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0 Q&A 377 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 711 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 625 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 309 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 501 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.

0 Q&A 646 Views Oct 5, 2023

Biological processes are dependent on protein concentration and there is an inherent variability among cells even in environment-controlled conditions. Determining the amount of protein of interest in a cell is relevant to quantitatively relate it with the cells (patho)physiology. Previous studies used either western blot to determine the average amount of protein per cell in a population or fluorescence intensity to provide a relative amount of protein. This method combines both techniques. First, the protein of interest is purified, and its concentration determined. Next, cells containing the protein of interest with a fluorescent tag are sorted into different levels of intensity using fluorescence-activated cell sorting, and the amount of protein for each intensity category is calculated using the purified protein as calibration. Lastly, a calibration curve allows the direct relation of the amount of protein to the intensity levels determined with any instrument able to measure intensity levels. Once a fluorescence-based instrument is calibrated, it is possible to determine protein concentrations based on intensity.


Key features

• This method allows the evaluation and comparison of protein concentration in cells based on fluorescence intensity.

• Requires protein purification and fluorescence-activated cell sorting.

• Once calibrated for one protein, it allows determination of the levels of this protein using any fluorescence-based instrument.

• Allows to determine subcellular local protein concentration based on combining volumetric and intensity measurements.


Graphical overview



Protein level quantification across fluorescence-based platforms

0 Q&A 571 Views Sep 20, 2023

The identification and characterization of the ubiquitin E-ligase complexes involved in specific proteins’ degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) can be challenging and require biochemical purification processes and in vitro reconstitution assays. Likewise, evaluating the effect of parallel phosphorylation and ubiquitination events occurring in vivo at dual phospho/ubiquitin-regulated motifs (called Phospho-Degrons or pDegrons) driving UPS degradation of the targeted protein has remained elusive. Indeed, the functional study of such E1-E2-E3 complexes acting on a protein-specific level requires previously or otherwise acquired knowledge of the nature of such degradation complex components. Furthermore, the molecular basis of the interaction between an E3 ligase and its pDegron binding motif on a target protein would require individually optimized in vitro kinase and ubiquitination assays. Here, we describe a novel enzymatically enhanced pull-down method to functionally streamline the discovery and functional validation of the ubiquitin E-ligase components interacting with a phospho-degron containing protein domain and/or sub-domain. The protocol combines key features of a protein kinase and ubiquitination in vitro assay by including them in a pull-down step exerted by a known or putative pDegron-tagged peptide using the cell extracts as a source of enzymatically active post-translational modification (PTM) modifying/binding native proteins. The same method allows studying specific stimuli or treatments towards the recruitment of the molecular degradation complex at the target protein’s phospho-degron site, reflecting in vivo–initiated events further enhanced through the assay design. In order to take full advantage of the method over traditional protein–protein interaction methods, we propose to use this PTM-enhanced (PTMe) pull down both towards the degradation complex discovery/ID phase as well as for the functional pDegron recruitment validation phase, which is the one described in the present protocol both graphically and in a stepwise fashion for reproduceable results.


Key features

• Suitable to study UPS-regulated (a) cytosolic and/or nuclear proteins, (b) intracellular region of transmembrane proteins, and (c) protein sub-domains bearing a known/putative pDegron motif.

• Requires a biotin-tagged recombinant version of the target protein and/or sub-domain.

• Allows the qualitative and quantitative analysis of endogenous ubiquitin (Ub) E-ligases recruitment to a known or putative pDegron bearing protein/sub-domain.

• Allows simultaneous testing of various treatments and/or conditions affecting the phosphorylative and/or ubiquitylation status of the studied pDegron bearing protein/sub-domain and the recruited factors.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 608 Views Sep 20, 2023

