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 54 results

Perspectives of RAS and RHEB GTPase Signaling Pathways in Regenerating Brain Neurons.

blue cyan red Cryptochromes FKF1/G1 Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Int J Mol Sci, 14 Dec 2018 DOI: 10.3390/ijms19124052 Link to full text
Abstract: Cellular activation of RAS GTPases into the GTP-binding "ON" state is a key switch for regulating brain functions. Molecular protein structural elements of rat sarcoma (RAS) and RAS homolog protein enriched in brain (RHEB) GTPases involved in this switch are discussed including their subcellular membrane localization for triggering specific signaling pathways resulting in regulation of synaptic connectivity, axonal growth, differentiation, migration, cytoskeletal dynamics, neural protection, and apoptosis. A beneficial role of neuronal H-RAS activity is suggested from cellular and animal models of neurodegenerative diseases. Recent experiments on optogenetic regulation offer insights into the spatiotemporal aspects controlling RAS/mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) or phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K) pathways. As optogenetic manipulation of cellular signaling in deep brain regions critically requires penetration of light through large distances of absorbing tissue, we discuss magnetic guidance of re-growing axons as a complementary approach. In Parkinson's disease, dopaminergic neuronal cell bodies degenerate in the substantia nigra. Current human trials of stem cell-derived dopaminergic neurons must take into account the inability of neuronal axons navigating over a large distance from the grafted site into striatal target regions. Grafting dopaminergic precursor neurons directly into the degenerating substantia nigra is discussed as a novel concept aiming to guide axonal growth by activating GTPase signaling through protein-functionalized intracellular magnetic nanoparticles responding to external magnets.

Guided by light: optogenetic control of microtubule gliding assays.

blue TULIP in vitro
Nano Lett, 19 Nov 2018 DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b03011 Link to full text
Abstract: Force generation by molecular motors drives biological processes such as asymmetric cell division and cell migration. Microtubule gliding assays, in which surface-immobilized motor proteins drive microtubule propulsion, are widely used to study basic motor properties as well as the collective behavior of active self-organized systems. Additionally, these assays can be employed for nanotechnological applications such as analyte detection, bio-computation and mechanical sensing. While such assays allow tight control over the experimental conditions, spatiotemporal control of force generation has remained underdeveloped. Here we use light-inducible protein-protein interactions to recruit molecular motors to the surface to control microtubule gliding activity in vitro. We show that using these light-inducible interactions, proteins can be recruited to the surface in patterns, reaching a ~5-fold enrichment within 6 seconds upon illumination. Subsequently, proteins are released with a half-life of 13 seconds when the illumination is stopped. We furthermore demonstrate that light-controlled kinesin recruitment results in reversible activation of microtubule gliding along the surface, enabling efficient control over local microtubule motility. Our approach to locally control force generation offers a way to study the effects of non-uniform pulling forces on different microtubule arrays and also provides novel strategies for local control in nanotechnological applications.

Mitotic Spindle: Illuminating Spindle Positioning with a Biological Lightsaber.

blue LOV domains Review
Curr Biol, 19 Nov 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.09.047 Link to full text
Abstract: In metazoans, positioning of the mitotic spindle is controlled by the microtubule-dependent motor protein dynein, which associates with the cell cortex. Using optogenetic tools, two new studies examine how the levels and activity of dynein are regulated at the cortex to ensure proper positioning of the mitotic spindle.

Bringing Light to Transcription: The Optogenetics Repertoire.

blue red UV Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Front Genet, 2 Nov 2018 DOI: 10.3389/fgene.2018.00518 Link to full text
Abstract: The ability to manipulate expression of exogenous genes in particular regions of living organisms has profoundly transformed the way we study biomolecular processes involved in both normal development and disease. Unfortunately, most of the classical inducible systems lack fine spatial and temporal accuracy, thereby limiting the study of molecular events that strongly depend on time, duration of activation, or cellular localization. By exploiting genetically engineered photo sensing proteins that respond to specific wavelengths, we can now provide acute control of numerous molecular activities with unprecedented precision. In this review, we present a comprehensive breakdown of all of the current optogenetic systems adapted to regulate gene expression in both unicellular and multicellular organisms. We focus on the advantages and disadvantages of these different tools and discuss current and future challenges in the successful translation to more complex organisms.

