Molecular Biology


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0 Q&A 264 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 754 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 216 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 198 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 306 Views Feb 5, 2023

In addition to cytosolic protein synthesis, mitochondria also utilize another translation system that is tailored for mRNAs encoded in the mitochondrial genome. The importance of mitochondrial protein synthesis has been exemplified by the diverse diseases associated with in organello translation deficiencies. Various methods have been developed to monitor mitochondrial translation, such as the classic method of labeling newly synthesized proteins with radioisotopes and the more recent ribosome profiling. However, since these methods always assess the average cell population, measuring the mitochondrial translation capacity in individual cells has been challenging. To overcome this issue, we recently developed mito-fluorescent noncanonical amino acid tagging (FUNCAT) fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), which labels nascent peptides generated by mitochondrial ribosomes with a methionine analog, L-homopropargylglycine (HPG), conjugates the peptides with fluorophores by an in situ click reaction, and detects the signal in individual cells by FACS equipment. With this methodology, the hidden heterogeneity of mitochondrial translation in cell populations can be addressed.

0 Q&A 429 Views Jan 5, 2023

Utilizingresources available from the mother's body to guarantee healthy offspring growth is the fundamental reproductive strategy. Recently, we showed that a class of the largest extracellular vesicles known as exophers, which are responsible for the removal of neurotoxic components from neurons (Melentijevic et al., 2017) and damaged mitochondria from cardiomyocytes (Nicolás-Ávila et al., 2020), are released by the Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodite body wall muscles (BWM), to support embryonic growth (Turek et al., 2021). Employing worms expressing fluorescent reporters in BWM cells, we found that exopher formation (exophergenesis) is sex-specific and fertility-dependent. Moreover, exophergenesis is regulated by the developing embryo in utero, and exophers serve as transporters for muscle-generated yolk proteins, which can be used to nourish the next generation. Given the specific regulation of muscular exophergenesis, and the fact that muscle-generated exophers are much larger than neuronal ones and have different targeting, their identification and quantification required a modified approach from that designed for neuronal-derived exophers (Arnold et al., 2020). Here, we present a methodology for assessing and quantifying muscle-derived exophers that can be easily extended to determine their function and regulation in various biological contexts.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 425 Views Jan 5, 2023

RIBO-seq and proteogenomics have revealed that mammalian genomes harbor thousands of unannotated small and alternative open reading frames (smORFs, <100 amino acids, and alt-ORFs, >100 amino acids, respectively). Several dozen mammalian smORF-encoded proteins (SEPs) and alt-ORF-encoded proteins (alt-proteins) have been shown to play important biological roles, while the overwhelming majority of smORFs and alt-ORFs remain uncharacterized, particularly at the molecular level. Functional proteomics has the potential to reveal key properties of unannotated SEPs and alt-proteins in high throughput, and an approach to identify SEPs and alt-proteins undergoing regulated synthesis should be of broad utility. Here, we introduce a chemoproteomic pipeline based on bio-orthogonal non-canonical amino acid tagging (BONCAT) (Dieterich et al., 2006) to profile nascent SEPs and alt-proteins in human cells. This approach is able to identify cellular stress-induced and cell-cycle regulated SEPs and alt-proteins in cells.

Graphical abstract

Schematic overview of BONCAT-based chemoproteomic profiling of nascent, unannotated small and alternative open reading frame-encoded proteins (SEPs and alt-proteins)

0 Q&A 893 Views Nov 20, 2022

Subcellular pharmacokinetic measurements have informed the study of central nervous system (CNS)–acting drug mechanisms. Recent investigations have been enhanced by the use of genetically encoded fluorescent biosensors for drugs of interest at the plasma membrane and in organelles. We describe screening and validation protocols for identifying hit pairs comprising a drug and biosensor, with each screen including 13–18 candidate biosensors and 44–84 candidate drugs. After a favorable hit pair is identified and validated via these protocols, the biosensor is then optimized, as described in other papers, for sensitivity and selectivity to the drug. We also show sample hit pair data that may lead to future intensity-based drug-sensing fluorescent reporters (iDrugSnFRs). These protocols will assist scientists to use fluorescence responses as criteria in identifying favorable fluorescent biosensor variants for CNS-acting drugs that presently have no corresponding biosensor partner.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 1145 Views Nov 20, 2022

Chemical proteomics focuses on the drug–target–phenotype relationship for target deconvolution and elucidation of the mechanism of action—key and bottleneck in drug development and repurposing. Majorly due to the limits of using chemically modified ligands in affinity-based methods, new, unbiased, proteome-wide, and MS-based chemical proteomics approaches have been developed to perform drug target deconvolution, using full proteome profiling and no chemical modification of the studied ligand. Of note among them, thermal proteome profiling (TPP) aims to identify the target(s) by measuring the difference in melting temperatures between each identified protein in drug-treated versus vehicle-treated samples, with the thermodynamic interpretation of “protein melting” and curve fitting of all quantified proteins, at all temperatures, in each biological replicate. Including TPP, all the other chemical proteomics approaches often fail to provide target deconvolution with sufficient proteome depth, statistical power, throughput, and sustainability, which could hardly fulfill the final purpose of drug development. The proteome integral solubility alteration (PISA) assay provides no thermodynamic interpretation, but a throughput 10–100-fold compared to the other proteomics methods, high sustainability, much lower time of analysis and sample amount requirements, high confidence in results, maximal proteome coverage (~10,000 protein IDs), and up to five drugs / test molecules in one assay, with at least biological triplicates of each treatment. Each drug-treated or vehicle-treated sample is split into many fractions and exposed to a gradient of heat as solubility perturbing agent before being recomposed into one sample; each soluble fraction is isolated, then deep and quantitative proteomics is applied across all samples. The proteins interacting with the tested molecules (targets and off-targets), the activated mechanistic factors, or proteins modified during the treatment show reproducible changes in their soluble amount compared to vehicle-treated controls. As of today, the maximal multiplexing capability is 18 biological samples per PISA assay, which enables statistical robustness and flexible experimental design accommodation for fuller target deconvolution, including integration of orthogonal chemical proteomics methods in one PISA assay. Living cells for studying target engagement in vivo or, alternatively, protein extracts to identify in vitro ligand-interacting proteins can be studied, and the minimal need in sample amount unlocks target deconvolution using primary cells and their derived cultures.

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