Showing 1 - 25 of 71 results
The expanding role of split protein complementation in opsin-free optogenetics.
A comprehensive understanding of signaling mechanisms helps interpret fundamental biological processes and restore cell behavior from pathological conditions. Signaling outcome depends not only on the activity of each signaling component but also on their dynamic interaction in time and space, which remains challenging to probe by biochemical and cell-based assays. Opsin-based optogenetics has transformed neural science research with its spatiotemporal modulation of the activity of excitable cells. Motivated by this advantage, opsin-free optogenetics extends the power of light to a larger spectrum of signaling molecules. This review summarizes commonly used opsin-free optogenetic strategies, presents a historical overview of split protein complementation, and highlights the adaptation of split protein recombination as optogenetic sensors and actuators.
Benchmarking of Cph1 Mutants and DrBphP for Light-Responsive Phytochrome-Based Hydrogels with Reversibly Adjustable Mechanical Properties.
In the rapidly expanding field of molecular optogenetics, the performance of the engineered systems relies on the switching properties of the underlying genetically encoded photoreceptors. In this study, the bacterial phytochromes Cph1 and DrBphP are engineered, recombinantly produced in Escherichia coli, and characterized regarding their switching properties in order to synthesize biohybrid hydrogels with increased light-responsive stiffness modulations. The R472A mutant of the cyanobacterial phytochrome 1 (Cph1) is identified to confer the phytochrome-based hydrogels with an increased dynamic range for the storage modulus but a different light-response for the loss modulus compared to the original Cph1-based hydrogel. Stiffness measurements of human atrial fibroblasts grown on these hydrogels suggest that differences in the loss modulus at comparable changes in the storage modulus affect cell stiffness and thus underline the importance of matrix viscoelasticity on cellular mechanotransduction. The hydrogels presented here are of interest for analyzing how mammalian cells respond to dynamic viscoelastic cues. Moreover, the Cph1-R472A mutant, as well as the benchmarking of the other phytochrome variants, are expected to foster the development and performance of future optogenetic systems.
Optogenetic tools for microbial synthetic biology.
Chemical induction is one of the most common modalities used to manipulate gene expression in living systems. However, chemical induction can be toxic or expensive that compromise the economic feasibility when it comes to industrial-scale synthetic biology applications. These complications have driven the pursuit of better induction systems. Optogenetics technique can be a solution as it not only enables dynamic control with unprecedented spatiotemporal precision but also is inexpensive and eco-friendlier. The optogenetic technique harnesses natural light-sensing modules that are genetically encodable and re-programmable in various hosts. By further engineering these modules to connect with the microbial regulatory machinery, gene expression and protein activity can be finely tuned simply through light irradiation. Recent works on applying optogenetics to microbial synthetic biology have yielded remarkable achievements. To further expand the usability of optogenetics, more optogenetic tools with greater portability that are compatible with different microbial hosts need to be developed. This review focuses on non-opsin optogenetic systems and the current state of optogenetic advancements in microbes, by showcasing the different designs and functions of optogenetic tools, followed by an insight into the optogenetic approaches used to circumvent challenges in synthetic biology.
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.
Red Light Optogenetics in Neuroscience.
Optogenetics, a field concentrating on controlling cellular functions by means of light-activated proteins, has shown tremendous potential in neuroscience. It possesses superior spatiotemporal resolution compared to the surgical, electrical, and pharmacological methods traditionally used in studying brain function. A multitude of optogenetic tools for neuroscience have been created that, for example, enable the control of action potential generation via light-activated ion channels. Other optogenetic proteins have been used in the brain, for example, to control long-term potentiation or to ablate specific subtypes of neurons. In in vivo applications, however, the majority of optogenetic tools are operated with blue, green, or yellow light, which all have limited penetration in biological tissues compared to red light and especially infrared light. This difference is significant, especially considering the size of the rodent brain, a major research model in neuroscience. Our review will focus on the utilization of red light-operated optogenetic tools in neuroscience. We first outline the advantages of red light for in vivo studies. Then we provide a brief overview of the red light-activated optogenetic proteins and systems with a focus on new developments in the field. Finally, we will highlight different tools and applications, which further facilitate the use of red light optogenetics in neuroscience.
Optogenetic activation of intracellular signaling based on light-inducible protein-protein homo-interactions.
