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 71 results

Optogenetic tools for microbial synthetic biology.

blue green near-infrared red BLUF domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Biotechnol Adv, 6 Apr 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2022.107953 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Optogenetics Illuminates Applications in Microbial Engineering.

blue green red UV violet BLUF domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Annu Rev Chem Biomol Eng, 23 Feb 2022 DOI: 10.1146/annurev-chembioeng-092120-092340 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics has been used in a variety of microbial engineering applications, such as chemical and protein production, studies of cell physiology, and engineered microbe-host interactions. These diverse applications benefit from the precise spatiotemporal control that light affords, as well as its tunability, reversibility, and orthogonality. This combination of unique capabilities has enabled a surge of studies in recent years investigating complex biological systems with completely new approaches. We briefly describe the optogenetic tools that have been developed for microbial engineering, emphasizing the scientific advancements that they have enabled. In particular, we focus on the unique benefits and applications of implementing optogenetic control, from bacterial therapeutics to cybergenetics. Finally, we discuss future research directions, with special attention given to the development of orthogonal multichromatic controls. With an abundance of advantages offered by optogenetics, the future is bright in microbial engineering. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Volume 13 is October 2022. Please see for revised estimates.

Optophysiology: Illuminating cell physiology with optogenetics.

blue cyan green near-infrared red UV violet BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Physiol Rev, 24 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1152/physrev.00021.2021 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics combines light and genetics to enable precise control of living cells, tissues, and organisms with tailored functions. Optogenetics has the advantages of noninvasiveness, rapid responsiveness, tunable reversibility, and superior spatiotemporal resolution. Following the initial discovery of microbial opsins as light-actuated ion channels, a plethora of naturally occurring or engineered photoreceptors or photosensitive domains that respond to light at varying wavelengths has ushered in the next chapter of optogenetics. Through protein engineering and synthetic biology approaches, genetically encoded photoswitches can be modularly engineered into protein scaffolds or host cells to control a myriad of biological processes, as well as to enable behavioral control and disease intervention in vivo. Here, we summarize these optogenetic tools on the basis of their fundamental photochemical properties to better inform the chemical basis and design principles. We also highlight exemplary applications of opsin-free optogenetics in dissecting cellular physiology (designated "optophysiology") and describe the current progress, as well as future trends, in wireless optogenetics, which enables remote interrogation of physiological processes with minimal invasiveness. This review is anticipated to spark novel thoughts on engineering next-generation optogenetic tools and devices that promise to accelerate both basic and translational studies.

Development of Optogenetic Dual-Switch System for Rewiring Metabolic Flux for Polyhydroxybutyrate Production.

blue green CcaS/CcaR EL222 RsLOV YtvA E. coli Transgene expression
Molecules, 18 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.3390/molecules27030617 Link to full text
Abstract: Several strategies, including inducer addition and biosensor use, have been developed for dynamical regulation. However, the toxicity, cost, and inflexibility of existing strategies have created a demand for superior technology. In this study, we designed an optogenetic dual-switch system and applied it to increase polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) production. First, an optimized chromatic acclimation sensor/regulator (RBS10-CcaS#10-CcaR) system (comprising an optimized ribosomal binding site (RBS), light sensory protein CcaS, and response regulator CcaR) was selected for a wide sensing range of approximately 10-fold between green-light activation and red-light repression. The RBS10-CcaS#10-CcaR system was combined with a blue light-activated YF1-FixJ-PhlF system (containing histidine kinase YF1, response regulator FixJ, and repressor PhlF) engineered with reduced crosstalk. Finally, the optogenetic dual-switch system was used to rewire the metabolic flux for PHB production by regulating the sequences and intervals of the citrate synthase gene (gltA) and PHB synthesis gene (phbCAB) expression. Consequently, the strain RBS34, which has high gltA expression and a time lag of 3 h, achieved the highest PHB content of 16.6 wt%, which was approximately 3-fold that of F34 (expressed at 0 h). The results indicate that the optogenetic dual-switch system was verified as a practical and convenient tool for increasing PHB production.

