Showing 1 - 22 of 22 results
A Single-Component Optogenetic System Allows Stringent Switch of Gene Expression in Yeast Cells.
Light is a highly attractive actuator that allows spatiotemporal control of diverse cellular activities. In this study, we developed a single-component light-switchable gene expression system for yeast cells, termed yLightOn system. The yLightOn system is independent of exogenous cofactors, and exhibits more than a 500-fold ON/OFF ratio, extremely low leakage, fast expression kinetics, and high spatial resolution. We demonstrated the usefulness of the yLightOn system in regulating cell growth and cell cycle by stringently controlling the expression of His3 and ΔN Sic1 genes, respectively. Furthermore, we engineered a bidirectional expression module that allows the simultaneous control of the expression of two genes by light. With ClpX and ClpP as the reporters, the fast, quantitative, and spatially specific degradation of ssrA-tagged protein was observed. We suggest that this single-component optogenetic system will be immensely helpful in understanding cellular gene regulatory networks and in the design of robust genetic circuits for synthetic biology.
Fungal Light-Oxygen-Voltage Domains for Optogenetic Control of Gene Expression and Flocculation in Yeast.
Optogenetic switches permit accurate control of gene expression upon light stimulation. These synthetic switches have become a powerful tool for gene regulation, allowing modulation of customized phenotypes, overcoming the obstacles of chemical inducers, and replacing their use by an inexpensive resource: light. In this work, we implemented FUN-LOV, an optogenetic switch based on the photon-regulated interaction of WC-1 and VVD, two LOV (light-oxygen-voltage) blue-light photoreceptors from the fungus Neurospora crassa When tested in yeast, FUN-LOV yields light-controlled gene expression with exquisite temporal resolution and a broad dynamic range of over 1,300-fold, as measured by a luciferase reporter. We also tested the FUN-LOV switch for heterologous protein expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, where Western blot analysis confirmed strong induction upon light stimulation, surpassing by 2.5 times the levels achieved with a classic GAL4/galactose chemical-inducible system. Additionally, we utilized FUN-LOV to control the ability of yeast cells to flocculate. Light-controlled expression of the flocculin-encoding gene FLO1, by the FUN-LOV switch, yielded flocculation in light (FIL), whereas the light-controlled expression of the corepressor TUP1 provided flocculation in darkness (FID). Altogether, the results reveal the potential of the FUN-LOV optogenetic switch to control two biotechnologically relevant phenotypes such as heterologous protein expression and flocculation, paving the road for the engineering of new yeast strains for industrial applications. Importantly, FUN-LOV's ability to accurately manipulate gene expression, with a high temporal dynamic range, can be exploited in the analysis of diverse biological processes in various organisms.IMPORTANCE Optogenetic switches are molecular devices which allow the control of different cellular processes by light, such as gene expression, providing a versatile alternative to chemical inducers. Here, we report a novel optogenetic switch (FUN-LOV) based on the LOV domain interaction of two blue-light photoreceptors (WC-1 and VVD) from the fungus N. crassa In yeast cells, FUN-LOV allowed tight regulation of gene expression, with low background in darkness and a highly dynamic and potent control by light. We used FUN-LOV to optogenetically manipulate, in yeast, two biotechnologically relevant phenotypes, heterologous protein expression and flocculation, resulting in strains with potential industrial applications. Importantly, FUN-LOV can be implemented in diverse biological platforms to orthogonally control a multitude of cellular processes.
Near-infrared light-controlled systems for gene transcription regulation, protein targeting and spectral multiplexing.
Near-infrared (NIR, 740-780 nm) optogenetic systems are well-suited to spectral multiplexing with blue-light-controlled tools. Here, we present two protocols, one for regulation of gene transcription and another for control of protein localization, that use a NIR-responsive bacterial phytochrome BphP1-QPAS1 optogenetic pair. In the first protocol, cells are transfected with the optogenetic constructs for independently controlling gene transcription by NIR (BphP1-QPAS1) and blue (LightOn) light. The NIR and blue-light-controlled gene transcription systems show minimal spectral crosstalk and induce a 35- to 40-fold increase in reporter gene expression. In the second protocol, the BphP1-QPAS1 pair is combined with a light-oxygen-voltage-sensing (LOV) domain-based construct into a single optogenetic tool, termed iRIS. This dual-light-controllable protein localization tool allows tridirectional protein translocation among the cytoplasm, nucleus and plasma membrane. Both procedures can be performed within 3-5 d. Use of NIR light-controlled optogenetic systems should advance basic and biomedical research.