Eukaryotic cells have different types of proteasomes that differ in size. The smallest proteolytically active particle is the 20S proteasome, which degrades damaged and oxidized proteins; the most common larger particle is the 26S proteasome, which degrades ubiquitylated proteins. The 26S proteasome is formed by a 20S particle capped with one or two regulatory particles, named 19S. While proteasome particles function in the cytoplasm, endoplasmic reticulum, and nucleus, our understanding of their abundance and activity in different cellular compartments is still limited. We provide a three-step protocol that first involves detergent-based fractionation of the cytoplasmic and nuclear compartments, maintaining the integrity and activity of proteasome complexes. Second, the protocol employs native gel separation of large multiprotein complexes in the fractions and a fluorescence-based in-gel quantitation of the activity and different proteasome particles. Finally, the protocol involves protein in-gel denaturation and transfer to a PVDF membrane. Western blotting then detects and quantifies the different proteasome particles. Therefore, the protocol allows for sensitive measurements of activity and abundance of individual proteasome particles from different cellular compartments. It has been optimized for motor neurons induced from mouse embryonic stem cells but can be applied to a variety of mammalian cell lines.


Key features

• Protocol for fractionation of active nuclear and cytoplasmic proteasome complexes.

• Native electrophoresis and fluorescence-based in-gel activity assay, which allows the visualization and quantification of active complexes within the acrylamide gel matrix.

• In-gel protein denaturation followed by transfer of complexes to PVDF membrane, which allows the analysis of complexes’ abundance using antibodies.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 543 Views Sep 5, 2023

The centrosome governs many pan-cellular processes including cell division, migration, and cilium formation. However, very little is known about its cell type-specific protein composition and the sub-organellar domains where these protein interactions take place. Here, we outline a protocol for the spatial interrogation of the centrosome proteome in human cells, such as those differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), through co-immunoprecipitation of protein complexes around selected baits that are known to reside at different structural parts of the centrosome, followed by mass spectrometry. The protocol describes expansion and differentiation of human iPSCs to dorsal forebrain neural progenitors and cortical projection neurons, harvesting and lysis of cells for protein isolation, co-immunoprecipitation with antibodies against selected bait proteins, preparation for mass spectrometry, processing the mass spectrometry output files using MaxQuant software, and statistical analysis using Perseus software to identify the enriched proteins by each bait. Given the large number of cells needed for the isolation of centrosome proteins, this protocol can be scaled up or down by modifying the number of bait proteins and can also be carried out in batches. It can potentially be adapted for other cell types, organelles, and species as well.


Graphical overview



An overview of the protocol for analyzing the spatial protein composition of the centrosome in human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neural cells. ① Human iPSCs are expanded, which serve as the starting cell population for the neural induction (Sections A, B, and C in Procedure). ② Neurons are induced and differentiated for 40 days (Section D in Procedure), in at least four biological replicates. ③ Total protein is isolated either at 15th or 40th day of differentiation, for neural stem cells and neurons, respectively (Sections E and F in Procedure). ④ Selected bait proteins are immunoprecipitated using the respective antibodies (Sections G and H in Procedure). ⑤ Co-immunoprecipitated samples are analyzed with mass spectrometry (Section I in Procedure). ⑥ Mass spectrometry output (.RAW) files are processed using MaxQuant software to calculate intensities (Section A in Data analysis). ⑦ The resulting data are pre-processed, filtered, and statistically analyzed using Perseus and R software (Sections B and C in Data analysis) ⑧ Further analysis is done using software or web tools such as Cytoscape or STRING to gain biological insights (Sections D and E in Data analysis).

0 Q&A 721 Views Jul 20, 2023

Many protein families consist of multiple highly homologous proteins, whether they are encoded by different genes or originating from the same genomic location. Predominance of certain isoforms has been linked to various pathological conditions, such as cancer. Detection and relative quantification of protein isoforms in research are commonly done via immunoblotting, immunohistochemistry, or immunofluorescence, where antibodies against an isoform-specific epitope of particular family members are used. However, isoform-specific antibodies are not always available, making it impossible to decipher isoform-specific protein expression patterns. Here, we describe the insertion of the versatile 11 amino acid HiBiT tag into the genomic location of the protein of interest. This tag was developed and is distributed by Promega (Fitchburg, WI, USA). This protocol describes precise and specific protein expression analysis of highly homologous proteins through expression of the HiBiT tag, enabling protein expression quantification when specific antibodies are missing. Protein expression can be analyzed through traditional methods such as western blotting or immunofluorescence, and also in a luciferase binary reporter system, allowing for reliable and fast relative expression quantification using a plate reader.


Graphical overview






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