Showing 1 - 11 of 11 results
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.
Light-based control of metabolic flux through assembly of synthetic organelles.
To maximize a desired product, metabolic engineers typically express enzymes to high, constant levels. Yet, permanent pathway activation can have undesirable consequences including competition with essential pathways and accumulation of toxic intermediates. Faced with similar challenges, natural metabolic systems compartmentalize enzymes into organelles or post-translationally induce activity under certain conditions. Here we report that optogenetic control can be used to extend compartmentalization and dynamic control to engineered metabolisms in yeast. We describe a suite of optogenetic tools to trigger assembly and disassembly of metabolically active enzyme clusters. Using the deoxyviolacein biosynthesis pathway as a model system, we find that light-switchable clustering can enhance product formation six-fold and product specificity 18-fold by decreasing the concentration of intermediate metabolites and reducing flux through competing pathways. Inducible compartmentalization of enzymes into synthetic organelles can thus be used to control engineered metabolic pathways, limit intermediates and favor the formation of desired products.
A bright future: optogenetics to dissect the spatiotemporal control of cell behavior.
Cells sense, process, and respond to extracellular information using signaling networks: collections of proteins that act as precise biochemical sensors. These protein networks are characterized by both complex temporal organization, such as pulses of signaling activity, and by complex spatial organization, where proteins assemble structures at particular locations and times within the cell. Yet despite their ubiquity, studying these spatial and temporal properties has remained challenging because they emerge from the entire protein network rather than a single node, and cannot be easily tuned by drugs or mutations. These challenges are being met by a new generation of optogenetic tools capable of directly controlling the activity of individual signaling nodes over time and the assembly of protein complexes in space. Here, we outline how these recent innovations are being used in conjunction with engineering-influenced experimental design to address longstanding questions in signaling biology.
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.
Protein Phase Separation Provides Long-Term Memory of Transient Spatial Stimuli.
Protein/RNA clusters arise frequently in spatially regulated biological processes, from the asymmetric distribution of P granules and PAR proteins in developing embryos to localized receptor oligomers in migratory cells. This co-occurrence suggests that protein clusters might possess intrinsic properties that make them a useful substrate for spatial regulation. Here, we demonstrate that protein droplets show a robust form of spatial memory, maintaining the spatial pattern of an inhibitor of droplet formation long after it has been removed. Despite this persistence, droplets can be highly dynamic, continuously exchanging monomers with the diffuse phase. We investigate the principles of biophysical spatial memory in three contexts: a computational model of phase separation; a novel optogenetic system where light can drive rapid, localized dissociation of liquid-like protein droplets; and membrane-localized signal transduction from clusters of receptor tyrosine kinases. Our results suggest that the persistent polarization underlying many cellular and developmental processes could arise through a simple biophysical process, without any additional biochemical feedback loops.
Light-induced chromophore and protein responses and mechanical signal transduction of BLUF proteins.
Photoreceptor proteins have been used to study how protein conformational changes are induced by alterations in their environments and how their signals are transmitted to downstream factors to dictate physiological responses. These proteins are attractive models because their signal transduction aspects and structural changes can be precisely regulated in vivo and in vitro based on light intensity. Among the known photoreceptors, members of the blue light-using flavin (BLUF) protein family have been well characterized with regard to how they control various light-dependent physiological responses in several microorganisms. Herein, we summarize our current understanding of their photoactivation and signal-transduction mechanisms. For signal transduction, we review recent studies concerning how the BLUF protein, PixD, transmits a light-induced signal to its downstream factor, PixE, to modulate phototaxis of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC6803.
A proposal for a dipole-generated BLUF domain mechanism.
The resting and signaling structures of the blue-light sensing using flavin (BLUF) photoreceptor domains are still controversially debated due to differences in the molecular models obtained by crystal and NMR structures. Photocycles for the given preferred structural framework have been established, but a unifying picture combining experiment and theory remains elusive. We summarize present work on the AppA BLUF domain from both experiment and theory. We focus on IR and UV/vis spectra, and to what extent theory was able to reproduce experimental data and predict the structural changes upon formation of the signaling state. We find that the experimental observables can be theoretically reproduced employing any structural model, as long as the orientation of the signaling essential Gln63 and its tautomer state are a choice of the modeler. We also observe that few approaches are comparative, e.g., by considering all structures in the same context. Based on recent experimental findings and a few basic calculations, we suggest the possibility for a BLUF activation mechanism that only relies on electron transfer and its effect on the local electrostatics, not requiring an associated proton transfer. In this regard, we investigate the impact of dispersion correction on the interaction energies arising from weakly bound amino acids.
