Showing 1 - 25 of 30 results
Light-Oxygen-Voltage (LOV)-sensing domains: activation mechanism and optogenetic stimulation.
The light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domains of phototropins emerged as essential constituents of light-sensitive proteins, helping initiate blue light-triggered responses. Moreover, these domains have been identified across all kingdoms of life. LOV domains utilize flavin nucleotides as co-factors and undergo structural rearrangements upon exposure to blue light, which activates an effector domain that executes the final output of the photoreaction. LOV domains are versatile photoreceptors that play critical roles in cellular signaling and environmental adaptation; additionally, they can noninvasively sense and control intracellular processes with high spatiotemporal precision, making them ideal candidates for use in optogenetics, where a light signal is linked to a cellular process through a photoreceptor. The ongoing development of LOV-based optogenetic tools, driven by advances in structural biology, spectroscopy, computational methods, and synthetic biology, has the potential to revolutionize the study of biological systems and enable the development of novel therapeutic strategies.
Precise modulation of embryonic development through optogenetics.
The past decade has witnessed enormous progress in optogenetics, which uses photo-sensitive proteins to control signal transduction in live cells and animals. The ever-increasing amount of optogenetic tools, however, could overwhelm the selection of appropriate optogenetic strategies. In this work, we summarize recent progress in this emerging field and highlight the application of opsin-free optogenetics in studying embryonic development, focusing on new insights gained into optical induction of morphogenesis, cell polarity, cell fate determination, tissue differentiation, neuronal regeneration, synaptic plasticity, and removal of cells during development.
A genetically encoded photo-proximity labeling approach for mapping protein territories.
Studying dynamic biological processes requires approaches compatible with the lifetimes of the biochemical transactions under investigation, which can be very short. We describe a genetically encoded system that allows protein interactomes to be captured using visible light. Our approach involves fusing an engineered flavoprotein to a protein of interest. Brief excitation of the fusion protein leads to local generation of reactive radical species within cell-permeable probes. When combined with quantitative proteomics, the system generates ‘snapshots’ of protein interactions with high temporal resolution. The intrinsic fluorescence of the fusion domain permits correlated imaging and proteomics analyses, a capability that is exploited in several contexts, including defining the protein clients of the major vault protein (MVP). The technology should be broadly useful in the biomedical area.
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.
Intercellular transport of RNA can limit heritable epigenetic changes.
RNAs in circulation carry sequence-specific regulatory information between cells in animal, plant, and host-pathogen systems. Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) delivered into the extracellular space of the nematode C. elegans accumulates within the germline and reaches progeny. Here we provide evidence for spatial, temporal, and substrate specificity in the transport of dsRNA from parental circulation to progeny. Temporary loss of dsRNA transport resulted in the persistent accumulation of mRNA from a germline gene. The expression of this gene varied among siblings and even between gonad arms within one animal. Perturbing RNA regulation of the gene created new epigenetic states that lasted for many generations. Thus, one role for the transport of dsRNA into the germline in every generation is to limit heritable changes in gene expression.
Applications of Upconversion Nanoparticles in Cellular Optogenetics.
Upconversion-mediated optogenetics is an emerging powerful technique to remotely control and manipulate the deep-tissue protein functions and signaling pathway activation. This technique uses lanthanide upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) as light transducers and through near-infrared light to indirectly activate the traditional optogenetic proteins. With the merits of high spatiotemporal resolution and minimal invasiveness, this technique enables cell-type specific manipulation of cellular activities in deep tissues as well as in living animals. In this review, we introduce the latest development of optogenetic modules and UCNPs, with emphasis on the integration of UCNPs with cellular optogenetics and their biomedical applications on the control of neural/brain activity, cancer therapy and cardiac optogenetics in vivo. Furthermore, we analyze the current developed strategies to optimize and advance the upconversion-mediated optogenetics and discuss the remaining challenges of its further applications in biomedical study and clinical translational research. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Optogenetics harnesses photoactivatable proteins to optically stimulate and control intracellular activities. UCNPs-mediated NIR-activatable optogenetics uses lanthanide upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) as light transducers and utilizes near-infrared (NIR) light to indirectly activate the traditional optogenetic proteins. The integration of UCNPs with cellular optogenetics has showed great promise in biomedical applications in regulating neural/brain activity, cancer therapy and cardiac optogenetics in vivo. The evolution and optimization of functional UCNPs and the discovery and engineering of novel optogenetic modules would both contribute to the advance of such unique hybrid technology, which may lead to discoveries in biomedical research and provide new treatments for human diseases.
Genetically Encoded Photosensitizer for Destruction of Protein or Cell Function.
