Molecular Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
0 Q&A 271 Views May 20, 2023

Mitochondria play decisive roles in bioenergetics and intracellular communication. These organelles contain a circular mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genome that is duplicated within one to two hours by a mitochondrial replisome, independently from the nuclear replisome. mtDNA stability is regulated in part at the level of mtDNA replication. Consequently, mutations in mitochondrial replisome components result in mtDNA instability and are associated with diverse disease phenotypes, including premature aging, aberrant cellular energetics, and developmental defects. The mechanisms ensuring mtDNA replication stability are not completely understood. Thus, there remains a need to develop tools to specifically and quantifiably examine mtDNA replication. To date, methods for labeling mtDNA have relied on prolonged exposures of 5′-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU) or 5′-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine (EdU). However, labeling with these nucleoside analogs for a sufficiently short time in order to monitor nascent mtDNA replication, such as under two hours, does not produce signals suited for efficient or accurate quantitative analysis. The assay system described here, termed Mitochondrial Replication Assay (MIRA), utilizes proximity ligation assay (PLA) combined with EdU-coupled Click-IT chemistry to address this limitation, thereby enabling sensitive and quantitative analysis of nascent in situ mtDNA replication with single-cell resolution. This method can be further paired with conventional immunofluorescence (IF) for multi-parameter cell analysis. By enabling monitoring nascent mtDNA prior to the complete replication of the entire mtDNA genome, this new assay system allowed the discovery of a new mitochondrial stability pathway, mtDNA fork protection. Moreover, a modification in primary antibodies application allows the adaptation of our previously described in situ protein Interactions with nascent DNA Replication Forks (SIRF) for the detection of proteins of interest to nascent mtDNA replication forks on a single molecule level (mitoSIRF).

Graphical overview

Schematic overview of Mitochondrial Replication Assay (MIRA). 5′-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine (EdU; green) incorporated in DNA is tagged with biotin (blue) using Click-IT chemistry. Subsequent proximity ligation assay (PLA, pink circles) using antibodies against biotin allows the fluorescent tagging of the nascent EdU and amplification of the signal sufficient for visualization by standard immunofluorescence. PLA signals outside the nucleus denote mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) signals. Ab, antibody. In in situ protein interactions with nascent DNA replication forks (mitoSIRF), one of the primary antibodies is directed against a protein of interest, while the other detects nascent biotinylated EdU, thus enabling in situ protein interactions with nascent mtDNA.

0 Q&A 183 Views May 20, 2023

Fast and accurate detection of pathogenic bacterial infection in patients with severe pneumonia is significant to its treatment. The traditional culture method currently used by most medical institutions relies on a time-consuming culture process (over two days) that is unable to meet clinical needs. Rapid, accurate, and convenient species-specific bacterial detector (SSBD) has been developed to provide timely information on pathogenic bacteria. The SSBD was designed based on the fact that Cas12a indiscriminately cleaves any DNA following the binding of the crRNA-Cas12a complex to the target DNA molecule. SSBD involves two processes, starting with PCR of the target DNA using primers specific for the pathogen, followed by detection of the existence of pathogen target DNA in the PCR product using the corresponding crRNA and Cas12a protein. Compared to the culture test, the SSBD can obtain accurate pathogenic information in only a few hours, dramatically shortening the detection time and allowing more patients to benefit from timely clinical treatment.

0 Q&A 226 Views May 20, 2023

Skeletal muscle consists of a mixture of fiber types with different functional and metabolic characteristics. The relative composition of these muscle fiber types has implications for muscle performance, whole-body metabolism, and health. However, analyses of muscle samples in a fiber type–dependent manner are very time consuming. Therefore, these are often neglected in favor of more time-efficient analyses on mixed muscle samples. Methods such as western blot and myosin heavy chain separation by SDS-PAGE have previously been utilized to fiber type–isolated muscle fibers. More recently, the introduction of the dot blot method significantly increased the speed of fiber typing. However, despite recent advancements, none of the current methodologies are feasible for large-scale investigations because of their time requirements. Here, we present the protocol for a new method, which we have named THRIFTY (high-THRoughput Immunofluorescence Fiber TYping), that enables rapid fiber type identification using antibodies towards the different myosin heavy chain (MyHC) isoforms of fast and slow twitch muscle fibers. First, a short segment (<1 mm) is cut off from isolated muscle fibers and mounted on a customized gridded microscope slide holding up to 200 fiber segments. Second, the fiber segments attached to the microscope slide are stained with MyHC-specific antibodies and then visualized using a fluorescence microscope. Lastly, the remaining pieces of the fibers can either be collected individually or pooled together with fibers of the same type for subsequent analyses. The THRIFTY protocol is approximately three times as fast as the dot blot method, which enables not only time-sensitive assays to be performed but also increases the feasibility to conduct large-scale investigations into fiber type specific physiology.