Optogenetic approaches in biotechnology and biomaterials.

blue cyan green near-infrared red violet BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Trends Biotechnol, 11 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2021.12.007 Link to full text
Abstract: Advances in genetic engineering, combined with the development of optical technologies, have allowed optogenetics to broaden its area of possible applications in recent years. However, the application of optogenetic tools in industry, including biotechnology and the production of biomaterials, is still limited, because each practical task requires the engineering of a specific optogenetic system. In this review, we discuss recent advances in the use of optogenetic tools in the production of biofuels and valuable chemicals, the synthesis of biomedical and polymer materials, and plant agrobiology. We also offer a comprehensive analysis of the properties and industrial applicability of light-controlled and other smart biomaterials. These data allow us to outline the prospects for the future use of optogenetics in bioindustry.

Toward Multiplexed Optogenetic Circuits.

blue green red UV violet Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Front Bioeng Biotechnol, 5 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.3389/fbioe.2021.804563 Link to full text
Abstract: Owing to its ubiquity and easy availability in nature, light has been widely employed to control complex cellular behaviors. Light-sensitive proteins are the foundation to such diverse and multilevel adaptive regulations in a large range of organisms. Due to their remarkable properties and potential applications in engineered systems, exploration and engineering of natural light-sensitive proteins have significantly contributed to expand optogenetic toolboxes with tailor-made performances in synthetic genetic circuits. Progressively, more complex systems have been designed in which multiple photoreceptors, each sensing its dedicated wavelength, are combined to simultaneously coordinate cellular responses in a single cell. In this review, we highlight recent works and challenges on multiplexed optogenetic circuits in natural and engineered systems for a dynamic regulation breakthrough in biotechnological applications.

Directed evolution approaches for optogenetic tool development.

blue green near-infrared red Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Biochem Soc Trans, 17 Dec 2021 DOI: 10.1042/bst20210700 Link to full text
Abstract: Photoswitchable proteins enable specific molecular events occurring in complex biological settings to be probed in a rapid and reversible fashion. Recent progress in the development of photoswitchable proteins as components of optogenetic tools has been greatly facilitated by directed evolution approaches in vitro, in bacteria, or in yeast. We review these developments and suggest future directions for this rapidly advancing field.

Optogenetics in bacteria - applications and opportunities.

blue green near-infrared red BLUF domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
FEMS Microbiol Rev, 13 Nov 2021 DOI: 10.1093/femsre/fuab055 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics holds the promise of controlling biological processes with superb temporal and spatial resolution at minimal perturbation. Although many of the light-reactive proteins used in optogenetic systems are derived from prokaryotes, applications were largely limited to eukaryotes for a long time. In recent years, however, an increasing number of microbiologists use optogenetics as a powerful new tool to study and control key aspects of bacterial biology in a fast and often reversible manner. After a brief discussion of optogenetic principles, this review provides an overview of the rapidly growing number of optogenetic applications in bacteria, with a particular focus on studies venturing beyond transcriptional control. To guide future experiments, we highlight helpful tools, provide considerations for successful application of optogenetics in bacterial systems, and identify particular opportunities and challenges that arise when applying these approaches in bacteria.

The Red Edge: Bilin-Binding Photoreceptors as Optogenetic Tools and Fluorescence Reporters.

blue green near-infrared red UV violet BLUF domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Chem Rev, 20 Oct 2021 DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.1c00194 Link to full text
Abstract: This review adds the bilin-binding phytochromes to the Chemical Reviews thematic issue "Optogenetics and Photopharmacology". The work is structured into two parts. We first outline the photochemistry of the covalently bound tetrapyrrole chromophore and summarize relevant spectroscopic, kinetic, biochemical, and physiological properties of the different families of phytochromes. Based on this knowledge, we then describe the engineering of phytochromes to further improve these chromoproteins as photoswitches and review their employment in an ever-growing number of different optogenetic applications. Most applications rely on the light-controlled complex formation between the plant photoreceptor PhyB and phytochrome-interacting factors (PIFs) or C-terminal light-regulated domains with enzymatic functions present in many bacterial and algal phytochromes. Phytochrome-based optogenetic tools are currently implemented in bacteria, yeast, plants, and animals to achieve light control of a wide range of biological activities. These cover the regulation of gene expression, protein transport into cell organelles, and the recruitment of phytochrome- or PIF-tagged proteins to membranes and other cellular compartments. This compilation illustrates the intrinsic advantages of phytochromes compared to other photoreceptor classes, e.g., their bidirectional dual-wavelength control enabling instant ON and OFF regulation. In particular, the long wavelength range of absorption and fluorescence within the "transparent window" makes phytochromes attractive for complex applications requiring deep tissue penetration or dual-wavelength control in combination with blue and UV light-sensing photoreceptors. In addition to the wide variability of applications employing natural and engineered phytochromes, we also discuss recent progress in the development of bilin-based fluorescent proteins.

