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 601 results

Optotheranostic Nanosystem with Phone Visual Diagnosis and Optogenetic Microbial Therapy for Ulcerative Colitis At-Home Care.

blue YtvA E. coli Transgene expression
ACS Nano, 5 Apr 2021 DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.1c00135 Link to full text
Abstract: Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a relapsing disorder characterized by chronic inflammation of the intestinal tract. However, the home care of UC based on remote monitoring, due to the operational complexity and time-consuming procedure, restrain its widespread applications. Here we constructed an optotheranostic nanosystem for self-diagnosis and long-acting mitigations of UC at home. The system included two major modules: (i) A disease prescreening module mediated by smartphone optical sensing. (ii) Disease real-time intervention module mediated by an optogenetic engineered bacteria system. Recombinant Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN) secreted interleukin-10 (IL-10) could downregulate inflammatory cascades and matrix metalloproteinases; it is a candidate for use in the therapeutic intervention of UC. The results showed that the Detector was able to analyze, report, and share the detection results in less than 1 min, and the limit of detection was 15 ng·mL-1. Besides, the IL-10-secreting EcN treatment suppressed the intestinal inflammatory response in UC mice and protected the intestinal mucosa against injury. The optotheranostic nanosystems enabled solutions to diagnose and treat disease at home, which promotes a mobile health service development.

Lighting the way: Recent insights into the structure and regulation of phototropin blue light receptors.

blue LOV domains Review
J Biol Chem, 26 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.jbc.2021.100594 Link to full text
Abstract: The phototropins (phots) are light-activated kinases that are critical for plant physiology and the many diverse optogenetic tools that they have inspired. Phototropins combine two blue light sensing Light-Oxygen-Voltage (LOV) domains (LOV1 and LOV2) and a C-terminal serine/threonine kinase domain, using the LOV domains to control the catalytic activity of the kinase. While much is known about the structure and photochemistry of the light-perceiving LOV domains, particularly in how activation of the LOV2 domain triggers the unfolding of alpha helices that communicate the light signal to the kinase domain, many questions about phot structure and mechanism remain. Recent studies have made progress addressing these questions by utilizing small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and other biophysical approaches to study multidomain phots from Chlamydomonas and Arabidopsis, leading to models where the domains have an extended linear arrangement, with the activating LOV2 domain contacting the kinase domain N-lobe. We discuss this and other advances which have improved structural and mechanistic understanding of phot regulation in this review, along with the challenges that will have to be overcome to obtain high-resolution structural information on these exciting photoreceptors. Such information will be essential to advancing fundamental understanding of plant physiology while enabling engineering efforts at both the whole plant and molecular levels.

Light-regulated voltage-gated potassium channels for acute interrogation of channel function in neurons and behavior.

blue VfAU1-LOV CHO-K1 Cos-7 HEK293 Jurkat mouse CGN Xenopus oocytes Neuronal activity control
PLoS ONE, 23 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0248688 Link to full text
Abstract: Voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels regulate the membrane potential and conductance of excitable cells to control the firing rate and waveform of action potentials. Even though Kv channels have been intensely studied for over 70 year, surprisingly little is known about how specific channels expressed in various neurons and their functional properties impact neuronal network activity and behavior in vivo. Although many in vivo genetic manipulations of ion channels have been tried, interpretation of these results is complicated by powerful homeostatic plasticity mechanisms that act to maintain function following perturbations in excitability. To better understand how Kv channels shape network function and behavior, we have developed a novel optogenetic technology to acutely regulate Kv channel expression with light by fusing the light-sensitive LOV domain of Vaucheria frigida Aureochrome 1 to the N-terminus of the Kv1 subunit protein to make an Opto-Kv1 channel. Recording of Opto-Kv1 channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes, mammalian cells, and neurons show that blue light strongly induces the current expression of Opto-Kv1 channels in all systems tested. We also find that an Opto-Kv1 construct containing a dominant-negative pore mutation (Opto-Kv1(V400D)) can be used to down-regulate Kv1 currents in a blue light-dependent manner. Finally, to determine whether Opto-Kv1 channels can elicit light-dependent behavioral effect in vivo, we targeted Opto-Kv1 (V400D) expression to Kv1.3-expressing mitral cells of the olfactory bulb in mice. Exposure of the bulb to blue light for 2-3 hours produced a significant increase in sensitivity to novel odors after initial habituation to a similar odor, comparable to behavioral changes seen in Kv1.3 knockout animals. In summary, we have developed novel photoactivatable Kv channels that provide new ways to interrogate neural circuits in vivo and to examine the roles of normal and disease-causing mutant Kv channels in brain function and behavior.

