Showing 1 - 25 of 85 results
Morphogen Directed Coordination of GPCR Activity Promotes Primary Cilium Function for Downstream Signaling.
Primary cilium dysfunction triggers catastrophic failure of signal transduction pathways that organize through cilia, thus conferring significant pressure on such signals to ensure ciliary homeostasis. Intraflagellar transport (IFT) of cargo that maintains the primary cilium is powered by high ciliary cAMP. Paradoxically, Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) signaling, for which ciliary function is crucial, triggers a reduction in ciliary cAMP that could blunt downstream signaling by slowing IFT. We investigated this paradox and mapped a novel signal relay driven by SHH-stimulated prostaglandin E2 that stabilizes ciliary cAMP flux through by activating Gαs-coupled EP4 receptor. Chemical or genetic blockade of the SHH-EP4 relay cripples cAMP buffering, which leads to decreased intraciliary cAMP, short cilia, and attenuated SHH pathway induction. Accordingly, EP4-/- mice show pronounced ciliary defects and altered SHH-dependent neural tube patterning. Thus, SHH orchestrates a sophisticated ciliary GPCR-cAMP signaling network that ensures primary cilium fitness for a robust downstream signaling response.
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.
Optogenetics in bacteria - applications and opportunities.
Optogenetics holds the promise of controlling biological processes with superb temporal and spatial resolution at minimal perturbation. Although many of the light-reactive proteins used in optogenetic systems are derived from prokaryotes, applications were largely limited to eukaryotes for a long time. In recent years, however, an increasing number of microbiologists use optogenetics as a powerful new tool to study and control key aspects of bacterial biology in a fast and often reversible manner. After a brief discussion of optogenetic principles, this review provides an overview of the rapidly growing number of optogenetic applications in bacteria, with a particular focus on studies venturing beyond transcriptional control. To guide future experiments, we highlight helpful tools, provide considerations for successful application of optogenetics in bacterial systems, and identify particular opportunities and challenges that arise when applying these approaches in bacteria.
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.
Hypothalamic dopamine neurons motivate mating through persistent cAMP signalling.
Transient neuromodulation can have long-lasting effects on neural circuits and motivational states1-4. Here we examine the dopaminergic mechanisms that underlie mating drive and its persistence in male mice. Brief investigation of females primes a male's interest to mate for tens of minutes, whereas a single successful mating triggers satiety that gradually recovers over days5. We found that both processes are controlled by specialized anteroventral and preoptic periventricular (AVPV/PVpo) dopamine neurons in the hypothalamus. During the investigation of females, dopamine is transiently released in the medial preoptic area (MPOA)-an area that is critical for mating behaviours. Optogenetic stimulation of AVPV/PVpo dopamine axons in the MPOA recapitulates the priming effect of exposure to a female. Using optical and molecular methods for tracking and manipulating intracellular signalling, we show that this priming effect emerges from the accumulation of mating-related dopamine signals in the MPOA through the accrual of cyclic adenosine monophosphate levels and protein kinase A activity. Dopamine transients in the MPOA are abolished after a successful mating, which is likely to ensure abstinence. Consistent with this idea, the inhibition of AVPV/PVpo dopamine neurons selectively demotivates mating, whereas stimulating these neurons restores the motivation to mate after sexual satiety. We therefore conclude that the accumulation or suppression of signals from specialized dopamine neurons regulates mating behaviours across minutes and days.
The state of the art of biomedical applications of optogenetics.
Optogenetics has opened new insights into biomedical research with the ability to manipulate and control cellular activity using light in combination with genetically engineered photosensitive proteins. By stimulating with light, this method provides high spatiotemporal and high specificity resolution, which is in contrast to conventional pharmacological or electrical stimulation. Optogenetics was initially introduced to control neural activities but was gradually extended to other biomedical fields.
Optogenetic approaches for understanding homeostatic and degenerative processes in Drosophila.