Adherens junction-associated pores mediate the intercellular transport of endosomes and cytoplasmic proteins.

blue TULIP D. melanogaster in vivo Control of vesicular transport
Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 2 Oct 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2018.09.129 Link to full text
Abstract: Intercellular endosomes (IEs) are endocytosed vesicles shuttled through the adherens junctions (AJs) between two neighboring epidermal cells during Drosophila dorsal closure. The cell-to-cell transport of IEs requires DE-cadherin (DE-cad), microtubules (MTs) and kinesin. However, the mechanisms by which IEs can be transported through the AJs are unknown. Here, we demonstrate the presence of AJ-associated pores with MTs traversing through the pores. Live imaging allows direct visualization of IEs being transported through the AJ-associated pores. By using an optogenetic dimerization system, we observe that the dimerized IE-kinesin complexes move across AJs into the neighboring cell. The AJ-associated pores also allow intercellular movement of soluble proteins. Importantly, most epidermal cells form dorsoventral-oriented two-cell syncytia. Together, we present a model in which an AJ-associated pore mediates the intercellular transport of IEs and proteins between two cells in direct contact.

Light‐Controlled Mammalian Cells and Their Therapeutic Applications in Synthetic Biology.

blue cyan green near-infrared red UV BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Adv Sci, 30 Sep 2018 DOI: 10.1002/advs.201800952 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

Optogenetic dissection of mitotic spindle positioning in vivo.

blue TULIP C. elegans in vivo Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Cell cycle control
Elife, 15 Aug 2018 DOI: 10.7554/elife.38198 Link to full text
Abstract: The position of the mitotic spindle determines the plane of cell cleavage, and thereby daughter cell location, size, and content. Spindle positioning is driven by dynein-mediated pulling forces exerted on astral microtubules, which requires an evolutionarily conserved complex of Gα-GDP, GPR-1/2Pins/LGN, and LIN-5Mud/NuMA proteins. To examine individual functions of the complex components, we developed a genetic strategy for light-controlled localization of endogenous proteins in C. elegans embryos. By replacing Gα and GPR-1/2 with a light-inducible membrane anchor, we demonstrate that Gα-GDP, Gα-GTP, and GPR-1/2 are not required for pulling-force generation. In the absence of Gα and GPR-1/2, cortical recruitment of LIN-5, but not dynein itself, induced high pulling forces. The light-controlled localization of LIN-5 overruled normal cell-cycle and polarity regulation and provided experimental control over the spindle and cell-cleavage plane. Our results define Gα∙GDP-GPR-1/2 Pins/LGN as a regulatable membrane anchor, and LIN-5Mud/NuMA as a potent activator of dynein-dependent spindle-positioning forces.

A compendium of chemical and genetic approaches to light-regulated gene transcription.

blue cyan green near-infrared red UV BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Cyanobacteriochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol, 24 Jul 2018 DOI: 10.1080/10409238.2018.1487382 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

blue green red UV BLUF domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Opsins Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Chem Rev, 9 Jul 2018 DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.8b00163 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

blue AtLOV LOV domains Review
Adv Biosyst, 2 Jul 2018 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.201800098 Link to full text
Abstract: 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.

An Optogenetic approach to control protein localization during embryogenesis of the sea urchin.

