Molecular Biology


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0 Q&A 1191 Views May 20, 2024

The cell–cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin has been intensively studied due to its prevalence in tissue function and its spatiotemporal regulation during epithelial-to-mesenchymal cell transition. Nonetheless, regulating and studying the dynamics of it has proven challenging. We developed a photoswitchable version of E-cadherin, named opto-E-cadherin, which can be toggled OFF with blue light illumination and back ON in the dark. Herein, we describe easy-to-use methods to test and characterise opto-E-cadherin cell clones for downstream experiments.

0 Q&A 659 Views Apr 5, 2024

The assessment of peptide–protein interactions is a pivotal aspect of studying the functionality and mechanisms of various bioactive peptides. In this context, it is essential to employ methods that meet specific criteria, including sensitivity, biocompatibility, versatility, simplicity, and the ability to offer real-time monitoring. In cellular contexts, only a few proteins naturally possess inherent fluorescence, specifically those containing aromatic amino acids, particularly tryptophan. Nonetheless, by covalently attaching fluorescent markers, almost all proteins can be modified for monitoring purposes. Among the early extrinsic fluorescent probes designed for this task, dansyl chloride (DNSC) is a notable option due to its versatile nature and reliable performance. DNSC has been the primary choice as a fluorogenic derivatizing reagent for analyzing amino acids in proteins and peptides for an extended period of time. In our work, we have effectively utilized the distinctive properties of dansylated-calmodulin (D-CaM) for monitoring the interaction dynamics between proteins and peptides, particularly in the context of their association with calmodulin (CaM), a calcium-dependent regulatory protein. This technique not only enables us to scrutinize the affinity of diverse ligands but also sheds light on the intricate role played by calcium in these interactions.

Key features

• Dynamic fluorescence and real-time monitoring: dansyl-modified CaM enables sensitive, real-time fluorescence, providing valuable insights into the dynamics of molecular interactions and ligand binding.

• Selective interaction and stable fluorescent adducts: DNSC selectively interacts with primary amino groups, ensuring specific detection and forming stable fluorescent sulfonamide adducts.

• Versatility in research and ease of identification: D-CaM is a versatile tool in biological research, facilitating identification, precise quantification, and drug assessment for therapeutic development.

• Sensitivity to surrounding alterations: D-CaM exhibits sensitivity to its surroundings, particularly ligand-induced changes, offering subtle insights into molecular interactions and environmental influences.

Graphical overview

Fluorescence emission profiles of dansylated-calmodulin (D-CaM) in different states. Fluorescence emission spectra of D-CaM upon excitation at 320 nm are depicted. Conditions include apo-D-CaM (gray), holo-D-CaM (red), apo-D-CaM bound to peptide (blue), and holo-D-CaM bound to peptide (purple). Corresponding structural representations of D-CaM next to each condition are superimposed on the respective spectra along with the hydrophobicity of the dansyl environment, which increases upon binding of peptide or Ca2+ to D-CaM. Upon peptide binding to D-CaM, there is an enhancement in the fluorescent intensity of the spectra; upon Ca2+ binding, there is an enhancement of the intensity and a leftward shift of the spectra.

0 Q&A 639 Views Apr 5, 2024

Camelina sativa, a Brassicaceae family crop, is used for fodder, human food, and biofuels. Its relatively high resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses, as well as being a climate-resilient oilseed crop, has contributed to its popularity. Camelina's seed yield and oil contents have been improved using various technologies like RNAi and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing. A stable transformation system for protein localization and other cell autonomous investigations, on the other hand, is tedious and time consuming. This study describes a transient gene expression protocol for Camelina sativa cultivar DH55 leaves using Agrobacterium strain C58C1. The method is suitable for subcellular protein localization and colocalization studies and can be used with both constitutive and chemically induced genes. We report the subcellular localization of the N-terminal ER membrane signal anchor region (1–32 aa) of the At3G28580 gene-encoded protein from Arabidopsis in intact leaves and the expression and localization of other known organelle markers. This method offers a fast and convenient way to study proteins in the commercially important Camelina crop system.

Key features

• This method is based on the approach of Zhang et al. [1] and has been optimized for bioenergy crop Camelina species.

• A constitutive and inducible transient gene expression in the hexaploid species Camelina sativa cultivar DH55.

• Requires only 16–18 days to complete with high efficacy.

