Showing 1 - 25 of 215 results
Light-activated microtubule-based two-dimensional active nematic.
We assess the ability of two light responsive kinesin motor clusters to drive dynamics of microtubule-based active nematics: opto-K401, a processive motor, and opto-K365, a non-processive motor. Measurements reveal an order of magnitude improvement in the contrast of nematic flow speeds between maximally- and minimally-illuminated states for opto-K365 motors when compared to opto-K401 construct. For opto-K365 nematics, we characterize both the steady-state flow and defect density as a function of applied light. We also examine the transient behavior as the system switches between steady-states upon changes in light intensities. Although nematic flows reach a steady state within tens of seconds, the defect density exhibits transient behavior for up to 10 minutes, showing a separation between small-scale active flows and system-scale structural states. Our work establishes an experimental platform that can exploit spatiotemporally-heterogeneous patterns of activity to generate targeted dynamical states.
Selective induction of programmed cell death using synthetic biology tools.
Regulated cell death (RCD) controls the removal of dispensable, infected or malignant cells, and is thus essential for development, homeostasis and immunity of multicellular organisms. Over the last years different forms of RCD have been described (among them apoptosis, necroptosis, pyroptosis and ferroptosis), and the cellular signaling pathways that control their induction and execution have been characterized at the molecular level. It has also become apparent that different forms of RCD differ in their capacity to elicit inflammation or an immune response, and that RCD pathways show a remarkable plasticity. Biochemical and genetic studies revealed that inhibition of a given pathway often results in the activation of back-up cell death mechanisms, highlighting close interconnectivity based on shared signaling components and the assembly of multivalent signaling platforms that can initiate different forms of RCD. Due to this interconnectivity and the pleiotropic effects of 'classical' cell death inducers, it is challenging to study RCD pathways in isolation. This has led to the development of tools based on synthetic biology that allow the targeted induction of RCD using chemogenetic or optogenetic methods. Here we discuss recent advances in the development of such toolset, highlighting their advantages and limitations, and their application for the study of RCD in cells and animals.
C-terminal sequence stability profiling in Saccharomyces cerevisiae reveals protective protein quality control pathways.
Protein quality control (PQC) mechanisms are essential for degradation of misfolded or dysfunctional proteins. An essential part of protein homeostasis is recognition of defective proteins by PQC components and their elimination by the ubiquitin-proteasome system, often concentrating on protein termini as indicators of protein integrity. Changes in amino acid composition of C-terminal ends arise through protein disintegration, alternative splicing or during the translation step of protein synthesis from premature termination or translational stop-codon read-through. We characterized reporter protein stability using light-controlled exposure of random C-terminal peptides (CtPC) in budding yeast revealing stabilizing and destabilizing features of amino acids at positions -5 to -1 of the C-terminus. The (de)stabilization properties of CtPC-degrons depend on amino acid identity, position as well as composition of the C-terminal sequence and are transferable. Evolutionary pressure towards stable proteins in yeast is evidenced by amino acid residues under-represented in cytosolic and nuclear proteins at corresponding C-terminal positions, but over-represented in unstable CtPC-degrons, and vice versa. Furthermore, analysis of translational stop-codon read-through peptides suggested that such extended proteins have destabilizing C-termini. PQC pathways targeting CtPC-degrons involved the ubiquitin-protein ligase Doa10 and the cullin-RING E3 ligase (CRL) SCFDas1. Overall, our data suggest a proteome protection mechanism that targets proteins with unnatural C-termini by recognizing a surprisingly large number of C-terminal sequence variants.
Spatiotemporal optical control of Gαq-PLCβ interactions.
Cells experience time-varying and spatially heterogeneous chemokine signals in vivo, activating cell surface proteins, including G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). The Gαq pathway activation by GPCRs is a major signaling axis with a broad physiological and pathological significance. Compared to other Gα members, GαqGTP activates many crucial effectors, including PLCβ (Phospholipase Cβ) and Rho GEFs (Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factors). PLCβ regulates many key processes, such as hematopoiesis, synaptogenesis, and cell cycle, and is therefore implicated in terminal - debilitating diseases, including cancer, epilepsy, Huntington’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease. However, due to a lack of genetic and pharmacological tools, examining how the dynamic regulation of PLCβ signaling controls cellular physiology has been difficult. Since activated PLCβ induces several abrupt cellular changes, including cell morphology, examining how the other pathways downstream of Gq-GPCRs contribute to the overall signaling has also been difficult. Here we show the engineering, validation, and application of a highly selective and efficient optogenetic inhibitor (Opto-dHTH) to completely disrupt GαqGTP-PLCβ interactions reversibly in user-defined cellular-subcellular regions on optical command. Using this newly gained PLCβ signaling control, our data indicate that the molecular competition between RhoGEFs and PLCβ for GαqGTP determines the potency of Gq-GPCR-governed directional cell migration.
