All Publications

  • Cardiotoxicity drug screening based on whole-panel intracellular recording. Biosensors & bioelectronics Yang, Y., Liu, A., Tsai, C., Liu, C., Wu, J. C., Cui, B. 2022; 216: 114617


    Unintended binding of small-molecule drugs to ion channels affects electrophysiological properties of cardiomyocytes and potentially leads to arrhythmia and heart failure. The waveforms of intracellular action potentials reflect the coordinated activities of cardiac ion channels and serve as a reliable means for assessing drug toxicity, but the implementation is limited by the low throughput of patch clamp for intracellular recording measurements. In the last decade, several new technologies are being developed to address this challenge. We recently developed the nanocrown electrode array (NcEA) technology that allows robust, parallel, and long-duration recording of intracellular action potentials (iAPs). Here, we demonstrate that NcEAs allow comparison of iAP waveforms before and after drug treatment from the same cell. This self-referencing comparison not only shows distinct drug effects of sodium, potassium, and calcium blockers, but also reveals subtle differences among three subclasses of sodium channel blockers with sub-millisecond accuracy. Furthermore, self-referencing comparison unveils heterogeneous drug responses among different cells. In our study, whole-panel simultaneous intracellular recording can be reliably achieved with 94% success rate. The average duration of intracellular recording is 30min and some last longer than 2h. With its high reliability, long recording duration, and easy-to-use nature, NcEA would be useful for iAP-based preclinical drug screening.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bios.2022.114617

    View details for PubMedID 36027802

  • Nanocrown electrodes for parallel and robust intracellular recording of cardiomyocytes. Nature communications Jahed, Z., Yang, Y., Tsai, C., Foster, E. P., McGuire, A. F., Yang, H., Liu, A., Forro, C., Yan, Z., Jiang, X., Zhao, M., Zhang, W., Li, X., Li, T., Pawlosky, A., Wu, J. C., Cui, B. 2022; 13 (1): 2253


    Drug-induced cardiotoxicity arises primarily when a compound alters the electrophysiological properties of cardiomyocytes. Features of intracellular action potentials (iAPs) are powerful biomarkers that predict proarrhythmic risks. In the last decade, a number of vertical nanoelectrodes have been demonstrated to achieve parallel and minimally-invasive iAP recordings. However, the large variability in success rate and signal strength have hindered nanoelectrodes from being broadly adopted for proarrhythmia drug assessment. In this work, we develop vertically-aligned nanocrown electrodes that are mechanically robust and achieve>99% success rates in obtaining intracellular access through electroporation. We validate the accuracy of nanocrown electrode recordings by simultaneous patch clamp recording from the same cell. Finally, we demonstrate that nanocrown electrodes enable prolonged iAP recording for continual monitoring of the same cells upon the sequential addition of four incremental drug doses. Our technology development provides an advancement towards establishing an iAP screening assay for preclinical evaluation of drug-induced arrhythmogenicity.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-022-29726-2

    View details for PubMedID 35474069

  • Optical Activation of TrkB Signaling. Journal of molecular biology Huang, P., Liu, A., Song, Y., Hope, J. M., Cui, B., Duan, L. 2020


    Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), via activation of tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB), plays a critical role in neuronal proliferation, differentiation, survival, and death. Dysregulation of TrkB signaling is implicated in neurodegenerative disorders and cancers. Precise activation of TrkB signaling with spatial and temporal resolution is greatly desired to study the dynamic nature of TrkB signaling and its role in related diseases. Here we develop different optogenetic approaches that use light to activate TrkB signaling. Utilizing the photosensitive protein Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 (CRY2), the light-inducible homo-interaction of the intracellular domain of TrkB (iTrkB) in the cytosol or on the plasma membrane is able to induce the activation of downstream MAPK/ERK and PI3K/Akt signaling as well as the neurite outgrowth of PC12 cells. Moreover, we prove that such strategies are generalizable to other optical homo-dimerizers by demonstrating the optical TrkB activation based on the light-oxygen-voltage domain of aureochrome 1 from Vaucheria frigida. The results open up new possibilities of many other optical platforms to activate TrkB signaling to fulfill customized needs. By comparing all the different strategies, we find that the CRY2-integrated approach to achieve light-induced cell membrane recruitment and homo-interaction of iTrkB is most efficient in activating TrkB signaling. The optogenetic strategies presented are promising tools to investigate BDNF/TrkB signaling with tight spatial and temporal control.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jmb.2020.05.002