Optogenetic strategies for the control of gene expression in yeasts.

blue green near-infrared red UV violet BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Biotechnol Adv, 28 Sep 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2021.107839 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics involves the use of light to control cellular functions and has become increasingly popular in various areas of research, especially in the precise control of gene expression. While this technology is already well established in neurobiology and basic research, its use in bioprocess development is still emerging. Some optogenetic switches have been implemented in yeasts for different purposes, taking advantage of a wide repertoire of biological parts and relatively easy genetic manipulation. In this review, we cover the current strategies used for the construction of yeast strains to be used in optogenetically controlled protein or metabolite production, as well as the operational aspects to be considered for the scale-up of this type of process. Finally, we discuss the main applications of optogenetic switches in yeast systems and highlight the main advantages and challenges of bioprocess development considering future directions for this field.

Cyanobacterial Phytochromes in Optogenetics.

green red Cyanobacteriochromes Phytochromes Review
intechopen, 7 Jul 2021 DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.97522 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics initially used plant photoreceptors to monitor neural circuits, later it has expanded to include engineered plant photoreceptors. Recently photoreceptors from bacteria, algae and cyanobacteria have been used as an optogenetic tool. Bilin-based photoreceptors are common light-sensitive photoswitches in plants, algae, bacteria and cyanobacteria. Here we discuss the photoreceptors from cyanobacteria. Several new photoreceptors have been explored in cyanobacteria which are now proposed as cyanobacteriochrome. The domains in the cyanobacteriochrome, light-induced signaling transduction, photoconversion, are the most attractive features for the optogenetic system. The wider spectral feature of cyanobacteriochrome from UV to visible radiation makes it a light potential sensitive optogenetic tool. Besides, cyanobacterial phytochrome responses to yellow, orange and blue light have more application in optogenetics. This chapter summarizes the photoconversion, phototaxis, cell aggregation, cell signaling mediated by cyanobacteriochrome and cyanophytochrome. As there is a wide range of cyanobacteriochrome and its combination delivers a varied light-sensitive response. Besides coordination among cyanobacteriochromes in cell signaling reduces the engineering of photoreceptors for the optogenetic system.

Needles in a haystack: H-bonding in an optogenetic protein observed with isotope labeling and 2D-IR spectroscopy.

green red Cyanobacteriochromes Background
Phys Chem Chem Phys, 26 Apr 2021 DOI: 10.1039/d1cp00996f Link to full text
Abstract: Recently, re-purposing of cyanobacterial photoreceptors as optogentic actuators enabled light-regulated protein expression in different host systems. These new bi-stable optogenetic tools enable interesting new applications, but their light-driven working mechanism remains largely elusive on a molecular level. Here, we study the optogenetic cyanobacteriochrome Am1-c0023g2 with isotope labeling and two dimensional infrared (2D-IR) spectroscopy. Isotope labeling allows us to isolate two site-specific carbonyl marker modes from the overwhelming mid-IR signal of the peptide backbone vibrations. Unlike conventional difference-FTIR spectroscopy, 2D-IR is sensitive to homogeneous and inhomogeneous broadening mechanisms of these two vibrational probes in the different photostates of the protein. We analyse the 2D-IR line shapes in the context of available structural models and find that they reflect the hydrogen-bonding environment of these two marker groups.

