Showing 1 - 25 of 29 results
Optogenetic Delineation of Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Subcircuits in PC12 Cell Differentiation.
Nerve growth factor elicits signaling outcomes by interacting with both its high-affinity receptor, TrkA, and its low-affinity receptor, p75NTR. Although these two receptors can regulate distinct cellular outcomes, they both activate the extracellular-signal-regulated kinase pathway upon nerve growth factor stimulation. To delineate TrkA subcircuits in PC12 cell differentiation, we developed an optogenetic system whereby light was used to specifically activate TrkA signaling in the absence of nerve growth factor. By using tyrosine mutants of the optogenetic TrkA in combination with pathway-specific pharmacological inhibition, we find that Y490 and Y785 each contributes to PC12 cell differentiation through the extracellular-signal-regulated kinase pathway in an additive manner. Optogenetic activation of TrkA eliminates the confounding effect of p75NTR and other potential off-target effects of the ligand. This approach can be generalized for the mechanistic study of other receptor-mediated signaling pathways.
Light‐Controlled Mammalian Cells and Their Therapeutic Applications in Synthetic Biology.
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.
Blue-Light Receptors for Optogenetics.
Sensory photoreceptors underpin light-dependent adaptations of organismal physiology, development, and behavior in nature. Adapted for optogenetics, sensory photoreceptors become genetically encoded actuators and reporters to enable the noninvasive, spatiotemporally accurate and reversible control by light of cellular processes. Rooted in a mechanistic understanding of natural photoreceptors, artificial photoreceptors with customized light-gated function have been engineered that greatly expand the scope of optogenetics beyond the original application of light-controlled ion flow. As we survey presently, UV/blue-light-sensitive photoreceptors have particularly allowed optogenetics to transcend its initial neuroscience applications by unlocking numerous additional cellular processes and parameters for optogenetic intervention, including gene expression, DNA recombination, subcellular localization, cytoskeleton dynamics, intracellular protein stability, signal transduction cascades, apoptosis, and enzyme activity. The engineering of novel photoreceptors benefits from powerful and reusable design strategies, most importantly light-dependent protein association and (un)folding reactions. Additionally, modified versions of these same sensory photoreceptors serve as fluorescent proteins and generators of singlet oxygen, thereby further enriching the optogenetic toolkit. The available and upcoming UV/blue-light-sensitive actuators and reporters enable the detailed and quantitative interrogation of cellular signal networks and processes in increasingly more precise and illuminating manners.
Controlling Cells with Light and LOV.
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.
Optogenetically controlled protein kinases for regulation of cellular signaling.
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.
Applications of optobiology in intact cells and multi-cellular organisms.
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 Approaches to Drug Discovery in Neuroscience and Beyond.
Recent advances in optogenetics have opened new routes to drug discovery, particularly in neuroscience. Physiological cellular assays probe functional phenotypes that connect genomic data to patient health. Optogenetic tools, in particular tools for all-optical electrophysiology, now provide a means to probe cellular disease models with unprecedented throughput and information content. These techniques promise to identify functional phenotypes associated with disease states and to identify compounds that improve cellular function regardless of whether the compound acts directly on a target or through a bypass mechanism. This review discusses opportunities and unresolved challenges in applying optogenetic techniques throughout the discovery pipeline - from target identification and validation, to target-based and phenotypic screens, to clinical trials.
Illuminating developmental biology through photochemistry.
Developmental biology has been continually shaped by technological advances, evolving from a descriptive science into one immersed in molecular and cellular mechanisms. Most recently, genome sequencing and 'omics' profiling have provided developmental biologists with a wealth of genetic and biochemical information; however, fully translating this knowledge into functional understanding will require new experimental capabilities. Photoactivatable probes have emerged as particularly valuable tools for investigating developmental mechanisms, as they can enable rapid, specific manipulations of DNA, RNA, proteins, and cells with spatiotemporal precision. In this Perspective, we describe optochemical and optogenetic systems that have been applied in multicellular organisms, insights gained through the use of these probes, and their current limitations. We also suggest how chemical biologists can expand the reach of photoactivatable technologies and bring new depth to our understanding of organismal development.