Optogenetic clustering and membrane translocation of the BcLOV4 photoreceptor.
Optogenetic tools respond to light through one of a small number of behaviors including allosteric changes, dimerization, clustering, or membrane translocation. Here, we describe a new class of optogenetic actuator that simultaneously clusters and translocates to the plasma membrane in response to blue light. We demonstrate that dual translocation and clustering of the BcLOV4 photoreceptor can be harnessed for novel single-component optogenetic tools, including for control of the entire family of epidermal growth factor receptor (ErbB1-4) tyrosine kinases. We further find that clustering and membrane translocation are mechanistically linked. Stronger clustering increased the magnitude of translocation and downstream signaling, increased sensitivity to light by ~threefold-to-fourfold, and decreased the expression levels needed for strong signal activation. Thus light-induced clustering of BcLOV4 provides a strategy to generate a new class of optogenetic tools and to enhance existing ones.
Opto-RhoGEFs, an optimized optogenetic toolbox to reversibly control Rho GTPase activity on a global to subcellular scale, enabling precise control over vascular endothelial barrier strength.
The inner layer of blood vessels consists of endothelial cells, which form the physical barrier between blood and tissue. This vascular barrier is tightly regulated and is defined by cell-cell contacts through adherens and tight junctions. To investigate the signaling that regulates vascular barrier strength, we focused on Rho GTPases, regulators of the actin cytoskeleton and known to control junction integrity. To manipulate Rho GTPase signaling in a temporal and spatial manner we applied optogenetics. Guanine-nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) domains from ITSN1, TIAM1, and p63RhoGEF, activating Cdc42, Rac, and Rho, respectively, were integrated into the optogenetic recruitment tool improved light-induced dimer (iLID). This tool allows for Rho GTPase activation at the subcellular level in a reversible and non-invasive manner by recruiting a GEF to a specific area at the plasma membrane, The membrane tag of iLID was optimized and a HaloTag was applied to gain more flexibility for multiplex imaging. The resulting optogenetically recruitable RhoGEFs (Opto-RhoGEFs) were tested in an endothelial cell monolayer and demonstrated precise temporal control of vascular barrier strength by a cell-cell overlap-dependent, VE-cadherin-independent, mechanism. Furthermore, Opto-RhoGEFs enabled precise optogenetic control in endothelial cells over morphological features such as cell size, cell roundness, local extension, and cell contraction. In conclusion, we have optimized and applied the optogenetic iLID GEF recruitment tool, that is Opto-RhoGEFs, to study the role of Rho GTPases in the vascular barrier of the endothelium and found that membrane protrusions at the junction region can rapidly increase barrier integrity independent of VE-cadherin.
Concept and considerations of a medical device: the active noise cancelling incubator.
An increasingly 24/7 connected and urbanised world has created a silent pandemic of noise-induced hearing loss. Ensuring survival to children born (extremely) preterm is crucial. The incubator is a closed medical device, modifying the internal climate, and thus providing an environment for the child, as safe, warm, and comfortable as possible. While sound outside the incubator is managed and has decreased over the years, managing the noise inside the incubator is still a challenge.
Shining a light on RhoA: Optical control of cell contractility.
In addition to biochemical and electrochemical signaling, cells also rely extensively on mechanical signaling to regulate their behavior. While a number of tools have been adapted from physics and engineering to manipulate cell mechanics, they typically require specialized equipment or lack spatiotemporal precision. Alternatively, a recent, more elegant approach is to use light itself to modulate the mechanical equilibrium inside the cell. This approach leverages the power of optogenetics, which can be controlled in a fully reversible manner in both time and space, to tune RhoA signaling, the master regulator of cellular contractility. We review here the fundamentals of this approach, including illustrating the tunability and flexibility that optogenetics offers, and demonstrate how this tool can be used to modulate both internal cytoskeletal flows and contractile force generation. Together these features highlight the advantages that optogenetics offers for investigating mechanical interactions in cells.
