Showing 1 - 25 of 96 results
Selective induction of programmed cell death using synthetic biology tools.
Regulated cell death (RCD) controls the removal of dispensable, infected or malignant cells, and is thus essential for development, homeostasis and immunity of multicellular organisms. Over the last years different forms of RCD have been described (among them apoptosis, necroptosis, pyroptosis and ferroptosis), and the cellular signaling pathways that control their induction and execution have been characterized at the molecular level. It has also become apparent that different forms of RCD differ in their capacity to elicit inflammation or an immune response, and that RCD pathways show a remarkable plasticity. Biochemical and genetic studies revealed that inhibition of a given pathway often results in the activation of back-up cell death mechanisms, highlighting close interconnectivity based on shared signaling components and the assembly of multivalent signaling platforms that can initiate different forms of RCD. Due to this interconnectivity and the pleiotropic effects of 'classical' cell death inducers, it is challenging to study RCD pathways in isolation. This has led to the development of tools based on synthetic biology that allow the targeted induction of RCD using chemogenetic or optogenetic methods. Here we discuss recent advances in the development of such toolset, highlighting their advantages and limitations, and their application for the study of RCD in cells and animals.
Optogenetic Methods in Plant Biology.
Optogenetics is a technique employing natural or genetically engineered photoreceptors in transgene organisms to manipulate biological activities with light. Light can be turned on or off, and adjusting its intensity and duration allows optogenetic fine-tuning of cellular processes in a noninvasive and spatiotemporally resolved manner. Since the introduction of Channelrhodopsin-2 and phytochrome-based switches nearly 20 years ago, optogenetic tools have been applied in a variety of model organisms with enormous success, but rarely in plants. For a long time, the dependence of plant growth on light and the absence of retinal, the rhodopsin chromophore, prevented the establishment of plant optogenetics until recent progress overcame these difficulties. We summarize the recent results of work in the field to control plant growth and cellular motion via green light-gated ion channels and present successful applications to light-control gene expression with single or combined photoswitches in plants. Furthermore, we highlight the technical requirements and options for future plant optogenetic research.
The clinical potential of optogenetic interrogation of pathogenesis.
Opsin-based optogenetics has emerged as a powerful biomedical tool using light to control protein conformation. Such capacity has been initially demonstrated to control ion flow across the cell membrane, enabling precise control of action potential in excitable cells such as neurons or muscle cells. Further advancement in optogenetics incorporates a greater variety of photoactivatable proteins and results in flexible control of biological processes, such as gene expression and signal transduction, with commonly employed light sources such as LEDs or lasers in optical microscopy. Blessed by the precise genetic targeting specificity and superior spatiotemporal resolution, optogenetics offers new biological insights into physiological and pathological mechanisms underlying health and diseases. Recently, its clinical potential has started to be capitalized, particularly for blindness treatment, due to the convenient light delivery into the eye.
Genetically encoded imaging tools for investigating cell dynamics at a glance.
The biology of a cell is the sum of many highly dynamic processes, each orchestrated by a plethora of proteins and other molecules. Microscopy is an invaluable approach to spatially and temporally dissect the molecular details of these processes. Hundreds of genetically encoded imaging tools have been developed that allow cell scientists to determine the function of a protein of interest in the context of these dynamic processes. Broadly, these tools fall into three strategies: observation, inhibition and activation. Using examples for each strategy, in this Cell Science at a Glance and the accompanying poster, we provide a guide to using these tools to dissect protein function in a given cellular process. Our focus here is on tools that allow rapid modification of proteins of interest and how observing the resulting changes in cell states is key to unlocking dynamic cell processes. The aim is to inspire the reader's next set of imaging experiments.
Live Imaging with Genetically Encoded Physiologic Sensors and Optogenetic Tools.
Barrier tissues such as the epidermis employ complex signal transduction systems to execute morphogenetic programs and to rapidly respond to environmental cues to promote homeostasis. Recent advances in live-imaging techniques and tools allow precise spatial and temporal monitoring and manipulation of intracellular signaling cascades. Leveraging the chemistry of naturally occurring light-sensitive proteins, genetically encoded fluorescent biosensors have emerged as robust tools for visualizing dynamic signaling events. In contrast, optogenetic protein constructs permit laser-mediated control of signal receptors and effectors within live cells, organoids, and even model organisms. In this paper, we review the basic principles underlying novel biosensors and optogenetic tools and highlight how recent studies in cutaneous biology have leveraged these imaging strategies to illuminate the spatiotemporal signals regulating epidermal development, barrier formation, and tissue homeostasis.
Recent Synthetic Biology Approaches for Temperature- and Light-Controlled Gene Expression in Bacterial Hosts.