Blue light-mediated manipulation of transcription factor activity in vivo.
We developed a novel technique for manipulating the activity of transcription factors with blue light (termed "PICCORO") using the bacterial BLUF-type photoreceptor protein PixD. The chimeric dominant-negative T-box transcription factor No Tail formed heterologous complexes with a PixD decamer in a light-dependent manner, and these complexes affected transcription repressor activity. When applied to zebrafish embryos, PICCORO permitted regulation of the activity of the mutant No Tail in response to 472-nm light provided by a light-emitting diode.
A predicted structure for the PixD-PixE complex determined by homology modeling, docking simulations, and a mutagenesis study.
PixD is a blue light-using flavin (BLUF) photoreceptor that controls phototaxis in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC6803. PixD interacts with the response regulator-like protein PixE in a light-dependent manner, and this interaction is critical for light signal transduction in vivo. However, the structure of the PixD-PixE complex has not been determined. To improve our understanding of how PixD transmits its captured light signal to PixE, we used blue-native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis to characterize the molecular mass of a recombinant PixD-PixE complex purified from Escherichia coli and found it to be 342 kDa, suggesting that the complex contains 10 PixD and 4 PixE monomers. The stoichiometry of the complex was confirmed by Western blotting. Specifically, three intermediate states, PixD(10)-PixE(1), PixD(10)-PixE(2), and PixD(10)-PixE(3), were detected. The apparent dissociation constant for PixE and PixD is ~5 μM. A docking simulation was performed using a modeled PixE structure and the PixD(10) crystal structure. The docking simulation showed how the molecules in the PixD(10)-PixE(4) structure interact. To verify the accuracy of the docked model, a site-directed mutagenesis study was performed in which Arg80 of PixE, which appears to be capable of interacting electrostatically with Asp135 of PixD in the predicted structure, was shown to be critical for complex formation as mutation of PixE Arg80 to Asp or Ala prevented PixD-PixE complex formation. This study provides a structural basis for future investigations of the light signal transduction mechanism involving PixD and PixE.
Time-resolved tracking of interprotein signal transduction: Synechocystis PixD-PixE complex as a sensor of light intensity.
PixD (Slr1694) is a blue light receptor that contains a BLUF (blue light sensors using a flavin chromophore) domain. A protein-protein interaction between PixD and a response regulator PixE (Slr1693) is essential to achieve light signal transduction for phototaxis of the species. Although the initial photochemical reaction of PixD, the red shift of the flavin absorption spectrum, has been investigated, the subsequent reaction dynamics remain largely unresolved. Only the disassembly of the PixD(10)-PixE(5) dark complex has been characterized by static size exclusion chromatography. In this report, interprotein reaction dynamics were examined using time-resolved transient grating spectroscopy. The dissociation process was clearly observed as the light-induced diffusion coefficient change in the time domain, and the kinetics was determined. More strikingly, disassembly was found to take place only after photoactivation of two PixD subunits in the complex. This result suggests that the biological response of PixD does not follow a linear correlation with the light intensity but appears to be light-intensity-dependent.
PixE promotes dark oligomerization of the BLUF photoreceptor PixD.
Cyanobacteria perceive and move (phototax) in response to blue light. In this study, we demonstrate that the PixD blue light-sensing using FAD (BLUF) photoreceptor that governs this response undergoes changes in oligomerization state upon illumination. Under dark conditions we observed that PixD forms a large molecular weight complex with another protein called PixE. Stoicheometric analyses, coupled with sedimentation equilibrium and size exclusion chromatography, demonstrates that PixE drives aggregation of PixD dimers into a stable PixD(10)-PixE(5) complex under dark conditions. Illumination of a flavin chromophore in PixD destabilizes the PixD(10)-PixE(5) complex into monomers of PixE and dimers of PixD. A crystallographic structure of PixD, coupled with Gibbs free energy calculation between interacting faces of PixD, lends to a model in which a light induces a conformational change in a critical PixD-interfacing loop that results in destabilization of the PixD(10)-PixE(5) complex.