Showing 1 - 25 of 47 results
Design and engineering of light-sensitive protein switches.
Engineered, light-sensitive protein switches are used to interrogate a broad variety of biological processes. These switches are typically constructed by genetically fusing naturally occurring light-responsive protein domains with functional domains from other proteins. Protein activity can be controlled using a variety of mechanisms including light-induced colocalization, caging, and allosteric regulation. Protein design efforts have focused on reducing background signaling, maximizing the change in activity upon light stimulation, and perturbing the kinetics of switching. It is common to combine structure-based modeling with experimental screening to identify ideal fusion points between domains and discover point mutations that optimize switching. Here, we introduce commonly used light-sensitive domains and summarize recent progress in using them to regulate protein activity.
B12-induced reassembly of split photoreceptor protein enables photoresponsive hydrogels with tunable mechanics.
Although the tools based on split proteins have found broad applications, ranging from controlled biological signaling to advanced molecular architectures, many of them suffer from drawbacks such as background reassembly, low thermodynamic stability, and static structural features. Here, we present a chemically inducible protein assembly method enabled by the dissection of the carboxyl-terminal domain of a B12-dependent photoreceptor, CarHC. The resulting segments reassemble efficiently upon addition of cobalamin (AdoB12, MeB12, or CNB12). Photolysis of the cofactors such as AdoB12 and MeB12 further leads to stable protein adducts harboring a bis-His-ligated B12. Split CarHC enables the creation of a series of protein hydrogels, of which the mechanics can be either photostrengthened or photoweakened, depending on the type of B12. These materials are also well suited for three dimensional cell culturing. Together, this new protein chemistry, featuring negligible background autoassembly, stable conjugation, and phototunability, has opened up opportunities for designing smart materials.
A guide to designing photocontrol in proteins: methods, strategies and applications.
Light is essential for various biochemical processes in all domains of life. In its presence certain proteins inside a cell are excited, which either stimulates or inhibits subsequent cellular processes. The artificial photocontrol of specifically proteins is of growing interest for the investigation of scientific questions on the organismal, cellular and molecular level as well as for the development of medicinal drugs or biocatalytic tools. For the targeted design of photocontrol in proteins, three major methods have been developed over the last decades, which employ either chemical engineering of small-molecule photosensitive effectors (photopharmacology), incorporation of photoactive non-canonical amino acids by genetic code expansion (photoxenoprotein engineering), or fusion with photoreactive biological modules (hybrid protein optogenetics). This review compares the different methods as well as their strategies and current applications for the light-regulation of proteins and provides background information useful for the implementation of each technique.
B12-dependent photoreceptor protein as an emerging tool for materials synthetic biology.
Controlling biomolecular interactions with light has gained traction among biomedical researchers due to its high spatiotemporal precision. Although a variety of photoresponsive chemical moieties are readily available thanks to the efforts made by chemists, genetically encoded photoswitches, also known as optogenetic tools, that are compatible with complex biological systems remain highly desirable. Recently, detailed mechanistic studies of the B12-dependent bacterial photoreceptor CarH have provided researchers with some new approaches to materials synthetic biology. Further development of this emerging molecular tool will continue to benefit future materials science and optogenetics.
Optogenetic and Chemical Induction Systems for Regulation of Transgene Expression in Plants: Use in Basic and Applied Research.
Continuous and ubiquitous expression of foreign genes sometimes results in harmful effects on the growth, development and metabolic activities of plants. Tissue-specific promoters help to overcome this disadvantage, but do not allow one to precisely control transgene expression over time. Thus, inducible transgene expression systems have obvious benefits. In plants, transcriptional regulation is usually driven by chemical agents under the control of chemically-inducible promoters. These systems are diverse, but usually contain two elements, the chimeric transcription factor and the reporter gene. The commonly used chemically-induced expression systems are tetracycline-, steroid-, insecticide-, copper-, and ethanol-regulated. Unlike chemical-inducible systems, optogenetic tools enable spatiotemporal, quantitative and reversible control over transgene expression with light, overcoming limitations of chemically-inducible systems. This review updates and summarizes optogenetic and chemical induction methods of transgene expression used in basic plant research and discusses their potential in field applications.
