ABSTRACT: Optogenetics is a technique for controlling subpopulations of neurons in the intact brain using light. This technique has the potential to enhance basic systems neuroscience research and to inform the mechanisms and treatment of brain injury and disease. Before launching large-scale primate studies, the method needs to be further characterized and adapted for use in the primate brain. We assessed the safety and efficiency of two viral vector systems (lentivirus and adeno-associated virus), two human promoters (human synapsin (hSyn) and human thymocyte-1 (hThy-1)) and three excitatory and inhibitory mammalian codon-optimized opsins (channelrhodopsin-2, enhanced Natronomonas pharaonis halorhodopsin and the step-function opsin), which we characterized electrophysiologically, histologically and behaviorally in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). We also introduced a new device for measuring in vivo fluorescence over time, allowing minimally invasive assessment of construct expression in the intact brain. We present a set of optogenetic tools designed for optogenetic experiments in the non-human primate brain.
Project description:The Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) is widely used as a model organism for the human auditory system. Its hearing range is very similar to ours and it uses the same mechanisms for sound localization. The auditory circuits underlying these functions have been characterized. However, important mechanistic details are still under debate. To elucidate these issues, precise and reversible optogenetic manipulation of neuronal activity in this complex circuitry is required. However, genetic and genomic resources for the Mongolian gerbil are poorly developed. Here, we demonstrate a reliable gene delivery system using an AAV8(Y337F)-pseudotyped recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) 2-based vector in which the pan-neural human synapsin (hSyn) promoter drives neuron-specific expression of CatCH (Ca2+-permeable channelrhodopsin) or NpHR3.0 (Natronomonas pharaonis halorhodopsin). After stereotactic injection into the gerbil's auditory brainstem (medial nucleus of the trapezoid body, dorsal nucleus of the lateral lemniscus) and midbrain [inferior colliculus (IC)], we characterized CatCH- and/or NpHR3.0-transduced neurons in acute brain slices by means of whole-cell patch-clamp recordings. As the response properties of optogenetic tools strongly depend on neuronal biophysics, this parameterization is crucial for their in vivo application. In a proof-of-principle experiment in anesthetized gerbils, we observed strong suppression of sound-evoked neural responses in the dorsal nucleus of the lateral lemniscus (DNLL) and IC upon light activation of NpHR3.0. The successful validation of gene delivery and optogenetic tools in the Mongolian gerbil paves the way for future studies of the auditory circuits in this model system.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Optogenetic silencing techniques have expanded the causal understanding of the functions of diverse neuronal cell types in both the healthy and diseased brain. A widely used inhibitory optogenetic actuator is eNpHR3.0, an improved version of the light-driven chloride pump halorhodopsin derived from Natronomonas pharaonis. A major drawback of eNpHR3.0 is related to its pronounced inactivation on a time-scale of seconds, which renders it unsuited for applications that require long-lasting silencing. RESULTS:Using transgenic mice and Xenopus laevis oocytes expressing an eNpHR3.0-EYFP fusion protein, we here report optimized photo-stimulation techniques that profoundly increase the stability of eNpHR3.0-mediated currents during long-term photo-stimulation. We demonstrate that optimized photo-stimulation enables prolonged hyperpolarization and suppression of action potential discharge on a time-scale of minutes. CONCLUSIONS:Collectively, our findings extend the utility of eNpHR3.0 to the long-lasting inhibition of excitable cells, thus facilitating the optogenetic dissection of neural circuits.
Project description:An engineered light-inducible chloride pump, Natronomonas pharaonis halorhodopsin 3 (eNpHR3) enables temporally and spatially precise inhibition of genetically defined cell populations in the intact nervous tissues. In this report, we show the generation of new mouse strains that express eNpHR3-EYFP fusion proteins after Cre- and/or Flp-mediated recombination to optically inhibit neuronal activity. In these mouse strains, Cre/Flp recombination induced high levels of opsin expression. We confirmed their light-induced activities by brain slice whole-cell patch clamp experiments. eNpHR3-expressing neurons were optically hyperpolarized and silenced from firing action potentials. In prolonged silencing of action potentials, eNpHR3 was superior to eNpHR2, a former version of the engineered pump. Thus, these eNpHR3 mouse strains offer reliable genetic tools for light-induced inhibiting of neuronal activity in defined sets of neurons.