Graphical overview

Agrobacterium-mediated transient gene expression optimized for Camelina sativa

0 Q&A 423 Views Mar 20, 2024

Understanding protein–protein interactions is crucial for unravelling subcellular protein distribution, contributing to our understanding of cellular organisation. Moreover, interaction studies can reveal insights into the mechanisms that cover protein trafficking within cells. Although various techniques such as Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), co-immunoprecipitation, and fluorescence microscopy are commonly employed to detect protein interactions, their limitations have led to more advanced techniques such as the in situ proximity ligation assay (PLA) for spatial co-localisation analysis. The PLA technique, specifically employed in fixed cells and tissues, utilises species-specific secondary PLA probes linked to DNA oligonucleotides. When proteins are within 40 nm of each other, the DNA oligonucleotides on the probes interact, facilitating circular DNA formation through ligation. Rolling-circle amplification then produces DNA circles linked to the PLA probe. Fluorescently labelled oligonucleotides hybridise to the circles, generating detectable signals for precise co-localisation analysis. We employed PLA to examine the co-localisation of dynein with the Kv7.4 channel protein in isolated vascular smooth muscle cells from rat mesenteric arteries. This method enabled us to investigate whether Kv7.4 channels interact with dynein, thereby providing evidence of their retrograde transport by the microtubule network. Our findings illustrate that PLA is a valuable tool for studying potential novel protein interactions with dynein, and the quantifiable approach offers insights into whether these interactions are changed in disease.

0 Q&A 1256 Views Feb 20, 2024

Signaling pathways are involved in key cellular functions from embryonic development to pathological conditions, with a pivotal role in tissue homeostasis and transformation. Although most signaling pathways have been intensively examined, most studies have been carried out in murine models or simple cell culture. We describe the dissection of the TGF-β signaling pathway in human tissue using CRISPR-Cas9 genetically engineered human keratinocytes (N/TERT-1) in a 3D organotypic skin model combined with quantitative proteomics and phosphoproteomics mass spectrometry. The use of human 3D organotypic cultures and genetic engineering combined with quantitative proteomics and phosphoproteomics is a powerful tool providing insight into signaling pathways in a human setting. The methods are applicable to other gene targets and 3D cell and tissue models.

Key features

• 3D organotypic models with genetically engineered human cells.

• In-depth quantitative proteomics and phosphoproteomics in 2D cell culture.

• Careful handling of cell cultures is critical for the successful formation of theorganotypic cultures.

• For complete details on the use of this protocol, please refer to Ye et al. 2022.

1 Q&A 1227 Views Feb 5, 2024

As the most energy- and metabolite-consuming process, protein synthesis is under the control of several intrinsic and extrinsic factors that determine its fine-tuning to the cellular microenvironment. Consequently, variations in protein synthesis rates occur under various physiological and pathological conditions, enabling an adaptive response by the ce•ll. For example, global protein synthesis increases upon mitogenic factors to support biomass generation and cell proliferation, while exposure to low concentrations of oxygen or nutrients require translational repression and reprogramming to avoid energy depletion and cell death. To assess fluctuations in protein synthesis rates, radioactive isotopes or radiolabeled amino acids are often used. Although highly sensitive, these techniques involve the use of potentially toxic radioactive compounds and require specific materials and processes for the use and disposal of these molecules. The development of alternative, non-radioactive methods that can be easily and safely implemented in laboratories has therefore been encouraged to avoid handling radioactivity. In this context, the SUrface SEnsing of Translation (SUnSET) method, based on the classical western blot technique, was developed by Schmidt et al. in 2009. The SUnSET is nowadays recognized as a simple alternative to radioactive methods assessing protein synthesis rates.

Key features

• As a structural analogue of aminoacyl-transfer RNA, puromycin incorporates into the elongating peptide chain.

• Detection of puromycin-labeled peptides by western blotting reflects translation rates without the need for radioactive isotopes.

• The protocol described here for in vitro applications is derived from the SUnSET method originally published by Schmidt et al. (2009).

0 Q&A 1020 Views Jan 20, 2024

The auxin-inducible degron (AID) system is a versatile tool in cell biology and genetics, enabling conditional protein regulation through auxin-induced degradation. Integrating CRISPR/Cas9 with AID expedites tagging and depletion of a required protein in human and mouse cells. The mechanism of AID involves interactions between receptors like TIR1 and the AID tag fused to the target protein. The presence of auxin triggers protein ubiquitination, leading to proteasome-mediated degradation. We have used AID to explore the mitotic functions of the replication licensing protein CDT1. Swift CDT1 degradation via AID upon auxin addition achieves precise mitotic inhibition, revealing defects in mitotic spindle structure and chromosome misalignment. Using live imaging, we found that mitosis-specific degradation of CDT1 delayed progression and chromosome mis-segregation. AID-mediated CDT1 inhibition surpasses siRNA-based methods, offering a robust approach to probe CDT1’s mitotic roles. The advantages of AID include targeted degradation and temporal control, facilitating rapid induction and reversal of degradation—contrasting siRNA’s delayed RNA degradation and protein turnover. In summary, the AID technique enhances precision, control, and efficiency in studying protein function and regulation across diverse cellular contexts. In this article, we provide a step-by-step methodology for generating an efficient AID-tagging system, keeping in mind the important considerations that need to be adopted to use it for investigating or characterizing protein function in a temporally controlled manner.

Key features

• The auxin-inducible degron (AID) system serves as a versatile tool, enabling conditional protein regulation through auxin-induced degradation in cell biology and genetics.

• Integration of CRISPR/Cas9 knock-in technology with AID expedites the tagging and depletion of essential proteins in mammalian cells.

