Showing 1 - 25 of 400 results
PIP2 regulation of TRPC5 channel activation and desensitization.
Transient receptor potential canonical type 5 (TRPC5) ion channels are expressed in the brain and kidney, and have been identified as promising therapeutic targets whose selective inhibition can protect against diseases driven by a leaky kidney filter, such as Focal Segmental Glomerular Sclerosis (FSGS). TRPC5 channels are activated by elevated levels of extracellular Ca2+or lanthanide ions, but also by G protein (Gq/11) stimulation. Phosphatidylinositol bisphosphate (PIP2) hydrolysis by phospholipase C (PLC) enzymes leads to protein kinase C (PKC)-mediated phosphorylation of TRPC5 channels and their subsequent desensitization. However, the roles of PIP2 in activation and maintenance of TRPC5 channel activity via its hydrolysis product diacyl glycerol (DAG), as well as the mechanism of desensitization of TRPC5 activity by DAG-stimulated PKC activity remain unclear. Here, we designed experiments to distinguish between the processes underlying channel activation and inhibition. Using whole-cell patch clamp, we employed an optogenetic tool to dephosphorylate PIP2 and assess channel-PIP2 interactions influenced by activators, such as DAG, or inhibitors, such as PKC phosphorylation. Using total internal reflection microscopy, we assessed channel cell surface density. We show that PIP2 controls both the PKC-mediated inhibition as well as the DAG- and lanthanide-mediated activation of TRPC5 currents via control of gating rather than channel cell surface density. These mechanistic insights promise to aid in the development of more selective and precise inhibitors to block TRPC5 channel activity, and to illuminate new opportunities for targeted therapies for a group of chronic kidney diseases for which there is currently a great unmet need.
Optogenetic relaxation of actomyosin contractility uncovers mechanistic roles of cortical tension during cytokinesis.
Actomyosin contractility generated cooperatively by nonmuscle myosin II and actin filaments plays essential roles in a wide range of biological processes, such as cell motility, cytokinesis, and tissue morphogenesis. However, it is still unknown how actomyosin contractility generates force and maintains cellular morphology. Here, we demonstrate an optogenetic method to induce relaxation of actomyosin contractility. The system, named OptoMYPT, combines a catalytic subunit of the type I phosphatase-binding domain of MYPT1 with an optogenetic dimerizer, so that it allows light-dependent recruitment of endogenous PP1c to the plasma membrane. Blue-light illumination was sufficient to induce dephosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains and decrease in traction force at the subcellular level. The OptoMYPT system was further employed to understand the mechanics of actomyosin-based cortical tension and contractile ring tension during cytokinesis. We found that the relaxation of cortical tension at both poles by OptoMYPT accelerated the furrow ingression rate, revealing that the cortical tension substantially antagonizes constriction of the cleavage furrow. Based on these results, the OptoMYPT system will provide new opportunities to understand cellular and tissue mechanics.
Optogenetic-based Localization of Talin to the Plasma Membrane Promotes Activation of β3 Integrins.
Interaction of talin with the cytoplasmic tails of integrin β triggers integrin activation, leading to an increase of integrin affinity/avidity for extracellular ligands. In talin knockout mice, loss of talin interaction with platelet integrin αIIbβ3 causes a severe hemostatic defect, and loss of talin interaction with endothelial cell integrin αVβ3 affects angiogenesis. In normal cells, talin is auto-inhibited and localized in the cytoplasm. Here we employed an optogenetic platform to assess whether recruitment of full-length talin to the plasma membrane was sufficient to induce integrin activation. A dimerization module (CRY2 fused to the N-terminus of talin; CIBN-CAAX) responsive to 450 nm (blue) light was inserted into CHO cells and endothelial cells also expressing αIIbβ3 or αVβ3, respectively. Thus, exposure of the cells to blue light caused a rapid and reversible recruitment of CRY2-talin to the CIBN-CAAX-decorated plasma membrane. This resulted in β3 integrin activation in both cell types, as well as increasing migration of the endothelial cells. However, membrane recruitment of talin was not sufficient for integrin activation, as membrane-associated Rap1-GTP was also required. Moreover, talin mutations that interfered with its direct binding to Rap1 abrogated β3 integrin activation. Altogether, these results define a role for the plasma membrane recruitment of talin in β3 integrin activation, and they suggest a nuanced sequence of events thereafter involving Rap1-GTP.
