Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 442 Views Jan 5, 2024

Toxoplasma gondii is a zoonotic protozoan parasite and one of the most successful foodborne pathogens. Upon infection and dissemination, the parasites convert into the persisting, chronic form called bradyzoites, which reside within cysts in muscle and brain tissue. Despite their importance, bradyzoites remain difficult to investigate directly, owing to limited in vitro models. In addition, the need for new drugs targeting the chronic stage, which is underlined by the lack of eradicating treatment options, remains difficult to address since in vitro access to drug-tolerant bradyzoites remains limited. We recently published the use of a human myotube-based bradyzoite cell culture system and demonstrated its applicability to investigate the biology of T. gondii bradyzoites. Encysted parasites can be functionally matured during long-term cultivation in these immortalized cells and possess many in vivo–like features, including pepsin resistance, oral infectivity, and antifolate resistance. In addition, the system is scalable, enabling experimental approaches that rely on large numbers, such as metabolomics. In short, we detail the cultivation of terminally differentiated human myotubes and their subsequent infection with tachyzoites, which then mature to encysted bradyzoites within four weeks at ambient CO2 levels. We also discuss critical aspects of the procedure and suggest improvements.

Key features

• This protocol describes a scalable human myotube-based in vitro system capable of generating encysted bradyzoites featuring in vivo hallmarks.

• Bradyzoite differentiation is facilitated through CO2 depletion but without additional artificial stress factors like alkaline pH.

• Functional maturation occurs over four weeks.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 459 Views Jul 5, 2023

The easyPACId (easy Promoter Activation and Compound Identification) approach is focused on the targeted activation of natural product biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) encoding non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS), polyketide synthases (PKS), NRPS-PKS hybrids, or other BGC classes. It was applied to entomopathogenic bacteria of the genera Xenorhabdus and Photorhabdus by exchanging the natural promoter of desired BGCs against the L-arabinose inducible PBAD promoter in ∆hfq mutants of the respective strains. The crude (culture) extracts of the cultivated easyPACId mutants are enriched with the single compound or compound class and can be tested directly against various target organisms without further purification of the produced natural products. Furthermore, isolation and identification of compounds from these mutants is simplified due to the reduced background in the ∆hfq strains. The approach avoids problems often encountered in heterologous expression hosts, chemical synthesis, or tedious extraction of desired compounds from wild-type crude extracts. This protocol describes easyPACId for Xenorhabdus and Photorhabdus, but it was also successfully adapted to Pseudomonas entomophila and might be suitable for other proteobacteria that carry hfq.

0 Q&A 787 Views Jun 5, 2023

Gene deletion is one of the standard approaches in genetics to investigate the roles and functions of target genes. However, the influence of gene deletion on cellular phenotypes is usually analyzed sometime after the gene deletion was introduced. Such lags from gene deletion to phenotype evaluation could select only the fittest fraction of gene-deleted cells and hinder the detection of potentially diverse phenotypic consequences. Therefore, dynamic aspects of gene deletion, such as real-time propagation and compensation of deletion effects on cellular phenotypes, still need to be explored. To resolve this issue, we have recently introduced a new method that combines a photoactivatable Cre recombination system and microfluidic single-cell observation. This method enables us to induce gene deletion at desired timings in single bacterial cells and to monitor their dynamics for prolonged periods. Here, we detail the protocol for estimating the fractions of gene-deleted cells based on a batch-culture assay. The duration of blue light exposure significantly affects the fractions of gene-deleted cells. Therefore, gene-deleted and non-deleted cells can coexist in a cellular population by adjusting the duration of blue light exposure. Single-cell observations under such illumination conditions allow the comparison of temporal dynamics between gene-deleted and non-deleted cells and unravel phenotypic dynamics provoked by gene deletion.

0 Q&A 586 Views Nov 20, 2022

The study of haloarchaea provides an opportunity to expand understanding of the mechanisms used by extremophiles to thrive in and respond to harsh environments, including hypersaline and oxidative stress conditions. A common strategy used to investigate molecular mechanisms of stress response involves the deletion and/or site-directed mutagenesis of genes identified through omics studies followed by a comparison of the mutant and wild-type strains for phenotypic differences. The experimental methods used to monitor these differences must be controlled and reproducible. Current methods to examine recovery of halophilic archaea from extreme stress are complicated by extended incubation times, nutrients not typically encountered in the environment, and other related limitations. Here we describe a method for assessing the function of genes during hypochlorite stress in the halophilic archaeon Haloferax volcanii that overcomes these types of limitations. The method was found reproducible and informative in identifying genes needed for H. volcanii to recover from hypochlorite stress.

0 Q&A 1868 Views May 20, 2022

Cyanobacteria are Gram-negative oxygen-producing photosynthetic bacteria that are useful in the pharmaceutical and biofuel industries. Monitoring of oxidative stress under fluctuating environmental conditions is important for determining the fitness, survival, and growth of cyanobacteria in the laboratory as well as in large scale cultivation systems. Here, we provide a protocol developed using unicellular Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 and filamentous Fremyella diplosiphon BK14 cyanobacteria for high-throughput oxidative stress measurement by 2′,7′-dichlorodihydrofluorescein-diacetate (DCFH-DA) and flow cytometry (FCM). We also provide details for the optimization of cell number, dye concentration, and FCM parameters for each organism before it can be utilized to quantify reactive oxygen species (ROS). FCM-based method can be used to measure ROS in a large population of cyanobacterial cells in a high-throughput manner.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 1240 Views Mar 20, 2022