Coupling between protrusion dynamics and polarized trafficking steers persistent cell migration.

blue iLID hTERT RPE-1 Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
bioRxiv, 22 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.03.20.436273 Link to full text
Abstract: Migrating cells present a variety of paths, from non-persistent random walks to highly directional trajectories. While random movement can be easily explained by an intrinsic basal activity of the cell, persistent movement requires the cell to be stably polarized. It remains unclear how this is achieved from the regulation of underlying subcellular processes. In the context of mesenchymal migration, the ability of cells to migrate persistently over several hours require a mechanism stabilizing their protruding activity at their front. Here, we address this mechanism using human RPE1 cell line as our model. We measure, manipulate, and quantitatively perturb cell protrusive activity of the cortex as well as intracellular organization of the endomembrane trafficking system using dynamic micropatterning, pharmacological and trafficking assays, optogenetics and live-cell imaging with tracking. First, we demonstrate that the Nucleus-Golgi axis aligns with the direction of migration and its alignment with the protrusive activity leads to efficient cell movement. Then, using low doses of Nocodazole to disrupt internal cell organization, we show that long-lived polarity breaks down and migration becomes random. Next, we indicate that a flow of vesicles is directed towards the protrusive activity with a delay of 20 min. Eventually, by applying a sustained optogenetic activation, we prove that a localized Cdc42 gradient is able to orient the Nucleus-Golgi axis over a couple of hours. Taken together, our results suggest that the internal polarity axis, provided by the polarized trafficking of vesicles, is stabilizing the protrusive activity of the cell, while the protrusive activity biases this polarity axis. Using a novel minimal physical model, we show that this feedback is sufficient by itself to recapitulate the quantitative properties of cell migration in the timescale of hours. Our work highlights the importance of the coupling between high-level cellular functions in stabilizing the direction of migration over long timescales.

Optogenetic manipulation of YAP cellular localisation and function.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293T HFF-1 MKN28 zebrafish in vivo Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 19 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.03.19.436118 Link to full text
Abstract: YAP, an effector of the Hippo signalling pathway, promotes organ growth and regeneration. Prolonged YAP activation results in uncontrolled proliferation and cancer. Therefore, exogenous regulation of YAP activity has potential translational applications. We present a versatile optogenetic construct (optoYAP) for manipulating YAP localisation, and consequently its activity and function. We attached a LOV2 domain that photocages a nuclear localisation signal (NLS) to the N-terminus of YAP. In 488 nm light, the LOV2 domain unfolds, exposing the NLS, which shuttles optoYAP into the nucleus. Nuclear import of optoYAP is reversible and tuneable by light intensity. In cell culture, activated optoYAP promotes YAP target gene expression, cell proliferation, and anchorage-independent growth. Similarly, we can utilise optoYAP in zebrafish embryos to modulate target genes. OptoYAP is functional in both cell culture and in vivo, providing a powerful tool to address basic research questions and therapeutic applications in regeneration and disease.

Light-induced local gene expression in primary chick cell culture system.

blue VVD primary chick limb mesenchyme cells Transgene expression
Dev Growth Differ, 18 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.1111/dgd.12721 Link to full text
Abstract: The ability to manipulate gene expression at a specific region in a tissue or cell culture system is critical for analysis of target gene function. For chick embryos/cells, several gene introduction/induction methods have been established such as those involving retrovirus, electroporation, sonoporation, and lipofection. However, these methods have limitations in the accurate induction of localized gene expression. Here we demonstrate the effective application of a recently developed light-dependent gene expression induction system (LightOn system) using the Neurospora crassa photoreceptor Vivid fused with a Gal4 DNA binding domain and p65 activation domain (GAVPO) that alters its activity in response to light stimulus in a primary chicken cell culture system. We show that the gene expression level and induction specificity in this system are strongly dependent on the light irradiation conditions. Especially, the irradiation interval is an important parameter for modulating gene expression; for shorter time intervals, higher induction specificity can be achieved. Further, by adjusting light irradiation conditions, the expression level in primary chicken cells can be regulated in a multiple step manner, in contrast to the binary expression seen for gene disruption or introduction (i.e., null or overexpression). This result indicates that the light-dependent expression control method can be a useful technique in chick models to examine how gene funtion is affected by gradual changes in gene expression levels. We applied this light-induction system to regulate Sox9 expression in cultures of chick limb mesenchyme cells and showed that induced SOX9 protein could modulate expression of downstream genes.

