Showing 1 - 25 of 175 results
Dimerization of iLID Optogenetic Proteins Observed Using 3D Single-Molecule Tracking in Live Bacterial Cells.
3D single molecule tracking microscopy has enabled measurements of protein diffusion in living cells, offering information about protein dynamics and the cellular environment. For example, different diffusive states can be resolved and assigned to protein complexes of different size and composition. However, substantial statistical power and biological validation, often through genetic deletion of binding partners, are required to support diffusive state assignments. When investigating some cellular processes, transient perturbation to protein spatial distributions is preferable to permanent genetic deletion of an essential protein. Optogenetic dimerization systems can be used to manipulate protein spatial distributions which could offer a means to deplete specific diffusive states observed in single molecule tracking experiments. Here, we evaluate the performance of the iLID optogenetic system in living E. coli cells using diffraction-limited microscopy and 3D single molecule tracking. We observed a robust optogenetic response in protein spatial distribution after 488 nm laser activation. Surprisingly, 3D single molecule tracking results indicate activation of the optogenetic response at high intensity wavelengths for which there is evidence of minimal photon absorbance by the LOV2 domain. However, the preactivation response was minimized through the use of iLID system mutants, and titration of protein expression levels.
Plant optogenetics: Applications and perspectives.
To understand cell biological processes, like signalling pathways, protein movements, or metabolic processes, precise tools for manipulation are desired. Optogenetics allows to control cellular processes by light and can be applied at a high temporal and spatial resolution. In the last three decades, various optogenetic applications have been developed for animal, fungal, and prokaryotic cells. However, using optogenetics in plants has been difficult due to biological and technical issues, like missing cofactors, the presence of endogenous photoreceptors, or the necessity of light for photosynthesis, which potentially activates optogenetic tools constitutively. Recently developed tools overcome these limitations, making the application of optogenetics feasible also in plants. Here, we highlight the most useful recent applications in plants and give a perspective for future optogenetic approaches in plants science.
Optogenetics for transcriptional programming and genetic engineering.
Optogenetics combines genetics and biophotonics to enable noninvasive control of biological processes with high spatiotemporal precision. When engineered into protein machineries that govern the cellular information flow as depicted in the central dogma, multiple genetically encoded non-opsin photosensory modules have been harnessed to modulate gene transcription, DNA or RNA modifications, DNA recombination, and genome engineering by utilizing photons emitting in the wide range of 200-1000 nm. We present herein generally applicable modular strategies for optogenetic engineering and highlight latest advances in the broad applications of opsin-free optogenetics to program transcriptional outputs and precisely manipulate the mammalian genome, epigenome, and epitranscriptome. We also discuss current challenges and future trends in opsin-free optogenetics, which has been rapidly evolving to meet the growing needs in synthetic biology and genetics research.
Optogenetic technologies in translational cancer research.
Gene and cell therapies are widely recognized as future cancer therapeutics but poor controllability limits their clinical applications. Optogenetics, the use of light-controlled proteins to precisely spatiotemporally regulate the activity of genes and cells, opens up new possibilities for cancer treatment. Light of specific wavelength can activate the immune response, oncolytic activity and modulate cell signaling in tumor cells non-invasively, in dosed manner, with tissue confined action and without side effects of conventional therapies. Here, we review optogenetic approaches in cancer research, their clinical potential and challenges of incorporating optogenetics in cancer therapy. We critically discuss beneficial combinations of optogenetic technologies with therapeutic nanobodies, T-cell activation and CAR-T cell approaches, genome editors and oncolytic viruses. We consider viral vectors and nanoparticles for delivering optogenetic payloads and activating light to tumors. Finally, we highlight herein the prospects for integrating optogenetics into immunotherapy as a novel, fast, reversible and safe approach to cancer treatment.
The expanding role of split protein complementation in opsin-free optogenetics.
A comprehensive understanding of signaling mechanisms helps interpret fundamental biological processes and restore cell behavior from pathological conditions. Signaling outcome depends not only on the activity of each signaling component but also on their dynamic interaction in time and space, which remains challenging to probe by biochemical and cell-based assays. Opsin-based optogenetics has transformed neural science research with its spatiotemporal modulation of the activity of excitable cells. Motivated by this advantage, opsin-free optogenetics extends the power of light to a larger spectrum of signaling molecules. This review summarizes commonly used opsin-free optogenetic strategies, presents a historical overview of split protein complementation, and highlights the adaptation of split protein recombination as optogenetic sensors and actuators.
