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 237 results

OpEn-Tag: a customizable optogenetic toolbox to dissect subcellular signaling.

blue CRY2/CIB1 HeLa Signaling cascade control
ACS Synth Biol, 11 Jun 2019 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.9b00059 Link to full text
Abstract: Subcellular localization of signal molecules is a hallmark in organizing the signal network. OpEn-Tag is a modular optogenetic endomembrane targeting toolbox that allows alteration of the localization and therefore the activity of signaling processes with the spatio-temporal resolution of optogenetics. OpEn-Tag is a two-component system employing 1) a variety of targeting peptides, fused to and thereby dictating the localization of mCherry-labeled cryptochrome 2 binding protein CIBN towards distinct endomembranes and 2) the cytosolic, fluorescence-labeled blue light photoreceptor cryptochrome 2 as customizable building block that can be fused to proteins of interest. The combination of OpEn-Tag with growth factor stimulation or the use of two membrane anchor sequences allows investigation of multilayered signal transduction processes as demonstrated here for the protein kinase AKT.

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.

NF-κB signaling dynamics is controlled by a dose-sensing autoregulatory loop.

blue CRY2olig NIH/3T3 Signaling cascade control
Sci Signal, 30 Apr 2019 DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aau3568 Link to full text
Abstract: Over the last decade, multiple studies have shown that signaling proteins activated in different temporal patterns, such as oscillatory, transient, and sustained, can result in distinct gene expression patterns or cell fates. However, the molecular events that ensure appropriate stimulus- and dose-dependent dynamics are not often understood and are difficult to investigate. Here, we used single-cell analysis to dissect the mechanisms underlying the stimulus- and dose-encoding patterns in the innate immune signaling network. We found that Toll-like receptor (TLR) and interleukin-1 receptor (IL-1R) signaling dynamics relied on a dose-dependent, autoinhibitory loop that rendered cells refractory to further stimulation. Using inducible gene expression and optogenetics to perturb the network at different levels, we identified IL-1R-associated kinase 1 (IRAK1) as the dose-sensing node responsible for limiting signal flow during the innate immune response. Although the kinase activity of IRAK1 was not required for signal propagation, it played a critical role in inhibiting the nucleocytoplasmic oscillations of the transcription factor NF-κB. Thus, protein activities that may be "dispensable" from a topological perspective can nevertheless be essential in shaping the dynamic response to the external environment.

Self-Organized Nuclear Positioning Synchronizes the Cell Cycle in Drosophila Embryos.

blue CRY2/CIB1 D. melanogaster in vivo Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Organelle manipulation
Cell, 9 Apr 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.03.007 Link to full text
Abstract: The synchronous cleavage divisions of early embryogenesis require coordination of the cell-cycle oscillator, the dynamics of the cytoskeleton, and the cytoplasm. Yet, it remains unclear how spatially restricted biochemical signals are integrated with physical properties of the embryo to generate collective dynamics. Here, we show that synchronization of the cell cycle in Drosophila embryos requires accurate nuclear positioning, which is regulated by the cell-cycle oscillator through cortical contractility and cytoplasmic flows. We demonstrate that biochemical oscillations are initiated by local Cdk1 inactivation and spread through the activity of phosphatase PP1 to generate cortical myosin II gradients. These gradients cause cortical and cytoplasmic flows that control proper nuclear positioning. Perturbations of PP1 activity and optogenetic manipulations of cortical actomyosin disrupt nuclear spreading, resulting in loss of cell-cycle synchrony. We conclude that mitotic synchrony is established by a self-organized mechanism that integrates the cell-cycle oscillator and embryo mechanics.