An Optogenetic Method to Control and Analyze Gene Expression Patterns in Cell-to-cell Interactions.
Cells should respond properly to temporally changing environments, which are influenced by various factors from surrounding cells. The Notch signaling pathway is one of such essential molecular machinery for cell-to-cell communications, which plays key roles in normal development of embryos. This pathway involves a cell-to-cell transfer of oscillatory information with ultradian rhythms, but despite the progress in molecular biology techniques, it has been challenging to elucidate the impact of multicellular interactions on oscillatory gene dynamics. Here, we present a protocol that permits optogenetic control and live monitoring of gene expression patterns in a precise temporal manner. This method successfully revealed that intracellular and intercellular periodic inputs of Notch signaling entrain intrinsic oscillations by frequency tuning and phase shifting at the single-cell resolution. This approach is applicable to the analysis of the dynamic features of various signaling pathways, providing a unique platform to test a functional significance of dynamic gene expression programs in multicellular systems.
Optogenetic perturbation and bioluminescence imaging to analyze cell-to-cell transfer of oscillatory information.
Cells communicate with each other to coordinate their gene activities at the population level through signaling pathways. It has been shown that many gene activities are oscillatory and that the frequency and phase of oscillatory gene expression encode various types of information. However, whether or how such oscillatory information is transmitted from cell to cell remains unknown. Here, we developed an integrated approach that combines optogenetic perturbations and single-cell bioluminescence imaging to visualize and reconstitute synchronized oscillatory gene expression in signal-sending and signal-receiving processes. We found that intracellular and intercellular periodic inputs of Notch signaling entrain intrinsic oscillations by frequency tuning and phase shifting at the single-cell level. In this way, the oscillation dynamics are transmitted through Notch signaling, thereby synchronizing the population of oscillators. Thus, this approach enabled us to control and monitor dynamic cell-to-cell transfer of oscillatory information to coordinate gene expression patterns at the population level.
Near-infrared optogenetic pair for protein regulation and spectral multiplexing.
Multifunctional optogenetic systems are in high demand for use in basic and biomedical research. Near-infrared-light-inducible binding of bacterial phytochrome BphP1 to its natural PpsR2 partner is beneficial for simultaneous use with blue-light-activatable tools. However, applications of the BphP1-PpsR2 pair are limited by the large size, multidomain structure and oligomeric behavior of PpsR2. Here, we engineered a single-domain BphP1 binding partner, Q-PAS1, which is three-fold smaller and lacks oligomerization. We exploited a helix-PAS fold of Q-PAS1 to develop several near-infrared-light-controllable transcription regulation systems, enabling either 40-fold activation or inhibition. The light-induced BphP1-Q-PAS1 interaction allowed modification of the chromatin epigenetic state. Multiplexing the BphP1-Q-PAS1 pair with a blue-light-activatable LOV-domain-based system demonstrated their negligible spectral crosstalk. By integrating the Q-PAS1 and LOV domains in a single optogenetic tool, we achieved tridirectional protein targeting, independently controlled by near-infrared and blue light, thus demonstrating the superiority of Q-PAS1 for spectral multiplexing and engineering of multicomponent systems.
Engineered Photoactivatable Genetic Switches Based on the Bacterium Phage T7 RNA Polymerase.
Genetic switches in which the activity of T7 RNA polymerase (RNAP) is directly regulated by external signals are obtained with an engineering strategy of splitting the protein into fragments and using regulatory domains to modulate their reconstitutions. Robust switchable systems with excellent dark-off/light-on properties are obtained with the light-activatable VVD domain and its variants as regulatory domains. For the best split position found, working switches exploit either the light-induced interactions between the VVD domains or allosteric effects. The split fragments show high modularity when they are combined with different regulatory domains such as those with chemically inducible interaction, enabling chemically controlled switches. To summarize, the T7 RNA polymerase-based switches are powerful tools to implement light-activated gene expression in different contexts. Moreover, results about the studied split positions and domain organizations may facilitate future engineering studies on this and on related proteins.
A light-switchable bidirectional expression system in filamentous fungus Trichoderma reesei.