Synthetic cells with self-activating optogenetic proteins communicate with natural cells.
Development of regulated cellular processes and signaling methods in synthetic cells is essential for their integration with living materials. Light is an attractive tool to achieve this, but the limited penetration depth into tissue of visible light restricts its usability for in-vivo applications. Here, we describe the design and implementation of bioluminescent intercellular and intracellular signaling mechanisms in synthetic cells, dismissing the need for an external light source. First, we engineer light generating SCs with an optimized lipid membrane and internal composition, to maximize luciferase expression levels and enable high-intensity emission. Next, we show these cells' capacity to trigger bioprocesses in natural cells by initiating asexual sporulation of dark-grown mycelial cells of the fungus Trichoderma atroviride. Finally, we demonstrate regulated transcription and membrane recruitment in synthetic cells using bioluminescent intracellular signaling with self-activating fusion proteins. These functionalities pave the way for deploying synthetic cells as embeddable microscale light sources that are capable of controlling engineered processes inside tissues.
Design and engineering of light-sensitive protein switches.
Engineered, light-sensitive protein switches are used to interrogate a broad variety of biological processes. These switches are typically constructed by genetically fusing naturally occurring light-responsive protein domains with functional domains from other proteins. Protein activity can be controlled using a variety of mechanisms including light-induced colocalization, caging, and allosteric regulation. Protein design efforts have focused on reducing background signaling, maximizing the change in activity upon light stimulation, and perturbing the kinetics of switching. It is common to combine structure-based modeling with experimental screening to identify ideal fusion points between domains and discover point mutations that optimize switching. Here, we introduce commonly used light-sensitive domains and summarize recent progress in using them to regulate protein activity.
Motor processivity and speed determine structure and dynamics of microtubule-motor assemblies.
Active matter systems can generate highly ordered structures, avoiding equilibrium through the consumption of energy by individual constituents. How the microscopic parameters that characterize the active agents are translated to the observed mesoscopic properties of the assembly has remained an open question. These active systems are prevalent in living matter; for example, in cells, the cytoskeleton is organized into structures such as the mitotic spindle through the coordinated activity of many motor proteins walking along microtubules. Here, we investigate how the microscopic motor-microtubule interactions affect the coherent structures formed in a reconstituted motor-microtubule system. This question is of deeper evolutionary significance as we suspect motor and microtubule type contribute to the shape and size of resulting structures. We explore key parameters experimentally and theoretically, using a variety of motors with different speeds, proces-sivities, and directionalities. We demonstrate that aster size depends on the motor used to create the aster, and develop a model for the distribution of motors and microtubules in steady-state asters that depends on parameters related to motor speed and processivity. Further, we show that network contraction rates scale linearly with the single-motor speed in quasi one-dimensional contraction experiments. In all, this theoretical and experimental work helps elucidate how microscopic motor properties are translated to the much larger scale of collective motor-microtubule assemblies.
mTORC2 coordinates the leading and trailing edge cytoskeletal programs during neutrophil migration.
By acting both upstream and downstream of 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 mechanoresponsive mTORC2 program 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 mTORC2 kinase arm is essential for regulation of Rho activity and Myosin II-based contraction at the trailing edge. Cells required mTORC2 for spatial and temporal coordination between the front and back polarity programs and persistent migration under confinement. mTORC2 is in a mechanosensory cascade, but membrane stretch did not suffice to stimulate mTORC2 unless the co-input PIP3 was also present. Our work suggests that different signalling arms of mTORC2 regulate spatially and molecularly divergent cytoskeletal programs allowing efficient coordination of neutrophil shape and movement.
Optogenetic actuator/ERK biosensor circuits identify MAPK network nodes that shape ERK dynamics.
Combining single-cell measurements of ERK activity dynamics with perturbations provides insights into the MAPK network topology. We built circuits consisting of an optogenetic actuator to activate MAPK signaling and an ERK biosensor to measure single-cell ERK dynamics. This allowed us to conduct RNAi screens to investigate the role of 50 MAPK proteins in ERK dynamics. We found that the MAPK network is robust against most node perturbations. We observed that the ERK-RAF and the ERK-RSK2-SOS negative feedbacks operate simultaneously to regulate ERK dynamics. Bypassing the RSK2-mediated feedback, either by direct optogenetic activation of RAS, or by RSK2 perturbation, sensitized ERK dynamics to further perturbations. Similarly, targeting this feedback in a human ErbB2-dependent oncogenic signaling model increased the efficiency of a MEK inhibitor. The RSK2-mediated feedback is thus important for the ability of the MAPK network to produce consistent ERK outputs and its perturbation can enhance the efficiency of MAPK inhibitors.