Cortical mitochondria regulate insulin secretion by local Ca2+ buffering.

blue CRY2/CIB1 MIN6 Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Organelle manipulation
J Cell Sci, 29 Mar 2019 DOI: 10.1242/jcs.228544 Link to full text
Abstract: Mitochondria play an essential role in regulating insulin secretion from beta cells by providing ATP needed for the membrane depolarization that results in voltage-dependent Ca2+ influx and subsequent insulin granule exocytosis. Ca2+, in turn, is also rapidly taken up by the mitochondria and exerts important feedback regulation of metabolism. The aim of this study was to determine if the distribution of mitochondria within beta cells is important for the secretory capacity of these cells. We find that cortically localized mitochondria are abundant in beta cells, and that these mitochondria redistribute towards the cell interior following depolarization. The redistribution requires Ca2+-induced remodeling of the cortical F-actin network. Using light-regulated motor proteins, we increased the cortical density of mitochondria 2-fold and found that this blunted the voltage-dependent increase in cytosolic Ca2+ concentration and suppressed insulin secretion. The activity-dependent changes in mitochondria distribution are likely important for the generation of Ca2+ microdomains required for efficient insulin granule release.

Advances in optogenetic regulation of gene expression in mammalian cells using cryptochrome 2 (CRY2).

blue CRY2/CIB1 HEK293T
Methods, 21 Mar 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2019.03.011 Link to full text
Abstract: Synthetic regulation of gene expression provides a powerful approach to reprogram molecular and cellular processes and test the function of specific genes and gene products. In the last decade, optogenetic systems that allow light-dependent gene regulation have become valuable tools, providing tight spatiotemporal control of protein levels. Here we discuss and build on recent optogenetic approaches for regulating gene expression in mammalian cells using cryptochrome 2 (CRY2), a photoreceptor protein from Arabidopsis. We provide detailed protocols for using light to manipulate activity of a CRY2-based engineered photoactivatable Cre DNA recombinase, and to induce or disrupt transcription factor function. In addition, we provide instructions and software for building an inexpensive Rasberry-Pi-based programable LED device for optogenetic experiments, delivering pulsed light with customized control of illumination duration, frequency, and intensity.

Chronic optogenetic induction of stress granules is cytotoxic and reveals the evolution of ALS-FTD pathology.

blue CRY2/CRY2 human IPSCs U-2 OS Organelle manipulation
Elife, 20 Mar 2019 DOI: 10.7554/elife.39578 Link to full text
Abstract: Stress granules (SGs) are non-membrane-bound RNA-protein granules that assemble through phase separation in response to cellular stress. Disturbances in SG dynamics have been implicated as a primary driver of neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), suggesting the hypothesis that these diseases reflect an underlying disturbance in the dynamics and material properties of SGs. However, this concept has remained largely untestable in available models of SG assembly, which require the confounding variable of exogenous stressors. Here we introduce a light-inducible SG system, termed OptoGranules, based on optogenetic multimerization of G3BP1, which is an essential scaffold protein for SG assembly. In this system, which permits experimental control of SGs in living cells in the absence of exogenous stressors, we demonstrate that persistent or repetitive assembly of SGs is cytotoxic and is accompanied by the evolution of SGs to cytoplasmic inclusions that recapitulate the pathology of ALS-FTD.

Engineering strategy and vector library for the rapid generation of modular light-controlled protein-protein interactions.

blue CrLOV1 CRY2/CRY2 NcWC1-LOV RsLOV VfAU1-LOV HEK293 Cell death
bioRxiv, 20 Mar 2019 DOI: 10.1101/583369 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics enables the spatio-temporally precise control of cell and animal behaviour. Many optogenetic tools are driven by light-controlled protein-protein-interactions (PPIs) that are repurposed from natural light-sensitive domains (LSDs). Applying light-controlled PPI to new target proteins is challenging because it is difficult to predict whether one the many available LSDs will yield robust light regulation. As a consequence, fusion protein libraries need to be prepared and tested, but methods and platforms to facilitate this process are currently not available. Here, we developed a genetic engineering strategy and vector library for the rapid generation of light-controlled PPIs. The strategy permits fusing a target protein to LSDs efficiently and in two orientations. The public and expandable library contains 29 vectors with blue, green or red light-responsive LSDs many of which have been previously applied ex vivo and in vivo. We demonstrate the versatility of the approach and the necessity for sampling LSDs by generating light-activated caspase-9 (casp9) enzymes. Collectively, this work provides a new resource for optical regulation of a broad range of target proteins in cell and developmental biology.

