Controlling organelle transport and positioning with light

Optogenetic control of organelle transport and positioning. Petra van Bergeijk, Max Adrian, Casper C. Hoogenraad, Lukas C. Kapitein. Nature DOI:

Proper positioning of organelles by cytoskeleton-based motor proteins underlies cellular events such as signaling, polarization, and growth. For many organelles, however, the precise connection between position and function has remained unclear, because strategies to control intracellular organelle positioning with spatiotemporal precision are lacking. We have established optical control of intracellular transport by using light-sensitive heterodimerization to recruit specific cytoskeletal motor proteins (kinesin, dynein or myosin) to selected cargoes. We demonstrate that the motility of peroxisomes, recycling endosomes and mitochondria can be locally and repeatedly induced or stopped, allowing rapid organelle repositioning. We applied this approach in primary neurons to test how local positioning of recycling endosomes contributes to axon outgrowth and found that dynein-driven removal of endosomes from axonal growth cones reversibly suppressed axon growth, whereas kinesin-driven endosome enrichment enhances growth. Our strategy for optogenetic control of organelle positioning will be widely applicable to directly explore site-specific organelle functions in different model systems.

nature news views jan 2015

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