Many organs and tissues have an intrinsic ability to regenerate from a dedicated, tissue-specific stem cell pool. As organisms age, the process of self-regulation or homeostasis begins to slow down with fewer stem cells available for tissue repair. Tissues become more fragile and organs less efficient. This slowdown of homeostatic processes leads to the development of cellular and neurodegenerative diseases. In this review, we highlight the recent use and future potential of optogenetic approaches to study homeostasis. Optogenetics uses photosensitive molecules and genetic engineering to modulate cellular activity in vivo, allowing precise experiments with spatiotemporal control. We look at applications of this technology for understanding the mechanisms governing homeostasis and degeneration as applied to widely used model organisms, such as Drosophila melanogaster, where other common tools are less effective or unavailable.
Endosomal cAMP production broadly impacts the cellular phosphoproteome.
Endosomal signaling downstream of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) has emerged as a novel paradigm with important pharmacological and physiological implications. However, our knowledge of the functional consequences of intracellular signaling is incomplete. To begin to address this gap, we combined an optogenetic approach for site-specific generation of the prototypical second messenger generated by active GPCRs, cyclic AMP (cAMP), with unbiased mass spectrometry-based analysis of the phosphoproteome. We identified 218 unique, high-confidence sites whose phosphorylation is either increased or decreased in response to cAMP elevation. We next determined that the same amount of cAMP produced from the endosomal membrane led to more robust changes in phosphorylation than the plasma membrane. Remarkably, this was true for the entire repertoire of 218 identified targets, and irrespective of their annotated sub-cellular localizations (endosome, cell surface, nucleus, cytosol). Furthermore, we identified a particularly strong endosome bias for a subset of proteins that are dephosphorylated in response to cAMP. Through bioinformatics analysis, we established these targets as putative substrates for protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), and we propose compartmentalized activation of PP2A by cAMP-responsive kinases as the likely underlying mechanism. Altogether, our study extends the concept that endosomal signaling is a significant functional contributor to cellular responsiveness to cAMP by establishing a unique role for localized cAMP production in defining categorically distinct phosphoresponses.
mem-iLID, a fast and economic protein purification method.
Protein purification is the vital basis to study the function, structure and interaction of proteins. Widely used methods are affinity chromatography-based purifications, which require different chromatography columns and harsh conditions, such as acidic pH and/or adding imidazole or high salt concentration, to elute and collect the purified proteins. Here we established an easy and fast purification method for soluble proteins under mild conditions, based on the light-induced protein dimerization system iLID, which regulates protein binding and release with light. We utilize the biological membrane, which can be easily separated by centrifugation, as the port to anchor the target proteins. In Xenopus laevis oocyte and Escherichia coli, the blue light-sensitive part of iLID, AsLOV2-SsrA, was targeted to the plasma membrane by different membrane anchors. The other part of iLID, SspB, was fused with the protein of interest (POI) and expressed in the cytosol. The SspB-POI can be captured to the membrane fraction through light-induced binding to AsLOV2-SsrA and then released purely to fresh buffer in the dark after simple centrifugation and washing. This method, named mem-iLID, is very flexible in scale and economic. We demonstrate the quickly obtained yield of two pure and fully functional enzymes: a DNA polymerase and a light-activated adenylyl cyclase. Furthermore, we also designed a new SspB mutant for better dissociation and less interference with the protein of interest, which could potentially facilitate other optogenetic manipulations of protein-protein interaction.
Endosomal cAMP production broadly impacts the cellular phosphoproteome.
