Showing 1 - 25 of 511 results
LITOS: a versatile LED illumination tool for optogenetic stimulation.
Optogenetics has become a key tool to manipulate biological processes with high spatio-temporal resolution. Recently, a number of commercial and open-source multi-well illumination devices have been developed to provide throughput in optogenetics experiments. However, available commercial devices remain expensive and lack flexibility, while open-source solutions require programming knowledge and/or include complex assembly processes. We present a LED Illumination Tool for Optogenetic Stimulation (LITOS) based on an assembled printed circuit board controlling a commercially available 32 × 64 LED matrix as illumination source. LITOS can be quickly assembled without any soldering, and includes an easy-to-use interface, accessible via a website hosted on the device itself. Complex light stimulation patterns can easily be programmed without coding expertise. LITOS can be used with different formats of multi-well plates, petri dishes, and flasks. We validated LITOS by measuring the activity of the MAPK/ERK signaling pathway in response to different dynamic light stimulation regimes using FGFR1 and Raf optogenetic actuators. LITOS can uniformly stimulate all the cells in a well and allows for flexible temporal stimulation schemes. LITOS's affordability and ease of use aims at democratizing optogenetics in any laboratory.
Automatic detection of spatio-temporal signalling patterns in cell collectives.
An increasing experimental evidence points to physiological importance of space-time correlations in signalling of cell collectives. From wound healing to epithelial homeostasis to morphogenesis, coordinated activation of bio-molecules between cells allows the collectives to perform more complex tasks and better tackle environmental challenges. To understand this information exchange and to advance new theories of emergent phenomena, we created ARCOS, a computational method to detect and quantify collective signalling. We demonstrate ARCOS on cell and organism collectives with space-time correlations on different scales in 2D and 3D. We make a new observation that oncogenic mutations in the MAPK/ERK and PIK3CA/Akt pathways of MCF10A epithelial cells induce ERK activity waves with different size, duration, and frequency. The open-source implementations of ARCOS are available as R and Python packages, and as a plugin for napari image viewer to interactively quantify collective phenomena without prior programming experience.
Plant optogenetics: Applications and perspectives.
To understand cell biological processes, like signalling pathways, protein movements, or metabolic processes, precise tools for manipulation are desired. Optogenetics allows to control cellular processes by light and can be applied at a high temporal and spatial resolution. In the last three decades, various optogenetic applications have been developed for animal, fungal, and prokaryotic cells. However, using optogenetics in plants has been difficult due to biological and technical issues, like missing cofactors, the presence of endogenous photoreceptors, or the necessity of light for photosynthesis, which potentially activates optogenetic tools constitutively. Recently developed tools overcome these limitations, making the application of optogenetics feasible also in plants. Here, we highlight the most useful recent applications in plants and give a perspective for future optogenetic approaches in plants science.
Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein forms nuclear condensates and regulates alternative splicing.
The diverse functions of WASP, the deficiency of which causes Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS), remain poorly defined. We generated three isogenic WAS models using patient induced pluripotent stem cells and genome editing. These models recapitulated WAS phenotypes and revealed that WASP deficiency causes an upregulation of numerous RNA splicing factors and widespread altered splicing. Loss of WASP binding to splicing factor gene promoters frequently leads to aberrant epigenetic activation. WASP interacts with dozens of nuclear speckle constituents and constrains SRSF2 mobility. Using an optogenetic system, we showed that WASP forms phase-separated condensates that encompasses SRSF2, nascent RNA and active Pol II. The role of WASP in gene body condensates is corroborated by ChIPseq and RIPseq. Together our data reveal that WASP is a nexus regulator of RNA splicing that controls the transcription of splicing factors epigenetically and the dynamics of the splicing machinery through liquid-liquid phase separation.
Optogenetics for transcriptional programming and genetic engineering.
Optogenetics combines genetics and biophotonics to enable noninvasive control of biological processes with high spatiotemporal precision. When engineered into protein machineries that govern the cellular information flow as depicted in the central dogma, multiple genetically encoded non-opsin photosensory modules have been harnessed to modulate gene transcription, DNA or RNA modifications, DNA recombination, and genome engineering by utilizing photons emitting in the wide range of 200-1000 nm. We present herein generally applicable modular strategies for optogenetic engineering and highlight latest advances in the broad applications of opsin-free optogenetics to program transcriptional outputs and precisely manipulate the mammalian genome, epigenome, and epitranscriptome. We also discuss current challenges and future trends in opsin-free optogenetics, which has been rapidly evolving to meet the growing needs in synthetic biology and genetics research.