Optically inducible membrane recruitment and signaling systems.

blue near-infrared Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Curr Opin Struct Biol, 15 Mar 2019 DOI: 10.1016/ Link to full text
Abstract: Optical induction of intracellular signaling by membrane-associated and integral membrane proteins allows spatiotemporally precise control over second messenger signaling and cytoskeletal rearrangements that are important to cell migration, development, and proliferation. Optogenetic membrane recruitment of a protein-of-interest to control its signaling by altering subcellular localization is a versatile means to these ends. Here, we summarize the signaling characteristics and underlying structure-function of RGS-LOV photoreceptors as single-component membrane recruitment tools that rapidly, reversibly, and efficiently carry protein cargo from the cytoplasm to the plasma membrane by a light-regulated electrostatic interaction with the membrane itself. We place the technology-relevant features of these recently described natural photosensory proteins in context of summarized protein engineering and design strategies for optically controlling membrane protein signaling.

Optogenetic perturbation of the biochemical pathways that control cell behavior.

blue CRY2/CIB1 HEK293T HeLa MTLn3
Meth Enzymol, 12 Mar 2019 DOI: 10.1016/bs.mie.2019.02.020 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic tools provide a level of spatial and temporal resolution needed to shed new light on dynamic intercellular processes. In this chapter we outline specific protocols for applying these tools to cell motility (optogenetic cofilin), apoptosis [optogenetic Bcl-like protein 4 (Bax)], and protein kinase-mediated signaling pathways [optogenetic cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA)]. The activity of these optogenetic species is regulated by the light-mediated dimerization of a cryptochrome/Cib protein pair, which controls the intracellular positioning of the protein of interest. The light induced recruitment of cofilin to the cytoskeleton is utilized for directed migration studies and filopodial dynamics. Light-triggered migration of Bax to the outer mitochondrial membrane induces cellular collapse and eventual apoptosis. Finally, the light-mediated movement of PKA to specific intracellular compartments offers the means to assess the consequences of PKA activity in a site-specific fashion via phosphoproteomic analysis.

Chapter Ten - Design, construction, and validation of optogenetic proteins.

blue CRY2/CIB1 HeLa MTLn3 MVD7
Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol, 11 Mar 2019 DOI: 10.1016/bs.mie.2019.02.019 Link to full text
Abstract: Cellular optogenetics employs light-regulated, genetically encoded protein actuators to perturb cellular signaling with unprecedented spatial and temporal control. Here, we present a potentially generalized approach for transforming a given protein of interest (POI) into an optogenetic species. We describe the rational and methods by which we developed three different optogenetic POIs utilizing the Cry2-Cib photodimerizing pair. The process pipeline is highlighted by (1) developing a low level, constitutively active POI that is independent of endogenous regulation, (2) fusion of the mutant protein of interest to an optogenetic photodimerizing system, and (3) light-mediated recruitment of the light-responsive POI to specific subcellular regions.

RNA Binding Antagonizes Neurotoxic Phase Transitions of TDP-43.

blue CRY2/CRY2 CRY2olig HEK293 ReNcell VM Organelle manipulation
Neuron, 27 Feb 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.01.048 Link to full text
Abstract: TDP-43 proteinopathy is a pathological hallmark of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia where cytoplasmic TDP-43 inclusions are observed within degenerating regions of patient postmortem tissue. The mechanism by which TDP-43 aggregates has remained elusive due to technological limitations, which prevent the analysis of specific TDP-43 interactions in live cells. We present an optogenetic approach to reliably induce TDP-43 proteinopathy under spatiotemporal control. We show that the formation of pathologically relevant inclusions is driven by aberrant interactions between low-complexity domains of TDP-43 that are antagonized by RNA binding. Although stress granules are hypothesized to be a conduit for seeding TDP-43 proteinopathy, we demonstrate pathological inclusions outside these RNA-rich structures. Furthermore, we show that aberrant phase transitions of cytoplasmic TDP-43 are neurotoxic and that treatment with oligonucleotides composed of TDP-43 target sequences prevent inclusions and rescue neurotoxicity. Collectively, these studies provide insight into the mechanisms that underlie TDP-43 proteinopathy and present a potential avenue for therapeutic intervention.

