Opto4E-BP, an optogenetic tool for inducible, reversible, and cell type-specific inhibition of translation initiation.
Abstract: The protein kinase mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is one of the primary triggers for initiating cap-dependent translation. Amongst its functions, mTORC1 phosphorylates eIF4E-binding proteins (4E-BPs), which prevents them from binding to eIF4E and thereby enables translation initiation. mTORC1 signaling is required for multiple forms of protein synthesis- dependent synaptic plasticity and various forms of long-term memory (LTM), including associative threat memory. However, the approaches used thus far to target mTORC1 and its effectors, such as pharmacological inhibitors or genetic knockouts, lack fine spatial and temporal control. The development of a conditional and inducible eIF4E knockdown mouse line partially solved the issue of spatial control, but still lacked optimal temporal control to study memory consolidation. Here, we have designed a novel optogenetic tool (Opto4E-BP) for cell type-specific, light-dependent regulation of eIF4E in the brain. We show that light-activation of Opto4E-BP decreases protein synthesis in HEK cells and primary mouse neurons. In situ, light-activation of Opto4E-BP in excitatory neurons decreased protein synthesis in acute amygdala slices. Finally, light activation of Opto4E-BP in principal excitatory neurons in the lateral amygdala (LA) of mice after training blocked the consolidation of LTM. The development of this novel optogenetic tool to modulate eIF4E-dependent translation with spatiotemporal precision will permit future studies to unravel the complex relationship between protein synthesis and the consolidation of LTM.