Cell protrusions and contractions generate long-range membrane tension propagation.
Membrane tension is thought to be a long-range integrator of cell physiology. Membrane tension has been proposed to enable cell polarity during migration through front-back coordination and long-range protrusion competition. These roles necessitate effective tension transmission across the cell. However, conflicting observations have left the field divided as to whether cell membranes support or resist tension propagation. This discrepancy likely originates from the use of exogenous forces that may not accurately mimic endogenous forces. We overcome this complication by leveraging optogenetics to directly control localized actin-based protrusions or actomyosin contractions while simultaneously monitoring the propagation of membrane tension using dual-trap optical tweezers. Surprisingly, actin-driven protrusions and actomyosin contractions both elicit rapid global membrane tension propagation, whereas forces applied to cell membranes alone do not. We present a simple unifying mechanical model in which mechanical forces that engage the actin cortex drive rapid, robust membrane tension propagation through long-range membrane flows.
Actuation of single downstream nodes in growth factor network steers immune cell migration.
Ras signaling is typically associated with cell growth, but not direct regulation of motility or polarity. By optogenetically targeting different nodes in the Ras/PI3K/Akt network in differentiated human HL-60 neutrophils, we abruptly altered protrusive activity, bypassing the chemoattractant receptor/G-protein network. First, global recruitment of active KRas4B/HRas isoforms or a RasGEF, RasGRP4, immediately increased spreading and random motility. Second, activating Ras at the cell rear generated new protrusions, reversed pre-existing polarity, and steered sustained migration in neutrophils or murine RAW 264.7 macrophages. Third, recruiting a RasGAP, RASAL3, to cell fronts extinguished protrusions and changed migration direction. Remarkably, persistent RASAL3 recruitment at stable fronts abrogated directed migration in three different chemoattractant gradients. Fourth, local recruitment of the Ras-mTORC2 effector, Akt, in neutrophils or Dictyostelium amoebae generated new protrusions and rearranged pre-existing polarity. Overall, these optogenetic effects were mTORC2-dependent but relatively independent of PI3K. Thus, receptor-independent, local activations of classical growth-control pathways directly control actin assembly, cell shape, and migration modes.
Optogenetic Methods in Plant Biology.
Optogenetics is a technique employing natural or genetically engineered photoreceptors in transgene organisms to manipulate biological activities with light. Light can be turned on or off, and adjusting its intensity and duration allows optogenetic fine-tuning of cellular processes in a noninvasive and spatiotemporally resolved manner. Since the introduction of Channelrhodopsin-2 and phytochrome-based switches nearly 20 years ago, optogenetic tools have been applied in a variety of model organisms with enormous success, but rarely in plants. For a long time, the dependence of plant growth on light and the absence of retinal, the rhodopsin chromophore, prevented the establishment of plant optogenetics until recent progress overcame these difficulties. We summarize the recent results of work in the field to control plant growth and cellular motion via green light-gated ion channels and present successful applications to light-control gene expression with single or combined photoswitches in plants. Furthermore, we highlight the technical requirements and options for future plant optogenetic research.
Engineered allostery in light-regulated LOV-Turbo enables precise spatiotemporal control of proximity labeling in living cells.
The incorporation of light-responsive domains into engineered proteins has enabled control of protein localization, interactions and function with light. We integrated optogenetic control into proximity labeling, a cornerstone technique for high-resolution proteomic mapping of organelles and interactomes in living cells. Through structure-guided screening and directed evolution, we installed the light-sensitive LOV domain into the proximity labeling enzyme TurboID to rapidly and reversibly control its labeling activity with low-power blue light. 'LOV-Turbo' works in multiple contexts and dramatically reduces background in biotin-rich environments such as neurons. We used LOV-Turbo for pulse-chase labeling to discover proteins that traffic between endoplasmic reticulum, nuclear and mitochondrial compartments under cellular stress. We also showed that instead of external light, LOV-Turbo can be activated by bioluminescence resonance energy transfer from luciferase, enabling interaction-dependent proximity labeling. Overall, LOV-Turbo increases the spatial and temporal precision of proximity labeling, expanding the scope of experimental questions that can be addressed with proximity labeling.