blue TULIP sea urchin in vivo Developmental processes
Dev Biol, 26 Jun 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2018.06.015 Link to full text
Abstract: Light inducible protein-protein interactions have been used to manipulate protein localization and function in the cell with utmost spatial and temporal precision. In this technical report, we use a recently developed optogenetic approach to manipulate protein localization in the developing sea urchin embryo. A photosensitive LOV domain from Avena sativa phototropin1 cages a small peptide that binds the engineered PDZ domain (ePDZ) upon blue light irradiation. Using this system, mCherry tagged proteins fused with the LOV domain were recruited to ectopic sub-cellular regions such as the membrane, microtubules, or actin by GFP tagged proteins fused with the ePDZ domain upon blue light irradiation within 1~3 minutes in the sea urchin embryo. The efficiency and speed of recruitment of each protein to its respective subcellular region appeared to be dependent on the power and duration of laser irradiation, as well as the respective level of affinity to the tagged location. Controlled laser irradiation allowed partial recruitment of the spindle to the membrane, and resulted in cell blebbing. Vasa, a cell cycle and germline factor that localizes on the spindle and enriches in the micromeres at 8-16 cell stage was recruited to ectopic sites, preventing normal enrichment. Continuous blue light activation with a regular blue aquarium light over two days of culture successfully induced LOV-ePDZ binding in the developing embryos, resulting in continued ectopic recruitment of Vasa and failure in gastrulation at Day 2. Although some cytotoxicity was observed with prolonged blue light irradiation, this optogenetic system provides a promising approach to test the sub-cellular activities of developmental factors, as well as to alter protein localization and development during embryogenesis.

LOV Domains in the Design of Photoresponsive Enzymes.

blue LOV domains Review
ACS Chem Biol, 15 Jun 2018 DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.8b00159 Link to full text
Abstract: In nature, a multitude of mechanisms have emerged for regulating biological processes and, specifically, protein activity. Light as a natural regulatory element is of outstanding interest for studying and modulating protein activity because it can be precisely applied with regard to a site of action, instant of time, or intensity. Naturally occuring photoresponsive proteins, predominantly those containing a light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domain, have been characterized structurally and mechanistically and also conjugated to various proteins of interest. Immediate advantages of these new photoresponsive proteins such as genetic encoding, no requirement of chemical modification, and reversibility are paid by difficulties in predicting the envisaged activity or type and site of domain fusion. In this article, we summarize recent advances and give a survey on currently available design concepts for engineering photoswitchable proteins.

Engaging myosin VI tunes motility, morphology, and identity in endocytosis.

blue TULIP HeLa Organelle manipulation
Traffic, 4 Jun 2018 DOI: 10.1111/tra.12583 Link to full text
Abstract: While unconventional myosins interact with different stages of the endocytic pathway, they are ascribed a transport function that is secondary to the protein complexes that control organelle identity. Endosomes are subject to a dynamic, continuous flux of proteins that control their characteristic properties, including their motility within the cell. Efforts to describe the changes in identity of this compartment have largely focused on the adaptors present on the compartment and not on the motile properties of the compartment itself. In this study, we use a combination of optogenetic and chemical-dimerization strategies to target exogenous myosin VI to early endosomes, and probe its influence on organelle motility, morphology, and identity. Our analysis across time scales suggests a model wherein the artificial engagement of myosin VI motility on early endosomes restricts microtubule-based motion, followed by morphological changes characterized by the rapid condensation and disintegration of organelles, ultimately leading to the enhanced overlap of markers that demarcate endosomal compartments. Together, our findings show that synthetic engagement of myosin VI motility is sufficient to alter organelle homeostasis in the endocytic pathway. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Optogenetics: A Primer for Chemists.

blue green near-infrared red UV BLUF domains Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Chembiochem, 19 Apr 2018 DOI: 10.1002/cbic.201800013 Link to full text
Abstract: The field of optogenetics uses genetically encoded, light-responsive proteins to control physiological processes. This technology has been hailed as the one of the ten big ideas in brain science in the past decade,[1] the breakthrough of the decade,[2] and the method of the year in 2010[3] and again in 2014[4]. The excitement evidenced by these proclamations is confirmed by a couple of impressive numbers. The term "optogenetics" was coined in 2006.[5] As of December 2017, "optogenetics" is found in the title or abstract of almost 1600 currently funded National Institutes of Health grants. In addition, nearly 600 reviews on optogenetics have appeared since 2006, which averages out to approximately one review per week! However, in spite of these impressive numbers, the potential applications and implications of optogenetics are not even close to being fully realized. This is due, in large part, to the challenges associated with the design of optogenetic analogs of endogenous proteins. This review is written from a chemist's perspective, with a focus on the molecular strategies that have been developed for the construction of optogenetic proteins.