Persistent cell migration emerges from a coupling between protrusion dynamics and polarized trafficking.
Migrating cells present a variety of paths, from random to highly directional ones. While random movement can be explained by basal intrinsic activity, persistent movement requires stable polarization. Here, we quantitatively address emergence of persistent migration in (hTERT)-immortalizedRPE1 (retinal pigment epithelial) cells over long timescales. By live cell imaging and dynamic micropatterning, we demonstrate that the Nucleus-Golgi axis aligns with direction of migration leading to efficient cell movement. We show that polarized trafficking is directed toward protrusions with a 20-min delay, and that migration becomes random after disrupting internal cell organization. Eventually, we prove that localized optogenetic Cdc42 activation orients the Nucleus-Golgi axis. Our work suggests that polarized trafficking stabilizes the protrusive activity of the cell, while protrusive activity orients this polarity axis, leading to persistent cell migration. Using a minimal physical model, we show that this feedback is sufficient to recapitulate the quantitative properties of cell migration in the timescale of hours.
A rich get richer effect governs intracellular condensate size distributions.
Phase separation of biomolecules into condensates has emerged as a ubiquitous mechanism for intracellular organization and impacts many intracellular processes, including reaction pathways through clustering of enzymes and their intermediates. Precise and rapid spatiotemporal control of reactions by condensates requires tuning of their sizes. However, the physical processes that govern the distribution of condensate sizes remain unclear. Here, we utilize a combination of synthetic and native condensates to probe the underlying physical mechanisms determining condensate size. We find that both native nuclear speckles and FUS condensates formed with the synthetic Corelet system obey an exponential size distribution, which can be recapitulated in Monte Carlo simulations of fast nucleation followed by coalescence. By contrast, pathological aggregation of cytoplasmic Huntingtin polyQ protein exhibits a power-law size distribution, with an exponent of −1.41 ± 0.02. These distinct behaviors reflect the relative importance of nucleation and coalescence kinetics: introducing continuous condensate nucleation into the Monte Carlo coarsening simulations gives rise to polyQ-like power-law behavior. We demonstrate that the emergence of power-law distributions under continuous nucleation reflects a “rich get richer” effect, whose extent may play a general role in the determination of condensate size distributions.
Optical Sensors and Actuators for Probing Proximity-Dependent Biotinylation in Living Cells.
Proximity-dependent biotinylation techniques have been gaining wide applications in the systematic analysis of protein-protein interactions (PPIs) on a proteome-wide scale in living cells. The engineered biotin ligase TurboID is among the most widely adopted given its enhanced biotinylation efficiency, but it faces the background biotinylation complication that might confound proteomic data interpretation. To address this issue, we report herein a set of split TurboID variants that can be reversibly assembled by using light (designated "OptoID"), which enable optogenetic control of biotinylation based proximity labeling in living cells. OptoID could be further coupled with an engineered monomeric streptavidin that permits real-time monitoring of biotinylation with high temporal precision. These optical actuators and sensors will likely find broad applications in precise proximity proteomics and rapid detection of biotinylation in living cells.
A variety of photoreceptors and the frontiers of optogenetics.
Lives have acquired a variety of photoreceptive proteins which absorb light in the UV to far-red region during the evolution, such as many different types of rhodopsin, blue-light receptors including cryptochrome and phototropin, and red/far-red light photochromic phytochromes. After the long-time studies on the molecular mechanism of their action, they have been applied to various photobiological studies. Recent advancement in the research field is remarkable and brought many fruitful results especially in optogenetics. To introduce some of these results, we organized a symposium named “A variety of photoreceptors and the frontiers of optogenetics” at the 59th annual meeting of the Biological Society of Japan (BSJ) in November 2021. The symposium was co-organized by a research area of the Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology Program (PRESTO) named “Optical Control”, directed by Prof. Shichida (Ritsumeikan University), sponsored by Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). We invited 4 PRESTO members and 2 other researchers to cover the light absorption region from blue to far-red (Figure 1).