Engineering genetically-encoded tools for optogenetic control of protein activity.
Optogenetic tools offer fast and reversible control of protein activity with subcellular spatial precision. In the past few years, remarkable progress has been made in engineering photoactivatable systems regulating the activity of cellular proteins. In this review, we discuss general strategies in designing and optimizing such optogenetic tools and highlight recent advances in the field, with specific focus on applications regulating protein catalytic activity.
Optogenetic toolkit for precise control of calcium signaling.
Calcium acts as a second messenger to regulate a myriad of cell functions, ranging from short-term muscle contraction and cell motility to long-term changes in gene expression and metabolism. To study the impact of Ca2+-modulated 'ON' and 'OFF' reactions in mammalian cells, pharmacological tools and 'caged' compounds are commonly used under various experimental conditions. The use of these reagents for precise control of Ca2+ signals, nonetheless, is impeded by lack of reversibility and specificity. The recently developed optogenetic tools, particularly those built upon engineered Ca2+ release-activated Ca2+ (CRAC) channels, provide exciting opportunities to remotely and non-invasively modulate Ca2+ signaling due to their superior spatiotemporal resolution and rapid reversibility. In this review, we briefly summarize the latest advances in the development of optogenetic tools (collectively termed as 'genetically encoded Ca2+ actuators', or GECAs) that are tailored for the interrogation of Ca2+ signaling, as well as their applications in remote neuromodulation and optogenetic immunomodulation. Our goal is to provide a general guide to choosing appropriate GECAs for optical control of Ca2+ signaling in cellulo, and in parallel, to stimulate further thoughts on evolving non-opsin-based optogenetics into a fully fledged technology for the study of Ca2+-dependent activities in vivo.
Strategies for development of optogenetic systems and their applications.
It has become clear that biological processes are highly dynamic and heterogeneous within and among cells. Conventional analytical tools and chemical or genetic manipulations are unsuitable for dissecting the role of their spatiotemporally dynamic nature. Recently, optical control of biomolecular signaling, a technology called “optogenetics,” has gained much attention. The technique has enabled spatial and temporal regulation of specific signaling pathways both in vitro and in vivo. This review presents strategies for optogenetic systems development and application for biological research. Combinations with other technologies and future perspectives are also discussed herein. Although many optogenetic approaches are designed to modulate ion channel conductivity, we mainly examine systems that target other biomolecular reactions such as gene expression, protein translocations, and kinase or receptor signaling pathways.
Optogenetic Control of Protein Function: From Intracellular Processes to Tissue Morphogenesis.
Optogenetics is an emerging and powerful technique that allows the control of protein activity with light. The possibility of inhibiting or stimulating protein activity with the spatial and temporal precision of a pulse of laser light is opening new frontiers for the investigation of developmental pathways and cell biological bases underlying organismal development. With this powerful technique in hand, it will be possible to address old and novel questions about how cells, tissues, and organisms form. In this review, we focus on the applications of existing optogenetic tools for addressing issues in animal morphogenesis.
Optogenetic Immunomodulation: Shedding Light on Antitumor Immunity.
Microbial opsin-based optogenetic tools have been transformative for neuroscience. To extend optogenetic approaches to the immune system to remotely control immune responses with superior spatiotemporal precision, pioneering tools have recently been crafted to modulate lymphocyte trafficking, inflammasome activation, dendritic cell (DC) maturation, and antitumor immunity through the photoactivation of engineered chemokine receptors and calcium release-activated calcium channels. We highlight herein some conceptual design strategies for installing light sensitivities into the immune signaling network and, in parallel, we propose potential solutions for in vivo optogenetic applications in living organisms with near-infrared light-responsive upconversion nanomaterials. Moreover, to move beyond proof-of-concept into translational applications, we discuss future prospects for integrating personalized immunoengineering with optogenetics to overcome critical hurdles in cancer immunotherapy.
