dynamic on short time scales remains an unanswered question. Here, we engineer a new class of synthetic architectural proteins for directed rearrangement of the three-dimensional genome using blue light. We target our light-activated-dynamic-looping (LADL) system to two genomic anchors with CRISPR guide RNAs and induce their spatial colocalization via light-induced heterodimerization of cryptochrome 2 and a dCas9-CIBN fusion protein. We apply LADL to redirect a stretch enhancer (SE) away from its endogenous Klf4 target gene and to the Zfp462 promoter. Using single-molecule RNA-FISH, we demonstrate that de novo formation of the Zfp462-SE loop correlates with a modest increase in Zfp462 expression. LADL facilitates colocalization of genomic loci without exogenous chemical cofactors and will enable future efforts to engineer reversible and oscillatory loops on short time scales.

Light-based control of metabolic flux through assembly of synthetic organelles.

blue CRY2/CRY2 CRY2olig PixD/PixE S. cerevisiae Organelle manipulation
Nat Chem Biol, 13 May 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41589-019-0284-8 Link to full text
Abstract: To maximize a desired product, metabolic engineers typically express enzymes to high, constant levels. Yet, permanent pathway activation can have undesirable consequences including competition with essential pathways and accumulation of toxic intermediates. Faced with similar challenges, natural metabolic systems compartmentalize enzymes into organelles or post-translationally induce activity under certain conditions. Here we report that optogenetic control can be used to extend compartmentalization and dynamic control to engineered metabolisms in yeast. We describe a suite of optogenetic tools to trigger assembly and disassembly of metabolically active enzyme clusters. Using the deoxyviolacein biosynthesis pathway as a model system, we find that light-switchable clustering can enhance product formation six-fold and product specificity 18-fold by decreasing the concentration of intermediate metabolites and reducing flux through competing pathways. Inducible compartmentalization of enzymes into synthetic organelles can thus be used to control engineered metabolic pathways, limit intermediates and favor the formation of desired products.
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