Showing 1 - 25 of 100 results
Light-Oxygen-Voltage (LOV)-sensing Domains: Activation Mechanism and Optogenetic Stimulation.
The light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domains of phototropins emerged as essential constituents of light-sensitive proteins, helping initiate blue light-triggered responses. Moreover, these domains have been identified across all kingdoms of life. LOV domains utilize flavin nucleotides as co-factors and undergo structural rearrangements upon exposure to blue light, which activates an effector domain that executes the final output of the photoreaction. LOV domains are versatile photoreceptors that play critical roles in cellular signaling and environmental adaptation; additionally, they can noninvasively sense and control intracellular processes with high spatiotemporal precision, making them ideal candidates for use in optogenetics, where a light signal is linked to a cellular process through a photoreceptor. The ongoing development of LOV-based optogenetic tools, driven by advances in structural biology, spectroscopy, computational methods, and synthetic biology, has the potential to revolutionize the study of biological systems and enable the development of novel therapeutic strategies.
RudLOV—a new optically synchronized cargo transport method reveals unexpected effect of dynasore.
Live imaging of secretory cargoes is a powerful method for understanding the mechanisms of membrane trafficking. Inducing the synchronous release of cargoes from an organelle is a key for enhancing microscopic observation. We developed an optical cargo-releasing method named as retention using dark state of LOV2 (RudLOV), which enables exceptional spatial, temporal, and quantity control during cargo release. A limited amount of cargo-release using RudLOV successfully visualized cargo cisternal-movement and cargo-specific exit sites on the Golgi/trans-Golgi network. Moreover, by controlling the timing of cargo-release using RudLOV, we revealed the canonical and non-canonical effects of the well-known dynamin inhibitor dynasore, which inhibits early-Golgi but not late-Golgi transport and exit from the trans-Golgi network where dynamin-2 is active. Accumulation of COPI vesicles at the cis-side of the Golgi stacks in dynasore-treated cells suggests that dynasore targets COPI-uncoating/tethering/fusion machinery in the early-Golgi cisternae or endoplasmic reticulum but not in the late-Golgi cisternae. These results provide insight into the cisternal maturation of Golgi stacks.
Direct investigation of cell contraction signal networks by light-based perturbation methods.
Cell contraction plays an important role in many physiological and pathophysiological processes. This includes functions in skeletal, heart, and smooth muscle cells, which lead to highly coordinated contractions of multicellular assemblies, and functions in non-muscle cells, which are often highly localized in subcellular regions and transient in time. While the regulatory processes that control cell contraction in muscle cells are well understood, much less is known about cell contraction in non-muscle cells. In this review, we focus on the mechanisms that control cell contraction in space and time in non-muscle cells, and how they can be investigated by light-based methods. The review particularly focusses on signal networks and cytoskeletal components that together control subcellular contraction patterns to perform functions on the level of cells and tissues, such as directional migration and multicellular rearrangements during development. Key features of light-based methods that enable highly local and fast perturbations are highlighted, and how experimental strategies can capitalize on these features to uncover causal relationships in the complex signal networks that control cell contraction.
Selective induction of programmed cell death using synthetic biology tools.
Regulated cell death (RCD) controls the removal of dispensable, infected or malignant cells, and is thus essential for development, homeostasis and immunity of multicellular organisms. Over the last years different forms of RCD have been described (among them apoptosis, necroptosis, pyroptosis and ferroptosis), and the cellular signaling pathways that control their induction and execution have been characterized at the molecular level. It has also become apparent that different forms of RCD differ in their capacity to elicit inflammation or an immune response, and that RCD pathways show a remarkable plasticity. Biochemical and genetic studies revealed that inhibition of a given pathway often results in the activation of back-up cell death mechanisms, highlighting close interconnectivity based on shared signaling components and the assembly of multivalent signaling platforms that can initiate different forms of RCD. Due to this interconnectivity and the pleiotropic effects of 'classical' cell death inducers, it is challenging to study RCD pathways in isolation. This has led to the development of tools based on synthetic biology that allow the targeted induction of RCD using chemogenetic or optogenetic methods. Here we discuss recent advances in the development of such toolset, highlighting their advantages and limitations, and their application for the study of RCD in cells and animals.