Rac1 activation can generate untemplated, lamellar membrane ruffles.
Membrane protrusions that occur on the dorsal surface of a cell are an excellent experimental system to study actin machinery at work in a living cell. Small GTPase Rac1 controls the membrane protrusions that form and encapsulate extracellular volumes to perform pinocytic or phagocytic functions.
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.
Multiple Sclerosis-Associated hnRNPA1 Mutations Alter hnRNPA1 Dynamics and Influence Stress Granule Formation.
Evidence indicates that dysfunctional heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNPA1; A1) contributes to the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis. Understanding molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis may result in novel therapies that attenuate neurodegeneration, thereby improving the lives of MS patients with multiple sclerosis. Using an in vitro, blue light induced, optogenetic protein expression system containing the optogene Cryptochrome 2 and a fluorescent mCherry reporter, we examined the effects of multiple sclerosis-associated somatic A1 mutations (P275S and F281L) in A1 localization, cluster kinetics and stress granule formation in real-time. We show that A1 mutations caused cytoplasmic mislocalization, and significantly altered the kinetics of A1 cluster formation/dissociation, and the quantity and size of clusters. A1 mutations also caused stress granule formation to occur more quickly and frequently in response to blue light stimulation. This study establishes a live cell optogenetics imaging system to probe localization and association characteristics of A1. It also demonstrates that somatic mutations in A1 alter its function and promote stress granule formation, which supports the hypothesis that A1 dysfunction may exacerbate neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis.
Strategies for site-specific recombination with high efficiency and precise spatiotemporal resolution.
Site-specific recombinases (SSRs) are invaluable genome engineering tools that have enormously boosted our understanding of gene functions and cell lineage relationships in developmental biology, stem cell biology, regenerative medicine, and multiple diseases. However, the ever-increasing complexity of biomedical research requires the development of novel site-specific genetic recombination technologies that can manipulate genomic DNA with high efficiency and fine spatiotemporal control. Here, we review the latest innovative strategies of the commonly used Cre-loxP recombination system and its combinatorial strategies with other SSR systems. We also highlight recent progress with a focus on the new generation of chemical- and light-inducible genetic systems and discuss the merits and limitations of each new and established system. Finally, we provide the future perspectives of combining various recombination systems or improving well-established site-specific genetic tools to achieve more efficient and precise spatiotemporal genetic manipulation.
Biophysical and biochemical properties of Deup1 self-assemblies: a potential driver for deuterosome formation during multiciliogenesis.
The deuterosome is a non-membranous organelle involved in large-scale centriole amplification during multiciliogenesis. Deuterosomes are specifically assembled during the process of multiciliogenesis. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying deuterosome formation are poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the molecular properties of deuterosome protein 1 (Deup1), an essential protein involved in deuterosome assembly. We found that Deup1 has the ability to self-assemble into macromolecular condensates both in vitro and in cells. The Deup1-containing structures formed in multiciliogenesis and the Deup1 condensates self-assembled in vitro showed low turnover of Deup1, suggesting that Deup1 forms highly stable structures. Our biochemical analyses revealed that an increase of the concentration of Deup1 and a crowded molecular environment both facilitate Deup1 self-assembly. The self-assembly of Deup1 relies on its N-terminal region, which contains multiple coiled coil domains. Using an optogenetic approach, we demonstrated that self-assembly and the C-terminal half of Deup1 were sufficient to spatially compartmentalize centrosomal protein 152 (Cep152) and polo like kinase 4 (Plk4), master components for centriole biogenesis, in the cytoplasm. Collectively, the present data suggest that Deup1 forms the structural core of the deuterosome through self-assembly into stable macromolecular condensates.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.
Using optogenetics to link myosin patterns to contractile cell behaviors during convergent extension.
