Showing 1 - 25 of 95 results
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.
Red Light Optogenetics in Neuroscience.
Optogenetics, a field concentrating on controlling cellular functions by means of light-activated proteins, has shown tremendous potential in neuroscience. It possesses superior spatiotemporal resolution compared to the surgical, electrical, and pharmacological methods traditionally used in studying brain function. A multitude of optogenetic tools for neuroscience have been created that, for example, enable the control of action potential generation via light-activated ion channels. Other optogenetic proteins have been used in the brain, for example, to control long-term potentiation or to ablate specific subtypes of neurons. In in vivo applications, however, the majority of optogenetic tools are operated with blue, green, or yellow light, which all have limited penetration in biological tissues compared to red light and especially infrared light. This difference is significant, especially considering the size of the rodent brain, a major research model in neuroscience. Our review will focus on the utilization of red light-operated optogenetic tools in neuroscience. We first outline the advantages of red light for in vivo studies. Then we provide a brief overview of the red light-activated optogenetic proteins and systems with a focus on new developments in the field. Finally, we will highlight different tools and applications, which further facilitate the use of red light optogenetics in neuroscience.
The Red Edge: Bilin-Binding Photoreceptors as Optogenetic Tools and Fluorescence Reporters.
This review adds the bilin-binding phytochromes to the Chemical Reviews thematic issue "Optogenetics and Photopharmacology". The work is structured into two parts. We first outline the photochemistry of the covalently bound tetrapyrrole chromophore and summarize relevant spectroscopic, kinetic, biochemical, and physiological properties of the different families of phytochromes. Based on this knowledge, we then describe the engineering of phytochromes to further improve these chromoproteins as photoswitches and review their employment in an ever-growing number of different optogenetic applications. Most applications rely on the light-controlled complex formation between the plant photoreceptor PhyB and phytochrome-interacting factors (PIFs) or C-terminal light-regulated domains with enzymatic functions present in many bacterial and algal phytochromes. Phytochrome-based optogenetic tools are currently implemented in bacteria, yeast, plants, and animals to achieve light control of a wide range of biological activities. These cover the regulation of gene expression, protein transport into cell organelles, and the recruitment of phytochrome- or PIF-tagged proteins to membranes and other cellular compartments. This compilation illustrates the intrinsic advantages of phytochromes compared to other photoreceptor classes, e.g., their bidirectional dual-wavelength control enabling instant ON and OFF regulation. In particular, the long wavelength range of absorption and fluorescence within the "transparent window" makes phytochromes attractive for complex applications requiring deep tissue penetration or dual-wavelength control in combination with blue and UV light-sensing photoreceptors. In addition to the wide variability of applications employing natural and engineered phytochromes, we also discuss recent progress in the development of bilin-based fluorescent proteins.
Optogenetic strategies for the control of gene expression in yeasts.
Optogenetics involves the use of light to control cellular functions and has become increasingly popular in various areas of research, especially in the precise control of gene expression. While this technology is already well established in neurobiology and basic research, its use in bioprocess development is still emerging. Some optogenetic switches have been implemented in yeasts for different purposes, taking advantage of a wide repertoire of biological parts and relatively easy genetic manipulation. In this review, we cover the current strategies used for the construction of yeast strains to be used in optogenetically controlled protein or metabolite production, as well as the operational aspects to be considered for the scale-up of this type of process. Finally, we discuss the main applications of optogenetic switches in yeast systems and highlight the main advantages and challenges of bioprocess development considering future directions for this field.
The effect of substrate stiffness on tensile force transduction in the epithelial monolayers.