Optophysiology: Illuminating cell physiology with optogenetics.
Optogenetics combines light and genetics to enable precise control of living cells, tissues, and organisms with tailored functions. Optogenetics has the advantages of noninvasiveness, rapid responsiveness, tunable reversibility, and superior spatiotemporal resolution. Following the initial discovery of microbial opsins as light-actuated ion channels, a plethora of naturally occurring or engineered photoreceptors or photosensitive domains that respond to light at varying wavelengths has ushered in the next chapter of optogenetics. Through protein engineering and synthetic biology approaches, genetically encoded photoswitches can be modularly engineered into protein scaffolds or host cells to control a myriad of biological processes, as well as to enable behavioral control and disease intervention in vivo. Here, we summarize these optogenetic tools on the basis of their fundamental photochemical properties to better inform the chemical basis and design principles. We also highlight exemplary applications of opsin-free optogenetics in dissecting cellular physiology (designated "optophysiology") and describe the current progress, as well as future trends, in wireless optogenetics, which enables remote interrogation of physiological processes with minimal invasiveness. This review is anticipated to spark novel thoughts on engineering next-generation optogenetic tools and devices that promise to accelerate both basic and translational studies.
Optogenetic approaches in biotechnology and biomaterials.
Advances in genetic engineering, combined with the development of optical technologies, have allowed optogenetics to broaden its area of possible applications in recent years. However, the application of optogenetic tools in industry, including biotechnology and the production of biomaterials, is still limited, because each practical task requires the engineering of a specific optogenetic system. In this review, we discuss recent advances in the use of optogenetic tools in the production of biofuels and valuable chemicals, the synthesis of biomedical and polymer materials, and plant agrobiology. We also offer a comprehensive analysis of the properties and industrial applicability of light-controlled and other smart biomaterials. These data allow us to outline the prospects for the future use of optogenetics in bioindustry.
Optogenetic strategies for the control of gene expression in yeasts.
Optogenetics involves the use of light to control cellular functions and has become increasingly popular in various areas of research, especially in the precise control of gene expression. While this technology is already well established in neurobiology and basic research, its use in bioprocess development is still emerging. Some optogenetic switches have been implemented in yeasts for different purposes, taking advantage of a wide repertoire of biological parts and relatively easy genetic manipulation. In this review, we cover the current strategies used for the construction of yeast strains to be used in optogenetically controlled protein or metabolite production, as well as the operational aspects to be considered for the scale-up of this type of process. Finally, we discuss the main applications of optogenetic switches in yeast systems and highlight the main advantages and challenges of bioprocess development considering future directions for this field.
Applications of Upconversion Nanoparticles in Cellular Optogenetics.
Upconversion-mediated optogenetics is an emerging powerful technique to remotely control and manipulate the deep-tissue protein functions and signaling pathway activation. This technique uses lanthanide upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) as light transducers and through near-infrared light to indirectly activate the traditional optogenetic proteins. With the merits of high spatiotemporal resolution and minimal invasiveness, this technique enables cell-type specific manipulation of cellular activities in deep tissues as well as in living animals. In this review, we introduce the latest development of optogenetic modules and UCNPs, with emphasis on the integration of UCNPs with cellular optogenetics and their biomedical applications on the control of neural/brain activity, cancer therapy and cardiac optogenetics in vivo. Furthermore, we analyze the current developed strategies to optimize and advance the upconversion-mediated optogenetics and discuss the remaining challenges of its further applications in biomedical study and clinical translational research. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Optogenetics harnesses photoactivatable proteins to optically stimulate and control intracellular activities. UCNPs-mediated NIR-activatable optogenetics uses lanthanide upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) as light transducers and utilizes near-infrared (NIR) light to indirectly activate the traditional optogenetic proteins. The integration of UCNPs with cellular optogenetics has showed great promise in biomedical applications in regulating neural/brain activity, cancer therapy and cardiac optogenetics in vivo. The evolution and optimization of functional UCNPs and the discovery and engineering of novel optogenetic modules would both contribute to the advance of such unique hybrid technology, which may lead to discoveries in biomedical research and provide new treatments for human diseases.
