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 37 results
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Rapid and robust optogenetic control of gene expression in Drosophila.

blue Magnets D. melanogaster in vivo Transgene expression Endogenous gene expression
Dev Cell, 29 Nov 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2021.11.016 Link to full text
Abstract: Deciphering gene function requires the ability to control gene expression in space and time. Binary systems such as the Gal4/UAS provide a powerful means to modulate gene expression and to induce loss or gain of function. This is best exemplified in Drosophila, where the Gal4/UAS system has been critical to discover conserved mechanisms in development, physiology, neurobiology, and metabolism, to cite a few. Here we describe a transgenic light-inducible Gal4/UAS system (ShineGal4/UAS) based on Magnet photoswitches. We show that it allows efficient, rapid, and robust activation of UAS-driven transgenes in different tissues and at various developmental stages in Drosophila. Furthermore, we illustrate how ShineGal4 enables the generation of gain and loss-of-function phenotypes at animal, organ, and cellular levels. Thanks to the large repertoire of UAS-driven transgenes, ShineGal4 enriches the Drosophila genetic toolkit by allowing in vivo control of gene expression with high temporal and spatial resolutions.

Implementation of a novel optogenetic tool in mammalian cells based on a split T7 RNA polymerase.

blue Magnets VVD HEK293T Transgene expression
bioRxiv, 27 Oct 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.10.27.466068 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic tools are widely used to control gene expression dynamics both in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. These tools are used in a variety of biological applications from stem cell differentiation to metabolic engineering. Despite some tools already available in bacteria, no light-inducible system currently exists to orthogonally control gene expression in mammalian cells. Such a tool would be particularly important in synthetic biology, where orthogonality is advantageous to achieve robust activation of synthetic networks. Here we implement, characterize and optimize a new orthogonal optogenetic tool in mammalian cells based on a previously published system in bacteria called Opto-T7RNAPs. The tool consists of a split T7 RNA polymerase coupled with the blue light-inducible magnets system (mammalian OptoT7 – mOptoT7). In our study we exploited the T7 polymerase’s viral origins to tune our system’s expression level, reaching up to 20-fold change activation over the dark control. mOptoT7 is used here to generate mRNA for protein expression, shRNA for protein inhibition and Pepper aptamer for RNA visualization. Moreover, we show that mOptoT7 can mitigate gene expression burden when compared to other optogenetic constructs. These properties make mOptoT7 a new powerful tool to use when orthogonality and viral-like RNA species are desired in both synthetic biology and basic science applications.

Repetitive short-pulsed illumination efficiently activates photoactivatable-Cre as continuous illumination in embryonic stem cells and pre-implantation embryos of transgenic mouse.

blue Magnets mESCs mouse in vivo Nucleic acid editing
Genesis, 23 Oct 2021 DOI: 10.1002/dvg.23457 Link to full text
Abstract: The Cre-loxP system has been widely used for specific DNA recombination which induces gene inactivation or expression. Recently, photoactivatable-Cre (PA-Cre) proteins have been developed as a tool for spatiotemporal control of the enzymatic activity of Cre recombinase. Here, we generated transgenic mice bearing a PA-Cre gene and systematically investigated the conditions of photoactivation for the PA-Cre in embryonic stem cells (ESCs) derived from the transgenic mice and in a simple mathematical model. Cre-mediated DNA recombination was induced in 16% of the PA-Cre ESCs by 6 hr continuous illumination. We show that repetitive pulsed illumination efficiently induced DNA recombination with low light energy as efficient as continuous illumination in the ESCs (96 ± 15% of continuous illumination when pulse cycle was 2 s), which was also supported by a minimal mathematical model. DNA recombination by the PA-Cre was also successfully induced in the transgenic mouse pre-implantation embryos under the developed conditions. These results suggest that strategies based on repetitive pulsed illumination are efficient for the activation of photoactivatable Cre and, possibly other photo-switchable proteins.