In recent years, the importance of mechanical signaling and the cellular mechanical microenvironment in affecting cellular behavior has been widely accepted. Cells in epithelial monolayers are mechanically connected to each other and the underlying extracellular matrix (ECM), forming a highly connected mechanical system subjected to various mechanical cues from their environment, such as the ECM stiffness. Changes in the ECM stiffness have been linked to many pathologies, including tumor formation. However, our understanding of how ECM stiffness and its heterogeneities affect the transduction of mechanical forces in epithelial monolayers is lacking. To investigate this, we used a combination of experimental and computational methods. The experiments were conducted using epithelial cells cultured on an elastic substrate and applying a mechanical stimulus by moving a single cell by micromanipulation. To replicate our experiments computationally and quantify the forces transduced in the epithelium, we developed a new model that described the mechanics of both the cells and the substrate. Our model further enabled the simulations with local stiffness heterogeneities. We found the substrate stiffness to distinctly affect the force transduction as well as the cellular movement and deformation following an external force. Also, we found that local changes in the stiffness can alter the cells’ response to external forces over long distances. Our results suggest that this long-range signaling of the substrate stiffness depends on the cells’ ability to resist deformation. Furthermore, we found that the cell’s elasticity in the apico-basal direction provides a level of detachment between the apical cell-cell junctions and the basal focal adhesions. Our simulation results show potential for increased ECM stiffness, e.g. due to a tumor, to modulate mechanical signaling between cells also outside the stiff region. Furthermore, the developed model provides a good platform for future studies on the interactions between epithelial monolayers and elastic substrates.
Seeing is believing: tools to study the role of Rho GTPases during cytokinesis.
Cytokinesis is required to cleave the daughter cells at the end of mitosis and relies on the spatiotemporal control of RhoA GTPase. Cytokinesis failure can lead to changes in cell fate or aneuploidy, which can be detrimental during development and/or can lead to cancer. However, our knowledge of the pathways that regulate RhoA during cytokinesis is limited, and the role of other Rho family GTPases is not clear. This is largely because the study of Rho GTPases presents unique challenges using traditional cell biological and biochemical methods, and they have pleiotropic functions making genetic studies difficult to interpret. The recent generation of optogenetic tools and biosensors that control and detect active Rho has overcome some of these challenges and is helping to elucidate the role of RhoA in cytokinesis. However, improvements are needed to reveal the role of other Rho GTPases in cytokinesis, and to identify the molecular mechanisms that control Rho activity. This review examines some of the outstanding questions in cytokinesis, and explores tools for the imaging and control of Rho GTPases.
Light-inducible deformation of mitochondria in live cells.
Mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, are dynamic organelles that undergo constant morphological changes. Increasing evidence indicates that mitochondria morphologies and functions can be modulated by mechanical cues. However, the mechano-sensing and -responding properties of mitochondria and the relation between mitochondrial morphologies and functions are unclear due to the lack of methods to precisely exert mechano-stimulation on and deform mitochondria inside live cells. Here, we present an optogenetic approach that uses light to induce deformation of mitochondria by recruiting molecular motors to the outer mitochondrial membrane via light-activated protein-protein hetero-dimerization. Mechanical forces generated by motor proteins distort the outer membrane, during which the inner mitochondrial membrane can also be deformed. Moreover, this optical method can achieve subcellular spatial precision and be combined with different optical dimerizers and molecular motors. This method presents a mitochondria-specific mechano-stimulator for studying mitochondria mechanobiology and the interplay between mitochondria shapes and functions.
Optogenetic Approaches for the Spatiotemporal Control of Signal Transduction Pathways.
Biological signals are sensed by their respective receptors and are transduced and processed by a sophisticated intracellular signaling network leading to a signal-specific cellular response. Thereby, the response to the signal depends on the strength, the frequency, and the duration of the stimulus as well as on the subcellular signal progression. Optogenetic tools are based on genetically encoded light-sensing proteins facilitating the precise spatiotemporal control of signal transduction pathways and cell fate decisions in the absence of natural ligands. In this review, we provide an overview of optogenetic approaches connecting light-regulated protein-protein interaction or caging/uncaging events with steering the function of signaling proteins. We briefly discuss the most common optogenetic switches and their mode of action. The main part deals with the engineering and application of optogenetic tools for the control of transmembrane receptors including receptor tyrosine kinases, the T cell receptor and integrins, and their effector proteins. We also address the hallmarks of optogenetics, the spatial and temporal control of signaling events.
