Showing 1 - 24 of 24 results
Optical regulation of endogenous RhoA reveals switching of cellular responses by signal amplitude.
Precise control of the timing and amplitude of protein activity in living cells can explain how cells compute responses to complex biochemical stimuli. The small GTPase RhoA can promote either focal adhesion (FA) growth or cell edge retraction, but how a cell chooses between these opposite outcomes is poorly understood. Here, we developed a photoswitchable RhoA guanine exchange factor (psRhoGEF) to obtain precise optical control of endogenous RhoA activity. We find that low levels of RhoA activation by psRhoGEF induces edge retraction and FA disassembly, while high levels of RhoA activation induces both FA growth and disassembly. We observed that mDia-induced Src activation at FAs occurs preferentially at lower levels of RhoA activation. Strikingly, inhibition of Src causes a switch from FA disassembly to growth. Thus, rheostatic control of RhoA activation reveals how cells use signal amplitude and biochemical context to select between alternative responses to a single biochemical signal.
Optogenetics: The Art of Illuminating Complex Signaling Pathways.
Dissection of cell signaling requires tools that can mimic spatiotemporal dynamics of individual pathways in living cells. Optogenetic methods enable manipulation of signaling processes with precise timing and local control. In this review, we describe recent optogenetic approaches for regulation of cell signaling, highlight their advantages and limitations, and discuss examples of their application.
Optogenetic interrogation and control of cell signaling.
Signaling networks control the flow of information through biological systems and coordinate the chemical processes that constitute cellular life. Optogenetic actuators - genetically encoded proteins that undergo light-induced changes in activity or conformation - are useful tools for probing signaling networks over time and space. They have permitted detailed dissections of cellular proliferation, differentiation, motility, and death, and enabled the assembly of synthetic systems with applications in areas as diverse as photography, chemical synthesis, and medicine. In this review, we provide a brief introduction to optogenetic systems and describe their application to molecular-level analyses of cell signaling. Our discussion highlights important research achievements and speculates on future opportunities to exploit optogenetic systems in the study and assembly of complex biochemical networks.
Lights up on organelles: Optogenetic tools to control subcellular structure and organization.
Since the neurobiological inception of optogenetics, light-controlled molecular perturbations have been applied in many scientific disciplines to both manipulate and observe cellular function. Proteins exhibiting light-sensitive conformational changes provide researchers with avenues for spatiotemporal control over the cellular environment and serve as valuable alternatives to chemically inducible systems. Optogenetic approaches have been developed to target proteins to specific subcellular compartments, allowing for the manipulation of nuclear translocation and plasma membrane morphology. Additionally, these tools have been harnessed for molecular interrogation of organelle function, location, and dynamics. Optogenetic approaches offer novel ways to answer fundamental biological questions and to improve the efficiency of bioengineered cell factories by controlling the assembly of synthetic organelles. This review first provides a summary of available optogenetic systems with an emphasis on their organelle-specific utility. It then explores the strategies employed for organelle targeting and concludes by discussing our perspective on the future of optogenetics to control subcellular structure and organization. This article is categorized under: Laboratory Methods and Technologies > Genetic/Genomic Methods Physiology > Physiology of Model Organisms Biological Mechanisms > Regulatory Biology Models of Systems Properties and Processes > Cellular Models.
Optogenetics and CRISPR: A New Relationship Built to Last.
Since the breakthrough discoveries that CRISPR-Cas9 nucleases can be easily programmed and employed to induce targeted double-strand breaks in mammalian cells, the gene editing field has grown exponentially. Today, CRISPR technologies based on engineered class II CRISPR effectors facilitate targeted modification of genes and RNA transcripts. Moreover, catalytically impaired CRISPR-Cas variants can be employed as programmable DNA binding domains and used to recruit effector proteins, such as transcriptional regulators, epigenetic modifiers or base-modifying enzymes, to selected genomic loci. The juxtaposition of CRISPR and optogenetics enables spatiotemporally confined and highly dynamic genome perturbations in living cells and animals and holds unprecedented potential for biology and biomedicine.Here, we provide an overview of the state-of-the-art methods for light-control of CRISPR effectors. We will detail the plethora of exciting applications enabled by these systems, including spatially confined genome editing, timed activation of endogenous genes, as well as remote control of chromatin-chromatin interactions. Finally, we will discuss limitations of current optogenetic CRISPR tools and point out routes for future innovation in this emerging field.
