Showing 1 - 17 of 17 results
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.
Creating Red Light-Switchable Protein Dimerization Systems as Genetically Encoded Actuators with High Specificity.
Protein dimerization systems controlled by red light with increased tissue penetration depth are a highly needed tool for clinical applications such as cell and gene therapies. However, mammalian applications of existing red light-induced dimerization systems are hampered by limitations of their two components: a photosensory protein (or photoreceptor) which often requires a mammalian exogenous chromophore and a naturally occurring photoreceptor binding protein typically having a complex structure and nonideal binding properties. Here, we introduce an efficient, generalizable method (COMBINES-LID) for creating highly specific, reversible light-induced heterodimerization systems independent of any existing binders to a photoreceptor. It involves a two-step binder screen (phage display and yeast two-hybrid) of a combinatorial nanobody library to obtain binders that selectively engage a light-activated form of a photoswitchable protein or domain not the dark form. Proof-of-principle was provided by engineering nanobody-based, red light-induced dimerization (nanoReD) systems comprising a truncated bacterial phytochrome sensory module using a mammalian endogenous chromophore, biliverdin, and light-form specific nanobodies. Selected nanoReD systems were biochemically characterized, exhibiting low dark activity and high induction specificity, and further demonstrated for the reversible control of protein translocation and activation of gene expression in mice. Overall, COMBINES-LID opens new opportunities for creating genetically encoded actuators for the optical manipulation of biological processes.
Light control of RTK activity: from technology development to translational research.
Inhibition of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) by small molecule inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies is used to treat cancer. Conversely, activation of RTKs with their ligands, including growth factors and insulin, is used to treat diabetes and neurodegeneration. However, conventional therapies that rely on injection of RTK inhibitors or activators do not provide spatiotemporal control over RTK signaling, which results in diminished efficiency and side effects. Recently, a number of optogenetic and optochemical approaches have been developed that allow RTK inhibition or activation in cells and in vivo with light. Light irradiation can control RTK signaling non-invasively, in a dosed manner, with high spatio-temporal precision, and without the side effects of conventional treatments. Here we provide an update on the current state of the art of optogenetic and optochemical RTK technologies and the prospects of their use in translational studies and therapy.
Creating Red Light-Controlled Protein Dimerization Systems as Genetically Encoded Actuators with High Specificity.
Protein dimerization systems that can be controlled by red light with increased tissue penetration depth are a highly needed optogenetic tool for clinical applications such as cell and gene therapies. However, existing red light-induced dimerization systems are all based on phytochrome photoreceptors and naturally occurring binding partners with complex structures and suboptimal in vivo performance, limiting mammalian applications. Here, we introduce an efficient, generalizable method (COMBINES-LID) for creating highly specific light-induced dimerization systems. Proof-of-principle was provided by creating nanobody-based, red light-induced dimerization (nanoReD) systems comprising a truncated bacterial phytochrome sensory module using a mammalian endogenous chromophore, biliverdin, and light-form specific nanobodies. Selected nanoReD systems were biochemically characterized and exhibited low dark activity and high induction specificity for in vivo activation of gene expression. Overall, COMBINES-LID opens new opportunities for creating genetically encoded actuators for the optical manipulation of biological processes.
Illuminating a Phytochrome Paradigm- a Light-Activated Phosphatase in Two-Component Signaling Uncovered.
Bacterial phytochrome photoreceptors usually belong to two-component signaling systems which transmit environmental stimuli to a response regulator through a histidine kinase domain. Phytochromes switch between red light-absorbing and far-red light-absorbing states. Despite exhibiting extensive structural responses during this transition, the model bacteriophytochrome from Deinococcus radiodurans (DrBphP) lacks detectable kinase activity. Here, we resolve this long-standing conundrum by comparatively analyzing the interactions and output activities of DrBphP and a bacteriophytochrome from Agrobacterium fabrum (AgP1). Whereas AgP1 acts as a conventional histidine kinase, we identify DrBphP as a light-sensitive phosphatase. While AgP1 binds its cognate response regulator only transiently, DrBphP does so strongly, which is rationalized at the structural level. Our data pinpoint two key residues affecting the balance between kinase and phosphatase activities, which immediately bears on photoreception and two-component signaling. The opposing output activities in two highly similar bacteriophytochromes inform the use of light-controllable histidine kinases and phosphatases for optogenetics.
Bacterial Phytochrome as a Scaffold for Engineering of Receptor Tyrosine Kinases Controlled with Near-Infrared Light.