Photodimerization systems for regulating protein-protein interactions with light.

blue cyan near-infrared red UV Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Curr Opin Struct Biol, 25 Feb 2019 DOI: 10.1016/ Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic dimerizers are modular domains that can be utilized in a variety of versatile ways to modulate cellular biochemistry. Because of their modularity, many applications using these tools can be easily transferred to new targets without extensive engineering. While a number of photodimerizer systems are currently available, the field remains nascent, with new optimizations for existing systems and new approaches to regulating biological function continuing to be introduced at a steady pace.

Physical Plasma Membrane Perturbation Using Subcellular Optogenetics Drives Integrin-Activated Cell Migration.

blue CRY2/CIB1 iLID RAW264.7 Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
ACS Synth Biol, 22 Feb 2019 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.8b00356 Link to full text
Abstract: Cells experience physical deformations to the plasma membrane that can modulate cell behaviors like migration. Understanding the molecular basis for how physical cues affect dynamic cellular responses requires new approaches that can physically perturb the plasma membrane with rapid, reversible, subcellular control. Here we present an optogenetic approach based on light-inducible dimerization that alters plasma membrane properties by recruiting cytosolic proteins at high concentrations to a target site. Surprisingly, this polarized accumulation of proteins in a cell induces directional amoeboid migration in the opposite direction. Consistent with known effects of constraining high concentrations of proteins to a membrane in vitro, there is localized curvature and tension decrease in the plasma membrane. Integrin activity, sensitive to mechanical forces, is activated in this region. Localized mechanical activation of integrin with optogenetics allowed simultaneous imaging of the molecular and cellular response, helping uncover a positive feedback loop comprising SFK- and ERK-dependent RhoA activation, actomyosin contractility, rearward membrane flow, and membrane tension decrease underlying this mode of cell migration.

Light-Induced Protein Clustering for Optogenetic Interference and Protein Interaction Analysis in Drosophila S2 Cells.

blue CRY2/CIB1 CRY2olig Schneider 2
Biomolecules, 12 Feb 2019 DOI: 10.3390/biom9020061 Link to full text
Abstract: Drosophila Schneider 2 (S2) cells are a simple and powerful system commonly used in cell biology because they are well suited for high resolution microscopy and RNAi-mediated depletion. However, understanding dynamic processes, such as cell division, also requires methodology to interfere with protein function with high spatiotemporal control. In this research study, we report the adaptation of an optogenetic tool to Drosophila S2 cells. Light-activated reversible inhibition by assembled trap (LARIAT) relies on the rapid light-dependent heterodimerization between cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) and cryptochrome-interacting bHLH 1 (CIB1) to form large protein clusters. An anti-green fluorescent protein (GFP) nanobody fused with CRY2 allows this method to quickly trap any GFP-tagged protein in these light-induced protein clusters. We evaluated clustering kinetics in response to light for different LARIAT modules, and showed the ability of GFP-LARIAT to inactivate the mitotic protein Mps1 and to disrupt the membrane localization of the polarity regulator Lethal Giant Larvae (Lgl). Moreover, we validated light-induced co-clustering assays to assess protein-protein interactions in S2 cells. In conclusion, GFP-based LARIAT is a versatile tool to answer different biological questions, since it enables probing of dynamic processes and protein-protein interactions with high spatiotemporal resolution in Drosophila S2 cells.