Distinct spatiotemporal patterns of actomyosin contractility are often associated with particular epithelial tissue shape changes during development. For example, a planar polarized pattern of myosin II localization regulated by Rho1 signaling during Drosophila body axis elongation is thought to drive the cell behaviors that contribute to convergent extension. However, it is not well understood how specific aspects of a myosin localization pattern influence the multiple cell behaviors—including cell intercalation, cell shape changes, and apical cell area fluctuations—that simultaneously occur within a tissue during morphogenesis. Here, we use optogenetic activation (optoGEF) and deactivation (optoGAP) of Rho1 signaling to perturb the myosin pattern in the germband epithelium during Drosophila axis elongation and analyze the effects on contractile cell behaviors within the tissue. We find that uniform photoactivation of optoGEF or optoGAP is sufficient to rapidly override the endogenous myosin pattern, abolishing myosin planar polarity and reducing cell intercalation and convergent extension. However, these two perturbations have distinct effects on junctional and medial myosin localization, apical cell area fluctuations, and cell packings within the germband. Activation of Rho1 signaling in optoGEF embryos increases myosin accumulation in the medial-apical domain of germband cells, leading to increased amplitudes of apical cell area fluctuations. This enhanced contractility is translated into heterogeneous reductions in apical cell areas across the tissue, disrupting cellular packings within the germband. Conversely, inactivation of Rho1 signaling in optoGAP embryos decreases both medial and junctional myosin accumulation, leading to a dramatic reduction in cell area fluctuations. These results demonstrate that the level of Rho1 activity and the balance between junctional and medial myosin regulate apical cell area fluctuations and cellular packings in the germband, which have been proposed to influence the biophysics of cell rearrangements and tissue fluidity.
A single-chain and fast-responding light-inducible Cre recombinase as a novel optogenetic switch.
Optogenetics enables genome manipulations with high spatiotemporal resolution, opening exciting possibilities for fundamental and applied biological research. Here, we report the development of LiCre, a novel light-inducible Cre recombinase. LiCre is made of a single flavin-containing protein comprising the AsLOV2 photoreceptor domain of Avena sativa fused to a Cre variant carrying destabilizing mutations in its N-terminal and C-terminal domains. LiCre can be activated within minutes of illumination with blue light, without the need of additional chemicals. When compared to existing photoactivatable Cre recombinases based on two split units, LiCre displayed faster and stronger activation by light as well as a lower residual activity in the dark. LiCre was efficient both in yeast, where it allowed us to control the production of β-carotene with light, and in human cells. Given its simplicity and performances, LiCre is particularly suited for fundamental and biomedical research, as well as for controlling industrial bioprocesses.
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.
Optical regulation of endogenous RhoA reveals switching of cellular responses by signal amplitude.
Precise control of the timing and amplitude of protein activity in living cells can explain how cells compute responses to complex biochemical stimuli. The small GTPase RhoA can promote either focal adhesion (FA) growth or cell edge retraction, but how a cell chooses between these opposite outcomes is poorly understood. Here, we developed a photoswitchable RhoA guanine exchange factor (psRhoGEF) to obtain precise optical control of endogenous RhoA activity. We find that low levels of RhoA activation by psRhoGEF induces edge retraction and FA disassembly, while high levels of RhoA activation induces both FA growth and disassembly. We observed that mDia-induced Src activation at FAs occurs preferentially at lower levels of RhoA activation. Strikingly, inhibition of Src causes a switch from FA disassembly to growth. Thus, rheostatic control of RhoA activation reveals how cells use signal amplitude and biochemical context to select between alternative responses to a single biochemical signal.
Transient light-activated gene expression in Chinese hamster ovary cells.
Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells are widely used for industrial production of biopharmaceuticals. Many genetic, chemical, and environmental approaches have been developed to modulate cellular pathways to improve titers. However, these methods are often irreversible or have off-target effects. Development of techniques which are precise, tunable, and reversible will facilitate temporal regulation of target pathways to maximize titers. In this study, we investigate the use of optogenetics in CHO cells. The light-activated CRISPR-dCas9 effector (LACE) system was first transiently transfected to express eGFP in a light-inducible manner. Then, a stable system was tested using lentiviral transduction.
Optogenetic manipulation of cellular communication using engineered myosin motors.