Structural Determinants for Light-Dependent Membrane Binding of a Photoswitchable Polybasic Domain.

blue AsLOV2 in vitro
ACS Synth Biol, 9 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.0c00571 Link to full text
Abstract: OptoPB is an optogenetic tool engineered by fusion of the phosphoinositide (PI)-binding polybasic domain of Rit1 (Rit-PB) to a photoreactive light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domain. OptoPB selectively and reversibly binds the plasma membrane (PM) under blue light excitation, and in the dark, it releases back to the cytoplasm. However, the molecular mechanism of optical regulation and lipid recognition is still unclear. Here using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, liposome pulldown assay, and surface plasmon resonance (SPR), we find that OptoPB binds to membrane mimetics containing di- or triphosphorylated phosphatidylinositols, particularly phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PI(4,5)P2), an acidic phospholipid predominantly located in the eukaryotic PM. In the dark, steric hindrance prevented this protein-membrane interaction, while 470 nm blue light illumination activated it. NMR titration and site-directed mutagenesis revealed that both cationic and hydrophobic Rit-PB residues are essential to the membrane interaction, indicating that OptoPB binds the membrane via a specific PI(4,5)P2-dependent mechanism.

Strategies for site-specific recombination with high efficiency and precise spatiotemporal resolution.

blue near-infrared red UV Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
J Biol Chem, 4 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.jbc.2021.100509 Link to full text
Abstract: Site-specific recombinases (SSRs) are invaluable genome engineering tools that have enormously boosted our understanding of gene functions and cell lineage relationships in developmental biology, stem cell biology, regenerative medicine, and multiple diseases. However, the ever-increasing complexity of biomedical research requires the development of novel site-specific genetic recombination technologies that can manipulate genomic DNA with high efficiency and fine spatiotemporal control. Here, we review the latest innovative strategies of the commonly used Cre-loxP recombination system and its combinatorial strategies with other SSR systems. We also highlight recent progress with a focus on the new generation of chemical- and light-inducible genetic systems and discuss the merits and limitations of each new and established system. Finally, we provide the future perspectives of combining various recombination systems or improving well-established site-specific genetic tools to achieve more efficient and precise spatiotemporal genetic manipulation.

Optogenetic Tools for Manipulating Protein Subcellular Localization and Intracellular Signaling at Organelle Contact Sites.

blue Magnets Cos-7 HeLa U-2 OS
Curr Protoc, 3 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.1002/cpz1.71 Link to full text
Abstract: Intracellular signaling processes are frequently based on direct interactions between proteins and organelles. A fundamental strategy to elucidate the physiological significance of such interactions is to utilize optical dimerization tools. These tools are based on the use of small proteins or domains that interact with each other upon light illumination. Optical dimerizers are particularly suitable for reproducing and interrogating a given protein-protein interaction and for investigating a protein's intracellular role in a spatially and temporally precise manner. Described in this article are genetic engineering strategies for the generation of modular light-activatable protein dimerization units and instructions for the preparation of optogenetic applications in mammalian cells. Detailed protocols are provided for the use of light-tunable switches to regulate protein recruitment to intracellular compartments, induce intracellular organellar membrane tethering, and reconstitute protein function using enhanced Magnets (eMags), a recently engineered optical dimerization system. © 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC. Basic Protocol 1: Genetic engineering strategy for the generation of modular light-activated protein dimerization units Support Protocol 1: Molecular cloning Basic Protocol 2: Cell culture and transfection Support Protocol 2: Production of dark containers for optogenetic samples Basic Protocol 3: Confocal microscopy and light-dependent activation of the dimerization system Alternate Protocol 1: Protein recruitment to intracellular compartments Alternate Protocol 2: Induction of organelles' membrane tethering Alternate Protocol 3: Optogenetic reconstitution of protein function Basic Protocol 4: Image analysis Support Protocol 3: Analysis of apparent on- and off-kinetics Support Protocol 4: Analysis of changes in organelle overlap over time.

