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 34 results
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A light tunable differentiation system for the creation and control of consortia in yeast.

blue EL222 S. cerevisiae Transgene expression Cell differentiation
Nat Commun, 5 Oct 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-26129-7 Link to full text
Abstract: Artificial microbial consortia seek to leverage division-of-labour to optimize function and possess immense potential for bioproduction. Co-culturing approaches, the preferred mode of generating a consortium, remain limited in their ability to give rise to stable consortia having finely tuned compositions. Here, we present an artificial differentiation system in budding yeast capable of generating stable microbial consortia with custom functionalities from a single strain at user-defined composition in space and in time based on optogenetically-driven genetic rewiring. Owing to fast, reproducible, and light-tunable dynamics, our system enables dynamic control of consortia composition in continuous cultures for extended periods. We further demonstrate that our system can be extended in a straightforward manner to give rise to consortia with multiple subpopulations. Our artificial differentiation strategy establishes a novel paradigm for the creation of complex microbial consortia that are simple to implement, precisely controllable, and versatile to use.

Rapid prototyping and design of cybergenetic single-cell controllers.

blue EL222 S. cerevisiae
Nat Commun, 24 Sep 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-25754-6 Link to full text
Abstract: The design and implementation of synthetic circuits that operate robustly in the cellular context is fundamental for the advancement of synthetic biology. However, their practical implementation presents challenges due to low predictability of synthetic circuit design and time-intensive troubleshooting. Here, we present the Cyberloop, a testing framework to accelerate the design process and implementation of biomolecular controllers. Cellular fluorescence measurements are sent in real-time to a computer simulating candidate stochastic controllers, which in turn compute the control inputs and feed them back to the controlled cells via light stimulation. Applying this framework to yeast cells engineered with optogenetic tools, we examine and characterize different biomolecular controllers, test the impact of non-ideal circuit behaviors such as dilution on their operation, and qualitatively demonstrate improvements in controller function with certain network modifications. From this analysis, we derive conditions for desirable biomolecular controller performance, thereby avoiding pitfalls during its biological implementation.

Light-Induced GFP Expression in Zebrafish Embryos using the Optogenetic TAEL/C120 System.

blue EL222 zebrafish in vivo
J Vis Exp, 19 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.3791/62818 Link to full text
Abstract: Inducible gene expression systems are an invaluable tool for studying biological processes. Optogenetic expression systems can provide precise control over gene expression timing, location, and amplitude using light as the inducing agent. In this protocol, an optogenetic expression system is used to achieve light-inducible gene expression in zebrafish embryos. This system relies on an engineered transcription factor called TAEL based on a naturally occurring light-activated transcription factor from the bacterium E. litoralis. When illuminated with blue light, TAEL dimerizes, binds to its cognate regulatory element called C120, and activates transcription. This protocol uses transgenic zebrafish embryos that express the TAEL transcription factor under the control of the ubiquitous ubb promoter. At the same time, the C120 regulatory element drives the expression of a fluorescent reporter gene (GFP). Using a simple LED panel to deliver activating blue light, induction of GFP expression can first be detected after 30 min of illumination and reaches a peak of more than 130-fold induction after 3 h of light treatment. Expression induction can be assessed by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) and by fluorescence microscopy. This method is a versatile and easy-to-use approach for optogenetic gene expression.

Using single-cell models to predict the functionality of synthetic circuits at the population scale.

blue EL222 in silico S. cerevisiae
bioRxiv, 4 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.08.03.454887 Link to full text
Abstract: Mathematical modeling has become a major tool to guide the characterization and synthetic construction of cellular processes. However, models typically lose their capacity to explain or predict experimental outcomes as soon as any, even minor, modification of the studied system or its operating conditions is implemented. This limits our capacity to fully comprehend the functioning of natural biological processes and is a major roadblock for the de novo design of complex synthetic circuits. Here, using a specifically constructed yeast optogenetic differentiation system as an example, we show that a simple deterministic model can explain system dynamics in given conditions but loses validity when modifications to the system are made. On the other hand, deploying theory from stochastic chemical kinetics and developing models of the system’s components that simultaneously track single-cell and population processes allows us to quantitatively predict emerging dynamics of the system without any adjustment of model parameters. We conclude that carefully characterizing the dynamics of cell-to-cell variability using appropriate modeling theory may allow one to unravel the complex interplay of stochastic single-cell and population processes and to predict the functionality of composed synthetic circuits in growing populations before the circuit is constructed.