Optical regulation of endogenous RhoA reveals selection of cellular responses by signal amplitude.
How protein signaling networks respond to different input strengths is an important but poorly understood problem in cell biology. For example, the small GTPase RhoA regulates both focal adhesion (FA) growth or disassembly, but whether RhoA serves as a switch selecting between cellular outcomes, or if outcomes are simply modulated by additional factors in the cell, is not clear. Here, we develop a photoswitchable RhoA guanine exchange factor, psRhoGEF, to precisely control endogenous RhoA activity. We also develop a FRET-based biosensor to allow visualization of RhoA activity together with psRhoGEF control. Using these new optical tools, we discover that low levels of RhoA activation preferentially induce FA disassembly in a Src-dependent manner, while high levels induce both FA growth and disassembly in a ROCK-dependent manner. Thus, rheostatic control of RhoA activation with photoswitchable RhoGEF reveals that cells can use signal amplitude to produce multiple responses to a single biochemical signal.
Signaling, Deconstructed: Using Optogenetics to Dissect and Direct Information Flow in Biological Systems.
Cells receive enormous amounts of information from their environment. How they act on this information-by migrating, expressing genes, or relaying signals to other cells-comprises much of the regulatory and self-organizational complexity found across biology. The "parts list" involved in cell signaling is generally well established, but how do these parts work together to decode signals and produce appropriate responses? This fundamental question is increasingly being addressed with optogenetic tools: light-sensitive proteins that enable biologists to manipulate the interaction, localization, and activity state of proteins with high spatial and temporal precision. In this review, we summarize how optogenetics is being used in the pursuit of an answer to this question, outlining the current suite of optogenetic tools available to the researcher and calling attention to studies that increase our understanding of and improve our ability to engineer biology. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering, Volume 23 is June 2021. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
Asymmetric Contraction of Adherens Junctions arises through RhoA and E-cadherin feedback.
Tissue morphogenesis often arises from the culmination of discrete changes in cell-cell junction behaviors, namely ratcheted junction contractions that lead to collective cellular rearrangements. Mechanochemical signaling in the form of RhoA underlies these ratcheted contractions, which occur asymmetrically as one highly motile vertex contracts toward a relatively less motile tricellular vertex. The underlying mechanisms driving asymmetric vertex movement remains unknown. Here, we use optogenetically controlled RhoA in model epithelia together with biophysical modeling to uncover the mechanism lending to asymmetric vertex motion. We find that both local and global RhoA activation leads to increases in junctional tension, thereby facilitating vertex motion. RhoA activation occurs in discrete regions along the junction and is skewed towards the less-motile vertex. At these less-motile vertices, E-cadherin acts as an opposing factor to limit vertex motion through increased frictional drag. Surprisingly, we uncover a feedback loop between RhoA and E-cadherin, as regional optogenetic activation of specified junctional zones pools E-cadherin to the location of RhoA activation. Incorporating this circuit into a mathematical model, we find that a positive feedback between RhoA-mediated tension and E-cadherin-induced frictional drag on tricellular vertices recapitulates experimental data. As such, the location of RhoA determines which vertex is under high tension, pooling E-cadherin and increasing the frictional load at the tricellular vertex to limit its motion. This feedback drives a tension-dependent intercellular “clutch” at tricellular vertices which stabilizes vertex motion upon tensional load.
Physically asymmetric division of the C. elegans zygote ensures invariably successful embryogenesis.
Asymmetric divisions that yield daughter cells of different sizes are frequent during early embryogenesis, but the importance of such a physical difference for successful development remains poorly understood. Here, we investigated this question using the first division of Caenorhabditis elegans embryos, which yields a large AB cell and a small P1 cell. We equalized AB and P1 sizes using acute genetic inactivation or optogenetic manipulation of the spindle positioning protein LIN-5. We uncovered that only some embryos tolerated equalization, and that there was a size asymmetry threshold for viability. Cell lineage analysis of equalized embryos revealed an array of defects, including faster cell cycle progression in P1 descendants, as well as defects in cell positioning, division orientation, and cell fate. Moreover, equalized embryos were more susceptible to external compression. Overall, we conclude that unequal first cleavage is essential for invariably successful embryonic development of C. elegans.