T cells selectively filter oscillatory signals on the minutes timescale.

blue iLID human T cells Signaling cascade control
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2 Mar 2021 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2019285118 Link to full text
Abstract: T cells experience complex temporal patterns of stimulus via receptor-ligand-binding interactions with surrounding cells. From these temporal patterns, T cells are able to pick out antigenic signals while establishing self-tolerance. Although features such as duration of antigen binding have been examined, our understanding of how T cells interpret signals with different frequencies or temporal stimulation patterns is relatively unexplored. We engineered T cells to respond to light as a stimulus by building an optogenetically controlled chimeric antigen receptor (optoCAR). We discovered that T cells respond to minute-scale oscillations of activation signal by stimulating optoCAR T cells with tunable pulse trains of light. Systematically scanning signal oscillation period from 1 to 150 min revealed that expression of CD69, a T cell activation marker, reached a local minimum at a period of ∼25 min (corresponding to 5 to 15 min pulse widths). A combination of inhibitors and genetic knockouts suggest that this frequency filtering mechanism lies downstream of the Erk signaling branch of the T cell response network and may involve a negative feedback loop that diminishes Erk activity. The timescale of CD69 filtering corresponds with the duration of T cell encounters with self-peptide-presenting APCs observed via intravital imaging in mice, indicating a potential functional role for temporal filtering in vivo. This study illustrates that the T cell signaling machinery is tuned to temporally filter and interpret time-variant input signals in discriminatory ways.

Asymmetric Contraction of Adherens Junctions arises through RhoA and E-cadherin feedback.

blue TULIP Caco-2 Control of cell-cell / cell-material interactions
bioRxiv, 26 Feb 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.26.433093 Link to full text
Abstract: Tissue morphogenesis often arises from the culmination of discrete changes in cell-cell junction behaviors, namely ratcheted junction contractions that lead to collective cellular rearrangements. Mechanochemical signaling in the form of RhoA underlies these ratcheted contractions, which occur asymmetrically as one highly motile vertex contracts toward a relatively less motile tricellular vertex. The underlying mechanisms driving asymmetric vertex movement remains unknown. Here, we use optogenetically controlled RhoA in model epithelia together with biophysical modeling to uncover the mechanism lending to asymmetric vertex motion. We find that both local and global RhoA activation leads to increases in junctional tension, thereby facilitating vertex motion. RhoA activation occurs in discrete regions along the junction and is skewed towards the less-motile vertex. At these less-motile vertices, E-cadherin acts as an opposing factor to limit vertex motion through increased frictional drag. Surprisingly, we uncover a feedback loop between RhoA and E-cadherin, as regional optogenetic activation of specified junctional zones pools E-cadherin to the location of RhoA activation. Incorporating this circuit into a mathematical model, we find that a positive feedback between RhoA-mediated tension and E-cadherin-induced frictional drag on tricellular vertices recapitulates experimental data. As such, the location of RhoA determines which vertex is under high tension, pooling E-cadherin and increasing the frictional load at the tricellular vertex to limit its motion. This feedback drives a tension-dependent intercellular “clutch” at tricellular vertices which stabilizes vertex motion upon tensional load.

A single-chain and fast-responding light-inducible Cre recombinase as a novel optogenetic switch.

blue AsLOV2 CRY2/CIB1 Magnets HEK293 S. cerevisiae Transgene expression
Elife, 23 Feb 2021 DOI: 10.7554/elife.61268 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetics enables genome manipulations with high spatiotemporal resolution, opening exciting possibilities for fundamental and applied biological research. Here, we report the development of LiCre, a novel light-inducible Cre recombinase. LiCre is made of a single flavin-containing protein comprising the AsLOV2 photoreceptor domain of Avena sativa fused to a Cre variant carrying destabilizing mutations in its N-terminal and C-terminal domains. LiCre can be activated within minutes of illumination with blue light, without the need of additional chemicals. When compared to existing photoactivatable Cre recombinases based on two split units, LiCre displayed faster and stronger activation by light as well as a lower residual activity in the dark. LiCre was efficient both in yeast, where it allowed us to control the production of β-carotene with light, and in human cells. Given its simplicity and performances, LiCre is particularly suited for fundamental and biomedical research, as well as for controlling industrial bioprocesses.

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.

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.

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.