Project description:The optogenetic approach to gain control over neuronal excitability both in vitro and in vivo has emerged as a fascinating scientific tool to explore neuronal networks, but it also opens possibilities for developing novel treatment strategies for neurologic conditions. We have explored whether such an optogenetic approach using the light-driven halorhodopsin chloride pump from Natronomonas pharaonis (NpHR), modified for mammalian CNS expression to hyperpolarize central neurons, may inhibit excessive hyperexcitability and epileptiform activity. We show that a lentiviral vector containing the NpHR gene under the calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IIalpha promoter transduces principal cells of the hippocampus and cortex and hyperpolarizes these cells, preventing generation of action potentials and epileptiform activity during optical stimulation. This study proves a principle, that selective hyperpolarization of principal cortical neurons by NpHR is sufficient to curtail paroxysmal activity in transduced neurons and can inhibit stimulation train-induced bursting in hippocampal organotypic slice cultures, which represents a model tissue of pharmacoresistant epilepsy. This study demonstrates that the optogenetic approach may prove useful for controlling epileptiform activity and opens a future perspective to develop it into a strategy to treat epilepsy.
Project description:The transmembrane pump halorhodopsin in halophilic archaea translocates chloride ions from the extracellular to the cytoplasmic side upon illumination. In the ground state a tightly bound chloride ion occupies the primary chloride-binding site (CBS I) close to the protonated Schiff base that links the retinal chromophore to the protein. The light-triggered trans-cis isomerization of retinal causes structural changes in the protein associated with movement of the chloride ion. In reverse, chemical depletion of CBS I in Natronomonas pharaonis halorhodopsin (NpHR) through deprotonation of the Schiff base results in conformational changes of the protein: a state thought to mimic late stages of the photocycle. Here, crystals of Halobacterium salinarum halorhodopsin (HsHR) were soaked at high pH to provoke deprotonation of the Schiff base and loss of chloride. The crystals changed colour from purple to yellow and the occupancy of CBS I was reduced from 1 to about 0.5. In contrast to NpHR, this chloride depletion did not cause substantial conformational changes in the protein. Nevertheless, two observations indicate that chloride depletion could eventually result in structural changes similar to those found in NpHR. Firstly, the partially chloride-depleted form of HsHR has increased normalized B factors in the region of helix C that is close to CBS I and changes its conformation in NpHR. Secondly, prolonged soaking of HsHR crystals at high pH resulted in loss of diffraction. In conclusion, the conformation of the chloride-free protein may not be compatible with this crystal form of HsHR despite a packing arrangement that hardly restrains helices E and F that presumably move during ion transport.
Project description:Halorhodopsin from Natronomonas pharaonis (pHR), a retinylidene protein that functions as a light-driven chloride ion pump, is converted into a proton pump in the presence of azide ion. To clarify this conversion, we investigated light-induced structural changes in pHR using a C2 crystal that was prepared in the presence of Cl(-) and subsequently soaked in a solution containing azide ion. When the pHR-azide complex was illuminated at pH 9, a profound outward movement (?4 Å) of the cytoplasmic half of helix F was observed in a subunit with the EF loop facing an open space. This movement created a long water channel between the retinal Schiff base and the cytoplasmic surface, along which a proton could be transported. Meanwhile, the middle moiety of helix C moved inward, leading to shrinkage of the primary anion-binding site (site I), and the azide molecule in site I was expelled out to the extracellular medium. The results suggest that the cytoplasmic half of helix F and the middle moiety of helix C act as different types of valves for active proton transport.