Modular engineering of cellular signaling proteins and networks.
Living cells respond to their environment using networks of signaling molecules that act as sensors, information processors, and actuators. These signaling systems are highly modular at both the molecular and network scales, and much evidence suggests that evolution has harnessed this modularity to rewire and generate new physiological behaviors. Conversely, we are now finding that, following nature's example, signaling modules can be recombined to form synthetic tools for monitoring, interrogating, and controlling the behavior of cells. Here we highlight recent progress in the modular design of synthetic receptors, optogenetic switches, and phospho-regulated proteins and circuits, and discuss the expanding role of combinatorial design in the engineering of cellular signaling proteins and networks.
Optogenetic Control of Nodal Signaling Reveals a Temporal Pattern of Nodal Signaling Regulating Cell Fate Specification during Gastrulation.
During metazoan development, the temporal pattern of morphogen signaling is critical for organizing cell fates in space and time. Yet, tools for temporally controlling morphogen signaling within the embryo are still scarce. Here, we developed a photoactivatable Nodal receptor to determine how the temporal pattern of Nodal signaling affects cell fate specification during zebrafish gastrulation. By using this receptor to manipulate the duration of Nodal signaling in vivo by light, we show that extended Nodal signaling within the organizer promotes prechordal plate specification and suppresses endoderm differentiation. Endoderm differentiation is suppressed by extended Nodal signaling inducing expression of the transcriptional repressor goosecoid (gsc) in prechordal plate progenitors, which in turn restrains Nodal signaling from upregulating the endoderm differentiation gene sox17 within these cells. Thus, optogenetic manipulation of Nodal signaling identifies a critical role of Nodal signaling duration for organizer cell fate specification during gastrulation.
A proposal for a dipole-generated BLUF domain mechanism.
The resting and signaling structures of the blue-light sensing using flavin (BLUF) photoreceptor domains are still controversially debated due to differences in the molecular models obtained by crystal and NMR structures. Photocycles for the given preferred structural framework have been established, but a unifying picture combining experiment and theory remains elusive. We summarize present work on the AppA BLUF domain from both experiment and theory. We focus on IR and UV/vis spectra, and to what extent theory was able to reproduce experimental data and predict the structural changes upon formation of the signaling state. We find that the experimental observables can be theoretically reproduced employing any structural model, as long as the orientation of the signaling essential Gln63 and its tautomer state are a choice of the modeler. We also observe that few approaches are comparative, e.g., by considering all structures in the same context. Based on recent experimental findings and a few basic calculations, we suggest the possibility for a BLUF activation mechanism that only relies on electron transfer and its effect on the local electrostatics, not requiring an associated proton transfer. In this regard, we investigate the impact of dispersion correction on the interaction energies arising from weakly bound amino acids.
Light-assisted small-molecule screening against protein kinases.
High-throughput live-cell screens are intricate elements of systems biology studies and drug discovery pipelines. Here, we demonstrate an optogenetics-assisted method that avoids the need for chemical activators and reporters, reduces the number of operational steps and increases information content in a cell-based small-molecule screen against human protein kinases, including an orphan receptor tyrosine kinase. This blueprint for all-optical screening can be adapted to many drug targets and cellular processes.