Integration of light and temperature sensing by liquid-liquid phase separation of phytochrome B.
Light and temperature in plants are perceived by a common receptor, phytochrome B (phyB). How phyB distinguishes these signals remains elusive. Here, we report that phyB spontaneously undergoes phase separation to assemble liquid-like droplets. This capacity is driven by its C terminus through self-association, whereas the intrinsically disordered N-terminal extension (NTE) functions as a biophysical modulator of phase separation. Light exposure triggers a conformational change to subsequently alter phyB condensate assembly, while temperature sensation is directly mediated by the NTE to modulate the phase behavior of phyB droplets. Multiple signaling components are selectively incorporated into phyB droplets to form concentrated microreactors, allowing switch-like control of phyB signaling activity through phase transitions. Therefore, light and temperature cues are separately read out by phyB via allosteric changes and spontaneous phase separation, respectively. We provide a conceptual framework showing how the distinct but highly correlated physical signals are interpreted and sorted by one receptor.
Precise control of microtubule disassembly in living cells.
Microtubules tightly regulate various cellular activities. Our understanding of microtubules is largely based on experiments using microtubule-targeting agents, which, however, are insufficient to dissect the dynamic mechanisms of specific microtubule populations, due to their slow effects on the entire pool of microtubules. To overcome this technological limitation, we have used chemo and optogenetics to disassemble specific microtubule subtypes, including tyrosinated microtubules, primary cilia, mitotic spindles, and intercellular bridges, by rapidly recruiting engineered microtubule-cleaving enzymes onto target microtubules in a reversible manner. Using this approach, we show that acute microtubule disassembly swiftly halts vesicular trafficking and lysosomal dynamics. It also immediately triggers Golgi and ER reorganization and slows the fusion/fission of mitochondria without affecting mitochondrial membrane potential. In addition, cell rigidity is increased after microtubule disruption owing to increased contractile stress fibers. Microtubule disruption furthermore prevents cell division, but does not cause cell death during interphase. Overall, the reported tools facilitate detailed analysis of how microtubules precisely regulate cellular architecture and functions.
Optogenetic technologies in translational cancer research.
Gene and cell therapies are widely recognized as future cancer therapeutics but poor controllability limits their clinical applications. Optogenetics, the use of light-controlled proteins to precisely spatiotemporally regulate the activity of genes and cells, opens up new possibilities for cancer treatment. Light of specific wavelength can activate the immune response, oncolytic activity and modulate cell signaling in tumor cells non-invasively, in dosed manner, with tissue confined action and without side effects of conventional therapies. Here, we review optogenetic approaches in cancer research, their clinical potential and challenges of incorporating optogenetics in cancer therapy. We critically discuss beneficial combinations of optogenetic technologies with therapeutic nanobodies, T-cell activation and CAR-T cell approaches, genome editors and oncolytic viruses. We consider viral vectors and nanoparticles for delivering optogenetic payloads and activating light to tumors. Finally, we highlight herein the prospects for integrating optogenetics into immunotherapy as a novel, fast, reversible and safe approach to cancer treatment.
Force propagation between epithelial cells depends on active coupling and mechano-structural polarization.
Cell-generated forces play a major role in coordinating the large-scale behavior of cell assemblies, in particular during development, wound healing and cancer. Mechanical signals propagate faster than biochemical signals, but can have similar effects, especially in epithelial tissues with strong cell-cell adhesion. However, a quantitative description of the transmission chain from force generation in a sender cell, force propagation across cell-cell boundaries, and the concomitant response of receiver cells is missing. For a quantitative analysis of this important situation, here we propose a minimal model system of two epithelial cells on an H-pattern (“cell doublet”). After optogenetically activating RhoA, a major regulator of cell contractility, in the sender cell, we measure the mechanical response of the receiver cell by traction force and monolayer stress microscopies. In general, we find that the receiver cells shows an active response so that the cell doublet forms a coherent unit. However, force propagation and response of the receiver cell also strongly depends on the mechano-structural polarization in the cell assembly, which is controlled by cell-matrix adhesion to the adhesive micropattern. We find that the response of the receiver cell is stronger when the mechano-structural polarization axis is oriented perpendicular to the direction of force propagation, reminiscent of the Poisson effect in passive materials. We finally show that the same effects are at work in small tissues. Our work demonstrates that cellular organization and active mechanical response of a tissue is key to maintain signal strength and leads to the emergence of elasticity, which means that signals are not dissipated like in a viscous system, but can propagate over large distances.