Synthetic Biological Approaches for Optogenetics and Tools for Transcriptional Light‐Control in Bacteria.

blue cyan green near-infrared red UV violet BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Adv Biol, 9 Feb 2021 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.202000256 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Real-Time Optogenetics System for Controlling Gene Expression Using a Model-Based Design.

green CcaS/CcaR E. coli in silico Transgene expression
Anal Chem, 5 Feb 2021 DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.0c04594 Link to full text
Abstract: Optimization of engineered biological systems requires precise control over the rates and timing of gene expression. Optogenetics is used to dynamically control gene expression as an alternative to conventional chemical-based methods since it provides a more convenient interface between digital control software and microbial culture. Here, we describe the construction of a real-time optogenetics platform, which performs closed-loop control over the CcaR-CcaS two-plasmid system in Escherichia coli. We showed the first model-based design approach by constructing a nonlinear representation of the CcaR-CcaS system, tuned the model through open-loop experimentation to capture the experimental behavior, and applied the model in silico to inform the necessary changes to build a closed-loop optogenetic control system. Our system periodically induces and represses the CcaR-CcaS system while recording optical density and fluorescence using image processing techniques. We highlight the facile nature of constructing our system and how our model-based design approach will potentially be used to model other systems requiring closed-loop optogenetic control.

A synthetic switch based on orange carotenoid protein to control blue light responses in chloroplasts.

blue OCP A. thaliana in vivo A. thaliana leaf protoplasts
bioRxiv, 30 Jan 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.01.27.428448 Link to full text
Abstract: Synthetic biology approaches to engineer light‐responsive system are widely used, but their applications in plants are still limited, due to the interference with endogenous photoreceptors. Cyanobacteria, such as Synechocystis spp., possess a soluble carotenoid associated protein named Orange Carotenoid binding Protein (OCP) that, when activated by blue‐green light, undergoes reversible conformational changes that enable photoprotection of the phycobilisomes. Exploiting this system, we developed a new chloroplast‐localized synthetic photoswitch based on a photoreceptor‐associated protein‐fragment complementation assay (PCA). Since Arabidopsis thaliana does not possess the prosthetic group needed for the assembly of the OCP2 protein, we implemented the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway with a bacterial β‐carotene ketolase enzyme (crtW), to generate keto‐carotenoids producing plants. The novel photoswitch was tested and characterized in Arabidopsis protoplasts with experiments aimed to uncover its regulation by light intensity, wavelength, and its conversion dynamics. We believe that this pioneer study establishes the basis for future implementation of plastid optogenetics to regulate organelle responses, such as gene transcription or enzymatic activity, upon exposure to specific light spectra.

Steering Molecular Activity with Optogenetics: Recent Advances and Perspectives.

blue cyan green near-infrared red UV violet BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Adv Biol, 14 Jan 2021 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.202000180 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Photoactivated Adenylyl Cyclases: Fundamental Properties and Applications.

blue violet BLUF domains Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Review
Adv Exp Med Biol, 6 Jan 2021 DOI: 10.1007/978-981-15-8763-4_7 Link to full text
Abstract: Photoactivated adenylyl cyclase (PAC) was first discovered to be a sensor for photoavoidance in the flagellate Euglena gracilis. PAC is a flavoprotein that catalyzes the production of cAMP upon illumination with blue light, which enables us to optogenetically manipulate intracellular cAMP levels in various biological systems. Recent progress in genome sequencing has revealed several related proteins in bacteria and ameboflagellates. Among them, the PACs from sulfur bacterium Beggiatoa sp. and cyanobacterium Oscillatoria acuminata have been well characterized, including their crystalline structure. Although there have not been many reported optogenetic applications of PACs so far, they have the potential to be used in various fields within bioscience.