Graphical Overview

Graphical overview of the THRIFTY workflow. Cut off a small segment (0.5 mm) of an individually dissected muscle fiber and mount it onto the customized microscope slide containing a printed grid system. Using a Hamilton syringe, fixate the fiber segment by applying a small droplet of distilled water on the segment and let it fully dry (1A). The remaining large segment of the fiber should be placed in the corresponding square on a black A4 paper (1B). Once the microscope slide has been fully mounted with fiber segments, submerge the slide in a polypropylene slide mailer (illustrated as a Coplin jar in the figure) containing acetone to permeabilize the fiber segments. Thereafter, incubate the slide with primary antibodies targeting MyHC-I and MyHC-II. Following washes in PBS solution, incubate the slides with fluorescently labeled secondary antibodies, wash again, and mount with a cover glass and antifade reagent (2). Identification of fiber type can be performed using a digital fluorescence microscope (3), whereafter the remaining pieces of the fiber segments (large) are pooled together according to their fiber type or individually collected for experiments on single fibers (4). Image modified from Horwath et al. (2022).

0 Q&A 388 Views May 20, 2023

Cotton is a significant industrial crop, playing an essential role in the global economy that suffers several setbacks due to biotic and abiotic adversities. Despite such problems, biotechnological advances in cotton are limited because of genetic transformation and regeneration limitations. Here, we present a detailed protocol optimized based on previously published papers, along with our modifications. These involve changes in Agrobacterium concentration, co-cultivation time and temperature, hormones used for regeneration, media manipulation for embryogenic callus production, and efficient rescue of deformed embryos. Further, this protocol has been used in genetic studies on biotic and abiotic stress in cotton. This protocol assures a reproducible stable transgenic cotton development procedure via somatic embryogenesis that can be used by researchers worldwide.

Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 606 Views May 5, 2023

Western blotting is a universally used technique to identify specific proteins from a heterogeneous and complex mixture. However, there is no clear and common procedure to quantify the results obtained, resulting in variations due to the different software and protocols used in each laboratory. Here, we have developed a procedure based on the increase in chemiluminescent signal to obtain a representative value for each band to be quantified. Images were processed with ImageJ and subsequently compared using R software. The result is a linear regression model in which we use the slope of the signal increase within the combined linear range of detection to compare between samples. This approach allows to quantify and compare protein levels from different conditions in a simple and reproducible way.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 196 Views May 5, 2023

During infection, complement plays a critical role in inflammation, opsonisation, and destruction of microorganisms. This presents a challenge for pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus to overcome when invading the host. Our current knowledge on the mechanisms that evolved to counteract and disable this system is limited by the molecular tools available. Present techniques utilise labelled complement-specific antibodies to detect deposition upon the bacterial surface, a method not compatible with pathogens such as S. aureus, which are equipped with immunoglobulin-binding proteins, Protein A and Sbi. This protocol uses a novel antibody-independent probe, derived from the C3 binding domain of staphylococcal protein Sbi, in combination with flow cytometry, to quantify complement deposition. Sbi-IV is biotinylated, and deposition is quantified with fluorophore-labelled streptavidin. This novel method allows observation of wild-type cells without the need to disrupt key immune modulating proteins, presenting the opportunity to analyse the complement evasion mechanism used by clinical isolates. Here, we describe a step-by-step protocol for the expression and purification of Sbi-IV protein, quantification and biotinylation of the probe, and finally, optimisation of flow cytometry to detect complement deposition using normal human serum (NHS) and both Lactococcus lactis and S. aureus.