Non-neuromodulatory Optogenetic Tools in Zebrafish.
The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a popular vertebrate model organism to investigate molecular mechanisms driving development and disease. Due to its transparency at embryonic and larval stages, investigations in the living organism are possible with subcellular resolution using intravital microscopy. The beneficial optical characteristics of zebrafish not only allow for passive observation, but also active manipulation of proteins and cells by light using optogenetic tools. Initially, photosensitive ion channels have been applied for neurobiological studies in zebrafish to dissect complex behaviors on a cellular level. More recently, exciting non-neural optogenetic tools have been established to control gene expression or protein localization and activity, allowing for unprecedented non-invasive and precise manipulation of various aspects of cellular physiology. Zebrafish will likely be a vertebrate model organism at the forefront of in vivo application of non-neural optogenetic tools and pioneering work has already been performed. In this review, we provide an overview of non-neuromodulatory optogenetic tools successfully applied in zebrafish to control gene expression, protein localization, cell signaling, migration and cell ablation.
Light-inducible generation of membrane curvature in live cells with engineered BAR domain proteins.
Nanoscale membrane curvature is now understood to play an active role in essential cellular processes such as endocytosis, exocytosis and actin dynamics. Previous studies have shown that membrane curvature can directly affect protein function and intracellular signaling. However, few methods are able to precisely manipulate membrane curvature in live cells. Here, we report the development of a new method of generating nanoscale membrane curvature in live cells that is controllable, reversible, and capable of precise spatial and temporal manipulation. For this purpose, we make use of BAR domain proteins, a family of well-studied membrane-remodeling and membrane-sculpting proteins. Specifically, we engineered two optogenetic systems, opto-FBAR and opto-IBAR, that allow light-inducible formation of positive and negative membrane curvature, respectively. Using opto-FBAR, blue light activation results in the formation of tubular membrane invaginations (positive curvature), controllable down to the subcellular level. Using opto-IBAR, blue light illumination results in the formation of membrane protrusions or filopodia (negative curvature). These systems present a novel approach for light-inducible manipulation of nanoscale membrane curvature in live cells.
Recent advances in the use of genetically encodable optical tools to elicit and monitor signaling events.
Cells rely on a complex network of spatiotemporally regulated signaling activities to effectively transduce information from extracellular cues to intracellular machinery. To probe this activity architecture, researchers have developed an extensive molecular tool kit of fluorescent biosensors and optogenetic actuators capable of monitoring and manipulating various signaling activities with high spatiotemporal precision. The goal of this review is to provide readers with an overview of basic concepts and recent advances in the development and application of genetically encodable biosensors and optogenetic tools for understanding signaling activity.
Strategies for Engineering and Rewiring Kinase Regulation.
Eukaryotic protein kinases (EPKs) catalyze the transfer of a phosphate group onto another protein in response to appropriate regulatory cues. In doing so, they provide a primary means for cellular information transfer. Consequently, EPKs play crucial roles in cell differentiation and cell-cycle progression, and kinase dysregulation is associated with numerous disease phenotypes including cancer. Nonnative cues for synthetically regulating kinases are thus much sought after, both for dissecting cell signaling pathways and for pharmaceutical development. In recent years advances in protein engineering and sequence analysis have led to new approaches for manipulating kinase activity, localization, and in some instances specificity. These tools have revealed fundamental principles of intracellular signaling and suggest paths forward for the design of therapeutic allosteric kinase regulators.
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.
Optimizing photoswitchable MEK.
