Showing 1 - 25 of 81 results
Design and engineering of light-sensitive protein switches.
Engineered, light-sensitive protein switches are used to interrogate a broad variety of biological processes. These switches are typically constructed by genetically fusing naturally occurring light-responsive protein domains with functional domains from other proteins. Protein activity can be controlled using a variety of mechanisms including light-induced colocalization, caging, and allosteric regulation. Protein design efforts have focused on reducing background signaling, maximizing the change in activity upon light stimulation, and perturbing the kinetics of switching. It is common to combine structure-based modeling with experimental screening to identify ideal fusion points between domains and discover point mutations that optimize switching. Here, we introduce commonly used light-sensitive domains and summarize recent progress in using them to regulate protein activity.
Optogenetic tools for microbial synthetic biology.
Chemical induction is one of the most common modalities used to manipulate gene expression in living systems. However, chemical induction can be toxic or expensive that compromise the economic feasibility when it comes to industrial-scale synthetic biology applications. These complications have driven the pursuit of better induction systems. Optogenetics technique can be a solution as it not only enables dynamic control with unprecedented spatiotemporal precision but also is inexpensive and eco-friendlier. The optogenetic technique harnesses natural light-sensing modules that are genetically encodable and re-programmable in various hosts. By further engineering these modules to connect with the microbial regulatory machinery, gene expression and protein activity can be finely tuned simply through light irradiation. Recent works on applying optogenetics to microbial synthetic biology have yielded remarkable achievements. To further expand the usability of optogenetics, more optogenetic tools with greater portability that are compatible with different microbial hosts need to be developed. This review focuses on non-opsin optogenetic systems and the current state of optogenetic advancements in microbes, by showcasing the different designs and functions of optogenetic tools, followed by an insight into the optogenetic approaches used to circumvent challenges in synthetic biology.
Optogenetic EB1 inactivation shortens metaphase spindles by disrupting cortical force-producing interactions with astral microtubules.
Chromosome segregation is accomplished by the mitotic spindle, a bipolar micromachine built primarily from microtubules. Different microtubule populations contribute to spindle function: kinetochore microtubules attach and transmit forces to chromosomes, antiparallel interpolar microtubules support spindle structure, and astral microtubules connect spindle poles to the cell cortex.1,2 In mammalian cells, end-binding (EB) proteins associate with all growing microtubule plus ends throughout the cell cycle and serve as adaptors for diverse +TIPs that control microtubule dynamics and interactions with other intracellular structures.3 Because binding of many +TIPs to EB1 and thus microtubule-end association is switched off by mitotic phosphorylation,4-6 the mitotic function of EBs remains poorly understood. To analyze how EB1 and associated +TIPs on different spindle microtubule populations contribute to mitotic spindle dynamics, we use a light-sensitive EB1 variant, π-EB1, that allows local, acute, and reversible inactivation of +TIP association with growing microtubule ends in live cells.7 We find that acute π-EB1 photoinactivation results in rapid and reversible metaphase spindle shortening and transient relaxation of tension across the central spindle. However, in contrast to interphase, π-EB1 photoinactivation does not inhibit microtubule growth in metaphase but instead increases astral microtubule length and number. Yet in the absence of EB1 activity, astral microtubules fail to engage the cortical dynein/dynactin machinery, and spindle poles move away from regions of π-EB1 photoinactivation. In conclusion, our optogenetic approach reveals mitotic EB1 functions that remain hidden in genetic experiments, likely due to compensatory molecular systems regulating vertebrate spindle dynamics.
Optophysiology: Illuminating cell physiology with optogenetics.