Sensory photoreceptors not only control diverse adaptive responses in Nature, but as light-regulated actuators they also provide the foundation for optogenetics, the non-invasive and spatiotemporally precise manipulation of cellular events by light. Novel photoreceptors have been engineered that establish control by light over manifold biological processes previously inaccessible to optogenetic intervention. Recently, photoreceptor engineering has witnessed a rapid development, and light-regulated actuators for the perturbation of a plethora of cellular events are now available. Here, we review fundamental principles of photoreceptors and light-regulated allostery. Photoreceptors dichotomize into associating receptors that alter their oligomeric state as part of light-regulated allostery and non-associating receptors that do not. A survey of engineered photoreceptors pinpoints light-regulated association reactions and order-disorder transitions as particularly powerful and versatile design principles. Photochromic photoreceptors that are bidirectionally toggled by two light colors augur enhanced spatiotemporal resolution and use as photoactivatable fluorophores. By identifying desirable traits in engineered photoreceptors, we provide pointers for the design of future, light-regulated actuators.
Molecular Mechanism of Photozipper, a Light-Regulated Dimerizing Module Consisting of the bZIP and LOV Domains of Aureochrome-1.
Aureochrome-1 (AUREO1) is a blue light (BL) receptor responsible for the BL-induced blanching of a stramenopile alga, Vaucheria frigida. The AUREO1 protein contains a central basic region/leucine zipper (bZIP) domain, and a C-terminal light-oxygen-voltage-sensing (LOV) domain. BL induces the dimerization of monomeric AUREO1, which subsequently increases the affinity of this transcription factor for its target DNA [Hisatomi, O., et al. (2014) J. Biol. Chem. 289, 17379-17391]. We constructed a synthetic gene encoding N-terminally truncated monomeric AUREO1 (designated Photozipper) to elucidate the molecular mechanism of this BL-regulated transcription factor and to develop it as an optogenetic tool. In this study, four different Photozipper (PZ) protein constructs were prepared comprising different N-terminal truncations. The monomer-dimer equilibria of the PZ constructs were investigated in the dark and light states. Dynamic light scattering and size-exclusion chromatography analyses revealed that the apparent dissociation constants of PZ dimers with and without the ZIP region were ~100 and 30 μM, respectively, indicating that the ZIP region stabilized the monomeric form in the dark state. In the light state, fluorescence resonance energy transfer analyses demonstrated that deletion of the ZIP region increased the dissociation constant from ~0.15 to 0.6 μM, suggesting that intermolecular LOV-LOV and ZIP-ZIP interactions stabilized the dimeric forms. Our results suggest that synergistic interactions between the LOV and bZIP domains stabilize the monomeric form in the dark state and the dimeric form in the light state, which possibly contributes to the function of PZ as a BL-regulated molecular switch.
Natural photoreceptors as a source of fluorescent proteins, biosensors, and optogenetic tools.
Genetically encoded optical tools have revolutionized modern biology by allowing detection and control of biological processes with exceptional spatiotemporal precision and sensitivity. Natural photoreceptors provide researchers with a vast source of molecular templates for engineering of fluorescent proteins, biosensors, and optogenetic tools. Here, we give a brief overview of natural photoreceptors and their mechanisms of action. We then discuss fluorescent proteins and biosensors developed from light-oxygen-voltage-sensing (LOV) domains and phytochromes, as well as their properties and applications. These fluorescent tools possess unique characteristics not achievable with green fluorescent protein-like probes, including near-infrared fluorescence, independence of oxygen, small size, and photosensitizer activity. We next provide an overview of available optogenetic tools of various origins, such as LOV and BLUF (blue-light-utilizing flavin adenine dinucleotide) domains, cryptochromes, and phytochromes, enabling control of versatile cellular processes. We analyze the principles of their function and practical requirements for use. We focus mainly on optical tools with demonstrated use beyond bacteria, with a specific emphasis on their applications in mammalian cells.
The optogenetic promise for oncology: Episode I.
As light-based control of fundamental signaling pathways is becoming a reality, the field of optogenetics is rapidly moving beyond neuroscience. We have recently developed receptor tyrosine kinases that are activated by light and control cell proliferation, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and angiogenic sprouting-cell behaviors central to cancer progression.
Aureochrome 1 illuminated: structural changes of a transcription factor probed by molecular spectroscopy.