The filamentous fungi Trichoderma reesei is widely used in the production of cellulolytic enzymes and recombinant proteins. However, only moderate success has been achieved in expressing heterologous proteins in T. reesei. Light-dependent control of DNA transcription, and protein expression have been demonstrated in bacteria, fungi, and mammalian cells. In this study, light inducible transactivators, a "light-on" bidirectional promoter and a "light-off" promoter were constructed successfully in T. reesei for the first time. Our light inducible transactivators can homodimerize and bind to the upstream region of artificial promoters to activate or repress genes transcription. Additionally, we upgraded the light-inducible system to on-off system that can simultaneously control the expression of multiple heterologous proteins in T. reesei. Moreover, a native cellulase-free background for the expression of heterologous proteins was achieved by knocking out the genes involved in transcriptional regulation and encoding of cellulases: xyr1, cbh1, and cbh2. Our light-switchable system showed a very little background protein expression and robust activation in the blue light with significantly improved heterologous protein expression. We demonstrate that our light-switchable system has a potential application as an on/off "switch" that can simultaneously regulate the expression of multiple genes in T. reesei under native cellulase-free background.
Light-induced Notch activity controls neurogenic and gliogenic potential of neural progenitors.
Oscillations in Notch signaling are essential for reserving neural progenitors for cellular diversity in developing brains. Thus, steady and prolonged overactivation of Notch signaling is not suitable for generating neurons. To acquire greater temporal control of Notch activity and mimic endogenous oscillating signals, here we adopted a light-inducible transgene system to induce active form of Notch NICD in neural progenitors. Alternating Notch activity saved more progenitors that are prone to produce neurons creating larger number of mixed clones with neurons and progenitors in vitro, compared to groups with no light or continuous light stimulus. Furthermore, more upper layer neurons and astrocytes arose upon intermittent Notch activity, indicating that dynamic Notch activity maintains neural progeny and fine-tune neuron-glia diversity.
An extraordinary stringent and sensitive light-switchable gene expression system for bacterial cells.
Light-switchable gene expression systems provide transient, non-invasive and reversible means to control biological processes with high tunability and spatiotemporal resolution. In bacterial cells, a few light-regulated gene expression systems based on photoreceptors and two-component regulatory systems (TCSs) have been reported, which respond to blue, green or red light.
A bacterial phytochrome-based optogenetic system controllable with near-infrared light.
Light-mediated control of protein-protein interactions to regulate cellular pathways is an important application of optogenetics. Here, we report an optogenetic system based on the reversible light-induced binding between the bacterial phytochrome BphP1 and its natural partner PpsR2 from Rhodopseudomonas palustris bacteria. We extensively characterized the BphP1-PpsR2 interaction both in vitro and in mammalian cells and then used this interaction to translocate target proteins to specific cellular compartments, such as the plasma membrane and the nucleus. We showed light-inducible control of cell morphology that resulted in a substantial increase of the cell area. We demonstrated light-dependent gene expression with 40-fold contrast in cultured cells, 32-fold in subcutaneous mouse tissue, and 5.7-fold in deep tissues in mice. Characteristics of the BphP1-PpsR2 optogenetic system include its sensitivity to 740- to 780-nm near-infrared light, its ability to utilize an endogenous biliverdin chromophore in eukaryotes (including mammals), and its spectral compatibility with blue-light-driven optogenetic systems.
Rewiring Multidomain Protein Switches: Transforming a Fluorescent Zn(2+) Sensor into a Light-Responsive Zn(2+) Binding Protein.
Protein-based sensors and switches provide attractive tools for the real-time monitoring and control of molecular processes in complex biological environments. Fluorescent sensor proteins have been developed for a wide variety of small molecules, but the construction of genetically encoded light-responsive ligand binding proteins remains mostly unexplored. Here we present a generic approach to reengineer a previously developed FRET-based Zn(2+) sensor into a light-activatable Zn(2+) binding protein using a design strategy based on mutually exclusive domain interactions. These so-called VividZn proteins consist of two light-responsive Vivid domains that homodimerize upon illumination with blue light, thus preventing the binding of Zn(2+) between two Zn(2+) binding domains, Atox1 and WD4. Following optimization of the linker between WD4 and the N-terminus of one of the Vivid domains, VividZn variants were obtained that show a 9- to 55-fold decrease in Zn(2+) affinity upon illumination, which is fully reversible following dark adaptation. The Zn(2+) affinities of the switch could be rationally tuned between 1 pM and 2 nM by systematic variation of linker length and mutation of one of the Zn(2+) binding residues. Similarly, introduction of mutations in the Vivid domains allowed tuning of the switching kinetics between 10 min and 7 h. Low expression levels in mammalian cells precluded the demonstration of light-induced perturbation of cytosolic Zn(2+) levels. Nonetheless, our results firmly establish the use of intramolecular Vivid dimerization as an attractive light-sensitive input module to rationally engineer light-responsive protein switches based on mutually exclusive domain interactions.