The Neurospora crassa Inducible Q System Enables Simultaneous Optogenetic Amplification and Inversion in Saccharomyces cerevisiae for Bidirectional Control of Gene Expression.

blue EL222 S. cerevisiae Transgene expression
ACS Synth Biol, 4 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.1c00229 Link to full text
Abstract: Bidirectional optogenetic control of yeast gene expression has great potential for biotechnological applications. Our group has developed optogenetic inverter circuits that activate transcription using darkness, as well as amplifier circuits that reach high expression levels under limited light. However, because both types of circuits harness Gal4p and Gal80p from the galactose (GAL) regulon they cannot be used simultaneously. Here, we apply the Q System, a transcriptional activator/inhibitor system from Neurospora crassa, to build circuits in Saccharomyces cerevisiae that are inducible using quinic acid, darkness, or blue light. We develop light-repressed OptoQ-INVRT circuits that initiate darkness-triggered transcription within an hour of induction, as well as light-activated OptoQ-AMP circuits that achieve up to 39-fold induction. The Q System does not exhibit crosstalk with the GAL regulon, allowing coutilization of OptoQ-AMP circuits with previously developed OptoINVRT circuits. As a demonstration of practical applications in metabolic engineering, we show how simultaneous use of these circuits can be used to dynamically control both growth and production to improve acetoin production, as well as enable light-tunable co-production of geraniol and linalool, two terpenoids implicated in the hoppy flavor of beer. OptoQ-AMP and OptoQ-INVRT circuits enable simultaneous optogenetic signal amplification and inversion, providing powerful additions to the yeast optogenetic toolkit.

A light tunable differentiation system for the creation and control of consortia in yeast.

blue EL222 S. cerevisiae Cell differentiation
bioRxiv, 9 Jun 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.06.09.447744 Link to full text
Abstract: Artificial microbial consortia seek to leverage division-of-labour to optimize function and possess immense potential for bioproduction. Co-culturing approaches, the preferred mode of generating a consortium, remain limited in their ability to give rise to stable consortia having finely tuned compositions. Here, we present an artificial differentiation system in budding yeast capable of generating stable microbial consortia with custom functionalities from a single strain at user-defined composition in space and in time based on optogenetically-driven genetic rewiring. Owing to fast, reproducible, and light-tunable dynamics, our system enables dynamic control of consortia composition in continuous cultures for extended periods. We further demonstrate that our system can be extended in a straightforward manner to give rise to consortia with multiple subpopulations. Our artificial differentiation strategy establishes a novel paradigm for the creation of complex microbial consortia that are simple to implement, precisely controllable, and versatile to use.

Bioluminescent Synthetic Cells Communicate with Natural Cells and Self-Activate Light-Responsive Proteins.

blue EL222 iLID in vitro Transgene expression Control of cell-cell / cell-material interactions
bioRxiv, 26 May 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.20.444896 Link to full text
Abstract: Development of regulated cellular processes and signaling methods in synthetic cells is essential for their integration with living materials. Light is an attractive tool to achieve this, but the limited penetration depth into tissue of visible light restricts its usability for in-vivo applications. Here, we describe the synthesis and application of blue-light-generating synthetic cells using bioluminescence, dismissing the need for an external light source. First, the lipid membrane and internal composition of light-producing synthetic cells were optimized to enable high-intensity emission. Next, we show these cells’ capacity for triggering bioprocesses in natural cells by initiating asexual sporulation of dark-grown mycelial cells of the fungus Trichoderma atroviride in a quorum-sensing like mechanism. Finally, we demonstrate regulated transcription and membrane recruitment in synthetic cells using bioluminescent self-activating fusion proteins. These functionalities pave the way for deploying synthetic cells as embeddable microscale light sources that are capable of activating engineered processes inside tissues.

