Visible Light-Induced Specific Protein Reaction Delineates Early Stages of Cell Adhesion

Rolle Rahikainen, Susan K. Vester, Paula Turkki, Chasity P. Janosko, Alexander Deiters, Vesa P. Hytönen, Mark Howarth

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Light is well-established for control of bond breakage but not for control of specific bond formation in complex environments. We previously engineered the diffusion-limited reactivity of the SpyTag003 peptide with its protein partner SpyCatcher003 through spontaneous isopeptide bond formation. This system enables precise and irreversible assembly of biological building blocks with applications from biomaterials to vaccines. Here we establish a system for the rapid control of this amide bond formation with visible light. We have generated a caged SpyCatcher003, which allows light triggering of covalent bond formation to SpyTag003 in mammalian cells. Photocaging is achieved through site-specific incorporation of an unnatural coumarin-lysine at the reactive site of SpyCatcher003. We showed a uniform specific reaction in cell lysate upon light activation. We then used the spatiotemporal precision of a 405 nm confocal laser for uncaging in seconds, probing the earliest events in mechanotransduction by talin, the key force sensor between the cytoskeleton and the extracellular matrix. Reconstituting talin induced rapid biphasic extension of lamellipodia, revealing the kinetics of talin-regulated cell spreading and polarization. Thereafter we determined the hierarchy of the recruitment of key components for cell adhesion. Precise control over site-specific protein reaction with visible light creates diverse opportunities for cell biology and nanoassembly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24459–24465
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number45
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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