Cells achieve highly efficient and accurate communication through cellular projections such as neurites and filopodia, yet there is a lack of genetically encoded tools that can selectively manipulate their composition and dynamics. Here, we present a versatile optogenetic toolbox of artificial multi-headed myosin motors that can move bidirectionally within long cellular extensions and allow for the selective transport of GFP-tagged cargo with light. Utilizing these engineered motors, we could transport bulky transmembrane receptors and organelles as well as actin remodellers to control the dynamics of both filopodia and neurites. Using an optimized in vivo imaging scheme, we further demonstrate that, upon limb amputation in axolotls, a complex array of filopodial extensions is formed. We selectively modulated these filopodial extensions and showed that they re-establish a Sonic Hedgehog signalling gradient during regeneration. Considering the ubiquitous existence of actin-based extensions, this toolbox shows the potential to manipulate cellular communication with unprecedented accuracy.
A CRISPR-Cas9-Based Near-Infrared Upconversion-Activated DNA Methylation Editing System.
DNA methylation is a kind of a crucial epigenetic marker orchestrating gene expression, molecular function, and cellular phenotype. However, manipulating the methylation status of specific genes remains challenging. Here, a clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats-Cas9-based near-infrared upconversion-activated DNA methylation editing system (CNAMS) was designed for the optogenetic editing of DNA methylation. The fusion proteins of photosensitive CRY2PHR, the catalytic domain of DNMT3A or TET1, and the fusion proteins for CIBN and catalytically inactive Cas9 (dCas9) were engineered. The CNAMS could control DNA methylation editing in response to blue light, thus allowing methylation editing in a spatiotemporal manner. Furthermore, after combination with upconversion nanoparticles, the spectral sensitivity of DNA methylation editing was extended from the blue light to near-infrared (NIR) light, providing the possibility for remote DNA methylation editing. These results demonstrated a meaningful step forward toward realizing the specific editing of DNA methylation, suggesting the wide utility of our CNAMS for functional studies on epigenetic regulation and potential therapeutic strategies for related diseases.
Transcription activation is enhanced by multivalent interactions independent of liquid-liquid phase separation.
Transcription factors (TFs) consist of a DNA binding and an activation domain (AD) that are considered to be independent and exchangeable modules. However, recent studies conclude that also the physico-chemical properties of the AD can control TF assembly at chromatin via driving a phase separation into “transcriptional condensates”. Here, we dissected the mechanism of transcription activation at a reporter gene array with real-time single-cell fluorescence microscopy readouts. Our comparison of different synthetic TFs reveals that the phase separation propensity of the AD correlates with high transcription activation capacity by increasing binding site occupancy, residence time and the recruitment of co-activators. However, we find that the actual formation of phase separated TF liquid-like droplets has a neutral or inhibitory effect on transcription induction. Thus, our study suggests that the ability of a TF to phase separate reflects the functionally important property of the AD to establish multivalent interactions but does not by itself enhance transcription.
A synthetic BRET-based optogenetic device for pulsatile transgene expression enabling glucose homeostasis in mice.
Pulsing cellular dynamics in genetic circuits have been shown to provide critical capabilities to cells in stress response, signaling and development. Despite the fascinating discoveries made in the past few years, the mechanisms and functional capabilities of most pulsing systems remain unclear, and one of the critical challenges is the lack of a technology that allows pulsatile regulation of transgene expression both in vitro and in vivo. Here, we describe the development of a synthetic BRET-based transgene expression (LuminON) system based on a luminescent transcription factor, termed luminGAVPO, by fusing NanoLuc luciferase to the light-switchable transcription factor GAVPO. luminGAVPO allows pulsatile and quantitative activation of transgene expression via both chemogenetic and optogenetic approaches in mammalian cells and mice. Both the pulse amplitude and duration of transgene expression are highly tunable via adjustment of the amount of furimazine. We further demonstrated LuminON-mediated blood-glucose homeostasis in type 1 diabetic mice. We believe that the BRET-based LuminON system with the pulsatile dynamics of transgene expression provides a highly sensitive tool for precise manipulation in biological systems that has strong potential for application in diverse basic biological studies and gene- and cell-based precision therapies in the future.
Control of SRC molecular dynamics encodes distinct cytoskeletal responses by specifying signaling pathway usage.
