Biophysics


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0 Q&A 362 Views Oct 5, 2023

Disruptions and perturbations of the cellular plasma membrane by peptides have garnered significant interest in the elucidation of biological phenomena. Typically, these complex processes are studied using liposomes as model membranes—either by encapsulating a fluorescent dye or by other spectroscopic approaches, such as nuclear magnetic resonance. Despite incorporating physiologically relevant lipids, no synthetic model truly recapitulates the full complexity and molecular diversity of the plasma membrane. Here, biologically representative membrane models, giant plasma membrane vesicles (GPMVs), are prepared from eukaryotic cells by inducing a budding event with a chemical stressor. The GPMVs are then isolated, and bilayers are labelled with fluorescent lipophilic tracers and incubated in a microplate with a membrane-active peptide. As the membranes become damaged and/or aggregate, the resulting fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between the two tracers increases and is measured periodically in a microplate. This approach offers a particularly useful way to detect perturbations when the membrane complexity is an important variable to consider. Additionally, it provides a way to kinetically detect damage to the plasma membrane, which can be correlated with the kinetics of peptide self-assembly or structural rearrangements.


Key features

• Allows testing of various peptide–membrane interaction conditions (peptide:phospholipid ratio, ionic strength, buffer, etc.) at once.

• Uses intact plasma membrane vesicles that can be prepared from a variety of cell lines.

• Can offer comparable throughput as with traditional synthetic lipid models (e.g., dye-encapsulated liposomes).


Graphical overview



0 Q&A 590 Views Apr 20, 2023

In cells, p62/SQSTM1 undergoes liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS) with poly-ubiquitin chains to form p62 bodies that work as a hub for various cellular events, including selective autophagy. Cytoskeleton components such as Arp2/3-derived branched actin network and motor protein myosin 1D have been shown to actively participate in the formation of phase-separated p62 bodies. Here, we describe a detailed protocol on the purification of p62 and other proteins, the assembly of the branched actin network, and the reconstitution of p62 bodies along with cytoskeletal structures in vitro. This cell-free reconstitution of p62 bodies vividly mimics the phenomenon in which low concentrations of protein in vivo rely on cytoskeleton dynamics to increase the local concentration to reach the threshold for phase separation. This protocol provides an easily implemented and typical model system to study cytoskeleton-involved protein phase separation.

0 Q&A 1148 Views Apr 5, 2022

Ultra-precise stimulation solely to individual mitochondria, without any influence to the whole cell, is quite difficult by traditional biochemical reagents. In mitophagy research, the mitochondria and even the whole cell usually suffer irreversible and great damage caused by treatment with potent chemicals. In this protocol, we present the technical procedures of our developed noninvasive ultra-precise laser stimulation (UPLaS) technology, which introduces precise stimulation to individual mitochondria, to excite mitochondrial Ca2+ (mitoCa2+) oscillations, with little perturbation to mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), or mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mitoROS). The mitoCa2+ oscillation by UPLaS was able to initiate the PINK1/Parkin pathway for mitophagy. This protocol has good potential to benefit researches on mitophagy and mitochondrial diseases.


Graphic abstract:



Figure 1. Flowchart of the UPLaS technology. The femtosecond laser (1030 nm, 1 MHz, 220 fs) can stimulate individual mitochondria (1 μm2) for a short period (0.1 s), whereas confocal microscopy (CM) provides continuous cell imaging to monitor molecular dynamics in real time, before and after UPLaS.


0 Q&A 3902 Views Mar 20, 2021

Synaptic vesicles (SVs) are clustered in the presynaptic terminals and consistently trafficking along axons. Based on their release features, SVs are classified into different “pools”. Imaging of SVs that are traveling among multiple presynaptic terminals has helped define a new pool named “SV super-pool”. Here we describe a Fluorescent Recovery After Photobleaching (FRAP) approach to elucidate the relationship between SVs from the super-pool with SV clusters at presynaptic terminals. This method is powerful to investigate SV mobility regulation mechanisms.

0 Q&A 6763 Views Feb 20, 2020
Direct protein-protein interactions are known to regulate a wide range of cellular activities. To understand these contacts one can employ various experimental methods like Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS), Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET), Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC), Chemical crosslinking, Co-immunoprecipitation (Co-IP), Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) and many more. Among these, SPR stands out as a quick, label-free, reliable, and accurate quantitation technique. We have used SPR to elucidate the linkage between 14-3-3 Protein 3 (EhP3) and the actin cytoskeleton in the protist pathogen Entamoeba histolytica. It allowed us to screen EhP3 binding with several actin-binding/actin regulatory proteins (Coactosin, Actophorin, Twinfilin, Profilin, and Filamin). Our screening results suggested Coactosin as an important interacting partner of EhP3. A complete kinetic analysis indeed confirmed that EhCoactosin binds EhP3 with an affinity constant of 3 μM.



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