ACS Synth Biol. 2020 Sep 18;9(9):2274-2281. doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.0c00362. Epub 2020 Aug 14.
The field of optogenetics uses genetically encoded photoswitches to modulate biological phenomena with high spatiotemporal resolution. We report a set of rationally designed optogenetic photoswitches that use the photolyase homology region of A. thaliana cryptochrome 2 (Cry2PHR) as a building block and exhibit highly efficient and tunable clustering in a blue-light dependent manner. CL6mN (Cry2-mCherry-LRP6c with N mutated PPPAP motifs) proteins were designed by mutating and/or truncating five crucial PPP(S/T)P motifs near the C-terminus of the optogenetic Wnt activator Cry2-mCherry-LRP6c, thus eliminating its Wnt activity. Light-induced CL6mN clusters have significantly greater dissociation half-lives than clusters of wild-type Cry2PHR. Moreover, the dissociation half-lives can be tuned by varying the number of PPPAP motifs, with the half-life increasing as much as 6-fold for a variant with five motifs (CL6m5) relative to Cry2PHR. Finally, we demonstrate the compatibility of CL6mN with previously reported Cry2-based photoswitches by optogenetically activating RhoA in mammalian cells.