Role of the CarH photoreceptor protein environment in the modulation of cobalamin photochemistry.
The photochemistry of cobalamins has recently been found to have biological importance, with the discovery of bacterial photoreceptor proteins, such as CarH and AerR. CarH and AerR, are involved in the light regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis and bacteriochlorophyll biosynthesis, respectively, in bacteria. Experimental transient absorption spectroscopic studies have indicated unusual photochemical behavior of 5'-deoxy-5'-adenosylcobalamin (AdoCbl) in CarH, with excited-state charge separation between cobalt and adenosyl and possible heterolytic cleavage of the Co-adenosyl bond, as opposed to the homolytic cleavage observed in aqueous solution and in many AdoCbl-based enzymes. We employ molecular dynamics and hybrid quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical calculations to obtain a microscopic understanding of the modulation of the excited electronic states of AdoCbl by the CarH protein environment, in contrast to aqueous solution and AdoCbl-based enzymes. Our results indicate a progressive stabilization of the electronic states involving charge transfer (CT) from cobalt/corrin to adenine on changing the environment from gas phase to water to solvated CarH. The solvent exposure of the adenosyl ligand in CarH, the π-stacking interaction between a tryptophan and the adenine moiety, and the hydrogen-bonding interaction between a glutamate and the lower axial ligand of cobalt are found to contribute to the stabilization of the states involving CT to adenine. The combination of these three factors, the latter two of which can be experimentally tested via mutagenesis studies, is absent in an aqueous solvent environment and in AdoCbl-based enzymes. The favored CT from metal and/or corrin to adenine in CarH may promote heterolytic cleavage of the cobalt-adenosyl bond proposed by experimental studies. Overall, this work provides novel, to our knowledge, physical insights into the mechanism of CarH function and directions for future experimental investigations. The fundamental understanding of the mechanism of CarH functioning will serve the development of optogenetic tools based on the new class of B12-dependent photoreceptors.
Clinical applicability of optogenetic gene regulation.
The field of optogenetics is rapidly growing in relevance and number of developed tools. Amongst other things, the optogenetic repertoire includes light-responsive ion channels and methods for gene regulation. This review will be confined to the optogenetic control of gene expression in mammalian cells as suitable models for clinical applications. Here optogenetic gene regulation might offer an excellent method for spatially and timely regulated gene and protein expression in cell therapeutic approaches. Well-known systems for gene regulation, such as the LOV-, CRY2/CIB-, PhyB/PIF-systems, as well as other, in mammalian cells not yet fully established systems will be described. Advantages and disadvantages with regard to clinical applications are outlined in detail. Among the many unanswered questions concerning the application of optogenetics, we discuss items such as the use of exogenous chromophores and their effects on the biology of the cells and methods for a gentle, but effective gene transfection method for optogenetic tools for in vivo applications. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Spatiotemporal Regulation of Cell–Cell Adhesions.
Cell–cell adhesions are fundamental in regulating multicellular behavior and lie at the center of many biological processes from embryoid development to cancer development. Therefore, controlling cell–cell adhesions is fundamental to gaining insight into these phenomena and gaining tools that would help in the bioartificial construction of tissues. For addressing biological questions as well as bottom-up tissue engineering the challenge is to have multiple cell types self-assemble in parallel and organize in a desired pattern from a mixture of different cell types. Ideally, different cell types should be triggered to self-assemble with different stimuli without interfering with the other and different types of cells should sort out in a multicellular mixture into separate clusters. In this chapter, we will summarize the developments in photoregulation cell–cell adhesions using non-neuronal optogenetics. Among the concepts, we will cover is the control of homophylic and heterophilic cell–cell adhesions, the independent control of two different types with blue or red light and the self-sorting of cells into distinct structures and the importance of cell–cell adhesion dynamics. These tools will give an overview of how the spatiotemporal regulation of cell–cell adhesion gives insight into their role and how tissues can be assembled from cells as the basic building block.