Self-Regulated and Bidirectional Communication in Synthetic Cell Communities.
Cell-to-cell communication is not limited to a sender releasing a signaling molecule and a receiver perceiving it but is often self-regulated and bidirectional. Yet, in communities of synthetic cells, such features that render communication efficient and adaptive are missing. Here, we report the design and implementation of adaptive two-way signaling with lipid-vesicle-based synthetic cells. The first layer of self-regulation derives from coupling the temporal dynamics of the signal, H2O2, production in the sender to adhesions between sender and receiver cells. This way the receiver stays within the signaling range for the duration sender produces the signal and detaches once the signal fades. Specifically, H2O2 acts as both a forward signal and a regulator of the adhesions by activating photoswitchable proteins at the surface for the duration of the chemiluminescence. The second layer of self-regulation arises when the adhesions render the receiver permeable and trigger the release of a backward signal, resulting in bidirectional exchange. These design rules provide a concept for engineering multicellular systems with adaptive communication.
The clinical potential of optogenetic interrogation of pathogenesis.
Opsin-based optogenetics has emerged as a powerful biomedical tool using light to control protein conformation. Such capacity has been initially demonstrated to control ion flow across the cell membrane, enabling precise control of action potential in excitable cells such as neurons or muscle cells. Further advancement in optogenetics incorporates a greater variety of photoactivatable proteins and results in flexible control of biological processes, such as gene expression and signal transduction, with commonly employed light sources such as LEDs or lasers in optical microscopy. Blessed by the precise genetic targeting specificity and superior spatiotemporal resolution, optogenetics offers new biological insights into physiological and pathological mechanisms underlying health and diseases. Recently, its clinical potential has started to be capitalized, particularly for blindness treatment, due to the convenient light delivery into the eye.
Focal adhesions are controlled by microtubules through local contractility regulation.
Microtubules regulate cell polarity and migration by local activation of focal adhesion turnover, but the mechanism of this process is insufficiently understood. Molecular complexes containing KANK family proteins connect microtubules with the major component of focal adhesions, talin. Local optogenetic activation of KANK1-mediated links which promoted microtubule targeting to individual focal adhesion resulting in its centripetal sliding and rapid disassembly. The sliding is preceded by a local increase of traction force due to accumulation of myosin-II and actin in the proximity of the focal adhesion. Knockdown of Rho activator GEF-H1 prevented development of traction force and abolished sliding and disassembly of focal adhesion upon KANK activation. Other players participating in microtubule-driven KANK-dependent focal adhesion disassembly include kinases ROCK and PAK, as well as microtubules/focal adhesions associated proteins Kinesin-1, APC and αTAT. Finally, we propose a physical model of a microtubule-driven focal adhesion disruption involving local GEF-H1/RhoA/ROCK dependent activation of contractility which is consistent with experimental data.
Engineering synthetic biomolecular condensates.
The concept of phase-separation-mediated formation of biomolecular condensates provides a new framework to understand cellular organization and cooperativity-dependent cellular functions. With growing understanding of how biological systems drive phase separation and how cellular functions are encoded by biomolecular condensates, opportunities have emerged for cellular control through engineering of synthetic biomolecular condensates. In this Review, we discuss how to construct synthetic biomolecular condensates and how they can regulate cellular functions. We first describe the fundamental principles by which biomolecular components can drive phase separation. Next, we discuss the relationship between the properties of condensates and their cellular functions, which informs the design of components to create programmable synthetic condensates. Finally, we describe recent applications of synthetic biomolecular condensates for cellular control and discuss some of the design considerations and prospective applications.
Bioelectricity in Developmental Patterning and Size Control: Evidence and Genetically Encoded Tools in the Zebrafish Model.
Developmental patterning is essential for regulating cellular events such as axial patterning, segmentation, tissue formation, and organ size determination during embryogenesis. Understanding the patterning mechanisms remains a central challenge and fundamental interest in developmental biology. Ion-channel-regulated bioelectric signals have emerged as a player of the patterning mechanism, which may interact with morphogens. Evidence from multiple model organisms reveals the roles of bioelectricity in embryonic development, regeneration, and cancers. The Zebrafish model is the second most used vertebrate model, next to the mouse model. The zebrafish model has great potential for elucidating the functions of bioelectricity due to many advantages such as external development, transparent early embryogenesis, and tractable genetics. Here, we review genetic evidence from zebrafish mutants with fin-size and pigment changes related to ion channels and bioelectricity. In addition, we review the cell membrane voltage reporting and chemogenetic tools that have already been used or have great potential to be implemented in zebrafish models. Finally, new perspectives and opportunities for bioelectricity research with zebrafish are discussed.