Optogenetic Control of Myocardin‐Related Transcription Factor A Subcellular Localization and Transcriptional Activity Steers Membrane Blebbing and Invasive Cancer Cell Motility.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293 HeLa NIH/3T3 Endogenous gene expression
Adv Biol, 8 Feb 2021 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.202000208 Link to full text
Abstract: The myocardin‐related transcription factor A (MRTF‐A) controls the transcriptional activity of the serum response factor (SRF) in a tightly controlled actin‐dependent manner. In turn, MRTF‐A is crucial for many actin‐dependent processes including adhesion, migration, and contractility and has emerged as novel targets for anti‐tumor strategies. MRTF‐A rapidly shuttles between cytoplasmic and nuclear compartment via dynamic actin interactions within its N‐terminal RPEL domain. Here, optogenetics is used to spatiotemporally control MRTF‐A nuclear localization by blue light using the light‐oxygen‐voltage‐sensing domain 2‐domain based system LEXY (light‐inducible nuclear export system). It is found that light‐regulated nuclear export of MRTF‐A occurs within 10–20 min. Importantly, MRTF‐A‐LEXY shuttling is independent of perturbations of actin dynamics. Furthermore, light‐regulation of MRTF‐A‐LEXY is reversible and repeatable for several cycles of illumination and its subcellular localization correlates with SRF transcriptional activity. As a consequence, optogenetic control of MRTF‐A subcellular localization determines subsequent cytoskeletal dynamics such as non‐apoptotic plasma membrane blebbing as well as invasive tumor‐cell migration through 3D collagen matrix. This data demonstrate robust optogenetic regulation of MRTF as a powerful tool to control SRF‐dependent transcription as well as cell motile behavior.

Optical regulation of endogenous RhoA reveals switching of cellular responses by signal amplitude.

blue cyan CRY2/CIB1 Dronpa145K/N pdDronpa1 TULIP HEK293A rat hippocampal neurons U-87 MG Endogenous gene expression
bioRxiv, 7 Feb 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.05.430013 Link to full text
Abstract: Precise control of the timing and amplitude of protein activity in living cells can explain how cells compute responses to complex biochemical stimuli. The small GTPase RhoA can promote either focal adhesion (FA) growth or cell edge retraction, but how a cell chooses between these opposite outcomes is poorly understood. Here, we developed a photoswitchable RhoA guanine exchange factor (psRhoGEF) to obtain precise optical control of endogenous RhoA activity. We find that low levels of RhoA activation by psRhoGEF induces edge retraction and FA disassembly, while high levels of RhoA activation induces both FA growth and disassembly. We observed that mDia-induced Src activation at FAs occurs preferentially at lower levels of RhoA activation. Strikingly, inhibition of Src causes a switch from FA disassembly to growth. Thus, rheostatic control of RhoA activation reveals how cells use signal amplitude and biochemical context to select between alternative responses to a single biochemical signal.

The plastic cell: mechanical deformation of cells and tissues.

blue LOV domains Review
Open Biol, 3 Feb 2021 DOI: 10.1098/rsob.210006 Link to full text
Abstract: Epithelial cells possess the ability to change their shape in response to mechanical stress by remodelling their junctions and their cytoskeleton. This property lies at the heart of tissue morphogenesis in embryos. A key feature of embryonic cell shape changes is that they result from repeated mechanical inputs that make them partially irreversible at each step. Past work on cell rheology has rarely addressed how changes can become irreversible in a complex tissue. Here, we review new and exciting findings dissecting some of the physical principles and molecular mechanisms accounting for irreversible cell shape changes. We discuss concepts of mechanical ratchets and tension thresholds required to induce permanent cell deformations akin to mechanical plasticity. Work in different systems has highlighted the importance of actin remodelling and of E-cadherin endocytosis. We also list some novel experimental approaches to fine-tune mechanical tension, using optogenetics, magnetic beads or stretching of suspended epithelial tissues. Finally, we discuss some mathematical models that have been used to describe the quantitative aspects of accounting for mechanical cell plasticity and offer perspectives on this rapidly evolving field.

