Showing 1 - 25 of 52 results
Light-mediated control of Gene expression in mammalian cells.
Taking advantage of the recent development of genetically-defined photo-activatable actuator molecules, cellular functions, including gene expression, can be controlled by exposure to light. Such optogenetic strategies enable precise temporal and spatial manipulation of targeted single cells or groups of cells at a level hitherto impossible. In this review, we introduce light-controllable gene expression systems exploiting blue or red/far-red wavelengths and discuss their inherent properties potentially affecting induced downstream gene expression patterns. We also discuss recent advances in optical devices that will extend the application of optical gene expression control technologies into many different areas of biology and medicine.
Engineered BRET-Based Biologic Light Sources Enable Spatiotemporal Control over Diverse Optogenetic Systems.
Light-inducible optogenetic systems offer precise spatiotemporal control over a myriad of biologic processes. Unfortunately, current systems are inherently limited by their dependence on external light sources for their activation. Further, the utility of laser/LED-based illumination strategies are often constrained by the need for invasive surgical procedures to deliver such devices and local heat production, photobleaching and phototoxicity that compromises cell and tissue viability. To overcome these limitations, we developed a novel BRET-activated optogenetics (BEACON) system that employs biologic light to control optogenetic tools. BEACON is driven by self-illuminating bioluminescent-fluorescent proteins that generate "spectrally tuned" biologic light via bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET). Notably, BEACON robustly activates a variety of commonly used optogenetic systems in a spatially restricted fashion, and at physiologically relevant time scales, to levels that are achieved by conventional laser/LED light sources.
The importance of cell-cell interaction dynamics in bottom-up tissue engineering: Concepts of colloidal self-assembly in the fabrication of multicellular architectures.
Building tissue from cells as the basic building block based on principles of self-assembly is a challenging and promising approach. Understanding how far principles of self-assembly and self-sorting known for colloidal particles apply to cells remains unanswered. In this study, we demonstrate that not just controlling the cell-cell interactions but also their dynamics is a crucial factor that determines the formed multicellular structure, using photoswitchable interactions between cells that are activated with blue light and reverse in the dark. Tuning dynamics of the cell-cell interactions by pulsed light activation, results in multicellular architectures with different sizes and shapes. When the interactions between cells are dynamic compact and round multicellular clusters under thermodynamic control form, while otherwise branched and lose aggregates under kinetic control assemble. These structures parallel what is known for colloidal assemblies under reaction and diffusion limited cluster aggregation, respectively. Similarly, dynamic interactions between cells are essential for cells to self-sort into distinct groups. Using four different cell types, which expressed two orthogonal cell-cell interaction pairs, the cells sorted into two separate assemblies. Bringing concepts of colloidal self-assembly to bottom-up tissue engineering provides a new theoretical framework and will help in the design of more predictable tissue-like structures.
Structural Basis of Design and Engineering for Advanced Plant Optogenetics.
In optogenetics, light-sensitive proteins are specifically expressed in target cells and light is used to precisely control the activity of these proteins at high spatiotemporal resolution. Optogenetics initially used naturally occurring photoreceptors to control neural circuits, but has expanded to include carefully designed and engineered photoreceptors. Several optogenetic constructs are based on plant photoreceptors, but their application to plant systems has been limited. Here, we present perspectives on the development of plant optogenetics, considering different levels of design complexity. We discuss how general principles of light-driven signal transduction can be coupled with approaches for engineering protein folding to develop novel optogenetic tools. Finally, we explore how the use of computation, networks, circular permutation, and directed evolution could enrich optogenetics.
Single-Molecule Analysis and Engineering of DNA Motors.
Molecular motors are diverse enzymes that transduce chemical energy into mechanical work and, in doing so, perform critical cellular functions such as DNA replication and transcription, DNA supercoiling, intracellular transport, and ATP synthesis. Single-molecule techniques have been extensively used to identify structural intermediates in the reaction cycles of molecular motors and to understand how substeps in energy consumption drive transitions between the intermediates. Here, we review a broad spectrum of single-molecule tools and techniques such as optical and magnetic tweezers, atomic force microscopy (AFM), single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer (smFRET), nanopore tweezers, and hybrid techniques that increase the number of observables. These methods enable the manipulation of individual biomolecules via the application of forces and torques and the observation of dynamic conformational changes in single motor complexes. We also review how these techniques have been applied to study various motors such as helicases, DNA and RNA polymerases, topoisomerases, nucleosome remodelers, and motors involved in the condensation, segregation, and digestion of DNA. In-depth analysis of mechanochemical coupling in molecular motors has made the development of artificially engineered motors possible. We review techniques such as mutagenesis, chemical modifications, and optogenetics that have been used to re-engineer existing molecular motors to have, for instance, altered speed, processivity, or functionality. We also discuss how single-molecule analysis of engineered motors allows us to challenge our fundamental understanding of how molecular motors transduce energy.