Optically controlled receptor tyrosine kinases (opto-RTKs) allow regulation of RTK signaling using light. Until recently, the majority of opto-RTKs were activated with blue-green light. Fusing a photosensory core module of Deinococcus radiodurans bacterial phytochrome (DrBphP-PCM) to the kinase domains of neurotrophin receptors resulted in opto-RTKs controlled with light above 650 nm. To expand this engineering approach to RTKs of other families, here we combined the DrBpP-PCM with the cytoplasmic domains of EGFR and FGFR1. The resultant Dr-EGFR and Dr-FGFR1 opto-RTKs are rapidly activated with near-infrared and inactivated with far-red light. The opto-RTKs efficiently trigger ERK1/2, PI3K/Akt, and PLCγ signaling. Absence of spectral crosstalk between the opto-RTKs and green fluorescent protein-based biosensors enables simultaneous Dr-FGFR1 activation and detection of calcium transients. Action mechanism of the DrBphP-PCM-based opto-RTKs is considered using the available RTK structures. DrBphP-PCM represents a versatile scaffold for engineering of opto-RTKs that are reversibly regulated with far-red and near-infrared light.
Dynamic Properties of the Photosensory Domain of Deinococcus radiodurans Bacteriophytochrome.
Phytochromes are biological photoreceptors found in all kingdoms of life. Numerous physicochemical and spectroscopic studies of phytochromes have been carried out for many decades, both experimentally and computationally, with the main focus on the photoconversion mechanism involving a tetrapyrrole chromophore. In this computational work, we concentrate on the long-scale dynamic motion of the photosensory domain of Deinococcus radiodurans by means of classical all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Conventional and accelerated MD methods in combination with two different force fields, CHARMM27 and AMBER ff14SB, are tested in long atomistic simulations to confront the dynamics of monomer and dimer forms. These calculations highlight dissimilar equilibrium conformations in aqueous solutions and, in turn, different large-scale dynamic behaviors of the monomer form vs the dimer form. While the phytochrome in a monomer form tends to close the cavity entailed between the GAF and PHY domains, the opposite trend is predicted for the phytochrome dimer, which opens up as a consequence of the formation of strong salt bridges between the PHY domains of two molecules in water.
Phytochromes and Cyanobacteriochromes: Photoreceptor Molecules Incorporating a Linear Tetrapyrrole Chromophore.
In this chapter, we summarize the molecular mechanisms of the linear tetrapyrrole-binding photoreceptors, phytochromes, and cyanobacteriochromes. We especially focus on the color-tuning mechanisms and conformational changes during the photoconversion process. Furthermore, we introduce current status of development of the optogenetic tools based on these molecules. Huge repertoire of these photoreceptors with diverse spectral properties would contribute to development of multiplex optogenetic regulation. Among them, the photoreceptors incorporating the biliverdin IXα chromophore is advantageous for in vivo optogenetics because this is intrinsic in the mammalian cells, and absorbs far-red light penetrating into deep mammalian tissues.
Functional Modulation of Receptor Proteins on Cellular Interface with Optogenetic System.
In multicellular organisms, living cells cooperate with each other to exert coordinated complex functions by responding to extracellular chemical or physical stimuli via proteins on the plasma membrane. Conventionally, chemical signal transduction or mechano-transduction has been investigated by chemical, genetic, or physical perturbation; however, these methods cannot manipulate biomolecular reactions at high spatiotemporal resolution. In contrast, recent advances in optogenetic perturbation approaches have succeeded in controlling signal transduction with external light. The methods have enabled spatiotemporal perturbation of the signaling, providing functional roles of the specific proteins. In this chapter, we summarize recent advances in the optogenetic tools that modulate the function of a receptor protein. While most optogenetic systems have been devised for controlling ion channel conductivities, the present review focuses on the other membrane proteins involved in chemical transduction or mechano-transduction. We describe the properties of natural or artificial photoreceptor proteins used in optogenetic systems. Then, we discuss the strategies for controlling the receptor protein functions by external light. Future prospects of optogenetic tool development are discussed.
Strategies for Engineering and Rewiring Kinase Regulation.
Eukaryotic protein kinases (EPKs) catalyze the transfer of a phosphate group onto another protein in response to appropriate regulatory cues. In doing so, they provide a primary means for cellular information transfer. Consequently, EPKs play crucial roles in cell differentiation and cell-cycle progression, and kinase dysregulation is associated with numerous disease phenotypes including cancer. Nonnative cues for synthetically regulating kinases are thus much sought after, both for dissecting cell signaling pathways and for pharmaceutical development. In recent years advances in protein engineering and sequence analysis have led to new approaches for manipulating kinase activity, localization, and in some instances specificity. These tools have revealed fundamental principles of intracellular signaling and suggest paths forward for the design of therapeutic allosteric kinase regulators.