The expression of genes of interest (GOI) can be initiated by providing external stimuli such as temperature shifts and light irradiation. The application of thermal or light stimuli triggers structural changes in stimuli-sensitive biomolecules within the cell, thereby inducing or repressing gene expression. Over the past two decades, several groups have reported genetic circuits that use natural or engineered stimuli-sensitive modules to manipulate gene expression. Here, we summarize versatile strategies of thermosensors and light-driven systems for the conditional expression of GOI in bacterial hosts.
Recent advances in cellular optogenetics for photomedicine.
Since the successful introduction of exogenous photosensitive proteins, channelrhodopsin, to neurons, optogenetics has enabled substantial understanding of profound brain function by selectively manipulating neural circuits. In an optogenetic system, optical stimulation can be precisely delivered to brain tissue to achieve regulation of cellular electrical activity with unprecedented spatio-temporal resolution in living organisms. In recent years, the development of various optical actuators and novel light-delivery techniques has greatly expanded the scope of optogenetics, enabling the control of other signal pathways in non-neuronal cells for different biomedical applications, such as phototherapy and immunotherapy. This review focuses on the recent advances in optogenetic regulation of cellular activities for photomedicine. We discuss emerging optogenetic tools and light-delivery platforms, along with a survey of optogenetic execution in mammalian and microbial cells.
Engineering of optogenetic devices for biomedical applications in mammalian synthetic biology.
Gene- and cell-based therapies are the next frontiers in the field of medicine. Both are transformative and innovative therapies; however, a lack of safety data limits the translation of such promising technologies to the clinic. Improving the safety and promoting the clinical translation of these therapies can be achieved by tightly regulating the release and delivery of therapeutic outputs. In recent years, the rapid development of optogenetic technology has provided opportunities to develop precision-controlled gene- and cell-based therapies, in which light is introduced to precisely and spatiotemporally manipulate the behaviour of genes and cells. This review focuses on the development of optogenetic tools and their applications in biomedicine, including photoactivated genome engineering and phototherapy for diabetes and tumours. The prospects and challenges of optogenetic tools for future clinical applications are also discussed.
Plant optogenetics: Applications and perspectives.
To understand cell biological processes, like signalling pathways, protein movements, or metabolic processes, precise tools for manipulation are desired. Optogenetics allows to control cellular processes by light and can be applied at a high temporal and spatial resolution. In the last three decades, various optogenetic applications have been developed for animal, fungal, and prokaryotic cells. However, using optogenetics in plants has been difficult due to biological and technical issues, like missing cofactors, the presence of endogenous photoreceptors, or the necessity of light for photosynthesis, which potentially activates optogenetic tools constitutively. Recently developed tools overcome these limitations, making the application of optogenetics feasible also in plants. Here, we highlight the most useful recent applications in plants and give a perspective for future optogenetic approaches in plants science.
Optogenetics for transcriptional programming and genetic engineering.
Optogenetics combines genetics and biophotonics to enable noninvasive control of biological processes with high spatiotemporal precision. When engineered into protein machineries that govern the cellular information flow as depicted in the central dogma, multiple genetically encoded non-opsin photosensory modules have been harnessed to modulate gene transcription, DNA or RNA modifications, DNA recombination, and genome engineering by utilizing photons emitting in the wide range of 200-1000 nm. We present herein generally applicable modular strategies for optogenetic engineering and highlight latest advances in the broad applications of opsin-free optogenetics to program transcriptional outputs and precisely manipulate the mammalian genome, epigenome, and epitranscriptome. We also discuss current challenges and future trends in opsin-free optogenetics, which has been rapidly evolving to meet the growing needs in synthetic biology and genetics research.
Extracellular Optogenetics at the Interface of Synthetic Biology and Materials Science.
We review fundamental mechanisms and applications of OptoGels: hydrogels with light-programmable properties endowed by photoswitchable proteins ("optoproteins") found in nature. Light, as the primary source of energy on earth, has driven evolution to develop highly-tuned functionalities, such as phototropism and circadian entrainment. These functions are mediated through a growing family of optoproteins that respond to the entire visible spectrum ranging from ultraviolet to infrared by changing their structure to transmit signals inside of cells. In a recent series of articles, engineers and biochemists have incorporated optoproteins into a variety of extracellular systems, endowing them with photocontrollability. While other routes exist for dynamically controlling material properties, light-sensitive proteins have several distinct advantages, including precise spatiotemporal control, reversibility, substrate selectivity, as well as biodegradability and biocompatibility. Available conjugation chemistries endow OptoGels with a combinatorially large design space determined by the set of optoproteins and polymer networks. These combinations result in a variety of tunable material properties. Despite their potential, relatively little of the OptoGel design space has been explored. Here, we aim to summarize innovations in this emerging field and highlight potential future applications of these next generation materials. OptoGels show great promise in applications ranging from mechanobiology, to 3D cell and organoid engineering, and programmable cell eluting materials.