Blue Light‐Operated CRISPR/Cas13b‐Mediated mRNA Knockdown (Lockdown).
The introduction of optogenetics into cell biology has furnished systems to control gene expression at the transcriptional and protein stability level, with a high degree of spatial, temporal, and dynamic light‐regulation capabilities. Strategies to downregulate RNA currently rely on RNA interference and CRISPR/Cas‐related methods. However, these approaches lack the key characteristics and advantages provided by optical control. “Lockdown” introduces optical control of RNA levels utilizing a blue light‐dependent switch to induce expression of CRISPR/Cas13b, which mediates sequence‐specific mRNA knockdown. Combining Lockdown with optogenetic tools to repress gene‐expression and induce protein destabilization with blue light yields efficient triple‐controlled downregulation of target proteins. Implementing Lockdown to degrade endogenous mRNA levels of the cyclin‐dependent kinase 1 (hCdk1) leads to blue light‐induced G2/M cell cycle arrest and inhibition of cell growth in mammalian cells.
The plastic cell: mechanical deformation of cells and tissues.
Epithelial cells possess the ability to change their shape in response to mechanical stress by remodelling their junctions and their cytoskeleton. This property lies at the heart of tissue morphogenesis in embryos. A key feature of embryonic cell shape changes is that they result from repeated mechanical inputs that make them partially irreversible at each step. Past work on cell rheology has rarely addressed how changes can become irreversible in a complex tissue. Here, we review new and exciting findings dissecting some of the physical principles and molecular mechanisms accounting for irreversible cell shape changes. We discuss concepts of mechanical ratchets and tension thresholds required to induce permanent cell deformations akin to mechanical plasticity. Work in different systems has highlighted the importance of actin remodelling and of E-cadherin endocytosis. We also list some novel experimental approaches to fine-tune mechanical tension, using optogenetics, magnetic beads or stretching of suspended epithelial tissues. Finally, we discuss some mathematical models that have been used to describe the quantitative aspects of accounting for mechanical cell plasticity and offer perspectives on this rapidly evolving field.
Steering Molecular Activity with Optogenetics: Recent Advances and Perspectives.
Optogenetics utilizes photosensitive proteins to manipulate the localization and interaction of molecules in living cells. Because light can be rapidly switched and conveniently confined to the sub‐micrometer scale, optogenetics allows for controlling cellular events with an unprecedented resolution in time and space. The past decade has witnessed an enormous progress in the field of optogenetics within the biological sciences. The ever‐increasing amount of optogenetic tools, however, can overwhelm the selection of appropriate optogenetic strategies. Considering that each optogenetic tool may have a distinct mode of action, a comparative analysis of the current optogenetic toolbox can promote the further use of optogenetics, especially by researchers new to this field. This review provides such a compilation that highlights the spatiotemporal accuracy of current optogenetic systems. Recent advances of optogenetics in live cells and animal models are summarized, the emerging work that interlinks optogenetics with other research fields is presented, and exciting clinical and industrial efforts to employ optogenetic strategy toward disease intervention are reported.
A light way for nuclear cell biologists.
The nucleus is a very complex organelle present in eukaryotic cells. Having the crucial task to safeguard, organize and manage the genetic information, it must tightly control its molecular constituents, its shape and its internal architecture at any given time. Despite our vast knowledge of nuclear cell biology, much is yet to be unraveled. For instance, only recently we came to appreciate the existence of a dynamic nuclear cytoskeleton made of actin filaments that regulates processes such as gene expression, DNA repair and nuclear expansion. This suggests further exciting discoveries ahead of us. Modern cell biologists embrace a new methodology relying on precise perturbations of cellular processes that require a reversible, highly spatially-confinable, rapid, inexpensive and tunable external stimulus: light. In this review, we discuss how optogenetics, the state-of-the-art technology that uses genetically-encoded light-sensitive proteins to steer biological processes, can be adopted to specifically investigate nuclear cell biology.