0 Q&A 299 Views Apr 20, 2023

The CRISPR/Cas9 system is a powerful tool for gene repair that holds great potential for gene therapy to cure monogenic diseases. Despite intensive improvement, the safety of this system remains a major clinical concern. In contrast to Cas9 nuclease, Cas9 nickases with a pair of short-distance (38–68 bp) PAM-out single-guide RNAs (sgRNAs) preserve gene repair efficiency while strongly reducing off-target effects. However, this approach still leads to efficient unwanted on-target mutations that may cause tumorigenesis or abnormal hematopoiesis. We establish a precise and safe spacer-nick gene repair approach that combines Cas9D10A nickase with a pair of PAM-out sgRNAs at a distance of 200–350 bp. In combination with adeno-associated virus (AAV) serotype 6 donor templates, this approach leads to efficient gene repair with minimal unintended on- and off-target mutations in human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). Here, we provide detailed protocols to use the spacer-nick approach for gene repair and to assess the safety of this system in human HSPCs. The spacer-nick approach enables efficient gene correction for repair of disease-causing mutations with increased safety and suitability for gene therapy.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 294 Views Apr 5, 2023

Interleukin-22 (IL-22) has been demonstrated as a critical regulator of epithelial homeostasis and repair; it showed an anti-inflammatory effect against ulcerative colitis. Local microinjection of IL-22 cDNA vector has been shown to be effective in treating ulcerative colitis in mouse models. However, microinjection comes with multiple technical challenges for routine colon-targeted drug delivery. In contrast, oral administration can get around these challenges and provide comparable efficacy. We showed in previous studies that oral administration of new lipid nanoparticles (nLNP)-encapsulated IL-22 mRNA targets the colon region and efficiently ameliorates colitis. This protocol describes the details of preparing and characterizing the nLNP-encapsulated IL-22 mRNA using three major lipids that mimic the natural ginger-derived nanoparticles. It provides an nLNP platform that can be used to orally deliver other types of nucleic acids to the colon.

0 Q&A 186 Views Apr 5, 2023

Zebrafish is an excellent model to study vertebrate neurobiology, but its synaptic components that mediate and regulate fast electrical synaptic transmission are largely unidentified. Here, we describe methods to solubilize and immunoprecipitate adult zebrafish brain homogenate under conditions to preserve electrical synapse protein complexes. The methods presented are well-suited to probe electrical synapse immunocomplexes, and potentially other brain-derived immunocomplexes, for candidate interactors from zebrafish brain.

0 Q&A 745 Views Mar 20, 2023

E-cigarette (E-cig) inhalation affects health status by modulating inflammation profiles in several organs, including the brain, lung, heart, and colon. The effect of flavored fourth-generation pod-based E-cigs (JUUL) on murine gut inflammation is modulated by both flavor and exposure period. Exposure of mice to JUUL mango and JUUL mint for one month upregulated inflammatory cytokines, particularly TNF-α, IL-6, and Cxcl-1 (IL-8). JUUL Mango effects were more prominent than those incurred by JUUL Mint after one month of exposure. However, JUUL Mango reduced the expression of colonic inflammatory cytokines after three months of exposure. In this protocol, we detail the process of RNA isolation from the mouse colon and the use of extracted RNA in profiling the inflammatory milieu. Efficient RNA extraction from the murine colon is the most important step in the evaluation of inflammatory transcripts in the colon.

0 Q&A 511 Views Mar 20, 2023

Polysome profiling by sucrose density gradient centrifugation is commonly used to study the overall degree of translation (messenger RNA to protein synthesis). Traditionally, the method begins with synthesis of a 5–10 mL sucrose gradient onto which 0.5–1 mL of cell extract is layered and centrifuged at high speed for 3–4 h in a floor-model ultracentrifuge. After centrifugation, the gradient solution is passed through an absorbance recorder to generate a polysome profile. Ten to twelve fractions (0.8–1 mL each) are collected for isolating different RNA and protein populations. The overall method is tedious and lengthy (6–9 h), requires access to a suitable ultracentrifuge rotor and centrifuge, and requires a substantial amount of tissue material, which can be a limiting factor. Moreover, there is often a dilemma over the quality of RNA and protein populations in the individual fractions due to the extended experiment times. To overcome these challenges, here we describe a miniature sucrose gradient for polysome profiling using Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings that takes ~1 h centrifugation time in a tabletop ultracentrifuge, reduced gradient synthesis time, and also less tissue material. The protocol described here can be easily adapted to a wide variety of organisms and polysome profiling of organelles, such as chloroplasts and mitochondria.