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.
Spatiotemporal dynamics of membrane surface charge regulates cell polarity and migration.
During cell migration and polarization, hundreds of signal transduction and cytoskeletal components self-organize to generate localized protrusions. Although biochemical and genetic analyses have delineated many specific interactions, how the activation and localization of so many different molecules are spatiotemporally orchestrated at the subcellular level has remained unclear. Here we show that the regulation of negative surface charge on the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane plays an integrative role in the molecular interactions. Surface charge, or zeta potential, is transiently lowered at new protrusions and within cortical waves of Ras/PI3K/TORC2/F-actin network activation. Rapid alterations of inner leaflet anionic phospholipids, such as PI(4,5)P2, PI(3,4)P2, phosphatidylserine, and phosphatidic acid, collectively contribute to the surface charge changes. Abruptly reducing the surface charge by recruiting positively charged optogenetic actuators was sufficient to trigger the entire biochemical network, initiate de novo protrusions, and abrogate pre-existing polarity. These effects were blocked by genetic or pharmacological inhibitions of key signaling components such as Akt and PI3K/TORC2. Conversely, increasing the negative surface deactivated the network and locally suppressed chemoattractant-induced protrusions or subverted EGF-induced ERK activation. Computational simulations involving excitable biochemical networks demonstrated that slight changes in feedback loops, induced by recruitment of the actuators, could lead to outsized effects on system activation. We propose that key signaling network components act on, and are in turn acted upon, by surface charge, closing feedback loops which bring about the global-scale molecular self-organization required for spontaneous protrusion formation, cell migration, and polarity establishment.
Killing cells using light (activated) sabers.
Many types of regulated cell death exist, however the non-cell autonomous effects of specific forms of cell death remain poorly understood. Addressing this, Shkarina et al. (2022. J. Cell Biol.https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.202109038) describe an optogenetic method to activate distinct modes of cell death in select cells.
Peeking under the hood of early embryogenesis: Using tools and synthetic biology to understand native control systems and sculpt tissues.
Early embryogenesis requires rapid division of pluripotent blastomeres, regulated genome activation, precise spatiotemporal signaling to pattern cell fate, and morphogenesis to shape primitive tissue architectures. The complexity of this process has inspired researchers to move beyond simple genetic perturbation into engineered devices and synthetic biology tools to permit temporal and spatial manipulation of the control systems guiding development. By precise alteration of embryo organization, it is now possible to advance beyond basic analytical strategies and directly test the sufficiency of models for developmental regulation. Separately, advances in micropatterning and embryoid culture have facilitated the bottom-up construction of complex embryo tissues allowing ex vivo systems to recapitulate even later stages of development. Embryos fertilized and grown ex vivo offer an excellent opportunity to exogenously perturb fundamental pathways governing embryogenesis. Here we review the technologies developed to thermally modulate the embryo cell cycle, and optically regulate morphogen and signaling pathways in space and time, specifically in the blastula embryo. Additionally, we highlight recent advances in cell patterning in two and three dimensions that have helped reveal the self-organizing properties and gene regulatory networks guiding early embryo organization.
Light-dependent modulation of protein localization and function in living bacteria cells.
Most bacteria lack membrane-enclosed organelles to compartmentalize cellular processes. In lieu of physical compartments, bacterial proteins are often recruited to macromolecular scaffolds at specific subcellular locations to carry out their functions. Consequently, the ability to modulate a protein’s subcellular location with high precision and speed bears the potential to manipulate its corresponding cellular functions. Here we demonstrate that the CRY2/CIB1 system from Arabidopsis thaliana can be used to rapidly direct proteins to different subcellular locations inside live E. coli cells including the nucleoid, the cell pole, membrane, and the midcell division plane. We further show that such light-induced re-localization can be used to rapidly inhibit cytokinesis in actively dividing E. coli cells. Finally, we demonstrate that the CRY2/CIBN binding kinetics can be modulated by green light, adding a new dimension of control to the system.