Genetically encoded imaging tools for investigating cell dynamics at a glance.
The biology of a cell is the sum of many highly dynamic processes, each orchestrated by a plethora of proteins and other molecules. Microscopy is an invaluable approach to spatially and temporally dissect the molecular details of these processes. Hundreds of genetically encoded imaging tools have been developed that allow cell scientists to determine the function of a protein of interest in the context of these dynamic processes. Broadly, these tools fall into three strategies: observation, inhibition and activation. Using examples for each strategy, in this Cell Science at a Glance and the accompanying poster, we provide a guide to using these tools to dissect protein function in a given cellular process. Our focus here is on tools that allow rapid modification of proteins of interest and how observing the resulting changes in cell states is key to unlocking dynamic cell processes. The aim is to inspire the reader's next set of imaging experiments.
A disordered tether to iLID improves photoswitchable protein patterning on model membranes.
Reversible protein patterning on model membranes is important to reproduce spatiotemporal protein dynamics in vitro. An engineered version of iLID, disiLID, with a disordered domain as a membrane tether improves the recruitment of Nano under blue light and the reversibility in the dark, which enables protein patterning on membranes with higher spatiotemporal precision.
Dynamics of an incoherent feedforward loop drive ERK-dependent pattern formation in the early Drosophila embryo.
Positional information in developing tissues often takes the form of stripes of gene expression that mark the boundaries of a particular cell type or morphogenetic process. How stripes form is still in many cases poorly understood. Here we use optogenetics and live-cell biosensors to investigate one such pattern: the posterior stripe of brachyenteron (byn) expression in the early Drosophila embryo. This byn stripe depends on interpretation of an upstream signal – a gradient of ERK kinase activity – and the expression of two target genes tailless (tll) and huckebein (hkb) that exert antagonistic control over byn. We find that high or low doses of ERK signaling produce either transient or sustained byn expression, respectively. These ERK stimuli also regulate tll and hkb expression with distinct dynamics: tll transcription is rapidly induced under both low and high stimuli, whereas hkb transcription converts graded ERK inputs into an output switch with a variable time delay. Antagonistic regulatory paths acting on different timescales are hallmarks of an incoherent feedforward loop architecture, which is sufficient to explain transient or sustained byn dynamics and adds temporal complexity to the steady-state model of byn stripe formation. We further show that an all-or-none stimulus can be ‘blurred’ through intracellular diffusion to non-locally produce a stripe of byn gene expression. Overall, our study provides a blueprint for using optogenetic inputs to dissect developmental signal interpretation in space and time.
Mechanosensitive mTORC2 independently coordinates leading and trailing edge polarity programs during neutrophil migration.
By acting both upstream of and downstream from biochemical organizers of the cytoskeleton, physical forces function as central integrators of cell shape and movement. Here we use a combination of genetic, pharmacological, and optogenetic perturbations to probe the role of the conserved mechanosensitive mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2) programs in neutrophil polarity and motility. We find that the tension-based inhibition of leading-edge signals (Rac, F-actin) that underlies protrusion competition is gated by the kinase-independent role of the complex, whereas the regulation of RhoA and myosin II-based contractility at the trailing edge depend on mTORC2 kinase activity. mTORC2 is essential for spatial and temporal coordination of the front and back polarity programs for persistent migration under confinement. This mechanosensory pathway integrates multiple upstream signals, and we find that membrane stretch synergizes with biochemical co-input phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate to robustly amplify mTORC2 activation. Our results suggest that different signaling arms of mTORC2 regulate spatially and molecularly divergent cytoskeletal programs for efficient coordination of neutrophil shape and movement.
RhoA regulation in space and time.