• AID’s application extends to exploring the mitotic functions of the replication licensing protein CDT1, achieving precise mitotic inhibition and revealing spindle defects and chromosome misalignment.

• The AID system and its diverse applications advance the understanding of protein function and cellular processes, contributing to the study of protein regulation and function.

Graphical overview

Cdt1–auxin-inducible degron (AID) tagging workflow. (A) Schematic of the cloned Cdt1 gRNA vector and the repair template generated to endogenously tag the Cdt1 genomic locus with YFP and AID at the C-terminal using CRISPR/CAS9-based genome editing. The two plasmids are transfected into DLD1-TIR1 stable cells, followed by sorting and scaling up of YFP-positive single cells. (B) The molecular mechanism of auxin-induced proteasome-mediated degradation of the target protein (CDT1) shown at the bottom of the figure is well worked out.

0 Q&A 823 Views Dec 5, 2023

Human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) encodes several components of oxidative phosphorylation responsible for the bulk of cellular energy production. The mtDNA is transcribed by a dedicated human mitochondrial RNA polymerase (POLRMT) that is structurally distinct from its nuclear counterparts, instead closely resembling the single-subunit viral RNA polymerases (e.g., T7 RNA polymerase). The initiation of transcription by POLRMT is aided by two initiation factors: transcription factor A, mitochondrial (TFAM), and transcription factor B2, mitochondrial (TFB2M). Although many details of human mitochondrial transcription initiation have been elucidated with in vitro biochemical and structural studies, much remains to be addressed relating to the mechanism and regulation of transcription. Studies of such mechanisms require reliable, high-yield, and high-purity methods for protein production, and this protocol provides the level of detail and troubleshooting tips that are necessary for a novice to generate meaningful amounts of proteins for experimental work. The current protocol describes how to purify recombinant POLRMT, TFAM, and TFB2M from Escherichia coli using techniques such as affinity column chromatography (Ni2+ and heparin), how to remove the solubility tags with TEV protease and recover untagged proteins of interest, and how to overcome commonly encountered challenges in obtaining high yield of each protein.

Key features

• This protocol builds upon purification methods developed by Patel lab (Ramachandran et al., 2017) and others with greater detail than previously published works.

• The protocol requires several days to complete as various steps are designed to be performed overnight.

• The recombinantly purified proteins have been successfully used for in vitro transcription experiments, allowing for finer control of experimental components in a minimalistic system.

0 Q&A 403 Views Nov 20, 2023

The lipid bilayers of the cell are composed of various lipid classes and species. These engage in cell signaling and regulation by recruiting cytosolic proteins to the membrane and interacting with membrane-embedded proteins to alternate their activity and stability. Like lipids, membrane proteins are amphipathic and are stabilized by the hydrophobic forces of the lipid bilayer. Membrane protein–lipid interactions are difficult to investigate since membrane proteins need to be reconstituted in a lipid-mimicking environment. A common and well-established approach is the detergent-based solubilization of the membrane proteins in detergent micelles. Nowadays, nanodiscs and liposomes are used to mimic the lipid bilayer and enable the work with membrane proteins in a more natural environment. However, these protocols need optimization and are labor intensive. The present protocol describes straightforward instructions on how the preparation of lipids is performed and how the lipid detergent mixture is integrated with the membrane protein MARCH5. The lipidation protocol was performed prior to an activity assay specific to membrane-bound E3 ubiquitin ligases and a stability assay that could be used for any membrane protein of choice.

0 Q&A 746 Views Oct 20, 2023

The function of a protein within a cell critically depends on its interaction with other proteins as well as its subcellular localization. The expression of mutants of a particular protein that have selective perturbation of specific protein interaction motifs is a very useful strategy for resolving a protein’s mechanism of action in a cellular process. In addition, expression of fluorescent protein fusions is a key strategy for determining the subcellular localization of a protein. These strategies require tight regulation to avoid potential alterations in protein interactions or localizations that can result from protein overexpression. Previous work led to the development of a Sleeping Beauty transposon system that allows doxycycline-inducible expression of protein mutants or fusions; titration of doxycycline allows expression of protein fusions or mutants at near endogenous levels. When used in combination with siRNA gene silencing, this strategy allows for knockdown-rescue experiments to assess the function of specific protein mutants. In this protocol, we describe the use of this Sleeping Beauty strategy for expression of eGFP fusion or mutant proteins in ARPE-19 and MDA-MB-231 cells. This includes design of expression plasmids, transfection, and selection to obtain stable engineered cells, as well as doxycycline treatment for controlled induction of protein expression, either alone or in combination with siRNA silencing for knockdown-rescue experiments. This strategy is advantageous as it allows rapid generation of stable cells for controlled protein expression, suitable for functional studies that require knockdown-rescue as well as various forms of live cell fluorescence imaging.

Key features

• Highly versatile doxycycline-inducible expression system that can be used in various mammalian cell lines.

• Stable integration of transgene allows for sustained and stable expression.

• Titration of doxycycline levels allows expression of transgene at near endogenous levels.

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