Optogenetic perturbations of RNA expression in tissue space.

blue CRY2/CIB1 Magnets HEK293T human IPSCs Nucleic acid editing
bioRxiv, 26 Sep 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.09.26.461850 Link to full text
Abstract: Quantifying gene expression in space, for example by spatial transcriptomics, is essential for describing the biology of cells and their interactions in complex tissues. Perturbation experiments, at single-cell resolution and conditional on both space and time, are necessary for dissecting the molecular mechanisms of these interactions. To this aim, we combined optogenetics and CRISPR technologies to activate or knock-down RNA of target genes, at single-cell resolution and in programmable spatial patterns. As a proof of principle, we optogenetically induced Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) signaling at a distinct spatial location within human neural organoids. This robustly induced known SHH spatial domains of gene expression, cell-autonomously and across the entire organoid. In principle, our approach can be used to induce or knock down RNAs from any gene of interest in specific spatial locations or patterns of complex biological systems.

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.

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.

Optical Control of Genome Editing by Photoactivatable Cas9.

blue Magnets HEK293T
Methods Mol Biol, 2021 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-0716-1441-9_13 Link to full text
Abstract: The CRISPR-Cas9 system offers targeted genome manipulation with simplicity. Combining the CRISPR-Cas9 with optogenetics technology, we have engineered photoactivatable Cas9 to precisely control the genome sequence in a spatiotemporal manner. Here we provide a detailed protocol for optogenetic genome editing experiments using photoactivatable Cas9, including that for the generation of guide RNA vectors, light-mediated Cas9 activation, and quantification of genome editing efficiency in mammalian cells.

Efficient photoactivatable Dre recombinase for cell type-specific spatiotemporal control of genome engineering in the mouse.

blue red CRY2/CIB1 Magnets PhyB/PIF3 VVD HEK293T HeLa HEp-2 mouse in vivo SH-SY5Y Nucleic acid editing
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 14 Dec 2020 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2003991117 Link to full text
Abstract: Precise genetic engineering in specific cell types within an intact organism is intriguing yet challenging, especially in a spatiotemporal manner without the interference caused by chemical inducers. Here we engineered a photoactivatable Dre recombinase based on the identification of an optimal split site and demonstrated that it efficiently regulated transgene expression in mouse tissues spatiotemporally upon blue light illumination. Moreover, through a double-floxed inverted open reading frame strategy, we developed a Cre-activated light-inducible Dre (CALID) system. Taking advantage of well-defined cell-type-specific promoters or a well-established Cre transgenic mouse strain, we demonstrated that the CALID system was able to activate endogenous reporter expression for either bulk or sparse labeling of CaMKIIα-positive excitatory neurons and parvalbumin interneurons in the brain. This flexible and tunable system could be a powerful tool for the dissection and modulation of developmental and genetic complexity in a wide range of biological systems.

Optimized Vivid-derived Magnets photodimerizers for subcellular optogenetics in mammalian cells.

blue Magnets Cos-7 HeLa Organelle manipulation
Elife, 11 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.7554/elife.63230 Link to full text
Abstract: Light-inducible dimerization protein modules enable precise temporal and spatial control of biological processes in non-invasive fashion. Among them, Magnets are small modules engineered from the Neurospora crassa photoreceptor Vivid by orthogonalizing the homodimerization interface into complementary heterodimers. Both Magnets components, which are well-tolerated as protein fusion partners, are photoreceptors requiring simultaneous photoactivation to interact, enabling high spatiotemporal confinement of dimerization with a single-excitation wavelength. However, Magnets require concatemerization for efficient responses and cell preincubation at 28oC to be functional. Here we overcome these limitations by engineering an optimized Magnets pair requiring neither concatemerization nor low temperature preincubation. We validated these 'enhanced' Magnets (eMags) by using them to rapidly and reversibly recruit proteins to subcellular organelles, to induce organelle contacts, and to reconstitute OSBP-VAP ER-Golgi tethering implicated in phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate transport and metabolism. eMags represent a very effective tool to optogenetically manipulate physiological processes over whole cells or in small subcellular volumes.