There are several paths when excited molecules return to the ground state. In the case of fluorescent molecules, the dominant path is fluorescence emission that is greatly contributing to bioimaging. Meanwhile, photosensitizers transfer electron or energy from chromophore to the surrounding molecules, including molecular oxygen. Generated reactive oxygen species has potency to attack other molecules by oxidation. In this chapter, we introduce the chromophore-assisted light inactivation (CALI) method using a photosensitizer to inactivate proteins in a spatiotemporal manner and development of CALI tools, which is useful for investigation of protein functions and dynamics, by inactivation of the target molecules. Moreover, photosensitizers with high efficiency make it possible optogenetic control of cell ablation in living organisms and photodynamic therapy. Further development of photosensitizers with different excitation wavelengths will contribute to the investigation of multiple proteins or cell functions through inactivation in the different positions and timings.
Optogenetic approaches to investigate spatiotemporal signaling during development.
Embryogenesis is coordinated by signaling pathways that pattern the developing organism. Many aspects of this process are not fully understood, including how signaling molecules spread through embryonic tissues, how signaling amplitude and dynamics are decoded, and how multiple signaling pathways cooperate to pattern the body plan. Optogenetic approaches can be used to address these questions by providing precise experimental control over a variety of biological processes. Here, we review how these strategies have provided new insights into developmental signaling and discuss how they could contribute to future investigations.
Versatile cell ablation tools and their applications to study loss of cell functions.
Targeted cell ablation is a powerful approach for studying the role of specific cell populations in a variety of organotypic functions, including cell differentiation, and organ generation and regeneration. Emerging tools for permanently or conditionally ablating targeted cell populations and transiently inhibiting neuronal activities exhibit a diversity of application and utility. Each tool has distinct features, and none can be universally applied to study different cell types in various tissue compartments. Although these tools have been developed for over 30 years, they require additional improvement. Currently, there is no consensus on how to select the tools to answer the specific scientific questions of interest. Selecting the appropriate cell ablation technique to study the function of a targeted cell population is less straightforward than selecting the method to study a gene's functions. In this review, we discuss the features of the various tools for targeted cell ablation and provide recommendations for optimal application of specific approaches.
Use of Exogenous and Endogenous Photomediators as Efficient ROS Modulation Tools: Results and Perspectives for Therapeutic Purposes.
Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) play an essential dual role in living systems. Healthy levels of ROS modulate several signaling pathways, but at the same time, when they exceed normal physiological amounts, they work in the opposite direction, playing pivotal functions in the pathophysiology of multiple severe medical conditions (i.e., cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, and aging). Therefore, the research for methods to detect their levels via light-sensitive fluorescent probes has been extensively studied over the years. However, this is not the only link between light and ROS. In fact, the modulation of ROS mediated by light has been exploited already for a long time. In this review, we report the state of the art, as well as recent developments, in the field of photostimulation of oxidative stress, from photobiomodulation (PBM) mediated by naturally expressed light-sensitive proteins to the most recent optogenetic approaches, and finally, we describe the main methods of exogenous stimulation, in particular highlighting the new insights based on optically driven ROS modulation mediated by polymeric materials.
Functionally asymmetric motor neurons contribute to coordinating locomotion of Caenorhabditis elegans.
Locomotion circuits developed in simple animals, and circuit motifs further evolved in higher animals. To understand locomotion circuit motifs, they must be characterized in many models. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans possesses one of the best-studied circuits for undulatory movement. Yet, for 1/6th of the cholinergic motor neurons (MNs), the AS MNs, functional information is unavailable. Ventral nerve cord (VNC) MNs coordinate undulations, in small circuits of complementary neurons innervating opposing muscles. AS MNs differ, as they innervate muscles and other MNs asymmetrically, without complementary partners. We characterized AS MNs by optogenetic, behavioral and imaging analyses. They generate asymmetric muscle activation, enabling navigation, and contribute to coordination of dorso-ventral undulation as well as anterio-posterior bending wave propagation. AS MN activity correlated with forward and backward locomotion, and they functionally connect to premotor interneurons (PINs) for both locomotion regimes. Electrical feedback from AS MNs via gap junctions may affect only backward PINs.
Illuminating pathogen-host intimacy through optogenetics.
The birth and subsequent evolution of optogenetics has resulted in an unprecedented advancement in our understanding of the brain. Its outstanding success does usher wider applications; however, the tool remains still largely relegated to neuroscience. Here, we introduce selected aspects of optogenetics with potential applications in infection biology that will not only answer long-standing questions about intracellular pathogens (parasites, bacteria, viruses) but also broaden the dimension of current research in entwined models. In this essay, we illustrate how a judicious integration of optogenetics with routine methods can illuminate the host-pathogen interactions in a way that has not been feasible otherwise.