Optogenetics combines light and genetics to enable precise control of living cells, tissues, and organisms with tailored functions. Optogenetics has the advantages of noninvasiveness, rapid responsiveness, tunable reversibility, and superior spatiotemporal resolution. Following the initial discovery of microbial opsins as light-actuated ion channels, a plethora of naturally occurring or engineered photoreceptors or photosensitive domains that respond to light at varying wavelengths has ushered in the next chapter of optogenetics. Through protein engineering and synthetic biology approaches, genetically encoded photoswitches can be modularly engineered into protein scaffolds or host cells to control a myriad of biological processes, as well as to enable behavioral control and disease intervention in vivo. Here, we summarize these optogenetic tools on the basis of their fundamental photochemical properties to better inform the chemical basis and design principles. We also highlight exemplary applications of opsin-free optogenetics in dissecting cellular physiology (designated "optophysiology") and describe the current progress, as well as future trends, in wireless optogenetics, which enables remote interrogation of physiological processes with minimal invasiveness. This review is anticipated to spark novel thoughts on engineering next-generation optogenetic tools and devices that promise to accelerate both basic and translational studies.
Directed evolution approaches for optogenetic tool development.
Photoswitchable proteins enable specific molecular events occurring in complex biological settings to be probed in a rapid and reversible fashion. Recent progress in the development of photoswitchable proteins as components of optogenetic tools has been greatly facilitated by directed evolution approaches in vitro, in bacteria, or in yeast. We review these developments and suggest future directions for this rapidly advancing field.
Analysis of Three Architectures for Controlling PTP1B with Light.
Photosensory domains are powerful tools for placing proteins under optical control, but their integration into light-sensitive chimeras is often challenging. Many designs require structural iterations, and direct comparisons of alternative approaches are rare. This study uses protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B), an influential regulatory enzyme, to compare three architectures for controlling PTPs with light: a protein fusion, an insertion chimera, and a split construct. All three designs permitted optical control of PTP1B activity in vitro (i.e., kinetic assays of purified enzyme) and in mammalian cells; photoresponses measured under both conditions, while different in magnitude, were linearly correlated. The fusion- and insertion-based architectures exhibited the highest dynamic range and maintained native localization patterns in mammalian cells. A single insertion architecture enabled optical control of both PTP1B and TCPTP, but not SHP2, where the analogous chimera was active but not photoswitchable. Findings suggest that PTPs are highly tolerant of domain insertions and support the use of in vitro screens to evaluate different optogenetic designs.
Gezielte Injektion von Effektoren durch Kontrolle der Proteindynamik.
The type III secretion system (T3SS) enables direct injection of bacterial effector proteins into eukaryotic cells. We found that the dynamic cytosolic interface of the system allows Yersinia enterocolitica to suppress premature secretion at low pH, ensuring rapid activation at the site of action. Exploiting this principle, we developed a light-controlled T3SS based on optogenetic interaction switches, which provides unprecedented spatiotemporal control of protein secretion and translocation.
An Optogenetic Toolbox for Synergistic Regulation of Protein Abundance.
Optogenetic tools have been proven to be useful in regulating cellular processes via an external signal. Light can be applied with high spatial and temporal precision as well as easily modulated in quantity and quality. Natural photoreceptors of the light oxygen voltage (LOV) domain family have been characterized in depth, especially the LOV2 domain of Avena sativa (As) phototropin 1 and its derivatives. Information on the behavior of LOV2 variants with changes in the photocycle or the light response has been recorded. Here, we applied well-described photocycle mutations on the AsLOV2 domain of a photosensitive transcription factor (psTF) as well as its variant that is part of the photosensitive degron (psd) psd3 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In vivo and in vitro measurements revealed that each photoreceptor component of the light-sensitive transcription factor and the psd3 module can be modulated in its light sensitivity by mutations that are known to prolong or shorten the dark-reversion time of AsLOV2. Yet, only two of the mutations showed differences in the in vivo behavior in the context of the psd3 module. For the AsLOV2 domain in the context of the psTF, we observed different characteristics for all four variants. Molecular dynamics simulations showed distinct influences of the shortened Jα helix and the V416L mutation in the context of the psd3 photoreceptor. In conclusion, we demonstrated the tunability of two optogenetic tools with a set of mutations that affect the photocycle of the inherent photoreceptors. As these optogenetic tools are concurrent in their action, pleiotropic effects on target protein abundance are achievable with the simultaneous action of the diverse photoreceptor variants.