Smart-watch-programmed green-light-operated percutaneous control of therapeutic transgenes.
Wearable smart electronic devices, such as smart watches, are generally equipped with green-light-emitting diodes, which are used for photoplethysmography to monitor a panoply of physical health parameters. Here, we present a traceless, green-light-operated, smart-watch-controlled mammalian gene switch (Glow Control), composed of an engineered membrane-tethered green-light-sensitive cobalamin-binding domain of Thermus thermophilus (TtCBD) CarH protein in combination with a synthetic cytosolic TtCBD-transactivator fusion protein, which manage translocation of TtCBD-transactivator into the nucleus to trigger expression of transgenes upon illumination. We show that Apple-Watch-programmed percutaneous remote control of implanted Glow-controlled engineered human cells can effectively treat experimental type-2 diabetes by producing and releasing human glucagon-like peptide-1 on demand. Directly interfacing wearable smart electronic devices with therapeutic gene expression will advance next-generation personalized therapies by linking biopharmaceutical interventions to the internet of things.
Optogenetic Approaches for the Spatiotemporal Control of Signal Transduction Pathways.
Biological signals are sensed by their respective receptors and are transduced and processed by a sophisticated intracellular signaling network leading to a signal-specific cellular response. Thereby, the response to the signal depends on the strength, the frequency, and the duration of the stimulus as well as on the subcellular signal progression. Optogenetic tools are based on genetically encoded light-sensing proteins facilitating the precise spatiotemporal control of signal transduction pathways and cell fate decisions in the absence of natural ligands. In this review, we provide an overview of optogenetic approaches connecting light-regulated protein-protein interaction or caging/uncaging events with steering the function of signaling proteins. We briefly discuss the most common optogenetic switches and their mode of action. The main part deals with the engineering and application of optogenetic tools for the control of transmembrane receptors including receptor tyrosine kinases, the T cell receptor and integrins, and their effector proteins. We also address the hallmarks of optogenetics, the spatial and temporal control of signaling events.
The Rise of Molecular Optogenetics.
Abstract not available.
Signaling, Deconstructed: Using Optogenetics to Dissect and Direct Information Flow in Biological Systems.
Cells receive enormous amounts of information from their environment. How they act on this information-by migrating, expressing genes, or relaying signals to other cells-comprises much of the regulatory and self-organizational complexity found across biology. The "parts list" involved in cell signaling is generally well established, but how do these parts work together to decode signals and produce appropriate responses? This fundamental question is increasingly being addressed with optogenetic tools: light-sensitive proteins that enable biologists to manipulate the interaction, localization, and activity state of proteins with high spatial and temporal precision. In this review, we summarize how optogenetics is being used in the pursuit of an answer to this question, outlining the current suite of optogenetic tools available to the researcher and calling attention to studies that increase our understanding of and improve our ability to engineer biology. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering, Volume 23 is June 2021. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
Synthetic Biological Approaches for Optogenetics and Tools for Transcriptional Light‐Control in Bacteria.
Light has become established as a tool not only to visualize and investigate but also to steer biological systems. This review starts by discussing the unique features that make light such an effective control input in biology. It then gives an overview of how light‐control came to progress, starting with photoactivatable compounds and leading up to current genetic implementations using optogenetic approaches. The review then zooms in on optogenetics, focusing on photosensitive proteins, which form the basis for optogenetic engineering using synthetic biological approaches. As the regulation of transcription provides a highly versatile means for steering diverse biological functions, the focus of this review then shifts to transcriptional light regulators, which are presented in the biotechnologically highly relevant model organism Escherichia coli.