High-performance chemical- and light-inducible recombinases in mammalian cells and mice.
Site-specific DNA recombinases are important genome engineering tools. Chemical- and light-inducible recombinases, in particular, enable spatiotemporal control of gene expression. However, inducible recombinases are scarce due to the challenge of engineering high performance systems, thus constraining the sophistication of genetic circuits and animal models that can be created. Here we present a library of >20 orthogonal inducible split recombinases that can be activated by small molecules, light and temperature in mammalian cells and mice. Furthermore, we engineer inducible split Cre systems with better performance than existing systems. Using our orthogonal inducible recombinases, we create a genetic switchboard that can independently regulate the expression of 3 different cytokines in the same cell, a tripartite inducible Flp, and a 4-input AND gate. We quantitatively characterize the inducible recombinases for benchmarking their performances, including computation of distinguishability of outputs. This library expands capabilities for multiplexed mammalian gene expression control.
Principles and applications of optogenetics in developmental biology.
The development of multicellular organisms is controlled by highly dynamic molecular and cellular processes organized in spatially restricted patterns. Recent advances in optogenetics are allowing protein function to be controlled with the precision of a pulse of laser light in vivo, providing a powerful new tool to perturb developmental processes at a wide range of spatiotemporal scales. In this Primer, we describe the most commonly used optogenetic tools, their application in developmental biology and in the nascent field of synthetic morphogenesis.
Optogenetic activation of intracellular antibodies for direct modulation of endogenous proteins.
Intracellular antibodies have become powerful tools for imaging, modulating and neutralizing endogenous target proteins. Here, we describe an optogenetically activated intracellular antibody (optobody) consisting of split antibody fragments and blue-light inducible heterodimerization domains. We expanded this optobody platform by generating several optobodies from previously developed intracellular antibodies, and demonstrated that photoactivation of gelsolin and β2-adrenergic receptor (β2AR) optobodies suppressed endogenous gelsolin activity and β2AR signaling, respectively.
An AND-Gated Drug and Photoactivatable Cre-loxP System for Spatiotemporal Control in Cell-Based Therapeutics.
While engineered chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells have shown promise in detecting and eradicating cancer cells within patients, it remains difficult to identify a set of truly cancer-specific CAR-targeting cell surface antigens to prevent potentially fatal on-target off-tumor toxicity against other healthy tissues within the body. To help address this issue, we present a novel tamoxifen-gated photoactivatable split-Cre recombinase optogenetic system, called TamPA-Cre, that features high spatiotemporal control to limit CAR T cell activity to the tumor site. We created and optimized a novel genetic AND gate switch by integrating the features of tamoxifen-dependent nuclear localization and blue-light-inducible heterodimerization of Magnet protein domains (nMag, pMag) into split Cre recombinase. By fusing the cytosol-localizing mutant estrogen receptor ligand binding domain (ERT2) to the N-terminal half of split Cre(2-59aa)-nMag, the TamPA-Cre protein ERT2-CreN-nMag is physically separated from its nuclear-localized binding partner, NLS-pMag-CreC(60-343aa). Without tamoxifen to drive nuclear localization of ERT2-CreN-nMag, the typically high background of the photoactivation system was significantly suppressed. Upon blue light stimulation following tamoxifen treatment, the TamPA-Cre system exhibits sensitivity to low intensity, short durations of blue light exposure to induce robust Cre-loxP recombination efficiency. We finally demonstrate that this TamPA-Cre system can be applied to specifically control localized CAR expression and subsequently T cell activation. As such, we posit that CAR T cell activity can be confined to a solid tumor site by applying an external stimulus, with high precision of control in both space and time, such as light.
Light-Inducible Recombinases for Bacterial Optogenetics.
Optogenetic tools can provide direct and programmable control of gene expression. Light-inducible recombinases, in particular, offer a powerful method for achieving precise spatiotemporal control of DNA modification. However, to-date this technology has been largely limited to eukaryotic systems. Here, we develop optogenetic recombinases for Escherichia coliwhich activate in response to blue light. Our approach uses a split recombinase coupled with photodimers, where blue light brings the split protein together to form a functional recombinase. We tested both Cre and Flp recombinases, Vivid and Magnet photodimers, and alternative protein split sites in our analysis. The optimal configuration, Opto-Cre-Vvd, exhibits strong blue light-responsive excision and low ambient light sensitivity. For this system we characterize the effect of light intensity and the temporal dynamics of light-induced recombination. These tools expand the microbial optogenetic toolbox, offering the potential for precise control of DNA excision with light-inducible recombinases in bacteria.