Progressive enhancement of kinetic proofreading in T cell antigen discrimination from receptor activation to DAG generation.
T cells use kinetic proofreading to discriminate antigens by converting small changes in antigen binding lifetime into large differences in cell activation, but where in the signaling cascade this computation is performed is unknown. Previously, we developed a light-gated immune receptor to probe the role of ligand kinetics in T cell antigen signaling. We found significant kinetic proofreading at the level of the signaling lipid diacylglycerol (DAG) but lacked the ability to determine where the multiple signaling steps required for kinetic discrimination originate in the upstream signaling cascade (Tischer and Weiner, 2019). Here we uncover where kinetic proofreading is executed by adapting our optogenetic system for robust activation of early signaling events. We find the strength of kinetic proofreading progressively increases from Zap70 recruitment to LAT clustering to downstream DAG generation. These data suggest a distributed kinetic proofreading mechanism, with proofreading steps both at the receptor and at downstream signaling events. Leveraging the ability of our system to rapidly disengage ligand binding, we measure slower reset rates for downstream signaling events. Our observations of distributed kinetic proofreading and slowed resetting of downstream steps suggest a basis of cooperativity between multiple active receptors with implications in tissue homeostasis, autoimmunity, and immunotherapy off-target effects.
A novel mechanism of bulk cytoplasmic transport by cortical dynein in Drosophila ovary.
Cytoplasmic dynein, a major minus-end directed microtubule motor, plays essential roles in eukaryotic cells. Drosophila oocyte growth is mainly dependent on the contribution of cytoplasmic contents from the interconnected sister cells, nurse cells. We have previously shown that cytoplasmic dynein is required for Drosophila oocyte growth, and assumed that it transports cargoes along microtubule tracks from nurse cells to the oocyte. Here we report that instead transporting cargoes along microtubules into the oocyte, cortical dynein actively moves microtubules in nurse cells and from nurse cells to the oocyte via the cytoplasmic bridges, the ring canals. We demonstrate this microtubule movement is sufficient to drag even inert cytoplasmic particles through the ring canals to the oocyte. Furthermore, replacing dynein with a minus-end directed plant kinesin linked to the actin cortex is sufficient for transporting organelles and cytoplasm to the oocyte and driving its growth. These experiments show that cortical dynein can perform bulk cytoplasmic transport by gliding microtubules along the cell cortex and through the ring canals to the oocyte. We propose that the dynein-driven microtubule flow could serve as a novel mode of cargo transport for fast cytoplasmic transfer to support rapid oocyte growth.
Optogenetics in bacteria - applications and opportunities.
Optogenetics holds the promise of controlling biological processes with superb temporal and spatial resolution at minimal perturbation. Although many of the light-reactive proteins used in optogenetic systems are derived from prokaryotes, applications were largely limited to eukaryotes for a long time. In recent years, however, an increasing number of microbiologists use optogenetics as a powerful new tool to study and control key aspects of bacterial biology in a fast and often reversible manner. After a brief discussion of optogenetic principles, this review provides an overview of the rapidly growing number of optogenetic applications in bacteria, with a particular focus on studies venturing beyond transcriptional control. To guide future experiments, we highlight helpful tools, provide considerations for successful application of optogenetics in bacterial systems, and identify particular opportunities and challenges that arise when applying these approaches in bacteria.
Modularly Built Synthetic Membraneless Organelles Enabling Targeted Protein Sequestration and Release.
Abstract not available.
Staggered starts in the race to T cell activation.
How T lymphocytes tune their responses to different strengths of stimulation is a fundamental question in immunology. Recent work using new optogenetic, single-cell genomic, and live-imaging approaches has revealed that stimulation strength controls the rate of individual cell responses within a population. Moreover, these responses have been found to use shared molecular programs, regardless of stimulation strength. However, additional data indicate that stimulation duration or cytokine feedback can impact later gene expression phenotypes of activated cells. In-depth molecular studies have suggested mechanisms by which stimulation strength might modulate the probability of T cell activation. This emerging model allows activating T cells to achieve a wide range of population responses through probabilistic control within individual cells.