Optogenetic approaches are transforming quantitative studies of cell-signaling systems. A recently developed photoswitchable mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1 (MEK1) enzyme (psMEK) short-circuits the highly conserved Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase (ERK)-signaling cascade at the most proximal step of effector kinase activation. However, since this optogenetic tool relies on phosphorylation-mimicking substitutions in the activation loop of MEK, its catalytic activity is predicted to be substantially lower than that of wild-type MEK that has been phosphorylated at these residues. Here, we present evidence that psMEK indeed has suboptimal functionality in vivo and propose a strategy to circumvent this limitation by harnessing gain-of-function, destabilizing mutations in MEK. Specifically, we demonstrate that combining phosphomimetic mutations with additional mutations in MEK, chosen for their activating potential, restores maximal kinase activity in vitro. We establish that this modification can be tuned by the choice of the destabilizing mutation and does not interfere with reversible activation of psMEK in vivo in both Drosophila and zebrafish. To illustrate the types of perturbations enabled by optimized psMEK, we use it to deliver pulses of ERK activation during zebrafish embryogenesis, revealing rheostat-like responses of an ERK-dependent morphogenetic event.
Optogenetics sheds new light on tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
Optogenetics has demonstrated great potential in the fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, from basic research to clinical applications. Spatiotemporal encoding during individual development has been widely identified and is considered a novel strategy for regeneration. A as a noninvasive method with high spatiotemporal resolution, optogenetics are suitable for this strategy. In this review, we discuss roles of dynamic signal coding in cell physiology and embryonic development. Several optogenetic systems are introduced as ideal optogenetic tools, and their features are compared. In addition, potential applications of optogenetics for tissue engineering are discussed, including light-controlled genetic engineering and regulation of signaling pathways. Furthermore, we present how emerging biomaterials and photoelectric technologies have greatly promoted the clinical application of optogenetics and inspired new concepts for optically controlled therapies. Our summation of currently available data conclusively demonstrates that optogenetic tools are a promising method for elucidating and simulating developmental processes, thus providing vast prospects for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications.
Dronpa: a light-switchable fluorescent protein for opto-biomechanics.
Since the development of GFP, fluorescent proteins (FP) are indispensable tools in molecular biology. Some FPs change their structure under illumination, which affects their interaction with other biomolecules or proteins. Especially, FPs that are able to form switchable dimers became an important tool in the field of optogenetics. They are widely used for the investigation of signaling pathways, the control of surface recruitment as well as enzyme and gene regulation. However, optogenetics did not yet develop tools for the investigation of biomechanical processes. This could be leveraged if one could find a light-switchable FP dimer, that is able to withstand sufficiently high forces. In this work we measure the rupture force of the switchable interface in pdDronpa1.2 dimers using atomic force microscopy based single molecule force spectroscopy. The most probable dimer rupture force amounts to around 80 pN at a pulling speed of 1600 nm/s. After switching of the dimer using illumination at 488 nm there are hardly any measurable interface interactions, which indicates the successful dissociation of the dimers. Hence this Dronpa dimer could expand the current toolbox in optogenetics with new opto-biomechanical applications like the control of tension in adhesion processes.
Controlling protein conformation with light.
Optogenetics, genetically encoded engineering of proteins to respond to light, has enabled precise control of the timing and localization of protein activity in live cells and for specific cell types in animals. Light-sensitive ion channels have become well established tools in neurobiology, and a host of new methods have recently enabled the control of other diverse protein structures as well. This review focuses on approaches to switch proteins between physiologically relevant, naturally occurring conformations using light, accomplished by incorporating light-responsive engineered domains that sterically and allosterically control the active site.
A bright future: optogenetics to dissect the spatiotemporal control of cell behavior.
Cells sense, process, and respond to extracellular information using signaling networks: collections of proteins that act as precise biochemical sensors. These protein networks are characterized by both complex temporal organization, such as pulses of signaling activity, and by complex spatial organization, where proteins assemble structures at particular locations and times within the cell. Yet despite their ubiquity, studying these spatial and temporal properties has remained challenging because they emerge from the entire protein network rather than a single node, and cannot be easily tuned by drugs or mutations. These challenges are being met by a new generation of optogenetic tools capable of directly controlling the activity of individual signaling nodes over time and the assembly of protein complexes in space. Here, we outline how these recent innovations are being used in conjunction with engineering-influenced experimental design to address longstanding questions in signaling biology.
