Showing 1 - 6 of 6 results
Light-Dependent Control of Bacterial Expression at the mRNA Level.
Sensory photoreceptors mediate numerous light-dependent adaptations across organisms. In optogenetics, photoreceptors achieve the reversible, non-invasive, and spatiotemporally precise control by light of gene expression and other cellular processes. The light-oxygen-voltage receptor PAL binds to small RNA aptamers with sequence specificity upon blue-light illumination. By embedding the responsive aptamer in the ribosome-binding sequence of genes of interest, their expression can be downregulated by light. We developed the pCrepusculo and pAurora optogenetic systems that are based on PAL and allow to down- and upregulate, respectively, bacterial gene expression using blue light. Both systems are realized as compact, single plasmids that exhibit stringent blue-light responses with low basal activity and up to several 10-fold dynamic range. As PAL exerts light-dependent control at the RNA level, it can be combined with other optogenetic circuits that control transcription initiation. By integrating regulatory mechanisms operating at the DNA and mRNA levels, optogenetic circuits with emergent properties can thus be devised. As a case in point, the pEnumbra setup permits to upregulate gene expression under moderate blue light whereas strong blue light shuts off expression again. Beyond providing novel signal-responsive expression systems for diverse applications in biotechnology and synthetic biology, our work also illustrates how the light-dependent PAL-aptamer interaction can be harnessed for the control and interrogation of RNA-based processes.
Optogenetic Control of Bacterial Expression by Red Light.
In optogenetics, as in nature, sensory photoreceptors serve to control cellular processes by light. Bacteriophytochrome (BphP) photoreceptors sense red and far-red light via a biliverdin chromophore and, in response, cycle between the spectroscopically, structurally, and functionally distinct Pr and Pfr states. BphPs commonly belong to two-component systems that control the phosphorylation of cognate response regulators and downstream gene expression through histidine kinase modules. We recently demonstrated that the paradigm BphP from Deinococcus radiodurans exclusively acts as a phosphatase but that its photosensory module can control the histidine kinase activity of homologous receptors. Here, we apply this insight to reprogram two widely used setups for bacterial gene expression from blue-light to red-light control. The resultant pREDusk and pREDawn systems allow gene expression to be regulated down and up, respectively, uniformly under red light by 100-fold or more. Both setups are realized as portable, single plasmids that encode all necessary components including the biliverdin-producing machinery. The triggering by red light affords high spatial resolution down to the single-cell level. As pREDusk and pREDawn respond sensitively to red light, they support multiplexing with optogenetic systems sensitive to other light colors. Owing to the superior tissue penetration of red light, the pREDawn system can be triggered at therapeutically safe light intensities through material layers, replicating the optical properties of the skin and skull. Given these advantages, pREDusk and pREDawn enable red-light-regulated expression for diverse use cases in bacteria.
Optogenetic control of RNA function and metabolism using engineered light-switchable RNA-binding proteins.
RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) play an essential role in regulating the function of RNAs in a cellular context, but our ability to control RBP activity in time and space is limited. Here, we describe the engineering of LicV, a photoswitchable RBP that binds to a specific RNA sequence in response to blue light irradiation. When fused to various RNA effectors, LicV allows for optogenetic control of RNA localization, splicing, translation and stability in cell culture. Furthermore, LicV-assisted CRISPR-Cas systems allow for efficient and tunable photoswitchable regulation of transcription and genomic locus labeling. These data demonstrate that the photoswitchable RBP LicV can serve as a programmable scaffold for the spatiotemporal control of synthetic RNA effectors.
Aptamer-Mediated Reversible Transactivation of Gene Expression by Light.
The investigation and manipulation of cellular processes with subcellular resolution requires non-invasive tools with spatiotemporal precision and reversibility. Building on the interaction of the photoreceptor PAL with an RNA aptamer, we describe a variation of the CRISPR/dCAS9 system for light-controlled activation of gene expression. This platform significantly reduces the coding space required for genetic manipulation and provides a strong on-switch with almost no residual activity in the dark. It adds to the current set of modular building blocks for synthetic biological circuit design and is broadly applicable.
Optoribogenetic control of regulatory RNA molecules.
Short regulatory RNA molecules underpin gene expression and govern cellular state and physiology. To establish an alternative layer of control over these processes, we generated chimeric regulatory RNAs that interact reversibly and light-dependently with the light-oxygen-voltage photoreceptor PAL. By harnessing this interaction, the function of micro RNAs (miRs) and short hairpin (sh) RNAs in mammalian cells can be regulated in a spatiotemporally precise manner. The underlying strategy is generic and can be adapted to near-arbitrary target sequences. Owing to full genetic encodability, it establishes optoribogenetic control of cell state and physiology. The method stands to facilitate the non-invasive, reversible and spatiotemporally resolved study of regulatory RNAs and protein function in cellular and organismal environments.
A blue light receptor that mediates RNA binding and translational regulation.
Sensory photoreceptor proteins underpin light-dependent adaptations in nature and enable the optogenetic control of organismal behavior and physiology. We identified the bacterial light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) photoreceptor PAL that sequence-specifically binds short RNA stem loops with around 20 nM affinity in blue light and weaker than 1 µM in darkness. A crystal structure rationalizes the unusual receptor architecture of PAL with C-terminal LOV photosensor and N-terminal effector units. The light-activated PAL-RNA interaction can be harnessed to regulate gene expression at the RNA level as a function of light in both bacteria and mammalian cells. The present results elucidate a new signal-transduction paradigm in LOV receptors and conjoin RNA biology with optogenetic regulation, thereby paving the way toward hitherto inaccessible optoribogenetic modalities.