The rise and shine of yeast optogenetics.
Optogenetics refers to the control of biological processes with light. The activation of cellular phenomena by defined wavelengths has several advantages compared to traditional chemically-inducible systems, such as spatiotemporal resolution, dose-response regulation, low cost and moderate toxic effects. Optogenetics has been successfully implemented in yeast, a remarkable biological platform that is not only a model organism for cellular and molecular biology studies, but also a microorganism with diverse biotechnological applications. In this review, we summarize the main optogenetic systems implemented in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which allow orthogonal control (by light) of gene expression, protein subcellular localization, reconstitution of protein activity, or protein sequestration by oligomerization. Furthermore, we review the application of optogenetic systems in the control of metabolic pathways, heterologous protein production and flocculation. We then revise an example of a previously described yeast optogenetic switch, named FUN-LOV, which allows precise and strong activation of the target gene. Finally, we describe optogenetic systems that have not yet been implemented in yeast, which could therefore be used to expand the panel of available tools in this biological chassis. In conclusion, a wide repertoire of optogenetic systems can be used to address fundamental biological questions and broaden the biotechnological toolkit in yeast.
Optogenetic interrogation and control of cell signaling.
Signaling networks control the flow of information through biological systems and coordinate the chemical processes that constitute cellular life. Optogenetic actuators - genetically encoded proteins that undergo light-induced changes in activity or conformation - are useful tools for probing signaling networks over time and space. They have permitted detailed dissections of cellular proliferation, differentiation, motility, and death, and enabled the assembly of synthetic systems with applications in areas as diverse as photography, chemical synthesis, and medicine. In this review, we provide a brief introduction to optogenetic systems and describe their application to molecular-level analyses of cell signaling. Our discussion highlights important research achievements and speculates on future opportunities to exploit optogenetic systems in the study and assembly of complex biochemical networks.
Engineering Photosensory Modules of Non-Opsin-Based Optogenetic Actuators.
Optogenetic (photo-responsive) actuators engineered from photoreceptors are widely used in various applications to study cell biology and tissue physiology. In the toolkit of optogenetic actuators, the key building blocks are genetically encodable light-sensitive proteins. Currently, most optogenetic photosensory modules are engineered from naturally-occurring photoreceptor proteins from bacteria, fungi, and plants. There is a growing demand for novel photosensory domains with improved optical properties and light-induced responses to satisfy the needs of a wider variety of studies in biological sciences. In this review, we focus on progress towards engineering of non-opsin-based photosensory domains, and their representative applications in cell biology and physiology. We summarize current knowledge of engineering of light-sensitive proteins including light-oxygen-voltage-sensing domain (LOV), cryptochrome (CRY2), phytochrome (PhyB and BphP), and fluorescent protein (FP)-based photosensitive domains (Dronpa and PhoCl).
Using optogenetics to tackle systems-level questions of multicellular morphogenesis.
Morphogenesis of multicellular systems is governed by precise spatiotemporal regulation of biochemical reactions and mechanical forces which together with environmental conditions determine the development of complex organisms. Current efforts in the field aim at decoding the system-level principles underlying the regulation of developmental processes. Toward this goal, optogenetics, the science of regulation of protein function with light, is emerging as a powerful new tool to quantitatively perturb protein function in vivo with unprecedented precision in space and time. In this review, we provide an overview of how optogenetics is helping to address system-level questions of multicellular morphogenesis and discuss future directions.
Correction to Lancet Infectious Diseases 2020; published online April 29. https://doi.org/10.1016/ S1473-3099(20)30064-5.
Abstract not available.
Lights, cytoskeleton, action: Optogenetic control of cell dynamics.
