Optogenetic gene expression systems can control transcription with spatial and temporal detail unequaled with traditional inducible promoter systems. However, current eukaryotic light-gated transcription systems are limited by toxicity, dynamic range, or slow activation/deactivation. Here we present an optogenetic gene expression system that addresses these shortcomings and demonstrate its broad utility. Our approach utilizes an engineered version of EL222, a bacterial Light-Oxygen-Voltage (LOV) protein that binds DNA when illuminated with blue light. The system has a large (>100-fold) dynamic range of protein expression, rapid activation (< 10 s) and deactivation kinetics (< 50 s), and a highly linear response to light. With this system, we achieve light-gated transcription in several mammalian cell lines and intact zebrafish embryos with minimal basal gene activation and toxicity. Our approach provides a powerful new tool for optogenetic control of gene expression in space and time.
Motta-Mena, Laura B.; Reade, Anna; Mallory, Michael J.; Glantz, Spencer; Weiner, Orion D.; Lynch, Kristen W.; and Gardner, Kevin H., "An optogenetic gene expression system with rapid activation and deactivation kinetics" (2014). CUNY Academic Works.