Engineered Cas9 extracellular vesicles as a novel gene editing tool.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have shown promise as biological delivery vehicles, but therapeutic applications require efficient cargo loading. Here, we developed new methods for CRISPR/Cas9 loading into EVs through reversible heterodimerization of Cas9-fusions with EV sorting partners. Cas9-loaded EVs were collected from engineered Expi293F cells using standard methodology, characterized using nanoparticle tracking analysis, western blotting, and transmission electron microscopy and analysed for CRISPR/Cas9-mediated functional gene editing in a Cre-reporter cellular assay. Light-induced dimerization using Cryptochrome 2 combined with CD9 or a Myristoylation-Palmitoylation-Palmitoylation lipid modification resulted in efficient loading with approximately 25 Cas9 molecules per EV and high functional delivery with 51% gene editing of the Cre reporter cassette in HEK293 and 25% in HepG2 cells, respectively. This approach was also effective for targeting knock-down of the therapeutically relevant PCSK9 gene with 6% indel efficiency in HEK293. Cas9 transfer was detergent-sensitive and associated with the EV fractions after size exclusion chromatography, indicative of EV-mediated transfer. Considering the advantages of EVs over other delivery vectors we envision that this study will prove useful for a range of therapeutic applications, including CRISPR/Cas9 mediated genome editing.
Light-induced fermenter production of derivatives of the sweet protein monellin is maximized in prestationary Saccharomyces cerevisiae cultures.
Optogenetics has great potential for biotechnology and metabolic engineering due to the cost-effective control of cellular activities. The usage of optogenetics techniques for the biosynthesis of bioactive molecules ensures reduced costs and enhanced regulatory possibilities. This requires development of efficient methods for light-delivery during a production process in a fermenter. Here, we benchmarked the fermenter production of a low-caloric sweetener in Saccharomyces cerevisiae with optogenetic tools against the production in small scale cell culture flasks. An expression system based on the light-controlled interaction between Cry2 and Cib1 was used for sweet-protein production. Optimization of the fermenter process was achieved by increasing the light-flux during the production phase to circumvent shading by yeast cells at high densities. Maximal amounts of the sweet-protein were produced in a pre-stationary growth phase, whereas at later stages, a decay in protein abundance was observable. Our investigation showcases the upscaling of an optogenetic production process from small flasks to a bioreactor. Optogenetic-controlled production in a fermenter is highly cost-effective due to the cheap inducer and therefore a viable alternative to chemicals for a process that requires an induction step.
PPARγ phase separates with RXRα at PPREs to regulate target gene expression.
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-γ is a key transcription activator controlling adipogenesis and lipid metabolism. PPARγ binds PPAR response elements (PPREs) as the obligate heterodimer with retinoid X receptor (RXR) α, but exactly how PPARγ orchestrates the transcriptional response is unknown. This study demonstrates that PPARγ forms phase-separated droplets in vitro and solid-like nuclear condensates in cell, which is intriguingly mediated by its DNA binding domain characterized by the zinc finger motif. Furthermore, PPARγ forms nuclear condensates at PPREs sites through phase separation to compartmentalize its heterodimer partner RXRα to initiate PPARγ-specific transcriptional activation. Finally, using an optogenetic approach, the enforced formation of PPARγ/RXRα condensates leads to preferential enrichment at PPREs sites and significantly promotes the expression of PPARγ target genes. These results define a novel mechanism by which PPARγ engages the phase separation principles for efficient and specific transcriptional activation.
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.
Optogenetic activators of apoptosis, necroptosis, and pyroptosis.
Targeted and specific induction of cell death in an individual or groups of cells hold the potential for new insights into the response of tissues or organisms to different forms of death. Here, we report the development of optogenetically controlled cell death effectors (optoCDEs), a novel class of optogenetic tools that enables light-mediated induction of three types of programmed cell death (PCD)-apoptosis, pyroptosis, and necroptosis-using Arabidopsis thaliana photosensitive protein Cryptochrome-2. OptoCDEs enable a rapid and highly specific induction of PCD in human, mouse, and zebrafish cells and are suitable for a wide range of applications, such as sub-lethal cell death induction or precise elimination of single cells or cell populations in vitro and in vivo. As the proof-of-concept, we utilize optoCDEs to assess the differences in neighboring cell responses to apoptotic or necrotic PCD, revealing a new role for shingosine-1-phosphate signaling in regulating the efferocytosis of the apoptotic cell by epithelia.