A compendium of chemical and genetic approaches to light-regulated gene transcription.
On-cue regulation of gene transcription is an invaluable tool for the study of biological processes and the development and integration of next-generation therapeutics. Ideal reagents for the precise regulation of gene transcription should be nontoxic to the host system, highly tunable, and provide a high level of spatial and temporal control. Light, when coupled with protein or small molecule-linked photoresponsive elements, presents an attractive means of meeting the demands of an ideal system for regulating gene transcription. In this review, we cover recent developments in the burgeoning field of light-regulated gene transcription, covering both genetically encoded and small-molecule based strategies for optical regulation of transcription during the period 2012 till present.
Induction of signal transduction using non-channelrhodopsin-type optogenetic tools.
Signal transductions are the basis for all cellular functions. Previous studies investigating signal transductions mainly relied on pharmacological inhibition, RNA interference, and constitutive active/dominant negative protein expression systems. However, such studies do not allow the modulation of protein activity in cells, tissues, and organs in animals with high spatial and temporal precision. Recently, non-channelrhodopsin-type optogenetic tools for regulating signal transduction have emerged. These photoswitches address several disadvantages of previous techniques, and allow us to control a variety of signal transductions such as cell membrane dynamics, calcium signaling, lipid signaling, and apoptosis. In this review, we summarize recent advances in the development of such photoswitches and how these optotools are applied to signaling processes.
Optogenetically controlled protein kinases for regulation of cellular signaling.
Protein kinases are involved in the regulation of many cellular processes including cell differentiation, survival, migration, axon guidance and neuronal plasticity. A growing set of optogenetic tools, termed opto-kinases, allows activation and inhibition of different protein kinases with light. The optogenetic regulation enables fast, reversible and non-invasive manipulation of protein kinase activities, complementing traditional methods, such as treatment with growth factors, protein kinase inhibitors or chemical dimerizers. In this review, we summarize the properties of the existing optogenetic tools for controlling tyrosine kinases and serine-threonine kinases. We discuss how the opto-kinases can be applied for studies of spatial and temporal aspects of protein kinase signaling in cells and organisms. We compare approaches for chemical and optogenetic regulation of protein kinase activity and present guidelines for selection of opto-kinases and equipment to control them with light. We also describe strategies to engineer novel opto-kinases on the basis of various photoreceptors.
Optogenetics in cancer drug discovery.
The discovery and domestication of biomolecules that respond to light has taken a light of its own, providing new molecular tools with incredible spatio-temporal resolution to manipulate cellular behavior. Areas covered: The authors herein analyze the current optogenetic tools in light of their current, and potential, uses in cancer drug discovery, biosafety and cancer biology. Expert opinion: The pipeline from drug discovery to the clinic is plagued with drawbacks, where most drugs fail in either efficacy or safety. These issues require the redesign of the pipeline and the development of more controllable/personalized therapies. Light is, aside from inexpensive, almost harmless if used appropriately, can be directed to single cells or organs with controllable penetration, and comes in a variety of wavelengths. Light-responsive systems can activate, inhibit or compensate cell signaling pathways or specific cellular events, allowing the specific control of the genome and epigenome, and modulate cell fate and transformation. These synthetic molecular tools have the potential to revolutionize drug discovery and cancer research.
Emerging approaches for spatiotemporal control of targeted genome with inducible CRISPR-Cas9.
The breakthrough CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-Cas9 (CRISPR-associated protein 9) nuclease has revolutionized our ability in genome engineering. Although Cas9 is already a powerful tool for simple and efficient target endogenous gene manipulation, further engineering of Cas9 will improve the performance of Cas9, such as gene-editing efficiency and accuracy in vivo, and expand the application possibility of this Cas9 technology. The emerging inducible Cas9 methods, which can control the activity of Cas9 using an external stimulus such as chemicals and light, have the potential to provide spatiotemporal gene manipulation in user-defined cell population at a specific time and improve the accuracy of Cas9-mediated genome editing. In this review, we focus on the recent advance in inducible Cas9 technologies, especially light-inducible Cas9, and related methodologies, and also discuss future directions of this emerging tools.
