Molecular Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 487 Views Jun 20, 2024

Human babesiosis is a tick-borne disease caused by Babesia pathogens. The disease, which presents with malaria-like symptoms, can be life-threatening, especially in individuals with weakened immune systems and the elderly. The worldwide prevalence of human babesiosis has been gradually rising, prompting alarm among public health experts. In other pathogens, genetic techniques have proven to be valuable tools for conducting functional studies to understand the importance of specific genes in development and pathogenesis as well as to validate novel cellular targets for drug discovery. Genetic manipulation methods have been established for several non-human Babesia and Theileria species and, more recently, have begun to be developed for human Babesia parasites. We have previously reported the development of a method for genetic manipulation of the human pathogen Babesia duncani. This method is based on positive selection using the hDHFR gene as a selectable marker, whose expression is regulated by the ef-1aB promoter, along with homology regions that facilitate integration into the gene of interest through homologous recombination. Herein, we provide a detailed description of the steps needed to implement this strategy in B. duncani to study gene function. It is anticipated that the implementation of this method will significantly improve our understanding of babesiosis and facilitate the development of novel and more effective therapeutic strategies for the treatment of human babesiosis.

0 Q&A 601 Views May 5, 2024

Two-dimensional (2D) agarose gel electrophoresis is the method of choice to analyze DNA topology. The possibility to use E. coli strains with different genetic backgrounds in combination with nicking enzymes and different concentrations of norfloxacin improves the resolution of 2D gels to study the electrophoretic behavior of three different families of DNA topoisomers: supercoiled DNA molecules, post-replicative catenanes, and knotted DNA molecules. Here, we describe the materials and procedures required to optimize their separation by 2D gels. Understanding the differences in their electrophoretic behavior can help explain some important physical characteristics of these different types of DNA topoisomers.

0 Q&A 734 Views Apr 20, 2024

DNA methylation is a key epigenetic mechanism underlying many biological processes, and its aberrant regulation has been tightly associated with various human diseases. Precise manipulation of DNA methylation holds the promise to advance our understanding of this critical mechanism and to develop novel therapeutic methods. Previously, we were only able to alter genome-wide DNA methylation by treating with small molecules (e.g., 5-Aza-2-deoxycytidine) or perturbing relevant genes (e.g., DNA methyltransferase) targetlessly, which makes it challenging to investigate the functional significance of this epigenetic mark at specific genomic loci. By fusing the catalytic domain of a key enzyme in the DNA demethylation process (Ten-eleven translocation dioxygenases 1, Tet1) with a reprogrammable sequence-specific DNA-targeting molecular protein, dCas9, we developed a DNA methylation editing tool (dCas9-Tet1) to demethylate specific genomic loci in a targeted manner. This dCas9-Tet1 system allows us to study the role of DNA methylation at almost any given loci with only the replacement of a single-guide RNA. Here, we describe a protocol that enables modular and scalable manipulation of DNA methylation at specific genomic loci in various cell cultures with high efficiency and specificity using the dCas9-Tet1 system.

0 Q&A 380 Views Apr 20, 2024

Precision-cut lung slices (PCLS), ex vivo 3D lung tissue models, have been widely used for various applications in lung research. PCLS serve as an excellent intermediary between in vitro and in vivo models because they retain all resident cell types within their natural niche while preserving the extracellular matrix environment. This protocol describes the TReATS (TAT-Cre recombinase-mediated floxed allele modification in tissue slices) method that enables rapid and efficient gene modification in PCLS derived from adult floxed animals. Here, we present detailed protocols for the TReATS method, consisting of two simple steps: PCLS generation and incubation in a TAT-Cre recombinase solution. Subsequent validation of gene modification involves live staining and imaging of PCLS, quantitative real-time PCR, and cell viability assessment. This four-day protocol eliminates the need for complex Cre-breeding, circumvents issues with premature lethality related to gene mutation, and significantly reduces the use of animals. The TReATS method offers a simple and reproducible solution for gene modification in complex ex vivo tissue-based models, accelerating the study of gene function, disease mechanisms, and the discovery of drug targets.

0 Q&A 418 Views Mar 20, 2024

Erwinia persicina is a gram-negative bacterium that causes diseases in plants. Recently, E. persicina BST187 was shown to exhibit broad-spectrum antibacterial activity due to its inhibitory effects on bacterial acetyl-CoA carboxylase, demonstrating promising potential as a biological control agent. However, the lack of suitable genetic manipulation techniques limits its exploitation and industrial application. Here, we developed an efficient transformation system for E. persicina. Using pET28a as the starting vector, the expression cassette of the red fluorescent protein–encoding gene with the strong promoter J23119 was constructed and transformed into BST187 competent cells to verify the overexpression system. Moreover, suicide plasmid–mediated genome editing systems was developed, and lacZ was knocked out of BST187 genome by parental conjugation transfer using the recombinant suicide vector pKNOCK-sacB-km-lacZ. Therefore, both the transformation and suicide plasmid–mediated genome editing system will greatly facilitate genetic manipulations in E. persicina and promote its development and application.

Key features

• Our studies establish a genetic manipulation system for Erwinia persicina, providing a versatile tool for studying the gene function of non-model microorganisms.

• Requires approximately 6–10 days to complete modification of a chromosome locus.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 517 Views Mar 5, 2024

Diatoms serve as a source for a variety of compounds with particularbiotechnological interest. Therefore, redirecting the flow to a specific pathwayrequires the elucidation of the gene’s specific function. The mostcommonly used method in diatoms is biolistic transformation, which is a veryexpensive and time-consuming method. The use of episomes that are maintained asclosed circles at a copy number equivalent to native chromosomes has become auseful genetic system for protein expression that avoids multiple insertions,position-specific effects on expression, and potential knockout of non-targetedgenes. These episomes can be introduced from bacteria into diatoms viaconjugation. Here, we describe a detailed protocol for gene expression thatincludes 1) the gateway cloning strategy and 2) the conjugation protocol for themobilization of plasmids from bacteria to diatoms.