Induction of signal transduction using non-channelrhodopsin-type optogenetic tools.

blue cyan near-infrared red UV Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Chembiochem, 25 Mar 2018 DOI: 10.1002/cbic.201700635 Link to full text
Abstract: Signal transductions are the basis for all cellular functions. Previous studies investigating signal transductions mainly relied on pharmacological inhibition, RNA interference, and constitutive active/dominant negative protein expression systems. However, such studies do not allow the modulation of protein activity in cells, tissues, and organs in animals with high spatial and temporal precision. Recently, non-channelrhodopsin-type optogenetic tools for regulating signal transduction have emerged. These photoswitches address several disadvantages of previous techniques, and allow us to control a variety of signal transductions such as cell membrane dynamics, calcium signaling, lipid signaling, and apoptosis. In this review, we summarize recent advances in the development of such photoswitches and how these optotools are applied to signaling processes.

Optogenetically controlled protein kinases for regulation of cellular signaling.

blue cyan green near-infrared red Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Chem Soc Rev, 2 Mar 2018 DOI: 10.1039/c7cs00404d Link to full text
Abstract: Protein kinases are involved in the regulation of many cellular processes including cell differentiation, survival, migration, axon guidance and neuronal plasticity. A growing set of optogenetic tools, termed opto-kinases, allows activation and inhibition of different protein kinases with light. The optogenetic regulation enables fast, reversible and non-invasive manipulation of protein kinase activities, complementing traditional methods, such as treatment with growth factors, protein kinase inhibitors or chemical dimerizers. In this review, we summarize the properties of the existing optogenetic tools for controlling tyrosine kinases and serine-threonine kinases. We discuss how the opto-kinases can be applied for studies of spatial and temporal aspects of protein kinase signaling in cells and organisms. We compare approaches for chemical and optogenetic regulation of protein kinase activity and present guidelines for selection of opto-kinases and equipment to control them with light. We also describe strategies to engineer novel opto-kinases on the basis of various photoreceptors.

Cell membrane dynamics induction using optogenetic tools.

blue near-infrared red Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Review
Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 16 Nov 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2017.11.091 Link to full text
Abstract: Structures arising from actin-based cell membrane movements, including ruffles, lamellipodia, and filopodia, play important roles in a broad spectrum of cellular functions, such as cell motility, axon guidance in neurons, wound healing, and micropinocytosis. Previous studies investigating these cell membrane dynamics often relied on pharmacological inhibition, RNA interference, and constitutive active/dominant negative protein expression systems. However, such studies did not allow the modulation of protein activity at specific regions of cells, tissues, and organs in animals with high spatial and temporal precision. Recently, optogenetic tools for inducing cell membrane dynamics have been developed which address several of the disadvantages of previous techniques. In a recent study, we developed a powerful optogenetic tool, called the Magnet system, to change cell membrane dynamics through Tiam1 and PIP3 signal transductions with high spatial and temporal resolution. In this review, we summarize recent advances in optogenetic tools that allow us to induce actin-regulated cell membrane dynamics and unique membrane ruffles that we discovered using our Magnet system.

Optogenetic Tools for Subcellular Applications in Neuroscience.

blue cyan red UV BLUF domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Neuron, 1 Nov 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.09.047 Link to full text
Abstract: The ability to study cellular physiology using photosensitive, genetically encoded molecules has profoundly transformed neuroscience. The modern optogenetic toolbox includes fluorescent sensors to visualize signaling events in living cells and optogenetic actuators enabling manipulation of numerous cellular activities. Most optogenetic tools are not targeted to specific subcellular compartments but are localized with limited discrimination throughout the cell. Therefore, optogenetic activation often does not reflect context-dependent effects of highly localized intracellular signaling events. Subcellular targeting is required to achieve more specific optogenetic readouts and photomanipulation. Here we first provide a detailed overview of the available optogenetic tools with a focus on optogenetic actuators. Second, we review established strategies for targeting these tools to specific subcellular compartments. Finally, we discuss useful tools and targeting strategies that are currently missing from the optogenetics repertoire and provide suggestions for novel subcellular optogenetic applications.