RhoGTPases are well known for being controllers of cell cytoskeleton and share common features in the way they act and are controlled. These include their switch from GDP to GTP states, their regulations by different guanine exchange factors (GEFs), GTPase-activating proteins and guanosine dissociation inhibitors (GDIs), and their similar structure of active sites/membrane anchors. These very similar features often lead to the common consideration that the differences in their biological effects mainly arise from the different types of regulators and specific effectors associated with each GTPase. Focusing on data obtained through biosensors, live cell microscopy and recent optogenetic approaches, we highlight in this review that the regulation of RhoA appears to depart from Cdc42 and Rac1 modes of regulation through its enhanced lability at the plasma membrane. RhoA presents a high dynamic turnover at the membrane that is regulated not only by GDIs but also by GEFs, effectors and a possible soluble conformational state. This peculiarity of RhoA regulation may be important for the specificities of its functions, such as the existence of activity waves or its putative dual role in the initiation of protrusions and contractions.
Rac negative feedback links local PIP3 rate-of-change to dynamic control of neutrophil guidance.
To migrate efficiently, neutrophils must polarize their cytoskeletal regulators along a single axis of motion. This polarization process is thought to be mediated through local positive feedback that amplifies leading edge signals and global negative feedback that enables sites of positive feedback to compete for dominance. Though this two-component model efficiently establishes cell polarity, it has potential limitations, including a tendency to “lock” onto a particular direction, limiting the ability of cells to reorient. We use spatially-defined optogenetic control of a leading edge organizer (PI3K) to probe how cells balance “decisiveness” needed to polarize in a single direction with the flexibility needed to respond to new cues. Underlying this balancing act is a local Rac inhibitor that destabilizes the leading edge to promote exploration. We show that this local inhibitor enables cells to process input signal dynamics, linking front stability and orientation to local temporal increases in input signals.
Orthogonal Light-Dependent Membrane Adhesion Induces Social Self-Sorting and Member-Specific DNA Communication in Synthetic Cell Communities.
Developing orthogonal chemical communication pathways in diverse synthetic cell communities is a considerable challenge due to the increased crosstalk and interference associated with large numbers of different types of sender-receiver pairs. Herein, the authors control which sender-receiver pairs communicate in a three-membered community of synthetic cells through red and blue light illumination. Semipermeable protein-polymer-based synthetic cells (proteinosomes) with complementary membrane-attached protein adhesion communicate through single-stranded DNA oligomers and synergistically process biochemical information within a community consisting of one sender and two different receiver populations. Different pairs of red and blue light-responsive protein-protein interactions act as membrane adhesion mediators between the sender and receivers such that they self-assemble and socially self-sort into different multicellular structures under red and blue light. Consequently, distinct sender-receiver pairs come into the signaling range depending on the light illumination and are able to communicate specifically without activation of the other receiver population. Overall, this work shows how photoswitchable membrane adhesion gives rise to different self-sorting protocell patterns that mediate member-specific DNA-based communication in ternary populations of synthetic cells and provides a step towards the design of orthogonal chemical communication networks in diverse communities of synthetic cells.
Using optogenetics to investigate the shared mechanisms of apical-basal polarity and mitosis.
The initiation of apical-basal (AB) polarity and the process of mitotic cell division are both characterised by the generation of specialised plasma membrane and cortical domains. These are generated using shared mechanisms, such as asymmetric protein accumulation, Rho GTPase signalling, cytoskeletal reorganisation, vesicle trafficking and asymmetric phosphoinositide distribution. In epithelial tissue, the coordination of AB polarity and mitosis in space and time is important both during initial epithelial development and to maintain tissue integrity and ensure appropriate cell differentiation at later stages. Whilst significant progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms underlying cell division and AB polarity, it has so far been challenging to fully unpick the complex interrelationship between polarity, signalling, morphogenesis, and cell division. However, the recent emergence of optogenetic protein localisation techniques is now allowing researchers to reversibly control protein activation, localisation and signalling with high spatiotemporal resolution. This has the potential to revolutionise our understanding of how subcellular processes such as apical-basal polarity are integrated with cell behaviours such as mitosis and how these processes impact whole tissue morphogenesis. So far, these techniques have been used to investigate processes such as cleavage furrow ingression, mitotic spindle positioning, and in vivo epithelial morphogenesis. This review describes some of the key shared mechanisms of cell division and apical-basal polarity establishment, how they are coordinated during development and how the advance of optogenetic techniques is furthering this research field.