Optogenetic control of NOTCH1 signalling.
The Notch signalling pathway is a crucial regulator of cell differentiation as well as tissue organisation. Dysregulation of Notch signalling has been linked to the pathogenesis of different diseases. Notch plays a key role in breast cancer progression by controlling the interaction between the tumour cells and the microenvironment as well as by increasing cell motility and invasion. NOTCH1 is a mechanosensitive receptor, where mechanical force is required to activate the proteolytic cleavage and release of the Notch intracellular domain (NICD). Here, we circumvent this step by regulating Notch activity by light. To achieve this, we have engineered a membrane-bound optogenetic NOTCH1 receptor (optoNotch) to control the activation of NOTCH1 intracellular domain (N1ICD) and its downstream transcriptional activities. Using optoNotch we confirm that NOTCH1 activation increases cell proliferation in MCF7 and MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells in 2D and spheroid 3D cultures. OptoNotch allows fine-tuning ligand-independent regulation of N1ICD to understand the spatiotemporal complexity of Notch signalling.
Seeing is believing: tools to study the role of Rho GTPases during cytokinesis.
Cytokinesis is required to cleave the daughter cells at the end of mitosis and relies on the spatiotemporal control of RhoA GTPase. Cytokinesis failure can lead to changes in cell fate or aneuploidy, which can be detrimental during development and/or can lead to cancer. However, our knowledge of the pathways that regulate RhoA during cytokinesis is limited, and the role of other Rho family GTPases is not clear. This is largely because the study of Rho GTPases presents unique challenges using traditional cell biological and biochemical methods, and they have pleiotropic functions making genetic studies difficult to interpret. The recent generation of optogenetic tools and biosensors that control and detect active Rho has overcome some of these challenges and is helping to elucidate the role of RhoA in cytokinesis. However, improvements are needed to reveal the role of other Rho GTPases in cytokinesis, and to identify the molecular mechanisms that control Rho activity. This review examines some of the outstanding questions in cytokinesis, and explores tools for the imaging and control of Rho GTPases.
Desensitisation of Notch signalling through dynamic adaptation in the nucleus.
During embryonic development, signalling pathways orchestrate organogenesis by controlling tissue-specific gene expression programmes and differentiation. Although the molecular components of many common developmental signalling systems are known, our current understanding of how signalling inputs are translated into gene expression outputs in real-time is limited. Here we employ optogenetics to control the activation of Notch signalling during Drosophila embryogenesis with minute accuracy and follow target gene expression by quantitative live imaging. Light-induced nuclear translocation of the Notch Intracellular Domain (NICD) causes a rapid activation of target mRNA expression. However, target gene transcription gradually decays over time despite continuous photo-activation and nuclear NICD accumulation, indicating dynamic adaptation to the signalling input. Using mathematical modelling and molecular perturbations, we show that this adaptive transcriptional response fits to known motifs capable of generating near-perfect adaptation and can be best explained by state-dependent inactivation at the target cis-regulatory region. Taken together, our results reveal dynamic nuclear adaptation as a novel mechanism controlling Notch signalling output during tissue differentiation.
Light-Responsive Dynamic Protein Hydrogels Based on LOVTRAP.
Protein-based hydrogels can mimic many aspects of native extracellular matrices (ECMs) and are promising biomedical materials that find various applications in cell proliferation, drug/cell delivery, and tissue engineering. To be adapted for different tasks, it is important that the mechanical and/or biochemical properties of protein-based hydrogels can be regulated by external stimuli. Light as a regulation stimulus is of advantage because it can be easily applied in demanded spatiotemporal manners. The noncovalent binding between the light-oxygen-voltage-sensing domain 2 (LOV2) and its binding partner ZDark1 (zdk1), named as LOVTRAP, is a light-responsive interaction. The binding affinity of LOVTRAP is much higher in dark than that under blue light irradiation. Taking advantage of these light-responsive interactions, herein we endeavored to use LOVTRAP as a crosslinking mechanism to engineer light-responsive protein hydrogels. Using LOV2-containing and zdk1-containing multifunctional protein building blocks, we successfully engineered a light-responsive protein hydrogel whose viscoelastic properties can change in response to light: in the dark, the hydrogel showed higher storage modulus; under blue light irradiation, the storage modulus decreased. Due to the noncovalent nature of the LOVTRAP, the engineered LOVTRAP protein hydrogels displayed shear-thinning and self-healing properties and served as an excellent injectable protein hydrogel. We anticipated that this new class of light-responsive protein hydrogels will broaden the scope of dynamic protein hydrogels and help develop other light-responsive protein hydrogels for biomedical applications.