Engineering Light-Control in Biology.
Unraveling the transformative power of optogenetics in biology requires sophisticated engineering for the creation and optimization of light-regulatable proteins. In addition, diverse strategies have been used for the tuning of these light-sensitive regulators. This review highlights different protein engineering and synthetic biology approaches, which might aid in the development and optimization of novel optogenetic proteins (Opto-proteins). Focusing on non-neuronal optogenetics, chromophore availability, general strategies for creating light-controllable functions, modification of the photosensitive domains and their fusion to effector domains, as well as tuning concepts for Opto-proteins are discussed. Thus, this review shall not serve as an encyclopedic summary of light-sensitive regulators but aims at discussing important aspects for the engineering of light-controllable proteins through selected examples.
Optogenetics Illuminates Applications in Microbial Engineering.
Optogenetics has been used in a variety of microbial engineering applications, such as chemical and protein production, studies of cell physiology, and engineered microbe-host interactions. These diverse applications benefit from the precise spatiotemporal control that light affords, as well as its tunability, reversibility, and orthogonality. This combination of unique capabilities has enabled a surge of studies in recent years investigating complex biological systems with completely new approaches. We briefly describe the optogenetic tools that have been developed for microbial engineering, emphasizing the scientific advancements that they have enabled. In particular, we focus on the unique benefits and applications of implementing optogenetic control, from bacterial therapeutics to cybergenetics. Finally, we discuss future research directions, with special attention given to the development of orthogonal multichromatic controls. With an abundance of advantages offered by optogenetics, the future is bright in microbial engineering. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Volume 13 is October 2022. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
Optogenetic Application to Investigating Cell Behavior and Neurological Disease.
Cells reside in a dynamic microenvironment that presents them with regulatory signals that vary in time, space, and amplitude. The cell, in turn, interprets these signals and accordingly initiates downstream processes including cell proliferation, differentiation, migration, and self-organization. Conventional approaches to perturb and investigate signaling pathways (e.g., agonist/antagonist addition, overexpression, silencing, knockouts) are often binary perturbations that do not offer precise control over signaling levels, and/or provide limited spatial or temporal control. In contrast, optogenetics leverages light-sensitive proteins to control cellular signaling dynamics and target gene expression and, by virtue of precise hardware control over illumination, offers the capacity to interrogate how spatiotemporally varying signals modulate gene regulatory networks and cellular behaviors. Recent studies have employed various optogenetic systems in stem cell, embryonic, and somatic cell patterning studies, which have addressed fundamental questions of how cell-cell communication, subcellular protein localization, and signal integration affect cell fate. Other efforts have explored how alteration of signaling dynamics may contribute to neurological diseases and have in the process created physiologically relevant models that could inform new therapeutic strategies. In this review, we focus on emerging applications within the expanding field of optogenetics to study gene regulation, cell signaling, neurodevelopment, and neurological disorders, and we comment on current limitations and future directions for the growth of the field.
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.
Towards translational optogenetics.
Optogenetics is widely used to interrogate the neural circuits underlying disease and has most recently been harnessed for therapeutic applications. The optogenetic toolkit consists of light-responsive proteins that modulate specific cellular functions, vectors for the delivery of the transgenes that encode the light-responsive proteins to targeted cellular populations, and devices for the delivery of light of suitable wavelengths at effective fluence rates. A refined toolkit with a focus towards translational uses would include efficient and safer viral and non-viral gene-delivery vectors, increasingly red-shifted photoresponsive proteins, nanomaterials that efficiently transduce near-infrared light deep into tissue, and wireless implantable light-delivery devices that allow for spatiotemporally precise interventions at clinically relevant tissue depths. In this Review, we examine the current optogenetics toolkit and the most notable preclinical and translational uses of optogenetics, and discuss future methodological and translational developments and bottlenecks.
Toward Multiplexed Optogenetic Circuits.
Owing to its ubiquity and easy availability in nature, light has been widely employed to control complex cellular behaviors. Light-sensitive proteins are the foundation to such diverse and multilevel adaptive regulations in a large range of organisms. Due to their remarkable properties and potential applications in engineered systems, exploration and engineering of natural light-sensitive proteins have significantly contributed to expand optogenetic toolboxes with tailor-made performances in synthetic genetic circuits. Progressively, more complex systems have been designed in which multiple photoreceptors, each sensing its dedicated wavelength, are combined to simultaneously coordinate cellular responses in a single cell. In this review, we highlight recent works and challenges on multiplexed optogenetic circuits in natural and engineered systems for a dynamic regulation breakthrough in biotechnological applications.