Elucidating cyclic AMP signaling in subcellular domains with optogenetic tools and fluorescent biosensors.
The second messenger 3',5'-cyclic nucleoside adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) plays a key role in signal transduction across prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Cyclic AMP signaling is compartmentalized into microdomains to fulfil specific functions. To define the function of cAMP within these microdomains, signaling needs to be analyzed with spatio-temporal precision. To this end, optogenetic approaches and genetically encoded fluorescent biosensors are particularly well suited. Synthesis and hydrolysis of cAMP can be directly manipulated by photoactivated adenylyl cyclases (PACs) and light-regulated phosphodiesterases (PDEs), respectively. In addition, many biosensors have been designed to spatially and temporarily resolve cAMP dynamics in the cell. This review provides an overview about optogenetic tools and biosensors to shed light on the subcellular organization of cAMP signaling.
Signal transduction in photoreceptor histidine kinases.
Two-component systems (TCS) constitute the predominant means by which prokaryotes read out and adapt to their environment. Canonical TCSs comprise a sensor histidine kinase (SHK), usually a transmembrane receptor, and a response regulator (RR). In signal-dependent manner, the SHK autophosphorylates and in turn transfers the phosphoryl group to the RR which then elicits downstream responses, often in form of altered gene expression. SHKs also catalyze the hydrolysis of the phospho-RR, hence, tightly adjusting the overall degree of RR phosphorylation. Photoreceptor histidine kinases are a subset of mostly soluble, cytosolic SHKs that sense light in the near-ultraviolet to near-infrared spectral range. Owing to their experimental tractability, photoreceptor histidine kinases serve as paradigms and provide unusually detailed molecular insight into signal detection, decoding, and regulation of SHK activity. The synthesis of recent results on receptors with light-oxygen-voltage, bacteriophytochrome and microbial rhodopsin sensor units identifies recurring, joint signaling strategies. Light signals are initially absorbed by the sensor module and converted into subtle rearrangements of α helices, mostly through pivoting and rotation. These conformational transitions propagate through parallel coiled-coil linkers to the effector unit as changes in left-handed superhelical winding. Within the effector, subtle conformations are triggered that modulate the solvent accessibility of residues engaged in the kinase and phosphatase activities. Taken together, a consistent view of the entire trajectory from signal detection to regulation of output emerges. The underlying allosteric mechanisms could widely apply to TCS signaling in general.
Revisiting and Redesigning Light-Activated Cyclic-Mononucleotide Phosphodiesterases.
As diffusible second messengers, cyclic nucleoside monophosphates (cNMPs) relay and amplify molecular signals in myriad cellular pathways. The triggering of downstream physiological responses often requires defined cNMP gradients in time and space, generated through the concerted action of nucleotidyl cyclases and phosphodiesterases (PDEs). In an approach denoted optogenetics, sensory photoreceptors serve as genetically encoded, light-responsive actuators to enable the noninvasive, reversible, and spatiotemporally precise control of manifold cellular processes, including cNMP metabolism. Although nature provides efficient photoactivated nucleotidyl cyclases, light-responsive PDEs are scarce. Through modular recombination of a bacteriophytochrome photosensor and the effector of human PDE2A, we previously generated the light-activated, cNMP-specific PDE LAPD. By pursuing parallel design strategies, we here report a suite of derivative PDEs with enhanced amplitude and reversibility of photoactivation. Opposite to LAPD, far-red light completely reverts prior activation by red light in several PDEs. These improved PDEs thus complement photoactivated nucleotidyl cyclases and extend the sensitivity of optogenetics to red and far-red light. More generally, our study informs future efforts directed at designing bacteriophytochrome photoreceptors.
Bacteriophytochromes - from informative model systems of phytochrome function to powerful tools in cell biology.