Optogenetic regulation of embryo implantation in mice using photoactivatable CRISPR-Cas9.

blue Magnets mouse in vivo Nucleic acid editing
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2016850117 Link to full text
Abstract: Embryo implantation is achieved upon successful interaction between a fertilized egg and receptive endometrium and is mediated by spatiotemporal expression of implantation-associated molecules including leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF). Here we demonstrate, in mice, that LIF knockdown via a photoactivatable CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system and illumination with a light-emitting diode can spatiotemporally disrupt fertility. This system enables dissection of spatiotemporal molecular mechanisms associated with embryo implantation and provides a therapeutic strategy for temporal control of reproductive functions in vivo.

Exploiting natural chemical photosensitivity of anhydrotetracycline and tetracycline for dynamic and setpoint chemo-optogenetic control.

blue Magnets E. coli Transgene expression
Nat Commun, 31 Jul 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-17677-5 Link to full text
Abstract: The transcriptional inducer anhydrotetracycline (aTc) and the bacteriostatic antibiotic tetracycline (Tc) are commonly used in all fields of biology for control of transcription or translation. A drawback of these and other small molecule inducers is the difficulty of their removal from cell cultures, limiting their application for dynamic control. Here, we describe a simple method to overcome this limitation, and show that the natural photosensitivity of aTc/Tc can be exploited to turn them into highly predictable optogenetic transcriptional- and growth-regulators. This new optogenetic class uniquely features both dynamic and setpoint control which act via population-memory adjustable through opto-chemical modulation. We demonstrate this method by applying it for dynamic gene expression control and for enhancing the performance of an existing optogenetic system. We then expand the utility of the aTc system by constructing a new chemical bandpass filter that increases its aTc response range. The simplicity of our method enables scientists and biotechnologists to use their existing systems employing aTc/Tc for dynamic optogenetic experiments without genetic modification.

Bioluminescence-Triggered Photoswitchable Bacterial Adhesions Enable Higher Sensitivity and Dual-Readout Bacterial Biosensors for Mercury.

blue Magnets E. coli
ACS Sens, 8 Jul 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acssensors.0c00855 Link to full text
Abstract: We present a new concept for whole-cell biosensors that couples the response to Hg2+ with bioluminescence and bacterial aggregation. This allows us to use the bacterial aggregation to preconcentrate the bioluminescent bacteria at the substrate surface and increase the sensitivity of Hg2+ detection. This whole-cell biosensor combines a Hg2+-sensitive bioluminescence reporter and light-responsive bacterial cell-cell adhesions. We demonstrate that the blue luminescence in response to Hg2+ is able to photoactivate bacterial aggregation, which provides a second readout for Hg2+ detection. In return, the Hg2+-triggered bacterial aggregation leads to faster sedimentation and more efficient formation of biofilms. At low Hg2+ concentrations, the enrichment of the bacteria in biofilms leads to an up to 10-fold increase in the signal. The activation of photoswitchable proteins with biological light is a new concept in optogenetics, and the presented bacterial biosensor design is transferable to other bioluminescent reporters with particular interest for environmental monitoring.

Photoactivatable Cre recombinase 3.0 for in vivo mouse applications.

blue CRY2/CIB1 FKF1/GI iLID Magnets HEK293T isolated MEFs mouse in vivo mouse neural progenitor cells
Nat Commun, 1 May 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-16030-0 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic genome engineering tools enable spatiotemporal control of gene expression and provide new insight into biological function. Here, we report the new version of genetically encoded photoactivatable (PA) Cre recombinase, PA-Cre 3.0. To improve PA-Cre technology, we compare light-dimerization tools and optimize for mammalian expression using a CAG promoter, Magnets, and 2A self-cleaving peptide. To prevent background recombination caused by the high sequence similarity in the dimerization domains, we modify the codons for mouse gene targeting and viral production. Overall, these modifications significantly reduce dark leak activity and improve blue-light induction developing our new version, PA-Cre 3.0. As a resource, we have generated and validated AAV-PA-Cre 3.0 as well as two mouse lines that can conditionally express PA-Cre 3.0. Together these new tools will facilitate further biological and biomedical research.