Blue-Light Receptors for Optogenetics.
Sensory photoreceptors underpin light-dependent adaptations of organismal physiology, development, and behavior in nature. Adapted for optogenetics, sensory photoreceptors become genetically encoded actuators and reporters to enable the noninvasive, spatiotemporally accurate and reversible control by light of cellular processes. Rooted in a mechanistic understanding of natural photoreceptors, artificial photoreceptors with customized light-gated function have been engineered that greatly expand the scope of optogenetics beyond the original application of light-controlled ion flow. As we survey presently, UV/blue-light-sensitive photoreceptors have particularly allowed optogenetics to transcend its initial neuroscience applications by unlocking numerous additional cellular processes and parameters for optogenetic intervention, including gene expression, DNA recombination, subcellular localization, cytoskeleton dynamics, intracellular protein stability, signal transduction cascades, apoptosis, and enzyme activity. The engineering of novel photoreceptors benefits from powerful and reusable design strategies, most importantly light-dependent protein association and (un)folding reactions. Additionally, modified versions of these same sensory photoreceptors serve as fluorescent proteins and generators of singlet oxygen, thereby further enriching the optogenetic toolkit. The available and upcoming UV/blue-light-sensitive actuators and reporters enable the detailed and quantitative interrogation of cellular signal networks and processes in increasingly more precise and illuminating manners.
Rapid Integration of Multi-copy Transgenes Using Optogenetic Mutagenesis in Caenorhabditis elegans.
Stably transmitted transgenes are indispensable for labeling cellular components and manipulating cellular functions. In Caenorhabditis elegans, transgenes are generally generated as inheritable multi-copy extrachromosomal arrays, which can be stabilized in the genome through a mutagenesis-mediated integration process. Standard methods to integrate extrachromosomal arrays primarily use protocols involving ultraviolet light plus trimethylpsoralen or gamma- or X-ray irradiation, which are laborious and time-consuming. Here, we describe a one-step integration method, following germline-mutagenesis induced by mini Singlet Oxygen Generator (miniSOG). Upon blue light treatment, miniSOG tagged to histone (Histone-miniSOG) generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) and induces heritable mutations, including DNA double-stranded breaks. We demonstrate that we can bypass the need to first establish extrachromosomal transgenic lines by coupling microinjection of desired plasmids with blue light illumination on Histone-miniSOG worms to obtain integrants in the F3 progeny. We consistently obtained more than one integrant from 12 injected animals in two weeks. This optogenetic approach significantly reduces the amount of time and labor for transgene integration. Moreover, it enables to generate stably expressed transgenes that cause toxicity in animal growth.
Descending pathway facilitates undulatory wave propagation in Caenorhabditis elegans through gap junctions.
Descending signals from the brain play critical roles in controlling and modulating locomotion kinematics. In the Caenorhabditis elegans nervous system, descending AVB premotor interneurons exclusively form gap junctions with the B-type motor neurons that execute forward locomotion. We combined genetic analysis, optogenetic manipulation, calcium imaging, and computational modeling to elucidate the function of AVB-B gap junctions during forward locomotion. First, we found that some B-type motor neurons generate rhythmic activity, constituting distributed oscillators. Second, AVB premotor interneurons use their electric inputs to drive bifurcation of B-type motor neuron dynamics, triggering their transition from stationary to oscillatory activity. Third, proprioceptive couplings between neighboring B-type motor neurons entrain the frequency of body oscillators, forcing coherent bending wave propagation. Despite substantial anatomical differences between the motor circuits of C. elegans and higher model organisms, converging principles govern coordinated locomotion.
New approaches for solving old problems in neuronal protein trafficking.
Fundamental cellular properties are determined by the repertoire and abundance of proteins displayed on the cell surface. As such, the trafficking mechanisms for establishing and maintaining the surface proteome must be tightly regulated for cells to respond appropriately to extracellular cues, yet plastic enough to adapt to ever-changing environments. Not only are the identity and abundance of surface proteins critical, but in many cases, their regulated spatial positioning within surface nanodomains can greatly impact their function. In the context of neuronal cell biology, surface levels and positioning of ion channels and neurotransmitter receptors play essential roles in establishing important properties, including cellular excitability and synaptic strength. Here we review our current understanding of the trafficking pathways that control the abundance and localization of proteins important for synaptic function and plasticity, as well as recent technological advances that are allowing the field to investigate protein trafficking with increasing spatiotemporal precision.