Dynamic protein-protein interactions are essential for proper cell functioning. Homo-interaction events-physical interactions between the same type of proteins-represent a pivotal subset of protein-protein interactions that are widely exploited in activating intracellular signaling pathways. Capacities of modulating protein-protein interactions with spatial and temporal resolution are greatly desired to decipher the dynamic nature of signal transduction mechanisms. The emerging optogenetic technology, based on genetically encoded light-sensitive proteins, provides promising opportunities to dissect the highly complex signaling networks with unmatched specificity and spatiotemporal precision. Here we review recent achievements in the development of optogenetic tools enabling light-inducible protein-protein homo-interactions and their applications in optical activation of signaling pathways.
Optogenetics in bacteria - applications and opportunities.
Optogenetics holds the promise of controlling biological processes with superb temporal and spatial resolution at minimal perturbation. Although many of the light-reactive proteins used in optogenetic systems are derived from prokaryotes, applications were largely limited to eukaryotes for a long time. In recent years, however, an increasing number of microbiologists use optogenetics as a powerful new tool to study and control key aspects of bacterial biology in a fast and often reversible manner. After a brief discussion of optogenetic principles, this review provides an overview of the rapidly growing number of optogenetic applications in bacteria, with a particular focus on studies venturing beyond transcriptional control. To guide future experiments, we highlight helpful tools, provide considerations for successful application of optogenetics in bacterial systems, and identify particular opportunities and challenges that arise when applying these approaches in bacteria.
The Red Edge: Bilin-Binding Photoreceptors as Optogenetic Tools and Fluorescence Reporters.
This review adds the bilin-binding phytochromes to the Chemical Reviews thematic issue "Optogenetics and Photopharmacology". The work is structured into two parts. We first outline the photochemistry of the covalently bound tetrapyrrole chromophore and summarize relevant spectroscopic, kinetic, biochemical, and physiological properties of the different families of phytochromes. Based on this knowledge, we then describe the engineering of phytochromes to further improve these chromoproteins as photoswitches and review their employment in an ever-growing number of different optogenetic applications. Most applications rely on the light-controlled complex formation between the plant photoreceptor PhyB and phytochrome-interacting factors (PIFs) or C-terminal light-regulated domains with enzymatic functions present in many bacterial and algal phytochromes. Phytochrome-based optogenetic tools are currently implemented in bacteria, yeast, plants, and animals to achieve light control of a wide range of biological activities. These cover the regulation of gene expression, protein transport into cell organelles, and the recruitment of phytochrome- or PIF-tagged proteins to membranes and other cellular compartments. This compilation illustrates the intrinsic advantages of phytochromes compared to other photoreceptor classes, e.g., their bidirectional dual-wavelength control enabling instant ON and OFF regulation. In particular, the long wavelength range of absorption and fluorescence within the "transparent window" makes phytochromes attractive for complex applications requiring deep tissue penetration or dual-wavelength control in combination with blue and UV light-sensing photoreceptors. In addition to the wide variability of applications employing natural and engineered phytochromes, we also discuss recent progress in the development of bilin-based fluorescent proteins.
Cyanobacterial Phytochromes in Optogenetics.
Optogenetics initially used plant photoreceptors to monitor neural circuits, later it has expanded to include engineered plant photoreceptors. Recently photoreceptors from bacteria, algae and cyanobacteria have been used as an optogenetic tool. Bilin-based photoreceptors are common light-sensitive photoswitches in plants, algae, bacteria and cyanobacteria. Here we discuss the photoreceptors from cyanobacteria. Several new photoreceptors have been explored in cyanobacteria which are now proposed as cyanobacteriochrome. The domains in the cyanobacteriochrome, light-induced signaling transduction, photoconversion, are the most attractive features for the optogenetic system. The wider spectral feature of cyanobacteriochrome from UV to visible radiation makes it a light potential sensitive optogenetic tool. Besides, cyanobacterial phytochrome responses to yellow, orange and blue light have more application in optogenetics. This chapter summarizes the photoconversion, phototaxis, cell aggregation, cell signaling mediated by cyanobacteriochrome and cyanophytochrome. As there is a wide range of cyanobacteriochrome and its combination delivers a varied light-sensitive response. Besides coordination among cyanobacteriochromes in cell signaling reduces the engineering of photoreceptors for the optogenetic system.