Oncogenic protein condensates modulate cell signal perception and drug tolerance.
Drug resistance remains a central challenge towards durable cancer therapy, including for cancers driven by the EML4-ALK oncogene. EML4-ALK and related fusion oncogenes form cytoplasmic protein condensates that transmit oncogenic signals through the Ras/Erk pathway. However, whether such condensates play a role in drug response or resistance development is unclear. Here, we applied optogenetic functional profiling to examine how EML4-ALK condensates impact signal transmission through transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), a common route of resistance signaling. We found that condensates dramatically suppress signaling through activated RTKs including EGFR. Conversely, ALK inhibition restored and hypersensitized RTK signals. Modulation of RTK sensitivity occurred because EML4-ALK condensates sequestered downstream adapters that are required to transduce signals from both EML4-ALK and ligand-stimulated RTKs. Strikingly, EGFR hypersensitization resulted in rapid and pulsatile Erk signal reactivation within 10s of minutes of drug addition. EGFR reactivation originated from paracrine signals from neighboring apoptotic cells, and reactivation could be blocked by inhibition of either EGFR or matrix metalloproteases. Paracrine signals promoted survival during ALK inhibition, and blockade of paracrine signals accelerated cell killing and suppressed drug tolerance. Our results uncover a regulatory role for protein condensates in cancer signaling and drug response and demonstrate the potential of optogenetic profiling for drug discovery based on functional biomarkers in cancer cells.
Compartmentalization of telomeres through DNA-scaffolded phase separation.
Telomeres form unique nuclear compartments that prevent degradation and fusion of chromosome ends by recruiting shelterin proteins and regulating access of DNA damage repair factors. To understand how these dynamic components protect chromosome ends, we combine in vivo biophysical interrogation and in vitro reconstitution of human shelterin. We show that shelterin components form multicomponent liquid condensates with selective biomolecular partitioning on telomeric DNA. Tethering and anomalous diffusion prevent multiple telomeres from coalescing into a single condensate in mammalian cells. However, telomeres coalesce when brought into contact via an optogenetic approach. TRF1 and TRF2 subunits of shelterin drive phase separation, and their N-terminal domains specify interactions with telomeric DNA in vitro. Telomeric condensates selectively recruit telomere-associated factors and regulate access of DNA damage repair factors. We propose that shelterin mediates phase separation of telomeric chromatin, which underlies the dynamic yet persistent nature of the end-protection mechanism.
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.
Optogenetic activation of intracellular signaling based on light-inducible protein-protein homo-interactions.
Dynamic protein-protein interactions are essential for proper cell functioning. Homo-interaction events-physical interactions between the same type of proteins-represent a pivotal subset of protein-protein interactions that are widely exploited in activating intracellular signaling pathways. Capacities of modulating protein-protein interactions with spatial and temporal resolution are greatly desired to decipher the dynamic nature of signal transduction mechanisms. The emerging optogenetic technology, based on genetically encoded light-sensitive proteins, provides promising opportunities to dissect the highly complex signaling networks with unmatched specificity and spatiotemporal precision. Here we review recent achievements in the development of optogenetic tools enabling light-inducible protein-protein homo-interactions and their applications in optical activation of signaling pathways.
Substratum stiffness regulates Erk signaling dynamics through receptor-level control.
The EGFR/Erk pathway is triggered by extracellular ligand stimulation, leading to stimulus-dependent dynamics of pathway activity. Although mechanical properties of the microenvironment also affect Erk activity, their effects on Erk signaling dynamics are poorly understood. Here, we characterize how the stiffness of the underlying substratum affects Erk signaling dynamics in mammary epithelial cells. We find that soft microenvironments attenuate Erk signaling, both at steady state and in response to epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulation. Optogenetic manipulation at multiple signaling nodes reveals that intracellular signal transmission is largely unaffected by substratum stiffness. Instead, we find that soft microenvironments decrease EGF receptor (EGFR) expression and alter the amount and spatial distribution of EGF binding at cell membranes. Our data demonstrate that the mechanical microenvironment tunes Erk signaling dynamics via receptor-ligand interactions, underscoring how multiple microenvironmental signals are jointly processed through a highly conserved pathway that regulates tissue development, homeostasis, and disease progression.