Optogenetic strategies for optimizing the performance of biosensors of membrane phospholipids in live cells.
High-performance biosensors are crucial for elucidating the spatiotemporal regulatory roles and dynamics of membrane lipids, but there is a lack of improvement strategies for biosensors with low sensitivity and low-content substrates detection. Here we developed universal optogenetic strategies to improve a set of membrane biosensors by trapping them into specific region and further reducing the background signal, or by optically-controlled phase separation for membrane lipids detection and tracking. These improved biosensors were superior to typical tools and light simulation would enhance their detection performance and resolution, which might contribute to the design and optimization of other biosensors.
Optogenetic control of kinesins -1, -2, -3 and dynein reveals their specific roles in vesicular transport.
Each cargo in a cell employs a unique set of motor proteins for its transport. Often multiple types of kinesins are bound to the same cargo. It is puzzling why several types of motors are required for robust transport. To dissect the roles of each type of motor, we developed optogenetic inhibitors of kinesin-1, -2, -3 and dynein. This system allows us to control the activity of the endogenous set of motor proteins that are bound to intracellular cargoes. We examined the effect of optogenetic inhibition of kinesins-1, -2, and -3 and dynein on the transport of early endosomes, late endosomes, and lysosomes. While kinesin-1, kinesin-3, and dynein transport vesicles at all stages of endocytosis, kinesin-2 primarily drives late endosomes and lysosomes. In agreement with previous studies, sustained inhibition of either kinesins or dynein results in reduced motility in both directions. However, transient, optogenetic inhibition of kinesin-1 or dynein causes both early and late endosomes to move more processively by relieving competition with opposing motors. In contrast, optogenetic inhibition of kinesin-2 reduces the motility of late endosomes and lysosomes, and inhibition of kinesin-3 reduces the motility of endosomes and lysosomes. These results suggest that the directionality of transport is likely controlled through regulating kinesin-1 and dynein activity. On vesicles transported by several kinesin and dynein motors, motility can be directed by modulating the activity of a single type of motor on the cargo.
Transcription factor localization dynamics and DNA binding drive distinct promoter interpretations.
Environmental information may be encoded in the temporal dynamics of transcription factor (TF) activation and subsequently decoded by gene promoters to enact stimulus-specific gene expression programs. Previous studies of this behavior focused on the encoding and decoding of information in TF nuclear localization dynamics, yet cells control the activity of TFs in myriad ways, including by regulating their ability to bind DNA. Here, we use light-controlled mutants of the yeast TF Msn2 as a model system to investigate how promoter decoding of TF localization dynamics is affected by changes in the ability of the TF to bind DNA. We find that yeast promoters directly decode the light-controlled localization dynamics of Msn2 and that the effects of changing Msn2 affinity on that decoding behavior are highly promoter dependent, illustrating how cells could regulate TF localization dynamics and DNA binding in concert for improved control of gene expression.
RhoA regulation in space and time.
RhoGTPases are well known for being controllers of cell cytoskeleton and share common features in the way they act and are controlled. These include their switch from GDP to GTP states, their regulations by different guanine exchange factors (GEFs), GTPase-activating proteins and guanosine dissociation inhibitors (GDIs), and their similar structure of active sites/membrane anchors. These very similar features often lead to the common consideration that the differences in their biological effects mainly arise from the different types of regulators and specific effectors associated with each GTPase. Focusing on data obtained through biosensors, live cell microscopy and recent optogenetic approaches, we highlight in this review that the regulation of RhoA appears to depart from Cdc42 and Rac1 modes of regulation through its enhanced lability at the plasma membrane. RhoA presents a high dynamic turnover at the membrane that is regulated not only by GDIs but also by GEFs, effectors and a possible soluble conformational state. This peculiarity of RhoA regulation may be important for the specificities of its functions, such as the existence of activity waves or its putative dual role in the initiation of protrusions and contractions.
Precise modulation of embryonic development through optogenetics.
The past decade has witnessed enormous progress in optogenetics, which uses photo-sensitive proteins to control signal transduction in live cells and animals. The ever-increasing amount of optogenetic tools, however, could overwhelm the selection of appropriate optogenetic strategies. In this work, we summarize recent progress in this emerging field and highlight the application of opsin-free optogenetics in studying embryonic development, focusing on new insights gained into optical induction of morphogenesis, cell polarity, cell fate determination, tissue differentiation, neuronal regeneration, synaptic plasticity, and removal of cells during development.