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.
Synthetic biology as driver for the biologization of materials sciences.
Materials in nature have fascinating properties that serve as a continuous source of inspiration for materials scientists. Accordingly, bio-mimetic and bio-inspired approaches have yielded remarkable structural and functional materials for a plethora of applications. Despite these advances, many properties of natural materials remain challenging or yet impossible to incorporate into synthetic materials. Natural materials are produced by living cells, which sense and process environmental cues and conditions by means of signaling and genetic programs, thereby controlling the biosynthesis, remodeling, functionalization, or degradation of the natural material. In this context, synthetic biology offers unique opportunities in materials sciences by providing direct access to the rational engineering of how a cell senses and processes environmental information and translates them into the properties and functions of materials. Here, we identify and review two main directions by which synthetic biology can be harnessed to provide new impulses for the biologization of the materials sciences: first, the engineering of cells to produce precursors for the subsequent synthesis of materials. This includes materials that are otherwise produced from petrochemical resources, but also materials where the bio-produced substances contribute unique properties and functions not existing in traditional materials. Second, engineered living materials that are formed or assembled by cells or in which cells contribute specific functions while remaining an integral part of the living composite material. We finally provide a perspective of future scientific directions of this promising area of research and discuss science policy that would be required to support research and development in this field.
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.
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.
Optogenetics and biosensors set the stage for metabolic cybergenetics.
Cybergenetic systems use computer interfaces to enable feed-back controls over biological processes in real time. The complex and dynamic nature of cellular metabolism makes cybergenetics attractive for controlling engineered metabolic pathways in microbial fermentations. Cybergenetics would not only create new avenues of research into cellular metabolism, it would also enable unprecedented strategies for pathway optimization and bioreactor operation and automation. Implementation of metabolic cybergenetics, however, will require new capabilities from actuators, biosensors, and control algorithms. The recent application of optogenetics in metabolic engineering, the expanding role of genetically encoded biosensors in strain development, and continued progress in control algorithms for biological processes suggest that this technology will become available in the not so distant future.
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.
Orthogonal Blue and Red Light Controlled Cell-Cell Adhesions Enable Sorting-out in Multicellular Structures.
The self-assembly of different cell types into multicellular structures and their organization into spatiotemporally controlled patterns are both challenging and extremely powerful to understand how cells function within tissues and for bottom-up tissue engineering. Here, we not only independently control the self-assembly of two cell types into multicellular architectures with blue and red light, but also achieve their self-sorting into distinct assemblies. This required developing two cell types that form selective and homophilic cell-cell interactions either under blue or red light using photoswitchable proteins as artificial adhesion molecules. The interactions were individually triggerable with different colors of light, reversible in the dark, and provide noninvasive and temporal control over the cell-cell adhesions. In mixtures of the two cells, each cell type self-assembled independently upon orthogonal photoactivation, and cells sorted out into separate assemblies based on specific self-recognition. These self-sorted multicellular architectures provide us with a powerful tool for producing tissue-like structures from multiple cell types and investigate principles that govern them.
Synthesis of a Light-Controlled Phytochrome-Based Extracellular Matrix with Reversibly Adjustable Mechanical Properties.
Synthetic extracellular matrices with reversibly adjustable mechanical properties are essential for the investigation of how cells respond to dynamic mechanical cues as occurring in living organisms. One interesting approach to engineer dynamic biomaterials is the incorporation of photoreceptors from cyanobacteria or plants into polymer materials. Here, we give an overview of existing photoreceptor-based biomaterials and describe a detailed protocol for the synthesis of a phytochrome-based extracellular matrix (CyPhyGel). Using cell-compatible light in the red and far-red spectrum, the mechanical properties of this matrix can be adjusted in a fully reversible, wavelength-specific, and dose-dependent manner with high spatiotemporal control.
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.
Color Sensing and Signal Transmission Diversity of Cyanobacterial Phytochromes and Cyanobacteriochromes.