Endosomal signaling downstream of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) has emerged as a novel paradigm with important pharmacological and physiological implications. Yet, our knowledge of the functional consequences of intracellular signaling is incomplete. To begin to address this gap, we combined an optogenetic approach for site-specific generation of the prototypical second messenger generated by active GPCRs, cyclic AMP (cAMP), with unbiased mass spectrometry-based analysis of phosphoproteomic effects. We identified 218 unique, high-confidence sites whose phosphorylation is either increased or decreased in response to cAMP production. We next determined that the same amount of cAMP produced from endosomes led to more robust changes in phosphorylation than the plasma membrane. Remarkably, this was true for the entire repertoire of identified targets, and irrespective of their annotated sub-cellular localization. Furthermore, we identified a particularly strong endosome bias for a subset of proteins that are dephosphorylated in response to cAMP. Through bioinformatics analysis, we established these targets as putative substrates for protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), and we propose compartmentalized activation of PP2A-B56δ as the likely underlying mechanism. Altogether, our study extends the concept that endosomal signaling is a significant functional contributor to cellular responsiveness by establishing a unique role for localized cAMP production in defining categorically distinct phosphoresponses.
Vertebrate cells differentially interpret ciliary and extraciliary cAMP.
Hedgehog pathway components and select G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) localize to the primary cilium, an organelle specialized for signal transduction. We investigated whether cells distinguish between ciliary and extraciliary GPCR signaling. To test whether ciliary and extraciliary cyclic AMP (cAMP) convey different information, we engineered optogenetic and chemogenetic tools to control the subcellular site of cAMP generation. Generating equal amounts of ciliary and cytoplasmic cAMP in zebrafish and mammalian cells revealed that ciliary cAMP, but not cytoplasmic cAMP, inhibited Hedgehog signaling. Modeling suggested that the distinct geometries of the cilium and cell body differentially activate local effectors. The search for effectors identified a ciliary pool of protein kinase A (PKA). Blocking the function of ciliary PKA, but not extraciliary PKA, activated Hedgehog signal transduction and reversed the effects of ciliary cAMP. Therefore, cells distinguish ciliary and extraciliary cAMP using functionally and spatially distinct pools of PKA, and different subcellular pools of cAMP convey different information.
Optogenetic tools for manipulation of cyclic nucleotides, functionally coupled to CNG-channels.
The cyclic nucleotides cAMP and cGMP are ubiquitous second messengers that regulate numerous biological processes. Malfunctional cNMP signalling is linked to multiple diseases and thus is an important target in pharmaceutical research. The existing optogenetic toolbox in C. elegans is restricted to soluble adenylyl cyclases, the membrane-bound Blastocladiella emersonii CyclOp and hyperpolarising rhodopsins, yet missing are membrane-bound photoactivatable adenylyl cyclases and hyperpolarisers based on K+ -currents.
Optogenetic modulation of real-time nanoscale dynamics of HCN channels using photoactivated adenylyl cyclases.
Adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP) is a key second messenger that activates several signal transduction pathways in eukaryotic cells. Alteration of basal levels of cAMP is known to activate protein kinases, regulate phosphodiesterases and modulate the activity of ion channels such as Hyper polarization-activated cyclic nucleotide gated channels (HCN). Recent advances in optogenetics have resulted in the availability of novel genetically encoded molecules with the capability to alter cytoplasmic profiles of cAMP with unprecedented spatial and temporal precision. Using single molecule based super-resolution microscopy and different optogenetic modulators of cellular cAMP in both live and fixed cells, we illustrate a novel paradigm to report alteration in nanoscale confinement of ectopically expressed HCN channels. We characterized the efficacy of cAMP generation using ensemble photoactivation of different optogenetic modulators. Then we demonstrate that local modulation of cAMP alters the exchange of membrane bound HCN channels with its nanoenvironment. Additionally, using high density single particle tracking in combination with both acute and chronic optogenetic elevation of cAMP in the cytoplasm, we show that HCN channels are confined to sub 100 nm sized functional domains on the plasma membrane. The nanoscale properties of these domains along with the exchange kinetics of HCN channels in and out of these molecular zones are altered upon temporal changes in the cytoplasmic cAMP. Using HCN2 point mutants and a truncated construct of HCN2 with altered sensitivity to cAMP, we confirmed these alterations in lateral organization of HCN2 to be specific to cAMP binding. Thus, combining these advanced non-invasive paradigms, we report a cAMP dependent ensemble and single particle behavior of HCN channels mediated by its cyclic nucleotide binding domain, opening innovative ways to dissect biochemical pathways at the nanoscale and real-time in living cells.