Continued Activity of the Pioneer Factor Zelda Is Required to Drive Zygotic Genome Activation.

blue CRY2/CRY2 D. melanogaster in vivo Endogenous gene expression
Mol Cell, 9 Feb 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2019.01.014 Link to full text
Abstract: Reprogramming cell fate during the first stages of embryogenesis requires that transcriptional activators gain access to the genome and remodel the zygotic transcriptome. Nonetheless, it is not clear whether the continued activity of these pioneering factors is required throughout zygotic genome activation or whether they are only required early to establish cis-regulatory regions. To address this question, we developed an optogenetic strategy to rapidly and reversibly inactivate the master regulator of genome activation in Drosophila, Zelda. Using this strategy, we demonstrate that continued Zelda activity is required throughout genome activation. We show that Zelda binds DNA in the context of nucleosomes and suggest that this allows Zelda to occupy the genome despite the rapid division cycles in the early embryo. These data identify a powerful strategy to inactivate transcription factor function during development and suggest that reprogramming in the embryo may require specific, continuous pioneering functions to activate the genome.

Near-infrared light remotely up-regulate autophagy with spatiotemporal precision via upconversion optogenetic nanosystem.

blue CRY2/CIB1 HEK293T HeLa mouse in vivo Signaling cascade control
Biomaterials, 1 Feb 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2019.01.042 Link to full text
Abstract: In vivo noninvasively manipulating biological functions by the mediation of biosafe near infrared (NIR) light is becoming increasingly popular. For these applications, upconversion rare-earth nanomaterial holds great promise as a novel photonic element, and has been widely adopted in optogenetics. In this article, an upconversion optogenetic nanosystem that was promised to achieve autophagy up-regulation with spatiotemporal precision was designed. The implantable, wireless, recyclable, less-invasive and biocompatible system worked via two separated parts: blue light-receptor optogenetics-autophagy upregulation plasmids, for protein import; upconversion rods-encapsulated flexible capsule (UCRs-capsule), for converting tissue-penetrative NIR light into local visible blue light. Results validated that this system could achieve up-regulation of autophagy in vitro (in both HeLa and 293T cell lines) and remotely penetrate tissue (∼3.5 mm) in vivo. Since autophagy serves at a central position in intracellular signalling pathways, which is correlative with diverse pathologies, we expect that this method could establish an upconversion material-based autophagy up-regulation strategy for fundamental and clinical applications.

Synthetic switches and regulatory circuits in plants.

blue green near-infrared red UV Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Plant Physiol, 28 Jan 2019 DOI: 10.1104/pp.18.01362 Link to full text
Abstract: Synthetic biology is an established but ever-growing interdisciplinary field of research currently revolutionizing biomedicine studies and the biotech industry. The engineering of synthetic circuitry in bacterial, yeast, and animal systems prompted considerable advances for the understanding and manipulation of genetic and metabolic networks; however, their implementation in the plant field lags behind. Here, we review theoretical-experimental approaches to the engineering of synthetic chemical- and light-regulated (optogenetic) switches for the targeted interrogation and control of cellular processes, including existing applications in the plant field. We highlight the strategies for the modular assembly of genetic parts into synthetic circuits of different complexity, ranging from Boolean logic gates and oscillatory devices up to semi- and fully synthetic open- and closed-loop molecular and cellular circuits. Finally, we explore potential applications of these approaches for the engineering of novel functionalities in plants, including understanding complex signaling networks, improving crop productivity, and the production of biopharmaceuticals.

Perspective Tools for Optogenetics and Photopharmacology: From Design to Implementation.

blue green red UV Cryptochromes LOV domains Opsins Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Prog Photon Sci, 24 Jan 2019 DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-05974-3_8 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics and photopharmacology are two perspective modern methodologies for control and monitoring of biological processes from an isolated cell to complex cell assemblies and organisms. Both methodologies use optically active components that being introduced into the cells of interest allow for optical control or monitoring of different cellular processes. In optogenetics, genetic materials are introduced into the cells to express light-sensitive proteins or protein constructs. In photopharmacology, photochromic compounds are delivered into a cell directly but not produced inside the cell from a genetic material. The development of both optogenetics and photopharmacology is inseparable from the design of improved tools (protein constructs or organic molecules) optimized for specific applications. Herein, we review the main tools that are used in modern optogenetics and photopharmaclogy and describe the types of cellular processes that can be controlled by these tools. Although a large number of different kinds of optogenetic tools exist, their performance can be evaluated with a limited number of metrics that have to be optimized for specific applications.We classify thesemetrics and describe the ways of their improvement.