Applications of optobiology in intact cells and multi-cellular organisms.

blue cyan green near-infrared red Cobalamin-binding domains Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes Review
J Mol Biol, 4 Sep 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2017.08.015 Link to full text
Abstract: Temporal kinetics and spatial coordination of signal transduction in cells are vital for cell fate determination. Tools that allow for precise modulation of spatiotemporal regulation of intracellular signaling in intact cells and multicellular organisms remain limited. The emerging optobiological approaches use light to control protein-protein interaction in live cells and multicellular organisms. Optobiology empowers light-mediated control of diverse cellular and organismal functions such as neuronal activity, intracellular signaling, gene expression, cell proliferation, differentiation, migration, and apoptosis. In this review, we highlight recent developments in optobiology, focusing on new features of second-generation optobiological tools. We cover applications of optobiological approaches in the study of cellular and organismal functions, discuss current challenges, and present our outlook. Taking advantage of the high spatial and temporal resolution of light control, optobiology promises to provide new insights into the coordination of signaling circuits in intact cells and multicellular organisms.

Optogenetic interrogation of integrin αVβ3 function in endothelial cells.

blue TULIP murine lung endothelial cells Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
J Cell Sci, 1 Sep 2017 DOI: 10.1242/jcs.205203 Link to full text
Abstract: αVβ3 is reported to promote angiogenesis in some model systems but not in others. Here we used optogenetics to study effects of αVβ3 interaction with the intracellular adapter, kindlin-2, on endothelial cell functions potentially relevant to angiogenesis. Since interaction of kindlin-2 with αVβ3 requires the C-terminal three residues of the β3 cytoplasmic tail (Arg-Gly-Thr; RGT), optogenetic probes LOVpep and ePDZ1 were fused to β3ΔRGT-GFP and mCherry-kindlin2, respectively, and expressed in β3-null microvascular endothelial cells. Exposure of the cells to 450 nm (blue) light caused rapid and specific interaction of kindlin-2 with αVβ3 as assessed by immunofluorescence and TIRF microscopy, and it led to increased endothelial cell migration, podosome formation and angiogenic sprouting. Analyses of kindlin-2 mutants indicated that interaction of kindlin-2 with other kindlin-2 binding partners, including c-Src, actin, integrin-linked kinase and phosphoinositides, were also likely necessary for these endothelial cell responses. Thus, kindlin-2 promotes αVβ3-dependent angiogenic functions of endothelial cells through its simultaneous interactions with β3 and several other binding partners. Optogenetic approaches should find further use in clarifying spatiotemporal aspects of vascular cell biology.

Genetically Encoded Photoactuators and Photosensors for Characterization and Manipulation of Pluripotent Stem Cells.

blue cyan red UV Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Theranostics, 18 Aug 2017 DOI: 10.7150/thno.20593 Link to full text
Abstract: Our knowledge of pluripotent stem cell biology has advanced considerably in the past four decades, but it has yet to deliver on the great promise of regenerative medicine. The slow progress can be mainly attributed to our incomplete understanding of the complex biologic processes regulating the dynamic developmental pathways from pluripotency to fully-differentiated states of functional somatic cells. Much of the difficulty arises from our lack of specific tools to query, or manipulate, the molecular scale circuitry on both single-cell and organismal levels. Fortunately, the last two decades of progress in the field of optogenetics have produced a variety of genetically encoded, light-mediated tools that enable visualization and control of the spatiotemporal regulation of cellular function. The merging of optogenetics and pluripotent stem cell biology could thus be an important step toward realization of the clinical potential of pluripotent stem cells. In this review, we have surveyed available genetically encoded photoactuators and photosensors, a rapidly expanding toolbox, with particular attention to those with utility for studying pluripotent stem cells.