Project description:Attenuated total reflectance (ATR)-FTIR spectroscopy has been widely used to probe protein structural changes under various stimuli, such as light absorption, voltage change, and ligand binding, in aqueous conditions. Time-resolved measurements require a trigger, which can be controlled electronically; therefore, light and voltage changes are suitable. Here we developed a novel, rapid buffer-exchange system for time-resolved ATR-FTIR spectroscopy to monitor the ligand- or ion-binding re-action of a protein. By using the step-scan mode (time resolution; 2.5 ms), we confirmed the completion of the buffer-exchange reaction within ?25 ms; the process was monitored by the infrared absorption change of a nitrate band at 1,350 cm(-1). We also demonstrated the anion-binding reaction of a membrane protein, Natronomonas pharaonis halorhodopsin (pHR), which binds a chloride ion in the initial anion-binding site near the retinal chromophore. The formation of chloride- or nitrate-bound pHR was confirmed by an increase of the retinal absorption band at 1,528 cm(-1). It also should be noted that low sample consumption (?1 µg of protein) makes this new method a powerful technique to understand ligand-protein and ion-protein interactions, particularly for membrane proteins.
Project description:Halorhodopsin from Natronomonas pharaonis (pHR) functions as a light-driven halide ion pump. In the presence of halide ions, the photochemical reaction of pHR is described by the scheme: K? L1 ? L2 ? N ? O ? pHR' ? pHR. Here, we report light-induced structural changes of the pHR-bromide complex observed in the C2 crystal. In the L1-to-L2 transition, the bromide ion that initially exists in the extracellular vicinity of retinal moves across the retinal Schiff base. Upon the formation of the N state with a bromide ion bound to the cytoplasmic vicinity of the retinal Schiff base, the cytoplasmic half of helix F moves outward to create a water channel in the cytoplasmic interhelical space, whereas the extracellular half of helix C moves inward. During the transition from N to an N-like reaction state with retinal assuming the 13-cis/15-syn configuration, the translocated bromide ion is released into the cytoplasmic medium. Subsequently, helix F relaxes into its original conformation, generating the O state. Anion uptake from the extracellular side occurs when helix C relaxes into its original conformation. These structural data provide insight into the structural basis of unidirectional anion transport.
Project description:We previously showed that the chimeric proteins of microbial rhodopsins, such as light-driven proton pump bacteriorhodopsin (BR) and Gloeobacter rhodopsin (GR) that contain cytoplasmic loops of bovine rhodopsin, are able to activate Gt protein upon light absorption. These facts suggest similar protein structural changes in both the light-driven proton pump and animal rhodopsin. Here we report two trials to engineer chimeric rhodopsins, one for the inserted loop, and another for the microbial rhodopsin template. For the former, we successfully activated Gs protein by light through the incorporation of the cytoplasmic loop of ?2-adrenergic receptor (?2AR). For the latter, we did not observe any G-protein activation for the light-driven sodium pump from Indibacter alkaliphilus (IndiR2) or a light-driven chloride pump halorhodopsin from Natronomonas pharaonis (NpHR), whereas the light-driven proton pump GR showed light-dependent G-protein activation. This fact suggests that a helix opening motion is common to G protein coupled receptor (GPCR) and GR, but not to IndiR2 and NpHR. Light-induced difference FTIR spectroscopy revealed similar structural changes between WT and the third loop chimera for each light-driven pump. A helical structural perturbation, which was largest for GR, was further enhanced in the chimera. We conclude that similar structural dynamics that occur on the cytoplasmic side of GPCR are needed to design chimeric microbial rhodopsins.
Project description:The genus Natronomonas contains two species, one haloalkaliphile (N. pharaonis) and one neutrophile (N. moolapensis). Here, we report the genome sequence of N. moolapensis strain 8.8.11. The overall genome properties are similar for the two species. Only the neutrophile contains bacteriorhodopsin and a membrane glycolipid.