Opto-Katanin: An Optogenetic Tool for Localized Microtubule Disassembly.
Microtubules are major cytoskeletal filaments that drive chromosome separation during cell division, serve as rails for intracellular transport and as a scaffold for organelle positioning. Experimental manipulation of microtubules is widely used in cell and developmental biology, but tools for precise subcellular spatiotemporal control of microtubule integrity are currently lacking. Here, we exploit the dependence of the mammalian microtubule-severing protein katanin on microtubule-targeting co-factors to generate a light-activated system for localized microtubule disassembly that we named opto-katanin. Targeted illumination with blue light induces rapid and localized opto-katanin recruitment and local microtubule depolymerization, which is quickly reversible after stopping light-induced activation. Opto-katanin can be employed to locally perturb microtubule-based transport and organelle morphology in dividing cells and differentiated neurons with high spatiotemporal precision. We show that different microtubule-associated proteins can be used to recruit opto-katanin to microtubules and induce severing, paving the way for spatiotemporally precise manipulation of specific microtubule subpopulations.
Temperature-responsive optogenetic probes of cell signaling.
We describe single-component optogenetic probes whose activation dynamics depend on both light and temperature. We used the BcLOV4 photoreceptor to stimulate Ras and phosphatidyl inositol-3-kinase signaling in mammalian cells, allowing activation over a large dynamic range with low basal levels. Surprisingly, we found that BcLOV4 membrane translocation dynamics could be tuned by both light and temperature such that membrane localization spontaneously decayed at elevated temperatures despite constant illumination. Quantitative modeling predicted BcLOV4 activation dynamics across a range of light and temperature inputs and thus provides an experimental roadmap for BcLOV4-based probes. BcLOV4 drove strong and stable signal activation in both zebrafish and fly cells, and thermal inactivation provided a means to multiplex distinct blue-light sensitive tools in individual mammalian cells. BcLOV4 is thus a versatile photosensor with unique light and temperature sensitivity that enables straightforward generation of broadly applicable optogenetic tools.
Directed evolution approaches for optogenetic tool development.
Photoswitchable proteins enable specific molecular events occurring in complex biological settings to be probed in a rapid and reversible fashion. Recent progress in the development of photoswitchable proteins as components of optogenetic tools has been greatly facilitated by directed evolution approaches in vitro, in bacteria, or in yeast. We review these developments and suggest future directions for this rapidly advancing field.
Gezielte Injektion von Effektoren durch Kontrolle der Proteindynamik.
The type III secretion system (T3SS) enables direct injection of bacterial effector proteins into eukaryotic cells. We found that the dynamic cytosolic interface of the system allows Yersinia enterocolitica to suppress premature secretion at low pH, ensuring rapid activation at the site of action. Exploiting this principle, we developed a light-controlled T3SS based on optogenetic interaction switches, which provides unprecedented spatiotemporal control of protein secretion and translocation.
An Optogenetic Toolbox for Synergistic Regulation of Protein Abundance.
Optogenetic tools have been proven to be useful in regulating cellular processes via an external signal. Light can be applied with high spatial and temporal precision as well as easily modulated in quantity and quality. Natural photoreceptors of the light oxygen voltage (LOV) domain family have been characterized in depth, especially the LOV2 domain of Avena sativa (As) phototropin 1 and its derivatives. Information on the behavior of LOV2 variants with changes in the photocycle or the light response has been recorded. Here, we applied well-described photocycle mutations on the AsLOV2 domain of a photosensitive transcription factor (psTF) as well as its variant that is part of the photosensitive degron (psd) psd3 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In vivo and in vitro measurements revealed that each photoreceptor component of the light-sensitive transcription factor and the psd3 module can be modulated in its light sensitivity by mutations that are known to prolong or shorten the dark-reversion time of AsLOV2. Yet, only two of the mutations showed differences in the in vivo behavior in the context of the psd3 module. For the AsLOV2 domain in the context of the psTF, we observed different characteristics for all four variants. Molecular dynamics simulations showed distinct influences of the shortened Jα helix and the V416L mutation in the context of the psd3 photoreceptor. In conclusion, we demonstrated the tunability of two optogenetic tools with a set of mutations that affect the photocycle of the inherent photoreceptors. As these optogenetic tools are concurrent in their action, pleiotropic effects on target protein abundance are achievable with the simultaneous action of the diverse photoreceptor variants.
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.