Several filamentous cyanobacteria like Nostoc differentiate specialized cells in response to changes in environmental factors, such as low light or nutrient starvation. These specialized cells are termed heterocysts and akinetes. Under conditions of nitrogen limitation, nitrogen-fixing heterocysts form in a semi-regular pattern and provide the filament with organic nitrogen compounds. Akinetes are spore-like dormant cells, which allow survival during adverse unfavorable conditions. Both cell types possess multilayered thick envelopes mainly composed of an outermost polysaccharide layer and inner layers of glycolipids, that are important for stress adaptation. To study these envelope glycolipids, a method for the isolation, separation and analysis of lipids from heterocysts and akinetes is essential. The present protocol describes a method involving the extraction of lipids from cyanobacteria using solvents and their separation and visualization on silica plates, to render analysis simple and easy. This protocol is relevant for studying mutants that are defective in glycolipid layer formation and for the comparison of glycolipid composition of heterocysts and akinetes under different environmental stresses.

0 Q&A 1659 Views Jan 20, 2022

Light is a double-edged sword: it is essential for life on the planet but also causes cellular damage and death. Consequently, organisms have evolved systems not only for harvesting and converting light energy into chemical energy but also for countering its toxic effects. Despite the omnipresence and importance of such light-dependent effects, there are very few unbiased genetic screens, if any, investigating the mechanistic consequences that visible light has on cells. Baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is one of the best annotated organisms thanks to several easily available mutant collections and its amenability to high-throughput genetic screening. However, until recently this yeast was thought to lack receptors for visible light, therefore its response to visible light was poorly understood. Nevertheless, a couple of years ago it was discovered that yeast senses light via a novel and unconventional pathway involving a peroxisomal oxidase, hydrogen peroxide, and a particular type of antioxidant protein, called peroxiredoxin. Here, we describe in detail a protocol for scoring yeast genes involved in the resistance to visible light (400-700 nm) on a genome-wide scale. Because cells in dense cultures shield each other from light exposure, resulting in apparent light resistance, our method involves adaptations to reduce inoculum size under conditions amenable to high-throughput screens, to properly be able to identify light-sensitive mutants. We also describe how to measure growth in the presence of light, including two follow-up validation tests. In this way, this method makes it possible to score light-sensitivity on a genome-wide scale with high confidence.

Graphic abstract:

Overview of strategy for high-throughput determination of yeast growth upon visible light stress.

0 Q&A 1721 Views Nov 5, 2021

Flavodoxin-like proteins (Fld-LPs) are an important constituent of the oxidative stress defense system in several organisms and highly conserved from bacteria to humans. These proteins possess NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase activity and convert quinones to hydroquinones through two-electron reduction, using NAD(P)H and quinone as electron donor and acceptor, respectively. Purified yeast and bacterial Fld-LPs exhibit NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase activity in vitro. Here, we describe a protocol to measure oxidoreductase activity of Fld-LPs that are present in extracts of whole cells. We have recently shown that the assembly and activity of a Fld-LP, CgPst2, is regulated by an aspartyl protease-mediated cleavage of its C-terminus in the pathogenic yeast Candida glabrata. Mutant yeast where the CgPST2 gene was deleted lacked cellular NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase activity and displayed elevated susceptibility to menadione stress. The protocol described herein is based on the measurement of NADH oxidation (conversion of NADH to NAD+) by endogenous Fld-LPs in the presence of quinone menadione. This assay can be performed with whole cell lysates prepared by the mechanical lysis of C. glabrata cells and does not require expression and purification of Fld-LPs from a heterogeneous system, thereby allowing researchers to study the effect of different posttranslational modifications and varied structural states of Fld-LPs on their enzymatic activities. Since many FLP-LPs are known to exist in dimeric and tetrameric states possessing differential activities, our efficient and easy-to-use assay can reliably detect and validate their quinone reductase activities. Although we have used menadione with CgPst2 enzyme in our study, the protocol can easily be modified to examine the presence of Fld-LPs with specificity for other quinones. As this assay does not require many expensive chemicals, it can readily be scaled up and adapted for other medically important fungi and potentially be a useful tool to characterize fungal oxidative stress response systems and screen inhibitors specific for fungal Fld-LPs, thereby contributing to our understanding of fungal pathogenesis mechanisms.

0 Q&A 1645 Views Nov 5, 2021

Fungal metallo-tolerance has been described in different species and plays an important role in bioremediation of contaminated environments. Metallo-tolerance is mainly documented by microdilution assays and agar well diffusion methods using equipment that can be expensive. The tolerance index can be calculated to determine the efficiency of a fungus to degrade and resist heavy metals. The present protocol is based on analyzing the tolerance index and minimum inhibitory concentration of the metallo-tolerance potential of culturable fungi on solid media. This can be calculated by daily measurements of colony size on agar supplemented with different concentrations of heavy metals. This method is an easy approach to determine fungal heavy metal resistance using simple laboratory equipment without spectroscopy.

0 Q&A 1712 Views Oct 20, 2021

Phototrophic microorganisms are frequently engineered to regulate the expression and the activity of targeted enzymes of interest for specific biotechnological and agricultural applications. This protocol describes a method to evaluate the expression of RuBisCO (ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase) in the model cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942, at both the transcript and protein levels by quantitative PCR and Western blot, respectively. We further describe an experimental method to determine photosynthetic activity using an oxygen electrode that measures the rate of molecular oxygen production by cyanobacterial cultures. Our protocol can be utilized to assess the effects of RuBisCO engineering at the metabolic and physiological levels.

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