Light-Induced Change of Arginine Conformation Modulates the Rate of Adenosine Triphosphate to Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate Conversion in the Optogenetic System Containing Photoactivated Adenylyl Cyclase.
We report the first computational characterization of an optogenetic system composed of two photosensing BLUF (blue light sensor using flavin adenine dinucleotide) domains and two catalytic adenylyl cyclase (AC) domains. Conversion of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to the reaction products, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and pyrophosphate (PPi), catalyzed by ACs initiated by excitation in photosensing domains has emerged in the focus of modern optogenetic applications because of the request in photoregulated enzymes that modulate cellular concentrations of signaling messengers. The photoactivated AC from the soil bacterium Beggiatoa sp. (bPAC) is an important model showing a considerable increase in the ATP to cAMP conversion rate in the catalytic domain after the illumination of the BLUF domain. The 1 μs classical molecular dynamics simulations reveal that the activation of the BLUF domain leading to tautomerization of Gln49 in the chromophore-binding pocket results in switching of the position of the side chain of Arg278 in the active site of AC. Allosteric signal transmission pathways between Gln49 from BLUF and Arg278 from AC were revealed by the dynamical network analysis. The Gibbs energy profiles of the ATP → cAMP + PPi reaction computed using QM(DFT(ωB97X-D3/6-31G**))/MM(CHARMM) molecular dynamics simulations for both Arg278 conformations in AC clarify the reaction mechanism. In the light-activated system, the corresponding arginine conformation stabilizes the pentacoordinated phosphorus of the α-phosphate group in the transition state, thus lowering the activation energy. Simulations of the bPAC system with the Tyr7Phe replacement in the BLUF demonstrate occurrence of both arginine conformations in an equal ratio, explaining the experimentally observed intermediate catalytic activity of the bPAC-Y7F variant as compared with the dark and light states of the wild-type bPAC.
Optogenetic Modification of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Enables Controllable Twitching Motility and Host Infection.
Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) is an important secondary messenger that controls carbon metabolism, type IVa pili biogenesis, and virulence in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Precise manipulation of bacterial intracellular cAMP levels may enable tunable control of twitching motility or virulence, and optogenetic tools are attractive because they afford excellent spatiotemporal resolution and are easy to operate. Here, we developed an engineered P. aeruginosa strain (termed pactm) with light-dependent intracellular cAMP levels through introducing a photoactivated adenylate cyclase gene (bPAC) into bacteria. On blue light illumination, pactm displayed a 15-fold increase in the expression of the cAMP responsive promoter and an 8-fold increase in its twitching activity. The skin lesion area of nude mouse in a subcutaneous infection model after 2-day pactm inoculation was increased 14-fold by blue light, making pactm suitable for applications in controllable bacterial host infection. In addition, we achieved directional twitching motility of pactm colonies through localized light illumination, which will facilitate the studies of contact-dependent interactions between microbial species.
Steering Molecular Activity with Optogenetics: Recent Advances and Perspectives.
Optogenetics utilizes photosensitive proteins to manipulate the localization and interaction of molecules in living cells. Because light can be rapidly switched and conveniently confined to the sub‐micrometer scale, optogenetics allows for controlling cellular events with an unprecedented resolution in time and space. The past decade has witnessed an enormous progress in the field of optogenetics within the biological sciences. The ever‐increasing amount of optogenetic tools, however, can overwhelm the selection of appropriate optogenetic strategies. Considering that each optogenetic tool may have a distinct mode of action, a comparative analysis of the current optogenetic toolbox can promote the further use of optogenetics, especially by researchers new to this field. This review provides such a compilation that highlights the spatiotemporal accuracy of current optogenetic systems. Recent advances of optogenetics in live cells and animal models are summarized, the emerging work that interlinks optogenetics with other research fields is presented, and exciting clinical and industrial efforts to employ optogenetic strategy toward disease intervention are reported.