Optogenetic Tools for Subcellular Applications in Neuroscience.
The ability to study cellular physiology using photosensitive, genetically encoded molecules has profoundly transformed neuroscience. The modern optogenetic toolbox includes fluorescent sensors to visualize signaling events in living cells and optogenetic actuators enabling manipulation of numerous cellular activities. Most optogenetic tools are not targeted to specific subcellular compartments but are localized with limited discrimination throughout the cell. Therefore, optogenetic activation often does not reflect context-dependent effects of highly localized intracellular signaling events. Subcellular targeting is required to achieve more specific optogenetic readouts and photomanipulation. Here we first provide a detailed overview of the available optogenetic tools with a focus on optogenetic actuators. Second, we review established strategies for targeting these tools to specific subcellular compartments. Finally, we discuss useful tools and targeting strategies that are currently missing from the optogenetics repertoire and provide suggestions for novel subcellular optogenetic applications.
Illuminating developmental biology through photochemistry.
Developmental biology has been continually shaped by technological advances, evolving from a descriptive science into one immersed in molecular and cellular mechanisms. Most recently, genome sequencing and 'omics' profiling have provided developmental biologists with a wealth of genetic and biochemical information; however, fully translating this knowledge into functional understanding will require new experimental capabilities. Photoactivatable probes have emerged as particularly valuable tools for investigating developmental mechanisms, as they can enable rapid, specific manipulations of DNA, RNA, proteins, and cells with spatiotemporal precision. In this Perspective, we describe optochemical and optogenetic systems that have been applied in multicellular organisms, insights gained through the use of these probes, and their current limitations. We also suggest how chemical biologists can expand the reach of photoactivatable technologies and bring new depth to our understanding of organismal development.
Temperature Sensitive Singlet Oxygen Photosensitization by LOV-Derived Fluorescent Flavoproteins.
Optogenetic sensitizers that selectively produce a given reactive oxygen species (ROS) constitute a promising tool for studying cell signaling processes with high levels of spatiotemporal control. However, to harness the full potential of this tool for live cell studies, the photophysics of currently available systems need to be explored further and optimized. Of particular interest in this regard, are the flavoproteins miniSOG and SOPP, both of which (1) contain the chromophore flavin mononucleotide, FMN, in a LOV-derived protein enclosure, and (2) photosensitize the production of singlet oxygen, O2(a(1)Δg). Here we present an extensive experimental study of the singlet and triplet state photophysics of FMN in SOPP and miniSOG over a physiologically relevant temperature range. Although changes in temperature only affect the singlet excited state photophysics slightly, the processes that influence the deactivation of the triplet excited state are more sensitive to temperature. Most notably, for both proteins, the rate constant for quenching of (3)FMN by ground state oxygen, O2(X(3)Σg(-)), increases ∼10-fold upon increasing the temperature from 10 to 43 °C, while the oxygen-independent channels of triplet state deactivation are less affected. As a consequence, this increase in temperature results in higher yields of O2(a(1)Δg) formation for both SOPP and miniSOG. We also show that the quantum yields of O2(a(1)Δg) production by both miniSOG and SOPP are mainly limited by the fraction of FMN triplet states quenched by O2(X(3)Σg(-)). The results presented herein provide a much-needed quantitative framework that will facilitate the future development of optogenetic ROS sensitizers.
Precision Optogenetic Tool for Selective Single- and Multiple-Cell Ablation in a Live Animal Model System.
Cell ablation is a strategy to study cell lineage and function during development. Optogenetic methods are an important cell-ablation approach, and we have previously developed a mini singlet oxygen generator (miniSOG) tool that works in the living Caenorhabditis elegans. Here, we use directed evolution to generate miniSOG2, an improved tool for cell ablation via photogenerated reactive oxygen species. We apply miniSOG2 to a far more complex model animal system, Drosophila melanogaster, and demonstrate that it can be used to kill a single neuron in a Drosophila larva. In addition, miniSOG2 is able to photoablate a small group of cells in one of the larval wing imaginal discs, resulting in an adult with one incomplete and one normal wing. We expect miniSOG2 to be a useful optogenetic tool for precision cell ablation at a desired developmental time point in live animals, thus opening a new window into cell origin, fate and function, tissue regeneration, and developmental biology.
The Growing and Glowing Toolbox of Fluorescent and Photoactive Proteins.