Spatiotemporal Control Over Multicellular Migration Using Green Light Reversible Cell–Cell Interactions.
The regulation of cell–cell adhesions in space and time plays a crucial role in cell biology, especially in the coordination of multicellular behavior. Therefore, tools that allow for the modulation of cell–cell interactions with high precision are of great interest to a better understanding of their roles and building tissue‐like structures. Herein, the green light‐responsive protein CarH is expressed at the plasma membrane of cells as an artificial cell adhesion receptor, so that upon addition of its cofactor vitamin B12 specific cell–cell interactions form and lead to cell clustering in a concentration‐dependent manner. Upon green light illumination, the CarH based cell–cell interactions disassemble and allow for their reversion with high spatiotemporal control. Moreover, these artificial cell–cell interactions impact cell migration, as observed in a wound‐healing assay. When the cells interact with each other in the presence of vitamin B12 in the dark, the cells form on a solid front and migrate collectively; however, under green light illumination, individual cells migrate randomly out of the monolayer. Overall, the possibility of precisely controlling cell–cell interactions and regulating multicellular behavior is a potential pathway to gaining more insight into cell–cell interactions in biological processes.
Steering Molecular Activity with Optogenetics: Recent Advances and Perspectives.
Optogenetics utilizes photosensitive proteins to manipulate the localization and interaction of molecules in living cells. Because light can be rapidly switched and conveniently confined to the sub‐micrometer scale, optogenetics allows for controlling cellular events with an unprecedented resolution in time and space. The past decade has witnessed an enormous progress in the field of optogenetics within the biological sciences. The ever‐increasing amount of optogenetic tools, however, can overwhelm the selection of appropriate optogenetic strategies. Considering that each optogenetic tool may have a distinct mode of action, a comparative analysis of the current optogenetic toolbox can promote the further use of optogenetics, especially by researchers new to this field. This review provides such a compilation that highlights the spatiotemporal accuracy of current optogenetic systems. Recent advances of optogenetics in live cells and animal models are summarized, the emerging work that interlinks optogenetics with other research fields is presented, and exciting clinical and industrial efforts to employ optogenetic strategy toward disease intervention are reported.
Green Light-Controlled Gene Switch for Mammalian and Plant Cells.
The quest to engineer increasingly complex synthetic gene networks in mammalian and plant cells requires an ever-growing portfolio of orthogonal gene expression systems. To control gene expression, light is of particular interest due to high spatial and temporal resolution, ease of dosage and simplicity of administration, enabling increasingly sophisticated man-machine interfaces. However, the majority of applied optogenetic switches are crowded in the UVB, blue and red/far-red light parts of the optical spectrum, limiting the number of simultaneously applicable stimuli. This problem is even more pertinent in plant cells, in which UV-A/B, blue, and red light-responsive photoreceptors are already expressed endogenously. To alleviate these challenges, we developed a green light responsive gene switch, based on the light-sensitive bacterial transcription factor CarH from Thermus thermophilus and its cognate DNA operator sequence CarO. The switch is characterized by high reversibility, high transgene expression levels, and low leakiness, leading to up to 350-fold induction ratios in mammalian cells. In this chapter, we describe the essential steps to build functional components of the green light-regulated gene switch, followed by detailed protocols to quantify transgene expression over time in mammalian cells. In addition, we expand this protocol with a description of how the optogenetic switch can be implemented in protoplasts of A. thaliana.
Dynamically tunable light responsive silk-elastin-like proteins.