Photoactivated Adenylyl Cyclases: Fundamental Properties and Applications.
Photoactivated adenylyl cyclase (PAC) was first discovered to be a sensor for photoavoidance in the flagellate Euglena gracilis. PAC is a flavoprotein that catalyzes the production of cAMP upon illumination with blue light, which enables us to optogenetically manipulate intracellular cAMP levels in various biological systems. Recent progress in genome sequencing has revealed several related proteins in bacteria and ameboflagellates. Among them, the PACs from sulfur bacterium Beggiatoa sp. and cyanobacterium Oscillatoria acuminata have been well characterized, including their crystalline structure. Although there have not been many reported optogenetic applications of PACs so far, they have the potential to be used in various fields within bioscience.
Biphasic Response of Protein Kinase A to Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate Triggers Distinct Epithelial Phenotypes.
Despite the large diversity of the proteins involved in cellular signaling, many intracellular signaling pathways converge onto one of only dozens of small molecule second messengers. Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), one of these second messengers, is known to regulate activity of both Protein Kinase A (PKA) and the Extracellular Regulated Kinase (ERK), among other signaling pathways. In its role as an important cellular signaling hub, intracellular cAMP concentration has long been assumed to monotonically regulate its known effectors. Using an optogenetic tool that can introduce precise amounts of cAMP in MDCKI cells, we identify genes whose expression changes biphasically with monotonically increasing cAMP levels. By examining the behavior of PKA and ERK1/2 in the same dose regime, we find that these kinases also respond biphasically to increasing cAMP levels, with opposite phases. We reveal that this behavior results from an elaborate integration by PKA of many cellular signals triggered by cAMP. In addition to the direct activation of PKA, cAMP also modulates the activity of p38 and ERK, which then converge to inhibit PKA. These interactions and their ensuing biphasic PKA profile have important physiological repercussions, influencing the ability of MDCKI cells to proliferate and form acini. Our data, supported by computational modeling, synthesize a set of network interconnections involving PKA and other important signaling pathways into a model that demonstrates how cells can capitalize on signal integration to create a diverse set of responses to cAMP concentration and produce complex input-output relationships.
The rise and shine of yeast optogenetics.
Optogenetics refers to the control of biological processes with light. The activation of cellular phenomena by defined wavelengths has several advantages compared to traditional chemically-inducible systems, such as spatiotemporal resolution, dose-response regulation, low cost and moderate toxic effects. Optogenetics has been successfully implemented in yeast, a remarkable biological platform that is not only a model organism for cellular and molecular biology studies, but also a microorganism with diverse biotechnological applications. In this review, we summarize the main optogenetic systems implemented in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which allow orthogonal control (by light) of gene expression, protein subcellular localization, reconstitution of protein activity, or protein sequestration by oligomerization. Furthermore, we review the application of optogenetic systems in the control of metabolic pathways, heterologous protein production and flocculation. We then revise an example of a previously described yeast optogenetic switch, named FUN-LOV, which allows precise and strong activation of the target gene. Finally, we describe optogenetic systems that have not yet been implemented in yeast, which could therefore be used to expand the panel of available tools in this biological chassis. In conclusion, a wide repertoire of optogenetic systems can be used to address fundamental biological questions and broaden the biotechnological toolkit in yeast.
SynaptoPAC, an optogenetic tool for induction of presynaptic plasticity.