Blue Light Switchable Cell–Cell Interactions Provide Reversible and Spatiotemporal Control Towards Bottom-Up Tissue Engineering.

blue CRY2/CIB1 MDA-MB-231 Control of cell-cell / cell-material interactions
Adv Biosyst, 18 Jan 2019 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.201800310 Link to full text
Abstract: Controlling cell–cell interactions is central for understanding key cellular processes and bottom-up tissue assembly from single cells. The challenge is to control cell–cell interactions dynamically and reversibly with high spati- otemporal precision noninvasively and sustainably. In this study, cell–cell interactions are controlled with visible light using an optogenetic approach by expressing the blue light switchable proteins CRY2 or CIBN on the surfaces of cells. CRY2 and CIBN expressing cells form specific heterophilic interactions under blue light providing precise control in space and time. Further, these interactions are reversible in the dark and can be repeatedly and dynamically switched on and off. Unlike previous approaches, these genetically encoded proteins allow for long-term expression of the interaction domains and respond to nontoxic low intensity blue light. In addition, these interactions are suitable to assemble cells into 3D multicellular architectures. Overall, this approach captures the dynamic and reversible nature of cell–cell interactions and controls them noninvasively and sustainably both in space and time. This provides a new way of studying cell–cell interactions and assembling cellular building blocks into tissues with unmatched flexibility.

Noninvasive optical activation of Flp recombinase for genetic manipulation in deep mouse brain regions.

blue CRY2/CIB1 Magnets HEK293T mouse in vivo Nucleic acid editing Neuronal activity control
Nat Commun, 18 Jan 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-08282-8 Link to full text
Abstract: Spatiotemporal control of gene expression or labeling is a valuable strategy for identifying functions of genes within complex neural circuits. Here, we develop a highly light-sensitive and efficient photoactivatable Flp recombinase (PA-Flp) that is suitable for genetic manipulation in vivo. The highly light-sensitive property of PA-Flp is ideal for activation in deep mouse brain regions by illumination with a noninvasive light-emitting diode. In addition, PA-Flp can be extended to the Cre-lox system through a viral vector as Flp-dependent Cre expression platform, thereby activating both Flp and Cre. Finally, we demonstrate that PA-Flp-dependent, Cre-mediated Cav3.1 silencing in the medial septum increases object-exploration behavior in mice. Thus, PA-Flp is a noninvasive, highly efficient, and easy-to-use optogenetic module that offers a side-effect-free and expandable genetic manipulation tool for neuroscience research.

Intensiometric biosensors visualize the activity of multiple small GTPases in vivo.

blue CRY2/CRY2 MDA-MB-231 rat hippocampal neurons Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Nat Commun, 14 Jan 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-08217-3 Link to full text
Abstract: Ras and Rho small GTPases are critical for numerous cellular processes including cell division, migration, and intercellular communication. Despite extensive efforts to visualize the spatiotemporal activity of these proteins, achieving the sensitivity and dynamic range necessary for in vivo application has been challenging. Here, we present highly sensitive intensiometric small GTPase biosensors visualizing the activity of multiple small GTPases in single cells in vivo. Red-shifted sensors combined with blue light-controllable optogenetic modules achieved simultaneous monitoring and manipulation of protein activities in a highly spatiotemporal manner. Our biosensors revealed spatial dynamics of Cdc42 and Ras activities upon structural plasticity of single dendritic spines, as well as a broad range of subcellular Ras activities in the brains of freely behaving mice. Thus, these intensiometric small GTPase sensors enable the spatiotemporal dissection of complex protein signaling networks in live animals.