Optogenetic Amplification Circuits for Light-Induced Metabolic Control.

blue EL222 S. cerevisiae
ACS Synth Biol, 9 Apr 2021 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.0c00642 Link to full text
Abstract: Dynamic control of microbial metabolism is an effective strategy to improve chemical production in fermentations. While dynamic control is most often implemented using chemical inducers, optogenetics offers an attractive alternative due to the high tunability and reversibility afforded by light. However, a major concern of applying optogenetics in metabolic engineering is the risk of insufficient light penetration at high cell densities, especially in large bioreactors. Here, we present a new series of optogenetic circuits we call OptoAMP, which amplify the transcriptional response to blue light by as much as 23-fold compared to the basal circuit (OptoEXP). These circuits show as much as a 41-fold induction between dark and light conditions, efficient activation at light duty cycles as low as ∼1%, and strong homogeneous light-induction in bioreactors of at least 5 L, with limited illumination at cell densities above 40 OD600. We demonstrate the ability of OptoAMP circuits to control engineered metabolic pathways in novel three-phase fermentations using different light schedules to control enzyme expression and improve production of lactic acid, isobutanol, and naringenin. These circuits expand the applicability of optogenetics to metabolic engineering.

Blue Light‐Operated CRISPR/Cas13b‐Mediated mRNA Knockdown (Lockdown).

blue AsLOV2 EL222 TULIP CHO-K1 HEK293T Nucleic acid editing
Adv Biol, 11 Feb 2021 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.202000307 Link to full text
Abstract: The introduction of optogenetics into cell biology has furnished systems to control gene expression at the transcriptional and protein stability level, with a high degree of spatial, temporal, and dynamic light‐regulation capabilities. Strategies to downregulate RNA currently rely on RNA interference and CRISPR/Cas‐related methods. However, these approaches lack the key characteristics and advantages provided by optical control. “Lockdown” introduces optical control of RNA levels utilizing a blue light‐dependent switch to induce expression of CRISPR/Cas13b, which mediates sequence‐specific mRNA knockdown. Combining Lockdown with optogenetic tools to repress gene‐expression and induce protein destabilization with blue light yields efficient triple‐controlled downregulation of target proteins. Implementing Lockdown to degrade endogenous mRNA levels of the cyclin‐dependent kinase 1 (hCdk1) leads to blue light‐induced G2/M cell cycle arrest and inhibition of cell growth in mammalian cells.

TAEL 2.0: An Improved Optogenetic Expression System for Zebrafish.

blue EL222 zebrafish in vivo Transgene expression
Zebrafish, 8 Feb 2021 DOI: 10.1089/zeb.2020.1951 Link to full text
Abstract: Inducible gene expression systems are valuable tools for studying biological processes. We previously developed an optogenetic gene expression system called TAEL that is optimized for use in zebrafish. When illuminated with blue light, TAEL transcription factors dimerize and activate gene expression downstream of the TAEL-responsive C120 promoter. By using light as the inducing agent, the TAEL/C120 system overcomes limitations of traditional inducible expression systems by enabling fine spatial and temporal regulation of gene expression. In this study, we describe ongoing efforts to improve the TAEL/C120 system. We made modifications to both the TAEL transcriptional activator and the C120 regulatory element, collectively referred to as TAEL 2.0. We demonstrate that TAEL 2.0 consistently induces higher levels of reporter gene expression and at a faster rate, but with comparable background and toxicity as the original TAEL system. With these improvements, we were able to create functional stable transgenic lines to express the TAEL 2.0 transcription factor either ubiquitously or with a tissue-specific promoter. We demonstrate that the ubiquitous line in particular can be used to induce expression at late embryonic and larval stages, addressing a major deficiency of the original TAEL system. This improved optogenetic expression system will be a broadly useful resource for the zebrafish community.

Dynamical Modeling of Optogenetic Circuits in Yeast for Metabolic Engineering Applications.

blue EL222 in silico
ACS Synth Biol, 25 Jan 2021 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.0c00372 Link to full text
Abstract: Dynamic control of engineered microbes using light via optogenetics has been demonstrated as an effective strategy for improving the yield of biofuels, chemicals, and other products. An advantage of using light to manipulate microbial metabolism is the relative simplicity of interfacing biological and computer systems, thereby enabling in silico control of the microbe. Using this strategy for control and optimization of product yield requires an understanding of how the microbe responds in real-time to the light inputs. Toward this end, we present mechanistic models of a set of yeast optogenetic circuits. We show how these models can predict short- and long-time response to varying light inputs and how they are amenable to use with model predictive control (the industry standard among advanced control algorithms). These models reveal dynamics characterized by time-scale separation of different circuit components that affect the steady and transient levels of the protein under control of the circuit. Ultimately, this work will help enable real-time control and optimization tools for improving yield and consistency in the production of biofuels and chemicals using microbial fermentations.