Optogenetic Miro cleavage reveals direct consequences of real-time loss of function in Drosophila.
Miro GTPases control mitochondrial morphology, calcium homeostasis and regulate mitochondrial distribution by mediating their attachment to the kinesin and dynein motor complex. It is not clear, however, how Miro proteins spatially and temporally integrate their function as acute disruption of protein function has not been performed. To address this issue, we have developed an optogenetic loss of function 'Split-Miro' allele for precise control of Miro-dependent mitochondrial functions in Drosophila. Rapid optogenetic cleavage of Split-Miro leads to a striking rearrangement of the mitochondrial network, which is mediated by mitochondrial interaction with the microtubules. Unexpectedly, this treatment did not impact the ability of mitochondria to buffer calcium. While Split-Miro overexpression is sufficient to augment mitochondrial motility, sustained photocleavage shows Split-Miro is surprisingly dispensable to maintain elevated mitochondrial processivity. Furthermore, functional replacement of endogenous Miro with Split-Miro identifies its essential role in the regulation of locomotor activity in adult flies, demonstrating the feasibility of tuning animal behaviour by real-time loss of protein function.
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. Leveraging the ability of our system to rapidly disengage ligand binding, we also measure slower reset rates for downstream signaling events. These data suggest a distributed kinetic proofreading mechanism, with proofreading steps both at the receptor and at slower resetting downstream signaling complexes that could help balance antigen sensitivity and discrimination.
Shedding light on current trends in molecular optogenetics.
Molecular optogenetics is a highly dynamic research field. In the past two years, the field was characterized by the development of new allosteric switches as well as the forward integration of optogenetics research towards application. Further, two areas of research have significantly gathered momentum, the use of optogenetics to control liquid-liquid phase separation as well as the application of optogenetic tools in the extracellular space. Here, we review these areas and discuss future directions.
Optogenetic control of RelA reveals effect of transcription factor dynamics on downstream gene expression.
Many transcription factors (TFs) translocate to the nucleus with varied dynamic patterns in response to different inputs. A notable example of such behavior is RelA, a subunit of NF-κB, which translocates to the nucleus with either pulsed or sustained dynamics, depending on the stimulus. Our understanding of how these dynamics are interpreted by downstream genes has remained incomplete, partly because ubiquitously used environmental inputs activate other transcriptional regulators in addition to RelA. Here, we use an optogenetic tool, CLASP (controllable light-activated shuttling and plasma membrane sequestration), to control RelA spatiotemporal dynamics in mouse fibroblasts and quantify their effect on downstream genes using RNA-seq. Using RelA-CLASP, we show for the first time that nuclear translocation of RelA, without post-translational modifications or activation of other transcriptional regulators, is sufficient to activate downstream genes. Furthermore, we find that TNFα, a common endogenous input, regulates many genes independently of RelA, and that this gene regulation is different from that induced by RelA-CLASP. Genes responsive to RelA-CLASP show a wide range of dynamics in response to a constant RelA input. We use a simple promoter model to recapitulate these diverse dynamic responses, as well as data collected in response to a pulsed RelA-CLASP input, and extract features of many RelA-responsive promoters. We also pinpoint many genes for which more complex models, involving feedback or multi-step promoters, may be needed to explain their response to constant and pulsed TF inputs. This study introduces a new robust tool for studying mammalian transcriptional regulation and demonstrates the power of optogenetic tools in dissecting the quantitative features of important cellular pathways.
Engineering of optogenetic devices for biomedical applications in mammalian synthetic biology.
Gene- and cell-based therapies are the next frontiers in the field of medicine. Both are transformative and innovative therapies; however, a lack of safety data limits the translation of such promising technologies to the clinic. Improving the safety and promoting the clinical translation of these therapies can be achieved by tightly regulating the release and delivery of therapeutic outputs. In recent years, the rapid development of optogenetic technology has provided opportunities to develop precision-controlled gene- and cell-based therapies, in which light is introduced to precisely and spatiotemporally manipulate the behaviour of genes and cells. This review focuses on the development of optogenetic tools and their applications in biomedicine, including photoactivated genome engineering and phototherapy for diabetes and tumours. The prospects and challenges of optogenetic tools for future clinical applications are also discussed.