Optogenetic control of gut bacterial metabolism to promote longevity.

green CcaS/CcaR E. coli Transgene expression
Elife, 16 Dec 2020 DOI: 10.7554/elife.56849 Link to full text
Abstract: Gut microbial metabolism is associated with host longevity. However, because it requires direct manipulation of microbial metabolism in situ, establishing a causal link between these two processes remains challenging. We demonstrate an optogenetic method to control gene expression and metabolite production from bacteria residing in the host gut. We genetically engineer an Escherichia coli strain that secretes colanic acid (CA) under the quantitative control of light. Using this optogenetically-controlled strain to induce CA production directly in the Caenorhabditis elegans gut, we reveal the local effect of CA in protecting intestinal mitochondria from stress-induced hyper-fragmentation. We also demonstrate that the lifespan-extending effect of this strain is positively correlated with the intensity of green light, indicating a dose-dependent CA benefit on the host. Thus, optogenetics can be used to achieve quantitative and temporal control of gut bacterial metabolism in order to reveal its local and systemic effects on host health and aging.

The Promise of Optogenetics for Bioproduction: Dynamic Control Strategies and Scale-Up Instruments.

blue green red UV Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Phytochromes PixE/PixD UV receptors Review
Bioengineering (Basel), 24 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.3390/bioengineering7040151 Link to full text
Abstract: Progress in metabolic engineering and synthetic and systems biology has made bioproduction an increasingly attractive and competitive strategy for synthesizing biomolecules, recombinant proteins and biofuels from renewable feedstocks. Yet, due to poor productivity, it remains difficult to make a bioproduction process economically viable at large scale. Achieving dynamic control of cellular processes could lead to even better yields by balancing the two characteristic phases of bioproduction, namely, growth versus production, which lie at the heart of a trade-off that substantially impacts productivity. The versatility and controllability offered by light will be a key element in attaining the level of control desired. The popularity of light-mediated control is increasing, with an expanding repertoire of optogenetic systems for novel applications, and many optogenetic devices have been designed to test optogenetic strains at various culture scales for bioproduction objectives. In this review, we aim to highlight the most important advances in this direction. We discuss how optogenetics is currently applied to control metabolism in the context of bioproduction, describe the optogenetic instruments and devices used at the laboratory scale for strain development, and explore how current industrial-scale bioproduction processes could be adapted for optogenetics or could benefit from existing photobioreactor designs. We then draw attention to the steps that must be undertaken to further optimize the control of biological systems in order to take full advantage of the potential offered by microbial factories.

The rise and shine of yeast optogenetics.

blue green near-infrared red UV BLUF domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Yeast, 29 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1002/yea.3529 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics refers to the control of biological processes with light. The activation of cellular phenomena by defined wavelengths has several advantages compared to traditional chemically-inducible systems, such as spatiotemporal resolution, dose-response regulation, low cost and moderate toxic effects. Optogenetics has been successfully implemented in yeast, a remarkable biological platform that is not only a model organism for cellular and molecular biology studies, but also a microorganism with diverse biotechnological applications. In this review, we summarize the main optogenetic systems implemented in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which allow orthogonal control (by light) of gene expression, protein subcellular localization, reconstitution of protein activity, or protein sequestration by oligomerization. Furthermore, we review the application of optogenetic systems in the control of metabolic pathways, heterologous protein production and flocculation. We then revise an example of a previously described yeast optogenetic switch, named FUN-LOV, which allows precise and strong activation of the target gene. Finally, we describe optogenetic systems that have not yet been implemented in yeast, which could therefore be used to expand the panel of available tools in this biological chassis. In conclusion, a wide repertoire of optogenetic systems can be used to address fundamental biological questions and broaden the biotechnological toolkit in yeast.

Optogenetic interrogation and control of cell signaling.

blue cyan green near-infrared red Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Curr Opin Biotechnol, 11 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.copbio.2020.07.007 Link to full text
Abstract: Signaling networks control the flow of information through biological systems and coordinate the chemical processes that constitute cellular life. Optogenetic actuators - genetically encoded proteins that undergo light-induced changes in activity or conformation - are useful tools for probing signaling networks over time and space. They have permitted detailed dissections of cellular proliferation, differentiation, motility, and death, and enabled the assembly of synthetic systems with applications in areas as diverse as photography, chemical synthesis, and medicine. In this review, we provide a brief introduction to optogenetic systems and describe their application to molecular-level analyses of cell signaling. Our discussion highlights important research achievements and speculates on future opportunities to exploit optogenetic systems in the study and assembly of complex biochemical networks.