Optogenetics in Sinorhizobium meliloti Enables Spatial Control of Exopolysaccharide Production and Biofilm Structure.

blue EL222 S. meliloti Transgene expression Control of cell-cell / cell-material interactions
ACS Synth Biol, 19 Jan 2021 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.0c00498 Link to full text
Abstract: Microorganisms play a vital role in shaping the soil environment and enhancing plant growth by interacting with plant root systems. Because of the vast diversity of cell types involved, combined with dynamic and spatial heterogeneity, identifying the causal contribution of a defined factor, such as a microbial exopolysaccharide (EPS), remains elusive. Synthetic approaches that enable orthogonal control of microbial pathways are a promising means to dissect such complexity. Here we report the implementation of a synthetic, light-activated, transcriptional control platform using the blue-light responsive DNA binding protein EL222 in the nitrogen fixing soil bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti. By fine-tuning the system, we successfully achieved optical control of an EPS production pathway without significant basal expression under noninducing (dark) conditions. Optical control of EPS recapitulated important behaviors such as a mucoid plate phenotype and formation of structured biofilms, enabling spatial control of biofilm structures in S. meliloti. The successful implementation of optically controlled gene expression in S. meliloti enables systematic investigation of how genotype and microenvironmental factors together shape phenotype in situ.

Synthetic gene networks recapitulate dynamic signal decoding and differential gene expression.

blue CRY2/CIB1 EL222 S. cerevisiae Transgene expression
bioRxiv, 7 Jan 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.01.07.425755 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Engineering an Optogenetic CRISPRi Platform for Improved Chemical Production.

blue EL222 E. coli Transgene expression
ACS Synth Biol, 24 Dec 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.0c00488 Link to full text
Abstract: Microbial synthesis of chemicals typically requires the redistribution of metabolic flux toward the synthesis of targeted products. Dynamic control is emerging as an effective approach for solving the hurdles mentioned above. As light could control the cell behavior in a spatial and temporal manner, the optogenetic-CRISPR interference (opto-CRISPRi) technique that allocates the metabolic resources according to different optical signal frequencies will enable bacteria to be controlled between the growth phase and the production stage. In this study, we applied a blue light-sensitive protein EL222 to regulate the expression of the dCpf1-mediated CRISPRi system that turns off the competitive pathways and redirects the metabolic flux toward the heterologous muconic acid synthesis in Escherichia coli. We found that the opto-CRISPRi system dynamically regulating the suppression of the central metabolism and competitive pathways could increase the muconic acid production by 130%. These results demonstrated that the opto-CRISPRi platform is an effective method for enhancing chemical synthesis with broad utilities.

Design and Characterization of Rapid Optogenetic Circuits for Dynamic Control in Yeast Metabolic Engineering.

blue EL222 S. cerevisiae Transgene expression Endogenous gene expression
ACS Synth Biol, 24 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.0c00305 Link to full text
Abstract: The use of optogenetics in metabolic engineering for light-controlled microbial chemical production raises the prospect of utilizing control and optimization techniques routinely deployed in traditional chemical manufacturing. However, such mechanisms require well-characterized, customizable tools that respond fast enough to be used as real-time inputs during fermentations. Here, we present OptoINVRT7, a new rapid optogenetic inverter circuit to control gene expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The circuit induces gene expression in only 0.6 h after switching cells from light to darkness, which is at least 6 times faster than previous OptoINVRT optogenetic circuits used for chemical production. In addition, we introduce an engineered inducible GAL1 promoter (PGAL1-S), which is stronger than any constitutive or inducible promoter commonly used in yeast. Combining OptoINVRT7 with PGAL1-S achieves strong and light-tunable levels of gene expression with as much as 132.9 ± 22.6-fold induction in darkness. The high performance of this new optogenetic circuit in controlling metabolic enzymes boosts production of lactic acid and isobutanol by more than 50% and 15%, respectively. The strength and controllability of OptoINVRT7 and PGAL1-S open the door to applying process control tools to engineered metabolisms to improve robustness and yields in microbial fermentations for chemical production.