Emerging Species and Genome Editing Tools: Future Prospects in Cyanobacterial Synthetic Biology.
Recent advances in synthetic biology and an emerging algal biotechnology market have spurred a prolific increase in the availability of molecular tools for cyanobacterial research. Nevertheless, work to date has focused primarily on only a small subset of model species, which arguably limits fundamental discovery and applied research towards wider commercialisation. Here, we review the requirements for uptake of new strains, including several recently characterised fast-growing species and promising non-model species. Furthermore, we discuss the potential applications of new techniques available for transformation, genetic engineering and regulation, including an up-to-date appraisal of current Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/CRISPR associated protein (CRISPR/Cas) and CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) research in cyanobacteria. We also provide an overview of several exciting molecular tools that could be ported to cyanobacteria for more advanced metabolic engineering approaches (e.g., genetic circuit design). Lastly, we introduce a forthcoming mutant library for the model species Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 that promises to provide a further powerful resource for the cyanobacterial research community.
Near-infrared optogenetic genome engineering based on photon upconversion hydrogels.
Photon upconversion (UC) from near-infrared (NIR) light to visible light has enabled optogenetic manipulations in deep tissues. However, materials for NIR optogenetics have been limited to inorganic UC nanoparticles. Extension to organic triplet-triplet annihilation (TTA)-based UC systems would innovate NIR optogenetics toward the use of biocompatible materials placed at a desired position. Here, we report the first example of NIR light-triggered optogenetics by using TTA-UC hydrogels. To achieve triplet sensitization even in the highly viscous hydrogel matrices, a NIR-absorbing complex is covalently linked with energy-pooling acceptor chromophores, which significantly elongates the donor triplet lifetime. The donor and acceptor are solubilized in hydrogels formed from biocompatible Pluronic F127 micelles, and we find that the additional heat treatment endows remarkable oxygen-tolerant property to the excited triplets in the hydrogel. Combined with photoactivatable Cre recombinase (PA-Cre) technology, NIR light stimulation successfully performs genome engineering such as hippocampal dendritic spine formation involved in learning and long-term memory.
A split CRISPR-Cpf1 platform for inducible genome editing and gene activation.
The CRISPR-Cpf1 endonuclease has recently been demonstrated as a powerful tool to manipulate targeted gene sequences. Here, we performed an extensive screening of split Cpf1 fragments and identified a pair that, combined with inducible dimerization domains, enables chemical- and light-inducible genome editing in human cells. We also identified another split Cpf1 pair that is spontaneously activated. The newly generated amino and carboxyl termini of the spontaneously activated split Cpf1 can be repurposed as de novo fusion sites of artificial effector domains. Based on this finding, we generated an improved split dCpf1 activator, which has the potential to activate endogenous genes more efficiently than a previously established dCas9 activator. Finally, we showed that the split dCpf1 activator can efficiently activate target genes in mice. These results demonstrate that the present split Cpf1 provides an efficient and sophisticated genome manipulation in the fields of basic research and biotechnological applications.
Light-induced dimerization approaches to control cellular processes.
Light-inducible approaches provide means to control biological systems with spatial and temporal resolution that is unmatched by traditional genetic perturbations. Recent developments of optogenetic and chemo-optogenetic systems for induced proximity in cells facilitate rapid and reversible manipulation of highly dynamic cellular processes and have become valuable tools in diverse biological applications. The new expansions of the toolbox facilitate control of signal transduction, genome editing, 'painting' patterns of active molecules onto cellular membranes and light-induced cell cycle control. A combination of light- and chemically induced dimerization approaches has also seen interesting progress. Here we provide an overview of the optogenetic systems and the emerging chemo-optogenetic systems, and discuss recent applications in tackling complex biological problems.
Mononegaviruses are promising tools as oncolytic vectors and transgene delivery vectors for gene therapy and regenerative medicine. By using the Magnet proteins, which reversibly heterodimerize upon blue light illumination, photocontrollable mononegaviruses (measles and rabies viruses) were generated. The Magnet proteins were inserted into the flexible domain of viral polymerase, and viruses showed strong replication and oncolytic activities only when the viral polymerases were activated by blue light illumination.
Photodimerization systems for regulating protein-protein interactions with light.