Optogenetics and biosensors set the stage for metabolic cybergenetics.

blue green near-infrared red UV violet BLUF domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains PAL Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Curr Opin Biotechnol, 11 Sep 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.copbio.2020.07.012 Link to full text
Abstract: Cybergenetic systems use computer interfaces to enable feed-back controls over biological processes in real time. The complex and dynamic nature of cellular metabolism makes cybergenetics attractive for controlling engineered metabolic pathways in microbial fermentations. Cybergenetics would not only create new avenues of research into cellular metabolism, it would also enable unprecedented strategies for pathway optimization and bioreactor operation and automation. Implementation of metabolic cybergenetics, however, will require new capabilities from actuators, biosensors, and control algorithms. The recent application of optogenetics in metabolic engineering, the expanding role of genetically encoded biosensors in strain development, and continued progress in control algorithms for biological processes suggest that this technology will become available in the not so distant future.

In situ characterisation and manipulation of biological systems with Chi.Bio.

green CcaS/CcaR E. coli
PLoS Biol, 30 Jul 2020 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000794 Link to full text
Abstract: The precision and repeatability of in vivo biological studies is predicated upon methods for isolating a targeted subsystem from external sources of noise and variability. However, in many experimental frameworks, this is made challenging by nonstatic environments during host cell growth, as well as variability introduced by manual sampling and measurement protocols. To address these challenges, we developed Chi.Bio, a parallelised open-source platform that represents a new experimental paradigm in which all measurement and control actions can be applied to a bulk culture in situ. In addition to continuous-culturing capabilities, it incorporates tunable light outputs, spectrometry, and advanced automation features. We demonstrate its application to studies of cell growth and biofilm formation, automated in silico control of optogenetic systems, and readout of multiple orthogonal fluorescent proteins in situ. By integrating precise measurement and actuation hardware into a single low-cost platform, Chi.Bio facilitates novel experimental methods for synthetic, systems, and evolutionary biology and broadens access to cutting-edge research capabilities.

Flux controlling technology for central carbon metabolism for efficient microbial bio-production.

blue green Cyanobacteriochromes LOV domains Review
Curr Opin Biotechnol, 30 May 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.copbio.2020.04.003 Link to full text
Abstract: Syntheses of many commodities that are produced using microorganisms require cofactors such as ATP and NAD(P)H. Thus, optimization of the flux distribution in central carbon metabolism, which plays a key role in cofactor regeneration, is critical for enhancing the production of the target compounds. Since the intracellular and extracellular conditions change over time in the fermentation process, dynamic control of the metabolic system for maintaining the cellular state appropriately is necessary. Here, we review techniques for detecting the intracellular metabolic state with fluorescent sensors and controlling the flux of central carbon metabolism with optogenetic tools, as well as present a prospect of bio-production processes for fine-tuning the flux distribution.

Color Sensing and Signal Transmission Diversity of Cyanobacterial Phytochromes and Cyanobacteriochromes.

green red Cyanobacteriochromes Phytochromes Review
Mol Cells, 22 May 2020 DOI: 10.14348/molcells.2020.0077 Link to full text
Abstract: To perceive fluctuations in light quality, quantity, and timing, higher plants have evolved diverse photoreceptors including UVR8 (a UV-B photoreceptor), cryptochromes, phototropins, and phytochromes (Phys). In contrast to plants, prokaryotic oxygen-evolving photosynthetic organisms, cyanobacteria, rely mostly on bilin-based photoreceptors, namely, cyanobacterial phytochromes (Cphs) and cyanobacteriochromes (CBCRs), which exhibit structural and functional differences compared with plant Phys. CBCRs comprise varying numbers of light sensing domains with diverse color-tuning mechanisms and signal transmission pathways, allowing cyanobacteria to respond to UV-A, visible, and far-red lights. Recent genomic surveys of filamentous cyanobacteria revealed novel CBCRs with broader chromophore-binding specificity and photocycle protochromicity. Furthermore, a novel Cph lineage has been identified that absorbs blue-violet/yellow-orange light. In this minireview, we briefly discuss the diversity in color sensing and signal transmission mechanisms of Cphs and CBCRs, along with their potential utility in the field of optogenetics.
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