Blue-Light-Switchable Bacterial Cell-Cell Adhesions Enable the Control of Multicellular Bacterial Communities.

blue Magnets E. coli Control of cell-cell / cell-material interactions
ACS Synth Biol, 15 Apr 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.0c00054 Link to full text
Abstract: Although the fundamental importance and biotechnological potential of multibacterial communities, also called biofilms, are well-known, our ability to control them is limited. We present a new way of dynamically controlling bacteria-bacteria adhesions by using blue light and how these photoswitchable adhesions can be used to regulate multicellularity and associated bacterial behavior. To achieve this, the photoswitchable proteins nMagHigh and pMagHigh were expressed on bacterial surfaces as adhesins to allow multicellular clusters to assemble under blue light and reversibly disassemble in the dark. Regulation of the bacterial cell-cell adhesions with visible light provides unique advantages including high spatiotemporal control, tunability, and noninvasive remote regulation. Moreover, these photoswitchable adhesions make it possible to regulate collective bacterial functions including aggregation, quorum sensing, biofilm formation, and metabolic cross-feeding between auxotrophic bacteria with light. Overall, the photoregulation of bacteria-bacteria adhesions provides a new way of studying bacterial cell biology and will enable the design of biofilms for biotechnological applications.

Establishment of a tTA-dependent photoactivatable Cre recombinase knock-in mouse model for optogenetic genome engineering.

blue Magnets mouse in vivo Nucleic acid editing
Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 20 Mar 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2020.03.015 Link to full text
Abstract: The Cre-loxP recombination system is widely used to generate genetically modified mice for biomedical research. Recently, a highly efficient photoactivatable Cre (PA-Cre) based on reassembly of split Cre fragments has been established. This technology enables efficient DNA recombination that is activated upon blue light illumination with spatiotemporal precision. In this study, we generated a tTA-dependent photoactivatable Cre-loxP recombinase knock-in mouse model (TRE-PA-Cre mice) using a CRISPR/Cas9 system. These mice were crossed with ROSA26-tdTomato mice (Cre reporter mouse) to visualize DNA recombination as marked by tdTomato expression. We demonstrated that external noninvasive LED blue light illumination allows efficient DNA recombination in the liver of TRE-PA-Cre:ROSA26-tdTomato mice transfected with tTA expression vectors using hydrodynamic tail vein injection. The TRE-PA-Cre mouse established here promises to be useful for optogenetic genome engineering in a noninvasive, spatiotemporal, and cell-type specific manner in vivo.

Light-Inducible Recombinases for Bacterial Optogenetics.

blue Magnets VVD E. coli Nucleic acid editing
ACS Synth Biol, 21 Jan 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.9b00395 Link to full text
Abstract: 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 coli that 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.

Engineered BRET-Based Biologic Light Sources Enable Spatiotemporal Control over Diverse Optogenetic Systems.

blue CRY2/CIB1 FKF1/GI iLID Magnets HEK293T HeLa in vitro
ACS Synth Biol, 17 Dec 2019 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.9b00277 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

blue iLID Magnets MDA-MB-231 Control of cell-cell / cell-material interactions
Nano Lett, 21 Nov 2019 DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b04160 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

High-performance chemical- and light-inducible recombinases in mammalian cells and mice.

blue Magnets HEK293FT
Nat Commun, 24 Oct 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-12800-7 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Optogenetic activation of intracellular antibodies for direct modulation of endogenous proteins.

blue iLID Magnets HEK293 HeLa NIH/3T3
Nat Methods, 14 Oct 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41592-019-0592-7 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

blue Magnets HEK293T Jurkat
ACS Synth Biol, 8 Oct 2019 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.9b00175 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Near-infrared optogenetic genome engineering based on photon upconversion hydrogels.

blue Magnets in vitro
Angew Chem Int Ed Engl, 23 Sep 2019 DOI: 10.1002/anie.201911025 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

blue Magnets HEK293T HeLa mouse in vivo Nucleic acid editing
Nat Chem Biol, 12 Aug 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41589-019-0338-y Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Photocontrollable mononegaviruses.

blue Magnets BHK-21 mouse in vivo Vero/hSLAM Nucleic acid editing
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 28 May 2019 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1906531116 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Noninvasive optical activation of Flp recombinase for genetic manipulation in deep mouse brain regions.

blue CRY2/CIB1 Magnets HEK293T mouse in vivo Nucleic acid editing Neuronal activity control
Nat Commun, 18 Jan 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-08282-8 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.
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