Optogenetic dimerizers are modular domains that can be utilized in a variety of versatile ways to modulate cellular biochemistry. Because of their modularity, many applications using these tools can be easily transferred to new targets without extensive engineering. While a number of photodimerizer systems are currently available, the field remains nascent, with new optimizations for existing systems and new approaches to regulating biological function continuing to be introduced at a steady pace.
Noninvasive optical activation of Flp recombinase for genetic manipulation in deep mouse brain regions.
Spatiotemporal control of gene expression or labeling is a valuable strategy for identifying functions of genes within complex neural circuits. Here, we develop a highly light-sensitive and efficient photoactivatable Flp recombinase (PA-Flp) that is suitable for genetic manipulation in vivo. The highly light-sensitive property of PA-Flp is ideal for activation in deep mouse brain regions by illumination with a noninvasive light-emitting diode. In addition, PA-Flp can be extended to the Cre-lox system through a viral vector as Flp-dependent Cre expression platform, thereby activating both Flp and Cre. Finally, we demonstrate that PA-Flp-dependent, Cre-mediated Cav3.1 silencing in the medial septum increases object-exploration behavior in mice. Thus, PA-Flp is a noninvasive, highly efficient, and easy-to-use optogenetic module that offers a side-effect-free and expandable genetic manipulation tool for neuroscience research.
Using Synthetic Biology to Engineer Spatial Patterns.
Synthetic biology has emerged as a multidisciplinary field that provides new tools and approaches to address longstanding problems in biology. It integrates knowledge from biology, engineering, mathematics, and biophysics to build—rather than to simply observe and perturb—biological systems that emulate natural counterparts or display novel properties. The interface between synthetic and developmental biology has greatly benefitted both fields and allowed to address questions that would remain challenging with classical approaches due to the intrinsic complexity and essentiality of developmental processes. This Progress Report provides an overview of how synthetic biology can help to understand a process that is crucial for the development of multicellular organisms: pattern formation. It reviews the major mechanisms of genetically encoded synthetic systems that have been engineered to establish spatial patterns at the population level. Limitations, challenges, applications, and potential opportunities of synthetic pattern formation are also discussed.
Programming Bacteria With Light—Sensors and Applications in Synthetic Biology
Photo-receptors are widely present in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, which serves as the foundation of tuning cell behaviors with light. While practices in eukaryotic cells have been relatively established, trials in bacterial cells have only been emerging in the past few years. A number of light sensors have been engineered in bacteria cells and most of them fall into the categories of two-component and one-component systems. Such a sensor toolbox has enabled practices in controlling synthetic circuits at the level of transcription and protein activity which is a major topic in synthetic biology, according to the central dogma. Additionally, engineered light sensors and practices of tuning synthetic circuits have served as a foundation for achieving light based real-time feedback control. Here, we review programming bacteria cells with light, introducing engineered light sensors in bacteria and their applications, including tuning synthetic circuits and achieving feedback controls over microbial cell culture.
Optogenetic Medicine: Synthetic Therapeutic Solutions Precision-Guided by Light.
Gene- and cell-based therapies are well recognized as central pillars of next-generation medicine, but controllability remains a critical issue for clinical applications. In this context, optogenetics is opening up exciting new opportunities for precision-guided medicine by using illumination with light of appropriate intensity and wavelength as a trigger signal to achieve pinpoint spatiotemporal control of cellular activities, such as transgene expression. In this review, we highlight recent advances in optogenetics, focusing on devices for biomedical applications. We introduce the construction and applications of optogenetic-based biomedical tools to treat neurological diseases, diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer, as well as bioelectronic implants that combine light-interfaced electronic devices and optogenetic systems into portable personalized precision bioelectronic medical tools. Optogenetics-based technology promises the capability to achieve traceless, remotely controlled precision dosing of an enormous range of therapeutic outputs. Finally, we discuss the prospects for optogenetic medicine, as well as some emerging challenges.
Light‐Controlled Mammalian Cells and Their Therapeutic Applications in Synthetic Biology.
The ability to remote control the expression of therapeutic genes in mammalian cells in order to treat disease is a central goal of synthetic biology‐inspired therapeutic strategies. Furthermore, optogenetics, a combination of light and genetic sciences, provides an unprecedented ability to use light for precise control of various cellular activities with high spatiotemporal resolution. Recent work to combine optogenetics and therapeutic synthetic biology has led to the engineering of light‐controllable designer cells, whose behavior can be regulated precisely and noninvasively. This Review focuses mainly on non‐neural optogenetic systems, which are often used in synthetic biology, and their applications in genetic programing of mammalian cells. Here, a brief overview of the optogenetic tool kit that is available to build light‐sensitive mammalian cells is provided. Then, recently developed strategies for the control of designer cells with specific biological functions are summarized. Recent translational applications of optogenetically engineered cells are also highlighted, ranging from in vitro basic research to in vivo light‐controlled gene therapy. Finally, current bottlenecks, possible solutions, and future prospects for optogenetics in synthetic biology are discussed.