Optogenetic manipulations have transformed neuroscience in recent years. While sophisticated tools now exist for controlling the firing patterns of neurons, it remains challenging to optogenetically define the plasticity state of individual synapses. A variety of synapses in the mammalian brain express presynaptic long-term potentiation (LTP) upon elevation of presynaptic cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), but the molecular expression mechanisms as well as the impact of presynaptic LTP on network activity and behavior are not fully understood. In order to establish optogenetic control of presynaptic cAMP levels and thereby presynaptic potentiation, we developed synaptoPAC, a presynaptically targeted version of the photoactivated adenylyl cyclase bPAC. In cultures of hippocampal granule cells of Wistar rats, activation of synaptoPAC with blue light increased action potential-evoked transmission, an effect not seen in hippocampal cultures of non-granule cells. In acute brain slices of C57BL/6N mice, synaptoPAC activation immediately triggered a strong presynaptic potentiation at mossy fiber synapses in CA3, but not at Schaffer collateral synapses in CA1. Following light-triggered potentiation, mossy fiber transmission decreased within 20 min, but remained enhanced still after 30 min. The optogenetic potentiation altered the short-term plasticity dynamics of release, reminiscent of presynaptic LTP. Our work establishes synaptoPAC as an optogenetic tool that enables acute light-controlled potentiation of transmitter release at specific synapses in the brain, facilitating studies of the role of presynaptic potentiation in network function and animal behavior in an unprecedented manner. Read the Editorial Highlight for this article on page 270.
Dual Activation of cAMP Production Through Photostimulation or Chemical Stimulation.
cAMP is a crucial mediator of multiple cell signaling pathways. This cyclic nucleotide requires strict spatiotemporal control for effective function. Light-activated proteins have become a powerful tool to study signaling kinetics due to having quick on/off rates and minimal off-target effects. The photoactivated adenylyl cyclase from Beggiatoa (bPAC) produces cAMP rapidly upon stimulation with blue light. However, light delivery is not always feasible, especially in vivo. Hence, we created a luminescence-activated cyclase by fusing bPAC with nanoluciferase (nLuc) to allow chemical activation of cAMP activity. This dual-activated adenylyl cyclase can be stimulated using short bursts of light or long-term chemical activation with furimazine and other related luciferins. Together these can be used to mimic transient, chronic, and oscillating patterns of cAMP signaling. Moreover, when coupled to compartment-specific targeting domains, these reagents provide a new powerful tool for cAMP spatiotemporal dynamic studies. Here, we describe detailed methods for working with bPAC-nLuc in mammalian cells, stimulating cAMP production with light and luciferins, and measuring total cAMP accumulation.
Optogenetic Techniques for Manipulating and Sensing G Protein-Coupled Receptor Signaling.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) form the largest class of membrane receptors in the mammalian genome with nearly 800 human genes encoding for unique subtypes. Accordingly, GPCR signaling is implicated in nearly all physiological processes. However, GPCRs have been difficult to study due in part to the complexity of their function which can lead to a plethora of converging or diverging downstream effects over different time and length scales. Classic techniques such as pharmacological control, genetic knockout and biochemical assays often lack the precision required to probe the functions of specific GPCR subtypes. Here we describe the rapidly growing set of optogenetic tools, ranging from methods for optical control of the receptor itself to optical sensing and manipulation of downstream effectors. These tools permit the quantitative measurements of GPCRs and their downstream signaling with high specificity and spatiotemporal precision.
Nanobody-directed targeting of optogenetic tools to study signaling in the primary cilium.
Compartmentalization of cellular signaling forms the molecular basis of cellular behavior. The primary cilium constitutes a subcellular compartment that orchestrates signal transduction independent from the cell body. Ciliary dysfunction causes severe diseases, termed ciliopathies. Analyzing ciliary signaling has been challenging due to the lack of tools investigate ciliary signaling. Here, we describe a nanobody-based targeting approach for optogenetic tools in mammalian cells and in vivo in zebrafish to specifically analyze ciliary signaling and function. Thereby, we overcome the loss of protein function observed after fusion to ciliary targeting sequences. We functionally localized modifiers of cAMP signaling, the photo-activated adenylate cyclase bPAC and the light-activated phosphodiesterase LAPD, and the cAMP biosensor mlCNBD-FRET to the cilium. Using this approach, we studied the contribution of spatial cAMP signaling in controlling cilia length. Combining optogenetics with nanobody-based targeting will pave the way to the molecular understanding of ciliary function in health and disease.