Cell biology is moving from observing molecules to controlling them in real time, a critical step towards a mechanistic understanding of how cells work. Initially developed from light-gated ion channels to control neuron activity, optogenetics now describes any genetically encoded protein system designed to accomplish specific light-mediated tasks. Recent photosensitive switches use many ingenious designs that bring spatial and temporal control within reach for almost any protein or pathway of interest. This next generation optogenetics includes light-controlled protein-protein interactions and shape-shifting photosensors, which in combination with live microscopy enable acute modulation and analysis of dynamic protein functions in living cells. We provide a brief overview of various types of optogenetic switches. We then discuss how diverse approaches have been used to control cytoskeleton dynamics with light through Rho GTPase signaling, microtubule and actin assembly, mitotic spindle positioning and intracellular transport and highlight advantages and limitations of different experimental strategies.
Nano-positioning and tubuline conformation determine transport of mitochondria along microtubules.
Correct spatiotemporal distribution of organelles and vesicles is crucial for healthy cell functioning and is regulated by intracellular transport mechanisms. Controlled transport of bulky mitochondria is especially important in polarized cells such as neurons that rely on these organelles to locally produce energy and buffer calcium. Mitochondrial transport requires and depends on microtubules which fill much of the available axonal space. How mitochondrial transport is affected by their position within the microtubule bundles is not known. Here, we found that anterograde transport, driven by kinesin motors, is susceptible to the molecular conformation of tubulin both in vitro and in vivo. Anterograde velocities negatively correlate with the density of elongated tubulin dimers, similar to GTP-tubulin, that are more straight and rigid. The impact of the tubulin conformation depends primarily on where a mitochondrion is positioned, either within or at the rim of microtubule bundle. Increasing elongated tubulin levels lowers the number of motile anterograde mitochondria within the microtubule bundle and increases anterograde transport speed at the microtubule bundle rim. We demonstrate that the increased kinesin step processivity on microtubules consisting of elongated dimers underlies increased mitochondrial dynamics. Our work indicates that the molecular conformation of tubulin controls mitochondrial motility and as such locally regulates the distribution of mitochondria along axons.
Optogenetic Control of RhoA to Probe Subcellular Mechanochemical Circuitry.
Spatiotemporal localization of protein function is essential for physiological processes from subcellular to tissue scales. Genetic and pharmacological approaches have played instrumental roles in isolating molecular components necessary for subcellular machinery. However, these approaches have limited capabilities to reveal the nature of the spatiotemporal regulation of subcellular machineries like those of cytoskeletal organelles. With the recent advancement of optogenetic probes, the field now has a powerful tool to localize cytoskeletal stimuli in both space and time. Here, we detail the use of tunable light-controlled interacting protein tags (TULIPs) to manipulate RhoA signaling in vivo. This is an optogenetic dimerization system that rapidly, reversibly, and efficiently directs a cytoplasmic RhoGEF to the plasma membrane for activation of RhoA using light. We first compare this probe to other available optogenetic systems and outline the engineering logic for the chosen recruitable RhoGEFs. We also describe how to generate the cell line, spatially control illumination, confirm optogenetic control of RhoA, and mechanically induce cell-cell junction deformation in cultured tissues. Together, these protocols detail how to probe the mechanochemical circuitry downstream of RhoA signaling. © 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Basic Protocol 1: Generation of a stable cell line expressing TULIP constructs Basic Protocol 2: Preparation of collagen substrate for imaging Basic Protocol 3: Transient transfection for visualization of downstream effectors Basic Protocol 4: Calibration of spatial illumination Basic Protocol 5: Optogenetic activation of a region of interest.
Recent advances in the use of genetically encodable optical tools to elicit and monitor signaling events.
Cells rely on a complex network of spatiotemporally regulated signaling activities to effectively transduce information from extracellular cues to intracellular machinery. To probe this activity architecture, researchers have developed an extensive molecular tool kit of fluorescent biosensors and optogenetic actuators capable of monitoring and manipulating various signaling activities with high spatiotemporal precision. The goal of this review is to provide readers with an overview of basic concepts and recent advances in the development and application of genetically encodable biosensors and optogenetic tools for understanding signaling activity.