Key Features

• Mini sucrose gradient for polysome profiling that requires less than half the processing time vs. traditional methods.

• Reduced starting tissue material and sample volume for sucrose gradients.

• Feasibility of RNA and protein isolation from polysome fractions.

• Protocol can be easily modified to a wide variety of organisms (and even polysome profiling of organelles, such as chloroplast and mitochondria).

Graphical Overview

Figure 1. Graphical overview of polysome profiling using mini sucrose gradient. A. One milliliter each of 15% (w/v) and 50% (w/v) sucrose gradient solution is added to the individual chambers of the gradient maker. While mixing with a small magnetic stirrer in the 50% solution chamber, base station knob is turned to open position, allowing sucrose gradient solution to slowly flow through the outlet into a 2.2 mL gradient tube. After centrifugation at 50,000 rpm (213,626.2 × g) in a swinging bucket rotor for 70 min at 4 °C, the gradient tube is stored at 4 °C for the next steps. B. Cell extract from 12-day-old vertically grown Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings is centrifuged twice and 100 µL of supernatant is gently layered on the pre-made sucrose gradient from step A. After centrifugation as described in step A, polysome profile is obtained by feeding the gradient solution through an absorbance recorder (A254 nm). Eight (200 µL) fractions are collected for RNA and protein isolation.
0 Q&A 186 Views Mar 5, 2023

Telomeres are structures that cap the ends of linear chromosomes and play critical roles in maintaining genome integrity and establishing the replicative lifespan of cells. In stem and cancer cells, telomeres are actively elongated by either telomerase or the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) pathway. This pathway is characterized by several hallmark features, including extrachromosomal C-rich circular DNAs that can be probed to assess ALT activity. These so-called C-circles are the product of ALT-associated DNA damage repair processes and simultaneously serve as potential templates for iterative telomere extension. This bifunctional nature makes C-circles highly sensitive and specific markers of ALT. Here, we describe a C-circle assay, adapted from previous reports, that enables the quantitation of C-circle abundance in mammalian cells subjected to a wide range of experimental perturbations. This protocol combines the Quick C-circle Preparation (QCP) method for DNA isolation with fluorometry-based DNA quantification, rolling circle amplification (RCA), and detection of C-circles using quantitative PCR. Moreover, the inclusion of internal standards with well-characterized telomere maintenance mechanisms (TMMs) allows for the reliable benchmarking of cells with unknown TMM status. Overall, our work builds upon existing protocols to create a generalizable workflow for in vitro C-circle quantitation and ascertainment of TMM identity.

0 Q&A 208 Views Mar 5, 2023

Malaria molecular surveillance has great potential to support national malaria control programs (NMCPs), informing policy for its control and elimination. Here, we present a new three-day workflow for targeted resequencing of markers in 13 resistance-associated genes, histidine rich protein 2 and 3 (hrp2&3), a country (Peru)-specific 28 SNP-barcode for population genetic analysis, and apical membrane antigen 1 (ama1), using Illumina short-read sequencing technology. The assay applies a multiplex PCR approach to amplify all genomic regions of interest in a rapid and easily standardizable procedure and allows simultaneous amplification of a high number of targets at once, therefore having great potential for implementation into routine surveillance practice by NMCPs. The assay can be performed on routinely collected filter paper blood spots and can be easily adapted to different regions to investigate either regional trends or in-country epidemiological changes.

0 Q&A 616 Views Feb 20, 2023

Interactions between RNA-binding proteins and RNA molecules are at the center of multiple biological processes. Therefore, accurate characterization of the composition of ribonucleoprotein complexes (RNPs) is crucial. Ribonuclease (RNase) for mitochondrial RNA processing (MRP) and RNase P are highly similar RNPs that play distinct roles at the cellular level; as a consequence, the specific isolation of either of these complexes is essential to study their biochemical function. Since their protein components are nearly identical, purification of these endoribonucleases using protein-centric methods is not feasible. Here, we describe a procedure employing an optimized high-affinity streptavidin-binding RNA aptamer, termed S1m, to purify RNase MRP free of RNase P. This report details all steps from the RNA tagging to the characterization of the purified material. We show that using the S1m tag allows efficient isolation of active RNase MRP.

We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By using our website, you are agreeing to allow the storage of cookies on your computer.