A compendium of chemical and genetic approaches to light-regulated gene transcription.
On-cue regulation of gene transcription is an invaluable tool for the study of biological processes and the development and integration of next-generation therapeutics. Ideal reagents for the precise regulation of gene transcription should be nontoxic to the host system, highly tunable, and provide a high level of spatial and temporal control. Light, when coupled with protein or small molecule-linked photoresponsive elements, presents an attractive means of meeting the demands of an ideal system for regulating gene transcription. In this review, we cover recent developments in the burgeoning field of light-regulated gene transcription, covering both genetically encoded and small-molecule based strategies for optical regulation of transcription during the period 2012 till present.
Blue-Light Receptors for Optogenetics.
Sensory photoreceptors underpin light-dependent adaptations of organismal physiology, development, and behavior in nature. Adapted for optogenetics, sensory photoreceptors become genetically encoded actuators and reporters to enable the noninvasive, spatiotemporally accurate and reversible control by light of cellular processes. Rooted in a mechanistic understanding of natural photoreceptors, artificial photoreceptors with customized light-gated function have been engineered that greatly expand the scope of optogenetics beyond the original application of light-controlled ion flow. As we survey presently, UV/blue-light-sensitive photoreceptors have particularly allowed optogenetics to transcend its initial neuroscience applications by unlocking numerous additional cellular processes and parameters for optogenetic intervention, including gene expression, DNA recombination, subcellular localization, cytoskeleton dynamics, intracellular protein stability, signal transduction cascades, apoptosis, and enzyme activity. The engineering of novel photoreceptors benefits from powerful and reusable design strategies, most importantly light-dependent protein association and (un)folding reactions. Additionally, modified versions of these same sensory photoreceptors serve as fluorescent proteins and generators of singlet oxygen, thereby further enriching the optogenetic toolkit. The available and upcoming UV/blue-light-sensitive actuators and reporters enable the detailed and quantitative interrogation of cellular signal networks and processes in increasingly more precise and illuminating manners.
Controlling Cells with Light and LOV.
Optogenetics is a powerful method for studying dynamic processes in living cells and has advanced cell biology research over the recent past. Key to the successful application of optogenetics is the careful design of the light‐sensing module, typically employing a natural or engineered photoreceptor that links the exogenous light input to the cellular process under investigation. Light–oxygen–voltage (LOV) domains, a highly diverse class of small blue light sensors, have proven to be particularly versatile for engineering optogenetic input modules. These can function via diverse modalities, including inducible allostery, protein recruitment, dimerization, or dissociation. This study reviews recent advances in the development of LOV domain‐based optogenetic tools and their application for studying and controlling selected cellular functions. Focusing on the widely employed LOV2 domain from Avena sativa phototropin‐1, this review highlights the broad spectrum of engineering opportunities that can be explored to achieve customized optogenetic regulation. Finally, major bottlenecks in the development of optogenetic methods are discussed and strategies to overcome these with recent synthetic biology approaches are pointed out.
Reversible Social Self-Sorting of Colloidal Cell-Mimics with Blue Light Switchable Proteins.
Towards the bottom-up assembly of synthetic cells from molecular building blocks it is an ongoing challenge to assemble micrometer sized compartments that host different processes into precise multicompartmental assemblies, also called prototissues. The difficulty lies in controlling interactions between different compartments dynamically both in space and time, as these interactions determine how they organize with respect to each other and how they work together. In this study, we have been able to control the self-assembly and social self-sorting of four different types of colloids, which we use as a model for synthetic cells, into two separate families with visible light. For this purpose we used two photoswitchable protein pairs (iLID/Nano and nHagHigh/pMagHigh) that both reversibly heterodimerize upon blue light exposure and dissociate from each other in the dark. These photoswitchable proteins provide non-invasive, dynamic and reversible remote control under biocompatible conditions over the self-assembly process with unprecedented spatial and temporal precision. In addition, each protein pair brings together specifically two different types of colloids. The orthogonality of the two protein pairs enables social self-sorting of a four component mixture into two distinct families of colloidal aggregates with controlled arrangements. These results will ultimately pave the way for the bottom-up assembly of multicompartment synthetic prototissues of a higher complexity, enabling us to control precisely and dynamically the organization of different compartments in space and time.