    View details for PubMedID 32422149

  • Construction of Light-Activated Neurotrophin Receptors Using the Improved Light-Induced Dimerizer (iLID). Journal of molecular biology Hope, J. M., Liu, A., Calvin, G. J., Cui, B. 2020


    Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) play crucial roles in human health, and their misregulation is implicated in disorders ranging from neurodegenerative diseases to cancers. The highly conserved mechanism of activation of RTKs makes them especially appealing candidates for control via optogenetic dimerization methods. This work offers a strategy for using the improved Light-Induced Dimer (iLID) system with a constructed tandem-dimer of its binding partner nano (tdnano) to build light-activatable versions of RTKs. In the absence of light, the iLID-RTK is cytosolic, monomeric and inactive. Under blue light, the iLID + tdnano system recruits two copies of iLID-RTK to tdnano, dimerizing and activating the RTK. We demonstrate that iLID opto-iTrkA and opto-iTrkB are capable of reproducing downstream ERK and Akt signaling only in the presence of tdnano. We further show with our opto-iTrkA that the system is compatible with multi-day and population-level activation of TrkA in PC12 cells. By leveraging genetic targeting of tdnano, we achieve RTK activation at a specific subcellular location even with whole-cell illumination, allowing us to confidently probe the impact of context on signaling outcome.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jmb.2020.04.018

    View details for PubMedID 32335036

  • Developing Nanoelectrodes into Robust Electrophysiological Tools for Accurate and Parallel Recording of Action Potentials from Single Cells Jahed, Z., Yang, Y., Yang, H., McGuire, A., Liu, A., Li, X., Cui, B. CELL PRESS. 2020: 28A
  • Light-Inducible Generation of Membrane Curvature in Live Cells with Engineered BAR Domain Proteins. ACS synthetic biology Jones, T. n., Liu, A. n., Cui, B. n. 2020


    Nanoscale membrane curvature is now understood to play an active role in essential cellular processes such as endocytosis, exocytosis, and actin dynamics. Previous studies have shown that membrane curvature can directly affect protein function and intracellular signaling. However, few methods are able to precisely manipulate membrane curvature in live cells. Here, we report the development of a new method of generating nanoscale membrane curvature in live cells that is controllable, reversible, and capable of precise spatial and temporal manipulation. For this purpose, we make use of Bin/Amphiphysin/Rvs (BAR) domain proteins, a family of well-studied membrane-remodeling and membrane-sculpting proteins. Specifically, we engineered two optogenetic systems, opto-FBAR and opto-IBAR, that allow light-inducible formation of positive and negative membrane curvature, respectively. Using opto-FBAR, blue light activation results in the formation of tubular membrane invaginations (positive curvature), controllable down to the subcellular level. Using opto-IBAR, blue light illumination results in the formation of membrane protrusions or filopodia (negative curvature). These systems present a novel approach for light-inducible manipulation of nanoscale membrane curvature in live cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acssynbio.9b00516

    View details for PubMedID 32212723

  • Direct beta-Selective Hydrocarboxylation of Styrenes with CO2 Enabled by Continuous Flow Photoredox Catalysis JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY Seo, H., Liu, A., Jamison, T. F. 2017; 139 (40): 13969–72


    The direct β-selective hydrocarboxylation of styrenes under atmospheric pressure of CO2 has been developed using photoredox catalysis in continuous flow. The scope of this methodology was demonstrated with a range of functionalized terminal styrenes, as well as α-substituted and β-substituted styrenes.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/jacs.7b05942

    View details for Web of Science ID 000413057100002

    View details for PubMedID 28953365