Synthetic biological approaches to optogenetically control cell signaling.

blue cyan near-infrared red UV Cryptochromes Fluorescent proteins LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Curr Opin Biotechnol, 14 Jul 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.copbio.2017.06.010 Link to full text
Abstract: Precise spatial and temporal control of cellular processes is in life sciences a highly sought-after capability. In the recent years, this goal has become progressively achievable through the field of optogenetics, which utilizes light as a non-invasive means to control genetically encoded light-responsive proteins. The latest optogenetic systems, such as those for control of subcellular localization or cellular decision-making and tissue morphogenesis provide us with insights to gain a deeper understanding of the cellular inner workings. Besides, they hold a potential for further development into biomedical applications, from in vitro optogenetics-assisted drug candidate screenings to light-controlled gene therapy and tissue engineering.

Cell cycle entry triggers a switch between two modes of Cdc42 activation during yeast polarization.

blue TULIP S. cerevisiae Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Elife, 6 Jul 2017 DOI: 10.7554/elife.26722 Link to full text
Abstract: Cell polarization underlies many cellular and organismal functions. The GTPase Cdc42 orchestrates polarization in many contexts. In budding yeast, polarization is associated with a focus of Cdc42•GTP which is thought to self sustain by recruiting a complex containing Cla4, a Cdc42-binding effector, Bem1, a scaffold, and Cdc24, a Cdc42 GEF. Using optogenetics, we probe yeast polarization and find that local recruitment of Cdc24 or Bem1 is sufficient to induce polarization by triggering self-sustaining Cdc42 activity. However, the response to these perturbations depends on the recruited molecule, the cell cycle stage, and existing polarization sites. Before cell cycle entry, recruitment of Cdc24, but not Bem1, induces a metastable pool of Cdc42 that is sustained by positive feedback. Upon Cdk1 activation, recruitment of either Cdc24 or Bem1 creates a stable site of polarization that induces budding and inhibits formation of competing sites. Local perturbations have therefore revealed unexpected features of polarity establishment.

Optogenetic control of RhoA reveals zyxin-mediated elasticity of stress fibres.

blue TULIP MEF-1 NIH/3T3 Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Nat Commun, 12 Jun 2017 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15817 Link to full text
Abstract: Cytoskeletal mechanics regulates cell morphodynamics and many physiological processes. While contractility is known to be largely RhoA-dependent, the process by which localized biochemical signals are translated into cell-level responses is poorly understood. Here we combine optogenetic control of RhoA, live-cell imaging and traction force microscopy to investigate the dynamics of actomyosin-based force generation. Local activation of RhoA not only stimulates local recruitment of actin and myosin but also increased traction forces that rapidly propagate across the cell via stress fibres and drive increased actin flow. Surprisingly, this flow reverses direction when local RhoA activation stops. We identify zyxin as a regulator of stress fibre mechanics, as stress fibres are fluid-like without flow reversal in its absence. Using a physical model, we demonstrate that stress fibres behave elastic-like, even at timescales exceeding turnover of constituent proteins. Such molecular control of actin mechanics likely plays critical roles in regulating morphodynamic events.

At Light Speed: Advances in Optogenetic Systems for Regulating Cell Signaling and Behavior.

blue near-infrared red UV Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes UV receptors Review
Annu Rev Chem Biomol Eng, 7 Jun 2017 DOI: 10.1146/annurev-chembioeng-060816-101254 Link to full text
Abstract: Cells are bombarded by extrinsic signals that dynamically change in time and space. Such dynamic variations can exert profound effects on behaviors, including cellular signaling, organismal development, stem cell differentiation, normal tissue function, and disease processes such as cancer. Although classical genetic tools are well suited to introduce binary perturbations, new approaches have been necessary to investigate how dynamic signal variation may regulate cell behavior. This fundamental question is increasingly being addressed with optogenetics, a field focused on engineering and harnessing light-sensitive proteins to interface with cellular signaling pathways. Channelrhodopsins initially defined optogenetics; however, through recent use of light-responsive proteins with myriad spectral and functional properties, practical applications of optogenetics currently encompass cell signaling, subcellular localization, and gene regulation. Now, important questions regarding signal integration within branch points of signaling networks, asymmetric cell responses to spatially restricted signals, and effects of signal dosage versus duration can be addressed. This review summarizes emerging technologies and applications within the expanding field of optogenetics.
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