Plant optogenetics: Applications and perspectives.
To understand cell biological processes, like signalling pathways, protein movements, or metabolic processes, precise tools for manipulation are desired. Optogenetics allows to control cellular processes by light and can be applied at a high temporal and spatial resolution. In the last three decades, various optogenetic applications have been developed for animal, fungal, and prokaryotic cells. However, using optogenetics in plants has been difficult due to biological and technical issues, like missing cofactors, the presence of endogenous photoreceptors, or the necessity of light for photosynthesis, which potentially activates optogenetic tools constitutively. Recently developed tools overcome these limitations, making the application of optogenetics feasible also in plants. Here, we highlight the most useful recent applications in plants and give a perspective for future optogenetic approaches in plants science.
Optogenetics for transcriptional programming and genetic engineering.
Optogenetics combines genetics and biophotonics to enable noninvasive control of biological processes with high spatiotemporal precision. When engineered into protein machineries that govern the cellular information flow as depicted in the central dogma, multiple genetically encoded non-opsin photosensory modules have been harnessed to modulate gene transcription, DNA or RNA modifications, DNA recombination, and genome engineering by utilizing photons emitting in the wide range of 200-1000 nm. We present herein generally applicable modular strategies for optogenetic engineering and highlight latest advances in the broad applications of opsin-free optogenetics to program transcriptional outputs and precisely manipulate the mammalian genome, epigenome, and epitranscriptome. We also discuss current challenges and future trends in opsin-free optogenetics, which has been rapidly evolving to meet the growing needs in synthetic biology and genetics research.
Optogenetic technologies in translational cancer research.
Gene and cell therapies are widely recognized as future cancer therapeutics but poor controllability limits their clinical applications. Optogenetics, the use of light-controlled proteins to precisely spatiotemporally regulate the activity of genes and cells, opens up new possibilities for cancer treatment. Light of specific wavelength can activate the immune response, oncolytic activity and modulate cell signaling in tumor cells non-invasively, in dosed manner, with tissue confined action and without side effects of conventional therapies. Here, we review optogenetic approaches in cancer research, their clinical potential and challenges of incorporating optogenetics in cancer therapy. We critically discuss beneficial combinations of optogenetic technologies with therapeutic nanobodies, T-cell activation and CAR-T cell approaches, genome editors and oncolytic viruses. We consider viral vectors and nanoparticles for delivering optogenetic payloads and activating light to tumors. Finally, we highlight herein the prospects for integrating optogenetics into immunotherapy as a novel, fast, reversible and safe approach to cancer treatment.
Tools for studying the cytoskeleton during plant cell division.
The plant cytoskeleton regulates fundamental biological processes, including cell division. How to experimentally perturb the cytoskeleton is a key question if one wants to understand the role of both actin filaments (AFs) and microtubules (MTs) in a given biological process. While a myriad of mutants are available, knock-out in cytoskeleton regulators, when nonlethal, often produce little or no phenotypic perturbation because such regulators are often part of a large family, leading to functional redundancy. In this review, alternative techniques to modify the plant cytoskeleton during plant cell division are outlined. The different pharmacological and genetic approaches already developed in cell culture, transient assays, or in whole organisms are presented. Perspectives on the use of optogenetics to perturb the plant cytoskeleton are also discussed.
The expanding role of split protein complementation in opsin-free optogenetics.
A comprehensive understanding of signaling mechanisms helps interpret fundamental biological processes and restore cell behavior from pathological conditions. Signaling outcome depends not only on the activity of each signaling component but also on their dynamic interaction in time and space, which remains challenging to probe by biochemical and cell-based assays. Opsin-based optogenetics has transformed neural science research with its spatiotemporal modulation of the activity of excitable cells. Motivated by this advantage, opsin-free optogenetics extends the power of light to a larger spectrum of signaling molecules. This review summarizes commonly used opsin-free optogenetic strategies, presents a historical overview of split protein complementation, and highlights the adaptation of split protein recombination as optogenetic sensors and actuators.
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.