IST Austria Thesis
Proteins and their complex dynamic interactions regulate cellular mechanisms from sensing and transducing extracellular signals, to mediating genetic responses, and sustaining or changing cell morphology. To manipulate these protein-protein interactions (PPIs) that govern the behavior and fate of cells, synthetically constructed, genetically encoded tools provide the means to precisely target proteins of interest (POIs), and control their subcellular localization and activity in vitro and in vivo. Ideal synthetic tools react to an orthogonal cue, i.e. a trigger that does not activate any other endogenous process, thereby allowing manipulation of the POI alone. In optogenetics, naturally occurring photosensory domain from plants, algae and bacteria are re-purposed and genetically fused to POIs. Illumination with light of a specific wavelength triggers a conformational change that can mediate PPIs, such as dimerization or oligomerization. By using light as a trigger, these tools can be activated with high spatial and temporal precision, on subcellular and millisecond scales. Chemogenetic tools consist of protein domains that recognize and bind small molecules. By genetic fusion to POIs, these domains can mediate PPIs upon addition of their specific ligands, which are often synthetically designed to provide highly specific interactions and exhibit good bioavailability. Most optogenetic tools to mediate PPIs are based on well-studied photoreceptors responding to red, blue or near-UV light, leaving a striking gap in the green band of the visible light spectrum. Among both optogenetic and chemogenetic tools, there is an abundance of methods to induce PPIs, but tools to disrupt them require UV illumination, rely on covalent linkage and subsequent enzymatic cleavage or initially result in protein clustering of unknown stoichiometry. This work describes how the recently structurally and photochemically characterized green-light responsive cobalamin-binding domains (CBDs) from bacterial transcription factors were re-purposed to function as a green-light responsive optogenetic tool. In contrast to previously engineered optogenetic tools, CBDs do not induce PPI, but rather confer a PPI already upon expression, which can be rapidly disrupted by illumination. This was employed to mimic inhibition of constitutive activity of a growth factor receptor, and successfully implement for cell signalling in mammalian cells and in vivo to rescue development in zebrafish. This work further describes the development and application of a chemically induced de-dimerizer (CDD) based on a recently identified and structurally described bacterial oxyreductase. CDD forms a dimer upon expression in absence of its cofactor, the flavin derivative F420. Safety and of domain expression and ligand exposure are demonstrated in vitro and in vivo in zebrafish. The system is further applied to inhibit cell signalling output from a chimeric receptor upon F420 treatment. CBDs and CDD expand the repertoire of synthetic tools by providing novel mechanisms of mediating PPIs, and by recognizing previously not utilized cues. In the future, they can readily be combined with existing synthetic tools to functionally manipulate PPIs in vitro and in vivo.
Kainrath S. Synthetic tools for optogenetic and chemogenetic inhibition of cellular signals. 2020. doi:10.15479/AT:ISTA:7680
Kainrath, S. (2020). Synthetic tools for optogenetic and chemogenetic inhibition of cellular signals. IST Austria. https://doi.org/10.15479/AT:ISTA:7680
Kainrath, Stephanie. “Synthetic Tools for Optogenetic and Chemogenetic Inhibition of Cellular Signals.” IST Austria, 2020. https://doi.org/10.15479/AT:ISTA:7680.
S. Kainrath, “Synthetic tools for optogenetic and chemogenetic inhibition of cellular signals,” IST Austria, 2020.
Kainrath S. 2020. Synthetic tools for optogenetic and chemogenetic inhibition of cellular signals. IST Austria.
Kainrath, Stephanie. Synthetic Tools for Optogenetic and Chemogenetic Inhibition of Cellular Signals. IST Austria, 2020, doi:10.15479/AT:ISTA:7680.
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