Optogenetic Downregulation of Protein Levels to Control Programmed Cell Death in Mammalian Cells with a Dual Blue-Light Switch.

blue AsLOV2 EL222 HEK293T
Methods Mol Biol, 11 Jul 2020 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-0716-0755-8_11 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic approaches facilitate the study of signaling and metabolic pathways in animal cell systems. In the past 10 years, a plethora of light-regulated switches for the targeted control over the induction of gene expression, subcellular localization of proteins, membrane receptor activity, and other cellular processes have been developed and successfully implemented. However, only a few tools have been engineered toward the quantitative and spatiotemporally resolved downregulation of proteins. Here we present a protocol for reversible and rapid blue light-induced reduction of protein levels in mammalian cells. By implementing a dual-regulated optogenetic switch (Blue-OFF), both repression of gene expression and degradation of the target protein are triggered simultaneously. We apply this system for the blue light-mediated control of programmed cell death. HEK293T cells are transfected with the proapoptotic proteins PUMA and BID integrated into the Blue-OFF system. Overexpression of these proteins leads to programmed cell death, which can be prevented by irradiation with blue light. This experimental approach is very straightforward, requires just simple hardware, and therefore can be easily implemented in state-of-the-art equipped mammalian cell culture labs. The system can be used for targeted cell signaling studies and biotechnological applications.

Requirement of Irf6 and Esrp1/2 in frontonasal and palatal epithelium to regulate craniofacial and palate morphogenesis in mouse and zebrafish.

blue EL222 zebrafish in vivo Developmental processes
bioRxiv, 30 Jun 2020 DOI: 10.1101/2020.06.14.149773 Link to full text
Abstract: Orofacial clefts are among the most common human congenital malformations. Irf6 and Esrp1 are two key genes important for palate development, conserved across vertebrates. In the zebrafish, we found that irf6 regulates the expression of esrp1. Using RNAscope, we detailed overlapping Irf6 and Esrp1/2 gene expression in mouse and zebrafish embryonic oral epithelium and periderm. Genetic disruption of irf6 and esrp1/2 in the zebrafish resulted in cleft of the anterior neurocranium (ANC). In the esrp1/2 zebrafish mutant, cleft of the lip formed and appeared to tether into the ANC cleft. Lineage tracing of the anterior cranial neural crest cells revealed that cleft of the ANC resulted not from migration defect, but from impaired chondrogenesis. Molecular analysis of the aberrant cells interrupting ANC fusion revealed that this cell population espresses sox10 and irf6 and is adjacent to cells expressing epithelial krt4 and mesenchymal col1a1 genes. Detailed morphogenetic analysis of mouse Irf6 mutant revealed mesenchymal defects not observed in the Esrp1/2 mutant. Analysis of breeding compound Irf6;Esrp1;Esrp2 mutant suggests that these genes interact where the triple mutant is not observed. Taken together, these studies highlight the complementary analysis of Irf6 and Esrp1/2 in mouse and zebrafish models and captured an unique aberrant embryonic cell population that contributes to cleft pathogenesis. Future work characterizing this unqiue sox10+, irf6+ cell population will yield additional insight into cleft pathogenesis.

Optogenetic control of gene expression in plants in the presence of ambient white light.

blue red EL222 PhyB/PIF6 A. thaliana leaf protoplasts N. benthamiana in vivo Transgene expression Multichromatic
Nat Methods, 29 Jun 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41592-020-0868-y Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics is the genetic approach for controlling cellular processes with light. It provides spatiotemporal, quantitative and reversible control over biological signaling and metabolic processes, overcoming limitations of chemically inducible systems. However, optogenetics lags in plant research because ambient light required for growth leads to undesired system activation. We solved this issue by developing plant usable light-switch elements (PULSE), an optogenetic tool for reversibly controlling gene expression in plants under ambient light. PULSE combines a blue-light-regulated repressor with a red-light-inducible switch. Gene expression is only activated under red light and remains inactive under white light or in darkness. Supported by a quantitative mathematical model, we characterized PULSE in protoplasts and achieved high induction rates, and we combined it with CRISPR-Cas9-based technologies to target synthetic signaling and developmental pathways. We applied PULSE to control immune responses in plant leaves and generated Arabidopsis transgenic plants. PULSE opens broad experimental avenues in plant research and biotechnology.