An optogenetic method for interrogating YAP1 and TAZ nuclear-cytoplasmic shuttling.
The shuttling of transcription factors and transcriptional regulators into and out of the nucleus is central to the regulation of many biological processes. Here we describe a new method for studying the rates of nuclear entry and exit of transcriptional regulators. A photo-responsive AsLOV (Avena sativa Light Oxygen Voltage) domain is used to sequester fluorescently-labelled transcriptional regulators YAP1 and TAZ/WWTR1 on the surface of mitochondria and reversibly release them upon blue light illumination. After dissociation, fluorescent signals from mitochondria, cytoplasm and nucleus are extracted with a bespoke app and used to generate rates of nuclear entry and exit. Using this method, we demonstrate that phosphorylation of YAP1 on canonical sites enhances its rate of nuclear export. Moreover, we provide evidence that, despite high intercellular variability, YAP1 import and export rates correlated within the same cell. By simultaneously releasing YAP1 and TAZ from sequestration, we show that their rates of entry and exit are correlated. Furthermore, combining the optogenetic release of YAP1 with lattice light-sheet microscopy revealed high heterogeneity of YAP1 dynamics within different cytoplasmic regions, demonstrating the utility and versatility of our tool to study protein dynamics.
Optogenetic Approaches for the Spatiotemporal Control of Signal Transduction Pathways.
Biological signals are sensed by their respective receptors and are transduced and processed by a sophisticated intracellular signaling network leading to a signal-specific cellular response. Thereby, the response to the signal depends on the strength, the frequency, and the duration of the stimulus as well as on the subcellular signal progression. Optogenetic tools are based on genetically encoded light-sensing proteins facilitating the precise spatiotemporal control of signal transduction pathways and cell fate decisions in the absence of natural ligands. In this review, we provide an overview of optogenetic approaches connecting light-regulated protein-protein interaction or caging/uncaging events with steering the function of signaling proteins. We briefly discuss the most common optogenetic switches and their mode of action. The main part deals with the engineering and application of optogenetic tools for the control of transmembrane receptors including receptor tyrosine kinases, the T cell receptor and integrins, and their effector proteins. We also address the hallmarks of optogenetics, the spatial and temporal control of signaling events.
Optogenetic Control of Non-Apoptotic Cell Death.
Herein, a set of optogenetic tools (designated LiPOP) that enable photoswitchable necroptosis and pyroptosis in live cells with varying kinetics, is introduced. The LiPOP tools allow reconstruction of the key molecular steps involved in these two non-apoptotic cell death pathways by harnessing the power of light. Further, the use of LiPOPs coupled with upconversion nanoparticles or bioluminescence is demonstrated to achieve wireless optogenetic or chemo-optogenetic killing of cancer cells in multiple mouse tumor models. LiPOPs can trigger necroptotic and pyroptotic cell death in cultured prokaryotic or eukaryotic cells and in living animals, and set the stage for studying the role of non-apoptotic cell death pathways during microbial infection and anti-tumor immunity.
Circularly permuted LOV2 as a modular photoswitch for optogenetic engineering.