Single-component optogenetic tools for inducible RhoA GTPase signaling.

blue BcLOV4 HEK293T Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
bioRxiv, 2 Feb 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.01.429147 Link to full text
Abstract: We created optogenetic tools to control RhoA GTPase, a central regulator of actin organization and actomyosin contractility. RhoA GTPase, or its upstream activating GEF effectors, were fused to BcLOV4, a photoreceptor that can be dynamically recruited to the plasma membrane by a light-regulated protein-lipid electrostatic interaction with the inner leaflet. Direct membrane recruitment of these effectors induced potent contractile signaling sufficient to separate adherens junctions in response to as little as one pulse of blue light. Cytoskeletal morphology changes were dependent on the alignment of the spatially patterned stimulation with the underlying cell polarization. RhoA-mediated cytoskeletal activation induced YAP nuclear localization within minutes and subsequent mechanotransduction, verified by YAP-TEAD transcriptional activity. These single-component tools, which do not require protein binding partners, offer spatiotemporally precise control over RhoA signaling that will advance the study of its diverse regulatory roles in cell migration, morphogenesis, and cell cycle maintenance.

A synthetic BRET-based optogenetic device for pulsatile transgene expression enabling glucose homeostasis in mice.

blue CRY2/CIB1 LOVTRAP VVD A549 Cos-7 HEK293 HEK293T HeLa mouse in vivo NCI-H1299 PC-3 U-87 MG Transgene expression
Nat Commun, 27 Jan 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-20913-1 Link to full text
Abstract: Pulsing cellular dynamics in genetic circuits have been shown to provide critical capabilities to cells in stress response, signaling and development. Despite the fascinating discoveries made in the past few years, the mechanisms and functional capabilities of most pulsing systems remain unclear, and one of the critical challenges is the lack of a technology that allows pulsatile regulation of transgene expression both in vitro and in vivo. Here, we describe the development of a synthetic BRET-based transgene expression (LuminON) system based on a luminescent transcription factor, termed luminGAVPO, by fusing NanoLuc luciferase to the light-switchable transcription factor GAVPO. luminGAVPO allows pulsatile and quantitative activation of transgene expression via both chemogenetic and optogenetic approaches in mammalian cells and mice. Both the pulse amplitude and duration of transgene expression are highly tunable via adjustment of the amount of furimazine. We further demonstrated LuminON-mediated blood-glucose homeostasis in type 1 diabetic mice. We believe that the BRET-based LuminON system with the pulsatile dynamics of transgene expression provides a highly sensitive tool for precise manipulation in biological systems that has strong potential for application in diverse basic biological studies and gene- and cell-based precision therapies in the future.

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.

Optogenetic control of PRC1 reveals its role in chromosome alignment on the spindle by overlap length-dependent forces.

blue iLID HeLa U-2 OS Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Elife, 22 Jan 2021 DOI: 10.7554/elife.61170 Link to full text
Abstract: During metaphase, chromosome position at the spindle equator is regulated by the forces exerted by kinetochore microtubules and polar ejection forces. However, the role of forces arising from mechanical coupling of sister kinetochore fibers with bridging fibers in chromosome alignment is unknown. Here we develop an optogenetic approach for acute removal of PRC1 to partially disassemble bridging fibers and show that they promote chromosome alignment. Tracking of the plus-end protein EB3 revealed longer antiparallel overlaps of bridging microtubules upon PRC1 removal, which was accompanied by misaligned and lagging kinetochores. Kif4A/kinesin-4 and Kif18A/kinesin-8 were found within the bridging fiber and largely lost upon PRC1 removal, suggesting that these proteins regulate the overlap length of bridging microtubules. We propose that PRC1-mediated crosslinking of bridging microtubules and recruitment of kinesins to the bridging fiber promotes chromosome alignment by overlap length-dependent forces transmitted to the associated kinetochore fibers.

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.

Dual Systems for Enhancing Control of Protein Activity through Induced Dimerization Approaches.

blue violet Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Review
Adv Biol, 14 Jan 2021 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.202000234 Link to full text
Abstract: To reveal the underpinnings of complex biological systems, a variety of approaches have been developed that allow switchable control of protein function. One powerful approach for switchable control is the use of inducible dimerization systems, which can be configured to control activity of a target protein upon induced dimerization triggered by chemicals or light. Individually, many inducible dimerization systems suffer from pre‐defined dynamic ranges and overwhelming sensitivity to expression level and cellular context. Such systems often require extensive engineering efforts to overcome issues of background leakiness and restricted dynamic range. To address these limitations, recent tool development efforts have explored overlaying dimerizer systems with a second layer of regulation. Albeit more complex, the resulting layered systems have enhanced functionality, such as tighter control that can improve portability of these tools across platforms.

Steering Molecular Activity with Optogenetics: Recent Advances and Perspectives.

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.
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