Bacteriophytochromes are a subfamily of the diverse light responsive phytochrome photoreceptors. Considering their preferential interaction with biliverdin IXα as endogenous cofactor, they have recently been used for creating optogenetic tools and engineering fluorescent probes. Ideal absorption characteristics for the activation of bacteriophytochrome-based systems in the therapeutic near-infrared window as well the availability of biliverdin in mammalian tissues have resulted in tremendous progress in re-engineering bacteriophytochromes for diverse applications. At the same time, both the structural analysis and the functional characterization of diverse naturally occurring bacteriophytochrome systems have unraveled remarkable differences in signaling mechanisms and have so far only touched the surface of the evolutionary diversity within the family of bacteriophytochromes. This review highlights recent findings and future challenges.
Neurotrophin receptor tyrosine kinases regulated with near-infrared light.
Optical control over the activity of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) provides an efficient way to reversibly and non-invasively map their functions. We combined catalytic domains of Trk (tropomyosin receptor kinase) family of RTKs, naturally activated by neurotrophins, with photosensory core module of DrBphP bacterial phytochrome to develop opto-kinases, termed Dr-TrkA and Dr-TrkB, reversibly switchable on and off with near-infrared and far-red light. We validated Dr-Trk ability to reversibly light-control several RTK pathways, calcium level, and demonstrated that their activation triggers canonical Trk signaling. Dr-TrkA induced apoptosis in neuroblastoma and glioblastoma, but not in other cell types. Absence of spectral crosstalk between Dr-Trks and blue-light-activatable LOV-domain-based translocation system enabled intracellular targeting of Dr-TrkA independently of its activation, additionally modulating Trk signaling. Dr-Trks have several superior characteristics that make them the opto-kinases of choice for regulation of RTK signaling: high activation range, fast and reversible photoswitching, and multiplexing with visible-light-controllable optogenetic tools.
Connection between absorption properties and conformational changes in Deinococcus radiodurans phytochrome.
Phytochromes consist of several protein domains and a linear tetrapyrrole molecule, which interact as a red-light-sensing system. In this study, size-exclusion chromatography and light-scattering techniques are combined with UV-vis spectroscopy to investigate light-induced changes in dimeric Deinococcus radiodurans bacterial phytochrome (DrBphP) and its subdomains. The photosensory unit (DrCBD-PHY) shows an unusually stable Pfr state with minimal dark reversion, whereas the histidine kinase (HK) domain facilitates dark reversion to the resting state. Size-exclusion chromatography reveals that all phytochrome fragments remain as dimers in the illuminated state and dark state. Still, the elution profiles of all phytochrome fragments differ between the illuminated and dark states. The differences are observed reliably only when the whole UV-vis spectrum is characterized along the elution profile and show more Pfr-state characteristics at later elution volumes in DrBphP and DrCBD-PHY fragments. This implies that the PHY domain has an important role in amplifying and relaying light-induced conformational changes to the HK domain. In the illuminated state, the HK domain appears partially unfolded and prone to form oligomers. The oligomerization of DrBphP can be diminished by converting the molecule back to the resting Pr state by using far-red light.
Diverse two-cysteine photocycles in phytochromes and cyanobacteriochromes.
Phytochromes are well-known as photoactive red- and near IR-absorbing chromoproteins with cysteine-linked linear tetrapyrrole (bilin) prosthetic groups. Phytochrome photoswitching regulates adaptive responses to light in both photosynthetic and nonphotosynthetic organisms. Exclusively found in cyanobacteria, the related cyanobacteriochrome (CBCR) sensors extend the photosensory range of the phytochrome superfamily to shorter wavelengths of visible light. Blue/green light sensing by a well-studied subfamily of CBCRs proceeds via a photolabile thioether linkage to a second cysteine fully conserved in this subfamily. In the present study, we show that dual-cysteine photosensors have repeatedly evolved in cyanobacteria via insertion of a second cysteine at different positions within the bilin-binding GAF domain (cGMP-specific phosphodiesterases, cyanobacterial adenylate cyclases, and formate hydrogen lyase transcription activator FhlA) shared by CBCRs and phytochromes. Such sensors exhibit a diverse range of photocycles, yet all share ground-state absorbance of near-UV to blue light and a common mechanism of light perception: reversible photoisomerization of the bilin 15,16 double bond. Using site-directed mutagenesis, chemical modification and spectroscopy to characterize novel dual-cysteine photosensors from the cyanobacterium Nostoc punctiforme ATCC 29133, we establish that this spectral diversity can be tuned by varying the light-dependent stability of the second thioether linkage. We also show that such behavior can be engineered into the conventional phytochrome Cph1 from Synechocystis sp. PCC6803. Dual-cysteine photosensors thus allow the phytochrome superfamily in cyanobacteria to sense the full solar spectrum at the earth surface from near infrared to near ultraviolet.