Plant-based photosensors, such as the light-oxygen-voltage sensing domain 2 (LOV2) from oat phototropin 1, can be modularly wired into cell signaling networks to remotely control protein activity and physiological processes. However, the applicability of LOV2 is hampered by the limited choice of available caging surfaces and its preference to accommodate the effector domains downstream of the C-terminal Jα helix. Here, we engineered a set of LOV2 circular permutants (cpLOV2) with additional caging capabilities, thereby expanding the repertoire of genetically encoded photoswitches to accelerate the design of optogenetic devices. We demonstrate the use of cpLOV2-based optogenetic tools to reversibly gate ion channels, antagonize CRISPR-Cas9-mediated genome engineering, control protein subcellular localization, reprogram transcriptional outputs, elicit cell suicide and generate photoactivatable chimeric antigen receptor T cells for inducible tumor cell killing. Our approach is widely applicable for engineering other photoreceptors to meet the growing need of optogenetic tools tailored for biomedical and biotechnological applications.
Quantifying persistence in the T-cell signaling network using an optically controllable antigen receptor.
T cells discriminate between healthy and infected cells with remarkable sensitivity when mounting an immune response, which is hypothesized to depend on T cells combining stimuli from multiple antigen-presenting cell interactions into a more potent response. To quantify the capacity for T cells to accomplish this, we have developed an antigen receptor that is optically tunable within cell conjugates, providing control over the duration, and intensity of intracellular T-cell signaling. We observe limited persistence within the T-cell intracellular network on disruption of receptor input, with signals dissipating entirely in ~15 min, and directly show sustained proximal receptor signaling is required to maintain gene transcription. T cells thus primarily accumulate the outputs of gene expression rather than integrate discrete intracellular signals. Engineering optical control in a clinically relevant chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), we show that this limited signal persistence can be exploited to increase CAR-T cell activation threefold using pulsatile stimulation. Our results are likely to apply more generally to the signaling dynamics of other cellular networks.
The Rise of Molecular Optogenetics.
Abstract not available.
Synthetic Protein Condensates That Inducibly Recruit and Release Protein Activity in Living Cells.
Compartmentation of proteins into biomolecular condensates or membraneless organelles formed by phase separation is an emerging principle for the regulation of cellular processes. Creating synthetic condensates that accommodate specific intracellular proteins on demand would have various applications in chemical biology, cell engineering, and synthetic biology. Here, we report the construction of synthetic protein condensates capable of recruiting and/or releasing proteins of interest in living mammalian cells in response to a small molecule or light. By a modular combination of a tandem fusion of two oligomeric proteins, which forms phase-separated synthetic protein condensates in cells, with a chemically induced dimerization tool, we first created a chemogenetic protein condensate system that can rapidly recruit target proteins from the cytoplasm to the condensates by addition of a small-molecule dimerizer. We next coupled the protein-recruiting condensate system with an engineered proximity-dependent protease, which gave a second protein condensate system wherein target proteins previously expressed inside the condensates are released into the cytoplasm by small-molecule-triggered protease recruitment. Furthermore, an optogenetic condensate system that allows reversible release and sequestration of protein activity in a repeatable manner using light was constructed successfully. These condensate systems were applicable to control protein activity and cellular processes such as membrane ruffling and ERK signaling in a time scale of minutes. This proof-of-principle work provides a new platform for chemogenetic and optogenetic control of protein activity in mammalian cells and represents a step toward tailor-made engineering of synthetic protein condensate-based soft materials with various functionalities for biological and biomedical applications.
Signaling, Deconstructed: Using Optogenetics to Dissect and Direct Information Flow in Biological Systems.
Cells receive enormous amounts of information from their environment. How they act on this information-by migrating, expressing genes, or relaying signals to other cells-comprises much of the regulatory and self-organizational complexity found across biology. The "parts list" involved in cell signaling is generally well established, but how do these parts work together to decode signals and produce appropriate responses? This fundamental question is increasingly being addressed with optogenetic tools: light-sensitive proteins that enable biologists to manipulate the interaction, localization, and activity state of proteins with high spatial and temporal precision. In this review, we summarize how optogenetics is being used in the pursuit of an answer to this question, outlining the current suite of optogenetic tools available to the researcher and calling attention to studies that increase our understanding of and improve our ability to engineer biology. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering, Volume 23 is June 2021. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.