Light-powered Escherichia coli cell division for chemical production.

blue red BphS EL222 E. coli Cell cycle control Endogenous gene expression Immediate control of second messengers Multichromatic
Nat Commun, 8 May 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-16154-3 Link to full text
Abstract: Cell division can perturb the metabolic performance of industrial microbes. The C period of cell division starts from the initiation to the termination of DNA replication, whereas the D period is the bacterial division process. Here, we first shorten the C and D periods of E. coli by controlling the expression of the ribonucleotide reductase NrdAB and division proteins FtsZA through blue light and near-infrared light activation, respectively. It increases the specific surface area to 3.7 μm-1 and acetoin titer to 67.2 g·L-1. Next, we prolong the C and D periods of E. coli by regulating the expression of the ribonucleotide reductase NrdA and division protein inhibitor SulA through blue light activation-repression and near-infrared (NIR) light activation, respectively. It improves the cell volume to 52.6 μm3 and poly(lactate-co-3-hydroxybutyrate) titer to 14.31 g·L-1. Thus, the optogenetic-based cell division regulation strategy can improve the efficiency of microbial cell factories.

Blue Light-Directed Cell Migration, Aggregation, and Patterning.

blue EL222 E. coli Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Endogenous gene expression
J Mol Biol, 2 Apr 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2020.03.029 Link to full text
Abstract: Bacterial motility is related to many cellular activities, such as cell migration, aggregation, and biofilm formations. The ability to control motility and direct the bacteria to certain location could be used to guide the bacteria in applications such as seeking for and killing pathogen, forming various population-level patterns, and delivering of drugs and vaccines. Currently, bacteria motility is mainly controlled by chemotaxis (prescribed chemical stimuli), which needs physical contact with the chemical inducer. This lacks the flexibility for pattern formation as it has limited spatial control. To overcome the limitations, we developed blue light-regulated synthetic genetic circuit to control bacterial directional motility, by taking the advantage that light stimulus can be delivered to cells in different patterns with precise spatial control. The circuit developed enables programmed Escherichia coli cells to increase directional motility and move away from the blue light, i.e., that negative phototaxis is utilized. This further allows the control of the cells to form aggregation with different patterns. Further, we showed that the circuit can be used to separate two different strains. The demonstrated ability of blue light-controllable gene circuits to regulate a CheZ expression could give researchers more means to control bacterial motility and pattern formation.

Optical induction of autophagy via Transcription factor EB (TFEB) reduces pathological tau in neurons.

blue EL222 HEK293T human IPSCs Neuro-2a Transgene expression
PLoS ONE, 24 Mar 2020 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0230026 Link to full text
Abstract: Pathological accumulation of microtubule associated protein tau in neurons is a major neuropathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related tauopathies. Several attempts have been made to promote clearance of pathological tau (p-Tau) from neurons. Transcription factor EB (TFEB) has shown to clear p-Tau from neurons via autophagy. However, sustained TFEB activation and autophagy can create burden on cellular bioenergetics and can be deleterious. Here, we modified previously described two-plasmid systems of Light Activated Protein (LAP) from bacterial transcription factor-EL222 and Light Responsive Element (LRE) to encode TFEB. Upon blue-light (465 nm) illumination, the conformation changes in LAP induced LRE-driven expression of TFEB, its nuclear entry, TFEB-mediated expression of autophagy-lysosomal genes and clearance of p-Tau from neuronal cells and AD patient-derived human iPSC-neurons. Turning the blue-light off reversed the expression of TFEB-target genes and attenuated p-Tau clearance. Together, these results suggest that optically regulated TFEB expression unlocks the potential of opto-therapeutics to treat AD and other dementias.

Cell-in-the-loop pattern formation with optogenetically emulated cell-to-cell signaling.

blue EL222 S. cerevisiae Transgene expression
Nat Commun, 13 Mar 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-15166-3 Link to full text
Abstract: Designing and implementing synthetic biological pattern formation remains challenging due to underlying theoretical complexity as well as the difficulty of engineering multicellular networks biochemically. Here, we introduce a cell-in-the-loop approach where living cells interact through in silico signaling, establishing a new testbed to interrogate theoretical principles when internal cell dynamics are incorporated rather than modeled. We present an easy-to-use theoretical test to predict the emergence of contrasting patterns in gene expression among laterally inhibiting cells. Guided by the theory, we experimentally demonstrate spontaneous checkerboard patterning in an optogenetic setup, where cell-to-cell signaling is emulated with light inputs calculated in silico from real-time gene expression measurements. The scheme successfully produces spontaneous, persistent checkerboard patterns for systems of sixteen patches, in quantitative agreement with theoretical predictions. Our research highlights how tools from dynamical systems theory may inform our understanding of patterning, and illustrates the potential of cell-in-the-loop for engineering synthetic multicellular systems.