Synthetic dual-input mammalian genetic circuits enable tunable and stringent transcription control by chemical and light.
Programmable transcription factors can enable precise control of gene expression triggered by a chemical inducer or light. To obtain versatile transgene system with combined benefits of a chemical inducer and light inducer, we created various chimeric promoters through the assembly of different copies of the tet operator and Gal4 operator module, which simultaneously responded to a tetracycline-responsive transcription factor and a light-switchable transactivator. The activities of these chimeric promoters can be regulated by tetracycline and blue light synergistically or antagonistically. Further studies of the antagonistic genetic circuit exhibited high spatiotemporal resolution and extremely low leaky expression, which therefore could be used to spatially and stringently control the expression of highly toxic protein Diphtheria toxin A for light regulated gene therapy. When transferring plasmids engineered for the gene switch-driven expression of a firefly luciferase (Fluc) into mice, the Fluc expression levels of the treated animals directly correlated with the tetracycline and light input program. We suggest that dual-input genetic circuits using TET and light that serve as triggers to achieve expression profiles may enable the design of robust therapeutic gene circuits for gene- and cell-based therapies.
A light-switchable bidirectional expression module allowing simultaneous regulation of multiple genes.
Several light-regulated genetic circuits have been applied to spatiotemporally control transgene expression in mammalian cells. However, simultaneous regulation of multiple genes using one genetic device by light has not yet been reported. In this study, we engineered a bidirectional expression module based on LightOn system. Our data showed that both reporter genes could be regulated at defined and quantitative levels. Simultaneous regulation of four genes was further achieved in cultured cells and mice. Additionally, we successfully utilized the bidirectional expression module to monitor the expression of a suicide gene, showing potential for photodynamic gene therapy. Collectively, we provide a robust and useful tool to simultaneously control multiple genes expression by light, which will be widely used in biomedical research and biotechnology.
Engineered pairs of distinct photoswitches for optogenetic control of cellular proteins.
Optogenetic methods take advantage of photoswitches to control the activity of cellular proteins. Here, we completed a multi-directional engineering of the fungal photoreceptor Vivid to develop pairs of distinct photoswitches named Magnets. These new photoswitches were engineered to recognize each other based on the electrostatic interactions, thus preventing homodimerization and enhancing light-induced heterodimerization. Furthermore, we tuned the switch-off kinetics by four orders of magnitude and developed several variants, including those with substantially faster kinetics than any of the other conventional dimerization-based blue spectrum photoswitches. We demonstrate the utility of Magnets as powerful tools that can optogenetically manipulate molecular processes in biological systems.
Orthogonal optogenetic triple-gene control in Mammalian cells.
Optogenetic gene switches allow gene expression control at an unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution. Recently, light-responsive transgene expression systems that are activated by UV-B, blue, or red light have been developed. These systems perform well on their own, but their integration into genetic networks has been hampered by the overlapping absorbance spectra of the photoreceptors. We identified a lack of orthogonality between UV-B and blue light-controlled gene expression as the bottleneck and employed a model-based approach that identified the need for a blue light-responsive gene switch that is insensitive to low-intensity light. Based on this prediction, we developed a blue light-responsive and rapidly reversible expression system. Finally, we employed this expression system to demonstrate orthogonality between UV-B, blue, and red/far-red light-responsive gene switches in a single mammalian cell culture. We expect this approach to enable the spatiotemporal control of gene networks and to expand the applications of optogenetics in synthetic biology.
Spatio-temporally precise activation of engineered receptor tyrosine kinases by light.
Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are a large family of cell surface receptors that sense growth factors and hormones and regulate a variety of cell behaviours in health and disease. Contactless activation of RTKs with spatial and temporal precision is currently not feasible. Here, we generated RTKs that are insensitive to endogenous ligands but can be selectively activated by low-intensity blue light. We screened light-oxygen-voltage (LOV)-sensing domains for their ability to activate RTKs by light-activated dimerization. Incorporation of LOV domains found in aureochrome photoreceptors of stramenopiles resulted in robust activation of the fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGFR1), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and rearranged during transfection (RET). In human cancer and endothelial cells, light induced cellular signalling with spatial and temporal precision. Furthermore, light faithfully mimicked complex mitogenic and morphogenic cell behaviour induced by growth factors. RTKs under optical control (Opto-RTKs) provide a powerful optogenetic approach to actuate cellular signals and manipulate cell behaviour.
Light-mediated control of gene expression in filamentous fungus Trichoderma reesei.
We developed a light-mediated system based on synthetic light-switchable transactivators. The transactivators bind promoter upon blue-light exposure and rapidly initiate transcription of target transgenes in filamentous fungus Trichoderma reesei. Light is inexpensive to apply, easily delivered, and instantly removed, and thus has significant advantages over chemical inducers.
Genetically engineered photoinducible homodimerization system with improved dimer-forming efficiency.
Vivid (VVD) is a photoreceptor derived from Neurospora Crassa that rapidly forms a homodimer in response to blue light. Although VVD has several advantages over other photoreceptors as photoinducible homodimerization system, VVD has a critical limitation in its low dimer-forming efficiency. To overcome this limitation of wild-type VVD, here we conduct site-directed saturation mutagenesis in the homodimer interface of VVD. We have found that the Ile52Cys mutation of VVD (VVD-52C) substantially improves its homodimer-forming efficiency up to 180%. We have demonstrated the utility of VVD-52C for making a light-inducible gene expression system more robust. In addition, using VVD-52C, we have developed photoactivatable caspase-9, which enables optical control of apoptosis of mammalian cells. The present genetically engineered photoinducible homodimerization system can provide a powerful tool to optically control a broad range of molecular processes in the cell.
Fine tuning the LightOn light-switchable transgene expression system.
Spatiotemporal control of transgene expression in living cells provides new opportunities for the characterization of gene function in complex biological processes. We previously reported a synthetic, light-switchable transgene expression system called LightOn that can be used to control gene expression using blue light. In the present study, we modified the different promoter segments of the light switchable transcription factor GAVPO and the target gene, and assayed their effects on protein expression under dark or light conditions. The results showed that the LightOn system maintained its high on/off ratio under most modifications, but its induction efficiency and background gene expression level can be fine-tuned by modifying the core promoter, the UASG sequence number, the length of the spacer between UASG and the core promoter of the target protein, and the expression level of the GAVPO transcription factor. Thus, the LightOn gene expression system can be adapted to a large range of applications according to the requirements of the background and the induced gene expression.
Multi-chromatic control of mammalian gene expression and signaling.
The emergence and future of mammalian synthetic biology depends on technologies for orchestrating and custom tailoring complementary gene expression and signaling processes in a predictable manner. Here, we demonstrate for the first time multi-chromatic expression control in mammalian cells by differentially inducing up to three genes in a single cell culture in response to light of different wavelengths. To this end, we developed an ultraviolet B (UVB)-inducible expression system by designing a UVB-responsive split transcription factor based on the Arabidopsis thaliana UVB receptor UVR8 and the WD40 domain of COP1. The system allowed high (up to 800-fold) UVB-induced gene expression in human, monkey, hamster and mouse cells. Based on a quantitative model, we determined critical system parameters. By combining this UVB-responsive system with blue and red light-inducible gene control technology, we demonstrate multi-chromatic multi-gene control by differentially expressing three genes in a single cell culture in mammalian cells, and we apply this system for the multi-chromatic control of angiogenic signaling processes. This portfolio of optogenetic tools enables the design and implementation of synthetic biological networks showing unmatched spatiotemporal precision for future research and biomedical applications.
Spatiotemporal control of gene expression by a light-switchable transgene system.
We developed a light-switchable transgene system based on a synthetic, genetically encoded light-switchable transactivator. The transactivator binds promoters upon blue-light exposure and rapidly initiates transcription of target transgenes in mammalian cells and in mice. This transgene system provides a robust and convenient way to spatiotemporally control gene expression and can be used to manipulate many biological processes in living systems with minimal perturbation.