Upon activation by different transmembrane receptors, the same signaling protein can induce distinct cellular responses. A way to decipher the mechanisms of such pleiotropic signaling activity is to directly manipulate the decision-making activity that supports the selection between distinct cellular responses. We developed an optogenetic probe (optoSRC) to control SRC signaling, an example of a pleiotropic signaling node, and we demonstrated its ability to generate different acto-adhesive structures (lamellipodia or invadosomes) upon distinct spatio-temporal control of SRC kinase activity. The occurrence of each acto-adhesive structure was simply dictated by the dynamics of optoSRC nanoclusters in adhesive sites, which were dependent on the SH3 and Unique domains of the protein. The different decision-making events regulated by optoSRC dynamics induced distinct downstream signaling pathways, which we characterized using time-resolved proteomic and network analyses. Collectively, by manipulating the molecular mobility of SRC kinase activity, these experiments reveal the pleiotropy-encoding mechanism of SRC signaling.
Optogenetic Control of Phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)‐triphosphate Production by Light‐sensitive Cryptochrome Proteins on the Plasma Membrane.
Phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)‐triphosphate (PIP3), acts as a fundamental second messenger, is emerging as a promising biomarker for disease diagnosis and prognosis. However, the real time analysis of phosphoinositide in living cells remains key challenge owing to the low basal abundance and its fast metabolic rate. Herein, we design an optogenetic system that uses light sensitive protein‐protein interaction between Arabidopsis cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) and CIB1 to spatiotemporally visualize the PIP3 production with sub‐second timescale. In this system, a CIBN is anchored on the plasma membrane, whereas a CRY2 fused with a constitutively active PI3‐kinase (acPI3K) would be driven from the cytosol to the membrane by the blue‐light‐activated CRY2‐CIB1 interaction upon light irradiation. The PIP3 production is visualized via a fused fluorescent protein by the translocation of a Pleckstrin Homology (PH) domain(GRP1) from the cytosol to the plasma membrane with high specificity. We demonstrated the fast dynamics and reversibility of the optogenetic system initiated PIP3 synthesis on the plasma membrane. Notably, the real‐time cell movements were also observed upon localized light stimulation. The established optogenetic method provides a novel spatiotemporal strategy for specific PIP3 visualization, which is beneficial to improve the understanding of PIP3 functions.
Random sub-diffusion and capture of genes by the nuclear pore reduces dynamics and coordinates interchromosomal movement.
Hundreds of genes interact with the yeast nuclear pore complex (NPC), localizing at the nuclear periphery and clustering with co-regulated genes. Dynamic tracking of peripheral genes shows that they cycle on and off the NPC and that interaction with the NPC slows their sub-diffusive movement. Furthermore, NPC-dependent inter-chromosomal clustering leads to coordinated movement of pairs of loci separated by hundreds of nanometers. We developed Fractional Brownian Motion simulations for chromosomal loci in the nucleoplasm and interacting with NPCs. These simulations predict the rate and nature of random sub-diffusion during repositioning from nucleoplasm to periphery and match measurements from two different experimental models, arguing that recruitment to the nuclear periphery is due to random subdiffusion, collision, and capture by NPCs. Finally, the simulations do not lead to inter-chromosomal clustering or coordinated movement, suggesting that interaction with the NPC is necessary, but not sufficient, to cause clustering.
TopBP1 assembles nuclear condensates to switch on ATR signaling.
ATR checkpoint signaling is crucial for cellular responses to DNA replication impediments. Using an optogenetic platform, we show that TopBP1, the main activator of ATR, self-assembles extensively to yield micrometer-sized condensates. These opto-TopBP1 condensates are functional entities organized in tightly packed clusters of spherical nano-particles. TopBP1 condensates are reversible, occasionally fuse, and co-localize with TopBP1 partner proteins. We provide evidence that TopBP1 condensation is a molecular switch that amplifies ATR activity to phosphorylate checkpoint kinase 1 (Chk1) and slow down replication forks. Single amino acid substitutions of key residues in the intrinsically disordered ATR activation domain disrupt TopBP1 condensation and consequently ATR/Chk1 signaling. In physiologic salt concentration and pH, purified TopBP1 undergoes liquid-liquid phase separation in vitro. We propose that the actuation mechanism of ATR signaling is the assembly of TopBP1 condensates driven by highly regulated multivalent and cooperative interactions.
Dual Systems for Enhancing Control of Protein Activity through Induced Dimerization Approaches.