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.
Clinical applicability of optogenetic gene regulation.
The field of optogenetics is rapidly growing in relevance and number of developed tools. Amongst other things, the optogenetic repertoire includes light-responsive ion channels and methods for gene regulation. This review will be confined to the optogenetic control of gene expression in mammalian cells as suitable models for clinical applications. Here optogenetic gene regulation might offer an excellent method for spatially and timely regulated gene and protein expression in cell therapeutic approaches. Well-known systems for gene regulation, such as the LOV-, CRY2/CIB-, PhyB/PIF-systems, as well as other, in mammalian cells not yet fully established systems will be described. Advantages and disadvantages with regard to clinical applications are outlined in detail. Among the many unanswered questions concerning the application of optogenetics, we discuss items such as the use of exogenous chromophores and their effects on the biology of the cells and methods for a gentle, but effective gene transfection method for optogenetic tools for in vivo applications. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Synthetic biology as driver for the biologization of materials sciences.
Materials in nature have fascinating properties that serve as a continuous source of inspiration for materials scientists. Accordingly, bio-mimetic and bio-inspired approaches have yielded remarkable structural and functional materials for a plethora of applications. Despite these advances, many properties of natural materials remain challenging or yet impossible to incorporate into synthetic materials. Natural materials are produced by living cells, which sense and process environmental cues and conditions by means of signaling and genetic programs, thereby controlling the biosynthesis, remodeling, functionalization, or degradation of the natural material. In this context, synthetic biology offers unique opportunities in materials sciences by providing direct access to the rational engineering of how a cell senses and processes environmental information and translates them into the properties and functions of materials. Here, we identify and review two main directions by which synthetic biology can be harnessed to provide new impulses for the biologization of the materials sciences: first, the engineering of cells to produce precursors for the subsequent synthesis of materials. This includes materials that are otherwise produced from petrochemical resources, but also materials where the bio-produced substances contribute unique properties and functions not existing in traditional materials. Second, engineered living materials that are formed or assembled by cells or in which cells contribute specific functions while remaining an integral part of the living composite material. We finally provide a perspective of future scientific directions of this promising area of research and discuss science policy that would be required to support research and development in this field.
Optogenetic tools controlled by ultraviolet-B light.
Decades of genetic, molecular and biochemical studies in plants have provided foundational knowledge about light sensory proteins and led to their application in synthetic biology. Optogenetic tools take advantage of the light switchable activity of plant photoreceptors to control intracellular signaling pathways. The recent discovery of the UV-B photoreceptor UV RESISTANCE LOCUS 8 in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana opens up new avenues for light-controllable methodologies. In this review, we discuss current developments in optogenetic control by UV-B light and its signaling components, as well as rational considerations in the design and applications of UV-B-based optogenetic tools.
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.
Strategies for site-specific recombination with high efficiency and precise spatiotemporal resolution.
Site-specific recombinases (SSRs) are invaluable genome engineering tools that have enormously boosted our understanding of gene functions and cell lineage relationships in developmental biology, stem cell biology, regenerative medicine, and multiple diseases. However, the ever-increasing complexity of biomedical research requires the development of novel site-specific genetic recombination technologies that can manipulate genomic DNA with high efficiency and fine spatiotemporal control. Here, we review the latest innovative strategies of the commonly used Cre-loxP recombination system and its combinatorial strategies with other SSR systems. We also highlight recent progress with a focus on the new generation of chemical- and light-inducible genetic systems and discuss the merits and limitations of each new and established system. Finally, we provide the future perspectives of combining various recombination systems or improving well-established site-specific genetic tools to achieve more efficient and precise spatiotemporal genetic manipulation.
Synthetic Biological Approaches for Optogenetics and Tools for Transcriptional Light‐Control in Bacteria.
Light has become established as a tool not only to visualize and investigate but also to steer biological systems. This review starts by discussing the unique features that make light such an effective control input in biology. It then gives an overview of how light‐control came to progress, starting with photoactivatable compounds and leading up to current genetic implementations using optogenetic approaches. The review then zooms in on optogenetics, focusing on photosensitive proteins, which form the basis for optogenetic engineering using synthetic biological approaches. As the regulation of transcription provides a highly versatile means for steering diverse biological functions, the focus of this review then shifts to transcriptional light regulators, which are presented in the biotechnologically highly relevant model organism Escherichia coli.