Over the past 20 years, protein engineering has been extensively used to improve and modify the fundamental properties of fluorescent proteins (FPs) with the goal of adapting them for a fantastic range of applications. FPs have been modified by a combination of rational design, structure-based mutagenesis, and countless cycles of directed evolution (gene diversification followed by selection of clones with desired properties) that have collectively pushed the properties to photophysical and biochemical extremes. In this review, we provide both a summary of the progress that has been made during the past two decades, and a broad overview of the current state of FP development and applications in mammalian systems.
Lysosome-associated miniSOG as a photosensitizer for mammalian cells.
Genetically encoded photosensitizers represent a promising optogenetic tool for the induction of light-controlled oxidative stress strictly localized to a selected intracellular compartment. Here we tested the phototoxic effects of the flavin-containing phototoxic protein miniSOG targeted to the cytoplasmic surfaces of late endosomes and lysosomes by fusion with Rab7. In HeLa Kyoto cells stably expressing miniSOG-Rab7, we demonstrated a high level of cell death upon blue-light illumination. Pepstatin A completely abolished phototoxicity of miniSOG-Rab7, showing a key role for cathepsin D in this model. Using a far-red fluorescence sensor for caspase-3, we observed caspase-3 activation during miniSOG-Rab7-mediated cell death. We conclude that upon illumination, miniSOG-Rab7 induces lysosomal membrane permeabilization (LMP) and leakage of cathepsins into the cytosol, resulting in caspase-dependent apoptosis.
Highly efficient optogenetic cell ablation in C. elegans using membrane-targeted miniSOG.
The genetically encoded photosensitizer miniSOG (mini Singlet Oxygen Generator) can be used to kill cells in C. elegans. miniSOG generates the reactive oxygen species (ROS) singlet oxygen after illumination with blue light. Illumination of neurons expressing miniSOG targeted to the outer mitochondrial membrane (mito-miniSOG) causes neuronal death. To enhance miniSOG's efficiency as an ablation tool in multiple cell types we tested alternative targeting signals. We find that membrane targeted miniSOG allows highly efficient cell killing. When combined with a point mutation that increases miniSOG's ROS generation, membrane targeted miniSOG can ablate neurons in less than one tenth the time of mito-miniSOG. We extend the miniSOG ablation technique to non-neuronal tissues, revealing an essential role for the epidermis in locomotion. These improvements expand the utility and throughput of optogenetic cell ablation in C. elegans.
Optogenetic mutagenesis in Caenorhabditis elegans.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) can modify and damage DNA. Here we report an optogenetic mutagenesis approach that is free of toxic chemicals and easy to perform by taking advantage of a genetically encoded ROS generator. This method relies on the potency of ROS generation by His-mSOG, the mini singlet oxygen generator, miniSOG, fused to a histone. Caenorhabditis elegans expressing His-mSOG in the germline behave and reproduce normally, without photoinduction. Following exposure to blue light, the His-mSOG animals produce progeny with a wide range of heritable phenotypes. We show that optogenetic mutagenesis by His-mSOG induces a broad spectrum of mutations including single-nucleotide variants (SNVs), chromosomal deletions, as well as integration of extrachromosomal transgenes, which complements those derived from traditional chemical or radiation mutagenesis. The optogenetic mutagenesis expands the toolbox for forward genetic screening and also provides direct evidence that nuclear ROS can induce heritable and specific genetic mutations.
A photosensitive degron enables acute light-induced protein degradation in the nervous system.
Acutely inducing degradation enables studying the function of essential proteins. Available techniques target proteins post-translationally, via ubiquitin or by fusing destabilizing domains (degrons), and in some cases degradation is controllable by small molecules. Yet, they are comparably slow, possibly inducing compensatory changes, and do not allow localized protein depletion. The photosensitizer miniature singlet oxygen generator (miniSOG), fused to proteins of interest, provides fast light-induced protein destruction, e.g. affecting neurotransmission within minutes, but the reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated also affect proteins nearby, causing multifaceted phenotypes. A photosensitive degron (psd), recently developed and characterized in yeast, only targets the protein it is fused to, acting quickly as it is ubiquitin-independent, and the B-LID light-inducible degron was similarly shown to affect protein abundance in zebrafish. We implemented the psd in Caenorhabditis elegans and compared it to miniSOG. The psd effectively caused protein degradation within one hour of low intensity blue light (30 μW/mm(2)). Targeting synaptotagmin (SNT-1::tagRFP::psd), required for efficient neurotransmission, reduced locomotion within 15 minutes of illumination and within one hour behavior and miniature postsynaptic currents (mPSCs) were affected almost to the same degree seen in snt-1 mutants. Thus, psd effectively photo-degrades specific proteins, quickly inducing loss-of-function effects without affecting bystander proteins.