Upregulated flotillins and sphingosine kinase 2 derail AXL vesicular traffic to promote epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
Altered endocytosis and vesicular trafficking are major players during tumorigenesis. Flotillin overexpression, a feature observed in many invasive tumors and identified as a marker of poor prognosis, induces a deregulated endocytic and trafficking pathway called upregulated flotillin-induced trafficking (UFIT). Here, we found that in non-tumoral mammary epithelial cells, induction of the UFIT pathway promotes epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and accelerates the endocytosis of several transmembrane receptors, including AXL, in flotillin-positive late endosomes. AXL overexpression, frequently observed in cancer cells, is linked to EMT and metastasis formation. In flotillin-overexpressing non-tumoral mammary epithelial cells and in invasive breast carcinoma cells, we found that the UFIT pathway-mediated AXL endocytosis allows its stabilization and depends on sphingosine kinase 2, a lipid kinase recruited in flotillin-rich plasma membrane domains and endosomes. Thus, the deregulation of vesicular trafficking following flotillin upregulation, and through sphingosine kinase 2, emerges as a new mechanism of AXL overexpression and EMT-inducing signaling pathway activation.
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.
Optogenetic Control of PIP2 Interactions Shaping ENaC Activity.
The activity of the epithelial Na+ Channel (ENaC) is strongly dependent on the membrane phospholipid phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2). PIP2 binds two distinct cationic clusters within the N termini of β- and γ-ENaC subunits (βN1 and γN2). The affinities of these sites were previously determined using short synthetic peptides, yet their role in sensitizing ENaC to changes in PIP2 levels in the cellular system is not well established. We addressed this question by comparing the effects of PIP2 depletion and recovery on ENaC channel activity and intracellular Na+ levels [Na+]i. We tested effects on ENaC activity with mutations to the PIP2 binding sites using the optogenetic system CIBN/CRY2-OCRL to selectively deplete PIP2. We monitored changes of [Na+]i by measuring the fluorescent Na+ indicator, CoroNa Green AM, and changes in channel activity by performing patch clamp electrophysiology. Whole cell patch clamp measurements showed a complete lack of response to PIP2 depletion and recovery in ENaC with mutations to βN1 or γN2 or both sites, compared to wild type ENaC. Whereas mutant βN1 also had no change in CoroNa Green fluorescence in response to PIP2 depletion, γN2 did have reduced [Na+]i, which was explained by having shorter CoroNa Green uptake and half-life. These results suggest that CoroNa Green measurements should be interpreted with caution. Importantly, the electrophysiology results show that the βN1 and γN2 sites on ENaC are each necessary to permit maximal ENaC activity in the presence of PIP2.
An optogenetic tool to recruit individual PKC isozymes to the cell surface and promote specific phosphorylation of membrane proteins.
The Protein kinase C family consists of several closely related kinases. These enzymes regulate the function of proteins through the phosphorylation of hydroxyl groups on serines and/or threonines. The selective activation of individual PKC isozymes has proven challenging due to a lack of specific activator molecules. Here we developed an optogenetic, blue-light activated PKC isozyme that harnesses a plant-based dimerization system between the photosensitive cryptochrome-2 (CRY2) and the N-terminus of the transcription factor CIB1 (CIBN). We show that tagging CRY2 with the catalytic domain of PKC isozymes can efficiently promote its translocation to the cell surface upon blue light exposure. We demonstrate this system using PKCε and show that this leads to robust activation of a K+ channel (GIRK1/4) previously shown to be activated by PKCε. We anticipate that this approach can be utilized for other PKC isoforms to provide a reliable and direct stimulus for targeted membrane protein phosphorylation by the relevant PKCs.
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.
Optical control of protein delivery and partitioning in the nucleolus.
The nucleolus is a subnuclear membraneless compartment intimately involved in ribosomal RNA synthesis, ribosome biogenesis and stress response. Multiple optogenetic devices have been developed to manipulate nuclear protein import and export, but molecular tools tailored for remote control over selective targeting or partitioning of cargo proteins into subnuclear compartments capable of phase separation are still limited. Here, we report a set of single-component photoinducible nucleolus-targeting tools, designated pNUTs, to enable rapid and reversible nucleoplasm-to-nucleolus shuttling, with the half-lives ranging from milliseconds to minutes. pNUTs allow both global protein infiltration into nucleoli and local delivery of cargoes into the outermost layer of the nucleolus, the granular component. When coupled with the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)-associated C9ORF72 proline/arginine-rich dipeptide repeats, pNUTs allow us to photomanipulate poly-proline-arginine nucleolar localization, perturb nucleolar protein nucleophosmin 1 and suppress nascent protein synthesis. pNUTs thus expand the optogenetic toolbox by permitting light-controllable interrogation of nucleolar functions and precise induction of ALS-associated toxicity in cellular models.