Aureochrome 1 from Vaucheria frigida is a recently identified blue-light receptor that acts as a transcription factor. The protein comprises a photosensitive light-, oxygen- and voltage-sensitive (LOV) domain and a basic zipper (bZIP) domain that binds DNA rendering aureochrome 1 a prospective optogenetic tool. Here, we studied the photoreaction of full-length aureochrome 1 by molecular spectroscopy. The kinetics of the decay of the red-shifted triplet state and the blue-shifted signaling state were determined by time-resolved UV/Vis spectroscopy. It is shown that the presence of the bZIP domain further prolongs the lifetime of the LOV390 signaling state in comparison to the isolated LOV domain whereas bound DNA does not influence the photocycle kinetics. The light-dark Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) difference spectrum shows the characteristic features of the flavin mononucleotide chromophore except that the S-H stretching vibration of cysteine 254, which is involved in the formation of the thio-adduct state, is significantly shifted to lower frequencies compared to other LOV domains. The presence of the target DNA influences the light-induced FTIR difference spectrum of aureochrome 1. Vibrational bands that can be assigned to arginine and lysine side chains as well to the phosphate backbone, indicate crucial changes in interactions between transcription factor and DNA.
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.
Blue light-induced dimerization of monomeric aureochrome-1 enhances its affinity for the target sequence.
Aureochrome-1 (AUREO1) is a blue light (BL) receptor that mediates the branching response in stramenopile alga, Vaucheria frigida. AUREO1 contains a basic leucine zipper (bZIP) domain in the central region and a light-oxygen-voltage sensing (LOV) domain at the C terminus, and has been suggested to function as a light-regulated transcription factor. We have previously reported that preparations of recombinant AUREO1 contained the complete coding sequence (full-length, FL) and N-terminal truncated protein (ZL) containing bZIP and LOV domains, and suggested that wild-type ZL (ZLwt2) was in a dimer form with intermolecular disulfide linkages at Cys(162) and Cys(182) (Hisatomi, O., Takeuchi, K., Zikihara, K., Ookubo, Y., Nakatani, Y., Takahashi, F., Tokutomi, S., and Kataoka, H. (2013) Plant Cell Physiol. 54, 93-106). In the present study, we report the photoreactions, oligomeric structures, and DNA binding of monomeric cysteine to serine-mutated ZL (ZLC2S), DTT-treated ZL (DTT-ZL), and FL (DTT-FL). Recombinant AUREO1 showed similar spectral properties and dark regeneration kinetics to those of dimeric ZLwt2. Dynamic light scattering and size exclusion chromatography revealed that ZLC2S and DTT-ZL were monomeric in the dark state. Dissociation of intermolecular disulfide bonds of ZLwt2 was in equilibrium with a midpoint oxidation-redox potential of approximately -245 ± 15 mV. BL induced the dimerization of monomeric ZL, which subsequently increased its affinity for the target sequence. Also, DTT-FL was monomeric in the dark state and underwent BL-induced dimerization, which led to formation of the FL2·DNA complex. Taken together, our results suggest that monomeric AUREO1 is present in vivo, with dimerization playing a key role in its role as a BL-regulated transcription factor.
Optogenetic control of cell function using engineered photoreceptors.
Over the past decades, there has been growing recognition that light can provide a powerful stimulus for biological interrogation. Light-actuated tools allow manipulation of molecular events with ultra-fine spatial and fast temporal resolution, as light can be rapidly delivered and focused with sub-micrometre precision within cells. While light-actuated chemicals such as photolabile 'caged' compounds have been in existence for decades, the use of genetically encoded natural photoreceptors for optical control of biological processes has recently emerged as a powerful new approach with several advantages over traditional methods. Here, we review recent advances using light to control basic cellular functions and discuss the engineering challenges that lie ahead for improving and expanding the ever-growing optogenetic toolkit.