0 Q&A 575 Views Jan 5, 2024

Fusarium oxysporum can cause many important plant diseases worldwide, such as crown rot, wilt, and root rot. During the development of strawberry crown rot, this pathogenic fungus spreads from the mother plant to the strawberry seedling through the stolon, with obvious characteristics of latent infection. Therefore, the rapid and timely detection of F. oxysporum can significantly help achieve effective disease management. Here, we present a protocol for the recombinase polymerase amplification– lateral flow dipstick (RPA–LFD) detection technique for the rapid detection of F. oxysporum on strawberry, which only takes half an hour. A significant advantage of our RPA–LFD technique is the elimination of the involvement of professional teams and laboratories, which qualifies it for field detection. We test this protocol directly on plant samples with suspected infection by F. oxysporum in the field and greenhouse. It is worth noting that this protocol can quickly, sensitively, and specifically detect F. oxysporum in soils and plants including strawberry.

Key features

• This protocol is used to detect whether plants such as strawberry are infected with F. oxysporum.

• This protocol has potential for application in portable nucleic acid detection.

• It can complete the detection of samples in the field within 30 min.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 791 Views Dec 20, 2023

Many organisms alternate the expression of genes from large gene sets or gene families to adapt to environmental cues or immune pressure. The single-celled protozoan pathogen Trypanosoma brucei spp. periodically changes its homogeneous surface coat of variant surface glycoproteins (VSGs) to evade host antibodies during infection. This pathogen expresses one out of ~2,500 VSG genes at a time from telomeric expression sites (ESs) and periodically changes their expression by transcriptional switching or recombination. Attempts to track VSG switching have previously relied on genetic modifications of ES sequences with drug-selectable markers or genes encoding fluorescent proteins. However, genetic modifications of the ESs can interfere with the binding of proteins that control VSG transcription and/or recombination, thus affecting VSG expression and switching. Other approaches include Illumina sequencing of the VSG repertoire, which shows VSGs expressed in the population rather than cell switching; the Illumina short reads often limit the distinction of the large set of VSG genes. Here, we describe a methodology to study antigenic switching without modifications of the ES sequences. Our protocol enables the detection of VSG switching at nucleotide resolution using multiplexed clonal cell barcoding to track cells and nanopore sequencing to identify cell-specific VSG expression. We also developed a computational pipeline that takes DNA sequences and outputs VSGs expressed by cell clones. This protocol can be adapted to study clonal cell expression of large gene families in prokaryotes or eukaryotes.

Key features

• This protocol enables the analysis of variant surface glycoproteins (VSG) switching in T. brucei without modifying the expression site sequences.

• It uses a streamlined computational pipeline that takes fastq DNA sequences and outputs expressed VSG genes by each parasite clone.

• The protocol leverages the long reads sequencing capacity of the Oxford nanopore sequencing technology, which enables accurate identification of the expressed VSGs.

• The protocol requires approximately eight to nine days to complete.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 633 Views Nov 20, 2023

Rapid development in single-cell chromosome conformation capture technologies has provided valuable insights into the importance of spatial genome architecture for gene regulation. However, a long-standing technical gap remains in the simultaneous characterization of three-dimensional genomes and transcriptomes in the same cell. We have described an assay named Hi-C and RNA-seq employed simultaneously (HiRES), which integrates in situ reverse transcription and chromosome conformation capture (3C) for the parallel analysis of chromatin organization and gene expression. Here, we provide a detailed implementation of the assay, using mouse embryos and cerebral cortices as examples. The versatility of this method extends beyond these two samples, with the potential to be used in various other cell types.

Key features

• A multi-omics sequencing approach to profile 3D genome structure and gene expression simultaneously in single cells.

• Compatible with animal tissues.

• One-tube amplification of both DNA and RNA components.

• Requires three days to complete.

Graphical overview

Schematic illustration for the Hi-C and RNA-seq employed simultaneously (HiRES) workflow
0 Q&A 832 Views Nov 5, 2023

The precise and rapid detection of fungi is important in various fields, including clinics, industry, and agriculture. While sequencing universal DNA barcodes remains the standard method for species identification and phylogenetic analysis, a significant bottleneck has been the labor-intensive and time-consuming sample preparation for genomic DNA extraction. To address this, we developed a direct PCR method that bypasses the DNA extraction steps, facilitating efficient target DNA amplification. Instead of extracting genomic DNA from fungal mycelium, our method involves adding a small quantity of mycelium directly to the PCR mixture, followed by a heat shock and vortexing. We found these simple adjustments to be sufficient to lyse many filamentous fungal cells, enabling target DNA amplification. This paper presents a comprehensive protocol for executing direct PCR in filamentous fungi. Beyond species identification, this direct PCR approach holds promise for diverse applications, such as diagnostic PCR for genotype screening without fungal DNA extraction. We anticipate that direct PCR will expedite research on filamentous fungi and diagnosis of fungal diseases.

Key features

• Eliminates the time-consuming genomic DNA extraction step for PCR, enhancing the speed of molecular identification.

• Adds a small quantity of mycelium directly into the PCR mix.

• Emphasizes the crucial role of heat shock and vortexing in achieving efficient target DNA amplification.

• Accelerates the molecular identification of filamentous fungi and rapid diagnosis of fungal diseases.

Graphical overview

Direct PCR using filamentous fungal biomass

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.