To perceive fluctuations in light quality, quantity, and timing, higher plants have evolved diverse photoreceptors including UVR8 (a UV-B photoreceptor), cryptochromes, phototropins, and phytochromes (Phys). In contrast to plants, prokaryotic oxygen-evolving photosynthetic organisms, cyanobacteria, rely mostly on bilin-based photoreceptors, namely, cyanobacterial phytochromes (Cphs) and cyanobacteriochromes (CBCRs), which exhibit structural and functional differences compared with plant Phys. CBCRs comprise varying numbers of light sensing domains with diverse color-tuning mechanisms and signal transmission pathways, allowing cyanobacteria to respond to UV-A, visible, and far-red lights. Recent genomic surveys of filamentous cyanobacteria revealed novel CBCRs with broader chromophore-binding specificity and photocycle protochromicity. Furthermore, a novel Cph lineage has been identified that absorbs blue-violet/yellow-orange light. In this minireview, we briefly discuss the diversity in color sensing and signal transmission mechanisms of Cphs and CBCRs, along with their potential utility in the field of optogenetics.
Phytochromes and Cyanobacteriochromes: Photoreceptor Molecules Incorporating a Linear Tetrapyrrole Chromophore.
In this chapter, we summarize the molecular mechanisms of the linear tetrapyrrole-binding photoreceptors, phytochromes, and cyanobacteriochromes. We especially focus on the color-tuning mechanisms and conformational changes during the photoconversion process. Furthermore, we introduce current status of development of the optogenetic tools based on these molecules. Huge repertoire of these photoreceptors with diverse spectral properties would contribute to development of multiplex optogenetic regulation. Among them, the photoreceptors incorporating the biliverdin IXα chromophore is advantageous for in vivo optogenetics because this is intrinsic in the mammalian cells, and absorbs far-red light penetrating into deep mammalian tissues.
Visualization and Manipulation of Intracellular Signaling.
Cells respond to a wide range of extracellular stimuli, and process the input information through an intracellular signaling system comprised of biochemical and biophysical reactions, including enzymatic and protein-protein interactions. It is essential to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying intracellular signal transduction in order to clarify not only physiological cellular functions but also pathological processes such as tumorigenesis. Fluorescent proteins have revolutionized the field of life science, and brought the study of intracellular signaling to the single-cell and subcellular levels. Much effort has been devoted to developing genetically encoded fluorescent biosensors based on fluorescent proteins, which enable us to visualize the spatiotemporal dynamics of cell signaling. In addition, optogenetic techniques for controlling intracellular signal transduction systems have been developed and applied in recent years by regulating intracellular signaling in a light-dependent manner. Here, we outline the principles of biosensors for probing intracellular signaling and the optogenetic tools for manipulating them.
Functional Modulation of Receptor Proteins on Cellular Interface with Optogenetic System.
In multicellular organisms, living cells cooperate with each other to exert coordinated complex functions by responding to extracellular chemical or physical stimuli via proteins on the plasma membrane. Conventionally, chemical signal transduction or mechano-transduction has been investigated by chemical, genetic, or physical perturbation; however, these methods cannot manipulate biomolecular reactions at high spatiotemporal resolution. In contrast, recent advances in optogenetic perturbation approaches have succeeded in controlling signal transduction with external light. The methods have enabled spatiotemporal perturbation of the signaling, providing functional roles of the specific proteins. In this chapter, we summarize recent advances in the optogenetic tools that modulate the function of a receptor protein. While most optogenetic systems have been devised for controlling ion channel conductivities, the present review focuses on the other membrane proteins involved in chemical transduction or mechano-transduction. We describe the properties of natural or artificial photoreceptor proteins used in optogenetic systems. Then, we discuss the strategies for controlling the receptor protein functions by external light. Future prospects of optogenetic tool development are discussed.
Structural Basis of Design and Engineering for Advanced Plant Optogenetics.
In optogenetics, light-sensitive proteins are specifically expressed in target cells and light is used to precisely control the activity of these proteins at high spatiotemporal resolution. Optogenetics initially used naturally occurring photoreceptors to control neural circuits, but has expanded to include carefully designed and engineered photoreceptors. Several optogenetic constructs are based on plant photoreceptors, but their application to plant systems has been limited. Here, we present perspectives on the development of plant optogenetics, considering different levels of design complexity. We discuss how general principles of light-driven signal transduction can be coupled with approaches for engineering protein folding to develop novel optogenetic tools. Finally, we explore how the use of computation, networks, circular permutation, and directed evolution could enrich optogenetics.