An Open-Source Plate Reader.

blue EL222 in vitro
Biochemistry, 4 Dec 2018 DOI: 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b00952 Link to full text
Abstract: Microplate readers are foundational instruments in ex-perimental biology and bioengineering that enable mul-tiplexed spectrophotometric measurements. To enhance their accessibility, we here report the design, construc-tion, validation, and benchmarking of an open-source microplate reader. The system features full-spectrum absorbance and fluorescence emission detection, in situ optogenetic stimulation, and stand-alone touch screen programming of automated assay protocols. The total system costs <$3500, a fraction of the cost of commer-cial plate readers, and can detect the fluorescence of common dyes down to ~10 nanomolar concentration. Functional capabilities were demonstrated in context of synthetic biology, optoge¬netics, and photosensory biol-ogy: by steady-state measurements of ligand-induced reporter gene expression in a model of bacterial quorum sensing, and by flavin photocycling kinetic measure-ments of a LOV (light-oxygen-voltage) domain photo-receptor used for optogenetic transcriptional activation. Fully detailed guides for assembling the device and au-tomating it using the custom Python-based API (Appli-cation Program Interface) are provided. This work con-tributes a key technology to the growing community-wide infrastructure of open-source biology-focused hardware, whose creation is facilitated by rapid proto-typing capabilities and low-cost electronics, optoelec-tronics, and microcomputers.

Programming the Dynamic Control of Bacterial Gene Expression with a Chimeric Ligand- and Light-Based Promoter System.

blue EL222 E. coli
ACS Synth Biol, 6 Nov 2018 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.8b00280 Link to full text
Abstract: To program cells in a dynamic manner, synthetic biologists require precise control over the threshold levels and timing of gene expression. However, in practice, modulating gene expression is widely carried out using prototypical ligand-inducible promoters, which have limited tunability and spatiotemporal resolution. Here, we built two dual-input hybrid promoters, each retaining the function of the ligand-inducible promoter while being enhanced with a blue-light-switchable tuning knob. Using the new promoters, we show that both ligand and light inputs can be synchronously modulated to achieve desired amplitude or independently regulated to generate desired frequency at a specific amplitude. We exploit the versatile programmability and orthogonality of the two promoters to build the first reprogrammable logic gene circuit capable of reconfiguring into logic OR and N-IMPLY logic on the fly in both space and time without the need to modify the circuit. Overall, we demonstrate concentration- and time-based combinatorial regulation in live bacterial cells with potential applications in biotechnology and synthetic biology.

Dual-controlled optogenetic system for the rapid down-regulation of protein levels in mammalian cells.

blue AsLOV2 EL222 CHO-K1 Cos-7 HEK293 HEK293T HeLa isolated MEFs NIH/3T3 Cell death
Sci Rep, 9 Oct 2018 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-32929-7 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic switches are emerging molecular tools for studying cellular processes as they offer higher spatiotemporal and quantitative precision than classical, chemical-based switches. Light-controllable gene expression systems designed to upregulate protein expression levels meanwhile show performances superior to their chemical-based counterparts. However, systems to reduce protein levels with similar efficiency are lagging behind. Here, we present a novel two-component, blue light-responsive optogenetic OFF switch (‘Blue-OFF’), which enables a rapid and quantitative down-regulation of a protein upon illumination. Blue-OFF combines the first light responsive repressor KRAB-EL222 with the protein degradation module B-LID (blue light-inducible degradation domain) to simultaneously control gene expression and protein stability with a single wavelength. Blue-OFF thus outperforms current optogenetic systems for controlling protein levels. The system is described by a mathematical model which aids in the choice of experimental conditions such as light intensity and illumination regime to obtain the desired outcome. This approach represents an advancement of dual-controlled optogenetic systems in which multiple photosensory modules operate synergistically. As exemplified here for the control of apoptosis in mammalian cell culture, the approach opens up novel perspectives in fundamental research and applications such as tissue engineering.
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