Dynamically tunable biomaterials are of particular interest in the field of biomedical engineering because of the potential utility for shape-change materials, drug and cell delivery and tissue regeneration. Stimuli-responsive proteins formed into hydrogels are potential candidates for such systems, due to the genetic tailorability and control over structure-function relationships. Here we report the synthesis of genetically engineered Silk-Elastin-Like Protein (SELP) photoresponsive hydrogels. Polymerization of the SELPs and monomeric adenosylcobalamin (AdoB12)-dependent photoreceptor C-terminal adenosylcobalamin binding domain (CarHC) was achieved using genetically encoded SpyTag-SpyCatcher peptide-protein pairs under mild physiological conditions. The hydrogels exhibited a partial collapse of the crosslinked molecular network with both decreased loss and storage moduli upon exposure to visible light. The materials were also evaluated for cytotoxicity and the encapsulation and release of L929 murine fibroblasts from 3D cultures. The design of these photo-responsible proteins provides new stimuli-responsive SELP-CarHC hydrogels for dynamically tunable protein-based materials.
Optogenetics in plants.
The last two decades have witnessed the emergence of optogenetics; a field that has given researchers the ability to use light to control biological processes at high spatio-temporal and quantitative resolution, in a reversible manner with minimal side effects. Optogenetics has revolutionised the neurosciences, increased our understanding of cellular signalling and metabolic networks and resulted in variety of applications in biotechnology and biomedicine. However, implementing optogenetics in plants has been less straight forward given their dependency on light for their life cycle. Here, we highlight some of the widely used technologies in microorganisms and animal systems derived from plant photoreceptor proteins and discuss strategies recently implemented to overcome the challenges for using optogenetics in plants.
Injectable, photoresponsive hydrogels for delivering neuroprotective proteins enabled by metal-directed protein assembly.
Axon regeneration constitutes a fundamental challenge for regenerative neurobiology, which necessitates the use of tailor-made biomaterials for controllable delivery of cells and biomolecules. An increasingly popular approach for creating these materials is to directly assemble engineered proteins into high-order structures, a process that often relies on sophisticated protein chemistry. Here, we present a simple approach for creating injectable, photoresponsive hydrogels via metal-directed assembly of His6-tagged proteins. The B12-dependent photoreceptor protein CarHC can complex with transition metal ions through an amino-terminal His6-tag, which can further undergo a sol-gel transition upon addition of AdoB12, leading to the formation of hydrogels with marked injectability and photodegradability. The inducible phase transitions further enabled facile encapsulation and release of cells and proteins. Injecting the Zn2+-coordinated gels decorated with leukemia inhibitory factor into injured mouse optic nerves led to prolonged cellular signaling and enhanced axon regeneration. This study illustrates a powerful strategy for designing injectable biomaterials.
Light control of RTK activity: from technology development to translational research.
Inhibition of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) by small molecule inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies is used to treat cancer. Conversely, activation of RTKs with their ligands, including growth factors and insulin, is used to treat diabetes and neurodegeneration. However, conventional therapies that rely on injection of RTK inhibitors or activators do not provide spatiotemporal control over RTK signaling, which results in diminished efficiency and side effects. Recently, a number of optogenetic and optochemical approaches have been developed that allow RTK inhibition or activation in cells and in vivo with light. Light irradiation can control RTK signaling non-invasively, in a dosed manner, with high spatio-temporal precision, and without the side effects of conventional treatments. Here we provide an update on the current state of the art of optogenetic and optochemical RTK technologies and the prospects of their use in translational studies and therapy.
Design and Application of Light-Regulated Receptor Tyrosine Kinases.
Understanding how the activity of membrane receptors and cellular signaling pathways shapes cell behavior is of fundamental interest in basic and applied research. Reengineering receptors to react to light instead of their cognate ligands allows for generating defined signaling inputs with high spatial and temporal precision and facilitates the dissection of complex signaling networks. Here, we describe fundamental considerations in the design of light-regulated receptor tyrosine kinases (Opto-RTKs) and appropriate control experiments. We also introduce methods for transient receptor expression in HEK293 cells, quantitative assessment of signaling activity in reporter gene assays, semiquantitative assessment of (in)activation time courses through Western blot (WB) analysis, and easy to implement light stimulation hardware.