A single-chain photoswitchable CRISPR-Cas9 architecture for light-inducible gene editing and transcription.
Optical control of CRISPR-Cas9-derived proteins would be useful for restricting gene editing or transcriptional regulation to desired times and places. Optical control of Cas9 functions has been achieved with photouncageable unnatural amino acids or by using light-induced protein interactions to reconstitute Cas9-mediated functions from two polypeptides. However, these methods have only been applied to one Cas9 species and have not been used for optical control of different perturbations at two genes. Here, we use photodissociable dimeric fluorescent protein domains to engineer single-chain photoswitchable Cas9 (ps-Cas9) proteins in which the DNA-binding cleft is occluded at baseline and opened upon illumination. This design successfully controlled different species and functional variants of Cas9, mediated transcriptional activation more robustly than previous optogenetic methods, and enabled light-induced transcription of one gene and editing of another in the same cells. Thus, a single-chain photoswitchable architecture provides a general method to control a variety of Cas9-mediated functions.
Applications of optobiology in intact cells and multi-cellular organisms.
Temporal kinetics and spatial coordination of signal transduction in cells are vital for cell fate determination. Tools that allow for precise modulation of spatiotemporal regulation of intracellular signaling in intact cells and multicellular organisms remain limited. The emerging optobiological approaches use light to control protein-protein interaction in live cells and multicellular organisms. Optobiology empowers light-mediated control of diverse cellular and organismal functions such as neuronal activity, intracellular signaling, gene expression, cell proliferation, differentiation, migration, and apoptosis. In this review, we highlight recent developments in optobiology, focusing on new features of second-generation optobiological tools. We cover applications of optobiological approaches in the study of cellular and organismal functions, discuss current challenges, and present our outlook. Taking advantage of the high spatial and temporal resolution of light control, optobiology promises to provide new insights into the coordination of signaling circuits in intact cells and multicellular organisms.
Genetically Encoded Photoactuators and Photosensors for Characterization and Manipulation of Pluripotent Stem Cells.
Our knowledge of pluripotent stem cell biology has advanced considerably in the past four decades, but it has yet to deliver on the great promise of regenerative medicine. The slow progress can be mainly attributed to our incomplete understanding of the complex biologic processes regulating the dynamic developmental pathways from pluripotency to fully-differentiated states of functional somatic cells. Much of the difficulty arises from our lack of specific tools to query, or manipulate, the molecular scale circuitry on both single-cell and organismal levels. Fortunately, the last two decades of progress in the field of optogenetics have produced a variety of genetically encoded, light-mediated tools that enable visualization and control of the spatiotemporal regulation of cellular function. The merging of optogenetics and pluripotent stem cell biology could thus be an important step toward realization of the clinical potential of pluripotent stem cells. In this review, we have surveyed available genetically encoded photoactuators and photosensors, a rapidly expanding toolbox, with particular attention to those with utility for studying pluripotent stem cells.
Optical control of cell signaling by single-chain photoswitchable kinases.
Protein kinases transduce signals to regulate a wide array of cellular functions in eukaryotes. A generalizable method for optical control of kinases would enable fine spatiotemporal interrogation or manipulation of these various functions. We report the design and application of single-chain cofactor-free kinases with photoswitchable activity. We engineered a dimeric protein, pdDronpa, that dissociates in cyan light and reassociates in violet light. Attaching two pdDronpa domains at rationally selected locations in the kinase domain, we created the photoswitchable kinases psRaf1, psMEK1, psMEK2, and psCDK5. Using these photoswitchable kinases, we established an all-optical cell-based assay for screening inhibitors, uncovered a direct and rapid inhibitory feedback loop from ERK to MEK1, and mediated developmental changes and synaptic vesicle transport in vivo using light.