To reveal the underpinnings of complex biological systems, a variety of approaches have been developed that allow switchable control of protein function. One powerful approach for switchable control is the use of inducible dimerization systems, which can be configured to control activity of a target protein upon induced dimerization triggered by chemicals or light. Individually, many inducible dimerization systems suffer from pre‐defined dynamic ranges and overwhelming sensitivity to expression level and cellular context. Such systems often require extensive engineering efforts to overcome issues of background leakiness and restricted dynamic range. To address these limitations, recent tool development efforts have explored overlaying dimerizer systems with a second layer of regulation. Albeit more complex, the resulting layered systems have enhanced functionality, such as tighter control that can improve portability of these tools across platforms.
Steering Molecular Activity with Optogenetics: Recent Advances and Perspectives.
Optogenetics utilizes photosensitive proteins to manipulate the localization and interaction of molecules in living cells. Because light can be rapidly switched and conveniently confined to the sub‐micrometer scale, optogenetics allows for controlling cellular events with an unprecedented resolution in time and space. The past decade has witnessed an enormous progress in the field of optogenetics within the biological sciences. The ever‐increasing amount of optogenetic tools, however, can overwhelm the selection of appropriate optogenetic strategies. Considering that each optogenetic tool may have a distinct mode of action, a comparative analysis of the current optogenetic toolbox can promote the further use of optogenetics, especially by researchers new to this field. This review provides such a compilation that highlights the spatiotemporal accuracy of current optogenetic systems. Recent advances of optogenetics in live cells and animal models are summarized, the emerging work that interlinks optogenetics with other research fields is presented, and exciting clinical and industrial efforts to employ optogenetic strategy toward disease intervention are reported.
Optogenetic control of small GTPases reveals RhoA mediates intracellular calcium signaling.
Rho/Ras family small GTPases are known to regulate numerous cellular processes, including cytoskeletal reorganization, cell proliferation, and cell differentiation. These processes are also controlled by Ca2+, and consequently, crosstalk between these signals is considered likely. However, systematic quantitative evaluation has not yet been reported. To fill this gap, we constructed optogenetic tools to control the activity of small GTPases (RhoA, Rac1, Cdc42, Ras, Rap, and Ral) using an improved light-inducible dimer system (iLID). We characterized these optogenetic tools with genetically encoded red fluorescence intensity-based small GTPase biosensors and confirmed these optogenetic tools' specificities. Using these optogenetic tools, we investigated calcium mobilization immediately after small GTPase activation. Unexpectedly, we found that a transient intracellular calcium elevation was specifically induced by RhoA activation in RPE1 and HeLa cells. RhoA activation also induced transient intracellular calcium elevation in MDCK and HEK293T cells, suggesting that generally RhoA induces calcium signaling. Interestingly, the molecular mechanisms linking RhoA activation to calcium increases were shown to be different among the different cell types: In RPE1 and HeLa cells, RhoA activated phospholipase C epsilon (PLCε) at the plasma membrane, which in turn induced Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The RhoA-PLCε axis induced calcium-dependent NFAT nuclear translocation, suggesting it does activate intracellular calcium signaling. Conversely, in MDCK and HEK293T cells, RhoA-ROCK-myosin II axis induced the calcium transients. These data suggest universal coordination of RhoA and calcium signaling in cellular processes, such as cellular contraction and gene expression.
Synthetic gene networks recapitulate dynamic signal decoding and differential gene expression.
Cells live in constantly changing environments and employ dynamic signaling pathways to transduce information about the signals they encounter. However, the mechanisms by which dynamic signals are decoded into appropriate gene expression patterns remain poorly understood. Here, we devise networked optogenetic pathways that achieve novel dynamic signal processing functions that recapitulate cellular information processing. Exploiting light-responsive transcriptional regulators with differing response kinetics, we build a falling-edge pulse-detector and show that this circuit can be employed to demultiplex dynamically encoded signals. We combine this demultiplexer with dCas9-based gene networks to construct pulsatile-signal filters and decoders. Applying information theory, we show that dynamic multiplexing significantly increases the information transmission capacity from signal to gene expression state. Finally, we use dynamic multiplexing for precise multidimensional regulation of a heterologous metabolic pathway. Our results elucidate design principles of dynamic information processing and provide original synthetic systems capable of decoding complex signals for biotechnological applications.