Using Synthetic Biology to Engineer Spatial Patterns.

blue green red Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Adv Biosyst, 17 Dec 2018 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.201800280 Link to full text
Abstract: Synthetic biology has emerged as a multidisciplinary field that provides new tools and approaches to address longstanding problems in biology. It integrates knowledge from biology, engineering, mathematics, and biophysics to build—rather than to simply observe and perturb—biological systems that emulate natural counterparts or display novel properties. The interface between synthetic and developmental biology has greatly benefitted both fields and allowed to address questions that would remain challenging with classical approaches due to the intrinsic complexity and essentiality of developmental processes. This Progress Report provides an overview of how synthetic biology can help to understand a process that is crucial for the development of multicellular organisms: pattern formation. It reviews the major mechanisms of genetically encoded synthetic systems that have been engineered to establish spatial patterns at the population level. Limitations, challenges, applications, and potential opportunities of synthetic pattern formation are also discussed.

Perspectives of RAS and RHEB GTPase Signaling Pathways in Regenerating Brain Neurons.

blue cyan red Cryptochromes FKF1/G1 Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Int J Mol Sci, 14 Dec 2018 DOI: 10.3390/ijms19124052 Link to full text
Abstract: Cellular activation of RAS GTPases into the GTP-binding "ON" state is a key switch for regulating brain functions. Molecular protein structural elements of rat sarcoma (RAS) and RAS homolog protein enriched in brain (RHEB) GTPases involved in this switch are discussed including their subcellular membrane localization for triggering specific signaling pathways resulting in regulation of synaptic connectivity, axonal growth, differentiation, migration, cytoskeletal dynamics, neural protection, and apoptosis. A beneficial role of neuronal H-RAS activity is suggested from cellular and animal models of neurodegenerative diseases. Recent experiments on optogenetic regulation offer insights into the spatiotemporal aspects controlling RAS/mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) or phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K) pathways. As optogenetic manipulation of cellular signaling in deep brain regions critically requires penetration of light through large distances of absorbing tissue, we discuss magnetic guidance of re-growing axons as a complementary approach. In Parkinson's disease, dopaminergic neuronal cell bodies degenerate in the substantia nigra. Current human trials of stem cell-derived dopaminergic neurons must take into account the inability of neuronal axons navigating over a large distance from the grafted site into striatal target regions. Grafting dopaminergic precursor neurons directly into the degenerating substantia nigra is discussed as a novel concept aiming to guide axonal growth by activating GTPase signaling through protein-functionalized intracellular magnetic nanoparticles responding to external magnets.

Enhanced intrinsic CYP3A4 activity in human hepatic C3A cells with optically controlled CRISPR/dCas9 activator complex.

blue CRY2/CIB1 C3A Endogenous gene expression
Integr Biol (Camb), 6 Dec 2018 DOI: 10.1039/c8ib00109j Link to full text
Abstract: Human hepatic C3A cells have been applied in bioartificial liver development, although these cells display low intrinsic cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) enzyme activity. We aimed to enhance CYP3A4 enzyme activity of C3A cells utilizing CRISPR gene editing technology. We designed two CYP3A4 expression enhanced systems applying clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) gene technology: a CRISPR-on activation system including dCas9-VP64-GFP and two U6-sgRNA-mCherry elements, and a light-controlled CRISPR-on activation system combining our CRISPR-on activation system with an optical control system to facilitate regulation of CYP3A4 expression for various applications. Results of enzymatic activity assays displayed increased CYP3A4 activity in C3A cells expressing the CRISPR-on activation system compared with C3A cells. In addition, CYP3A4 activity increased in C3A cells expressing the light-controlled CRISPR-on activation system under blue light radiation compared with C3A cells. Notably, there was no statistical difference in the increase of CYP3A4 protein amounts induced by these two methods. After expansion in culture, C3A cells with the light-controlled CRISPR-on activation system exhibited no statistical difference in CYP3A4 mRNA levels between generations. Our findings provide a method to stably enhance functional gene expression in bioartificial liver cells with the potential for large-scale cell expansion.
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