Optogenetic Manipulation of Postsynaptic cAMP Using a Novel Transgenic Mouse Line Enables Synaptic Plasticity and Enhances Depolarization Following Tetanic Stimulation in the Hippocampal Dentate Gyrus.
cAMP is a positive regulator tightly involved in certain types of synaptic plasticity and related memory functions. However, its spatiotemporal roles at the synaptic and neural circuit levels remain elusive. Using a combination of a cAMP optogenetics approach and voltage-sensitive dye (VSD) imaging with electrophysiological recording, we define a novel capacity of postsynaptic cAMP in enabling dentate gyrus long-term potentiation (LTP) and depolarization in acutely prepared murine hippocampal slices. To manipulate cAMP levels at medial perforant path to granule neuron (MPP-DG) synapses by light, we generated transgenic (Tg) mice expressing photoactivatable adenylyl cyclase (PAC) in DG granule neurons. Using these Tg(CMV-Camk2a-RFP/bPAC)3Koka mice, we recorded field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs) from MPP-DG synapses and found that photoactivation of PAC during tetanic stimulation enabled synaptic potentiation that persisted for at least 30 min. This form of LTP was induced without the need for GABA receptor blockade that is typically required for inducing DG plasticity. The paired-pulse ratio (PPR) remained unchanged, indicating the cAMP-dependent LTP was likely postsynaptic. By employing fast fluorescent voltage-sensitive dye (VSD: di-4-ANEPPS) and fluorescence imaging, we found that photoactivation of the PAC actuator enhanced the intensity and extent of dentate gyrus depolarization triggered following tetanic stimulation. These results demonstrate that the elevation of cAMP in granule neurons is capable of rapidly enhancing synaptic strength and neuronal depolarization. The powerful actions of cAMP are consistent with this second messenger having a critical role in the regulation of synaptic function.
Booster, a Red-Shifted Genetically Encoded Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) Biosensor Compatible with Cyan Fluorescent Protein/Yellow Fluorescent Protein-Based FRET Biosensors and Blue Light-Responsive Optogenetic Tools.
Genetically encoded Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based biosensors have been developed for the visualization of signaling molecule activities. Currently, most of them are comprised of cyan and yellow fluorescent proteins (CFP and YFP), precluding the use of multiple FRET biosensors within a single cell. Moreover, the FRET biosensors based on CFP and YFP are incompatible with the optogenetic tools that operate at blue light. To overcome these problems, here, we have developed FRET biosensors with red-shifted excitation and emission wavelengths. We chose mKOκ and mKate2 as the favorable donor and acceptor pair by calculating the Förster distance. By optimizing the order of fluorescent proteins and modulatory domains of the FRET biosensors, we developed a FRET biosensor backbone named "Booster". The performance of the protein kinase A (PKA) biosensor based on the Booster backbone (Booster-PKA) was comparable to that of AKAR3EV, a previously developed FRET biosensor comprising CFP and YFP. For the proof of concept, we first showed simultaneous monitoring of activities of two protein kinases with Booster-PKA and ERK FRET biosensors based on CFP and YFP. Second, we showed monitoring of PKA activation by Beggiatoa photoactivated adenylyl cyclase, an optogenetic generator of cyclic AMP. Finally, we presented PKA activity in living tissues of transgenic mice expressing Booster-PKA. Collectively, the results demonstrate the effectiveness and versatility of Booster biosensors as an imaging tool in vitro and in vivo.