Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 448 Views Jul 20, 2023

Tension and force propagation play a central role in tissue morphogenesis, as they enable sub- and supra-cellular shape changes required for the generation of new structures. Force is often generated by the cytoskeleton, which forms complex meshworks that reach cell–cell or cell–extracellular matrix junctions to induce cellular rearrangements. These mechanical properties can be measured through laser microdissection, which concentrates energy in the tissue of interest, disrupting its cytoskeleton. If the tissue is undergoing tension, this cut will induce a recoil in the surrounding regions of the cut. This protocol describes how one can perform laser microdissection experiments and subsequently measure the recoil speed of the sample of interest. While we explain how to carry out these experiments in Drosophila embryos, the recoil calibration and downstream analyses can be applied to other types of preparations.

Key features

• Allows measuring tension in live Drosophila embryos with a relatively simple approach.

• Describes a quick way to mount a high number of embryos.

• Includes a segmentation-free recoil quantification that reduces bias and speeds up analysis.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 468 Views Jul 5, 2023

Determining the oligomeric state of membrane proteins is critical for understanding their function. However, traditional ex situ methods like clear native gel electrophoresis can disrupt protein subunit interactions during sample preparation. In situ methods such as stepwise photobleaching have limitations due to high expression levels and limitations of optical resolution in microscopy. Super-resolution microscopy techniques such as single-molecule localization microscopy (SMLM) have the potential to overcome these limitations, but the stochastic nature of signals can lead to miscounting due to over-expression, background noise, and temporal separation of signals. Additionally, this technique has limited application due to the limited selection of fluorescent labels and the demanding control of laser power. To address these issues, we developed a dual color colocalization (DCC) strategy that offers higher tolerance to background noise and simplifies data acquisition and processing for high-throughput and reliable counting. The DCC strategy was used to determine the oligomeric states of membrane proteins of the SLC17 and SLC26 family with SMLM, providing a robust and efficient method for studying protein interactions.

Graphical overview

(A) Illustration of the principle for determining the oligomeric state of protein complexes with dual color colocalization–single-molecule localization microscopy (DCC-SMLM). In the inset, as an example, a dimeric protein (brown) is labeled with a marker (M) and an indicator fluorescent protein (F) on each of its two subunits. The overall probability of detecting the dimer with SMLM, as denoted by R, the colocalization ratio, is equal to the ratio of the number of colocalized marker and indicator clusters (NMF) to that of the marker clusters (NM). The plot shows the linear relationship of the oligomeric state (n) vs. the natural logarithm of 1 subtracted by the colocalization ratio, supplemented by the equation of the fitting curve, in which p denotes the recall rate of the indicator fluorescent protein (F). (B) The workflow diagram shows the procedures of DCC-SMLM (Locs: localizations; COM: coefficient of mismatch; LCA: lateral chromatic aberration).

0 Q&A 650 Views Jun 5, 2023

Lipid-conjugated pH sensors based on fluorophores coupled to lipids are a powerful tool for monitoring pH gradients in biological microcompartments and reconstituted membrane systems. This protocol describes the synthesis of pH sensors based on amine-reactive pHrodo esters and the amino phospholipid phosphatidylethanolamine. The major features of this sensor include efficient partitioning into membranes and strong fluorescence under acidic conditions. The protocol described here can be used as a template to couple other amine-reactive fluorophores to phosphatidylethanolamines.

Graphical overview

Synthesis of lipid-conjugated pH sensors based on amine-reactive fluorophore esters and the aminophospholipid phosphoethanolamine (PE)

0 Q&A 621 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 564 Views Mar 5, 2023

Lipid droplets (LD), triglycerides and sterol esters among them, are well known for their capacity as lipid storage organelles. Recently, they have emerged as critical cytoplasmic structures involved in numerous biological functions. LD storage is generated de novo by the cell and provides an energy reserve, lipid precursors, and cell protection. Moreover, LD accumulation can be observed in some pathologies as obesity, atherosclerosis, or lung diseases. Fluorescence imaging techniques are the most widely used techniques to visualize cellular compartments in live cells, including LD. Nevertheless, presence of fluorophores can damage subcellular components and induce cytotoxicity, or even alter the dynamics of the organelles. As an alternative to fluorescence microscopy, label-free techniques such as stimulated Raman scattering and coherent anti-stokes Raman scattering microscopy offer a solution to avoid the undesirable effects caused by dyes and fluorescent proteins, but are expensive and complex. Here, we describe a label-free method using live-cell imaging by 3D holotomographic microscopy (Nanolive) to visualize LD accumulation in the MH-S alveolar macrophage cell line after treatment with oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that promotes lipid accumulation.

0 Q&A 694 Views Feb 20, 2023

The cell surfaceome is of vital importance across physiology, developmental biology, and disease states alike. The precise identification of proteins and their regulatory mechanisms at the cell membrane has been challenging and is typically determined using confocal microscopy, two-photon microscopy, or total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRFM). Of these, TIRFM is the most precise, as it harnesses the generation of a spatially delimited evanescent wave at the interface of two surfaces with distinct refractive indices. The limited penetration of the evanescent wave illuminates a narrow specimen field, which facilitates the localization of fluorescently tagged proteins at the cell membrane but not inside of the cell. In addition to constraining the depth of the image, TIRFM also significantly enhances the signal-to-noise ratio, which is particularly valuable in the study of live cells. Here, we detail a protocol for micromirror TIRFM analysis of optogenetically activated protein kinase C-ϵ in HEK293-T cells, as well as data analysis to demonstrate the translocation of this construct to the cell-surface following optogenetic activation.

Graphic abstract

0 Q&A 1249 Views Jan 20, 2023

Single-particle electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) is an effective tool to determine high-resolution structures of macromolecular complexes. Its lower requirements for sample concentration and purity make it an accessible method to determine structures of low-abundant protein complexes, such as those isolated from native sources. While there are many approaches to protein purification for cryo-EM, attaining suitable particle quality and abundance is generally the major bottleneck to the typical single-particle project workflow. Here, we present a protocol using budding yeast (S. cerevisiae), in which a tractable immunoprecipitation tag (3xFLAG) is appended at the endogenous locus of a gene of interest (GOI). The modified gene is expressed under its endogenous promoter, and cells are grown and harvested using standard procedures. Our protocol describes the steps in which the tagged proteins and their associated complexes are isolated within three hours of thawing cell lysates, after which the recovered proteins are used directly for cryo-EM specimen preparation. The prioritization of speed maximizes the ability to recover intact, scarce complexes. The protocol is generalizable to soluble yeast proteins that tolerate C-terminal epitope tags.

Graphical abstract

Overview of lysate-to-grid workflow. Yeast cells are transformed to express a tractable tag on a gene of interest. Following cell culture and lysis, particles of interest are rapidly isolated by co-immunoprecipitation and prepared for cryo-EM imaging (created with

0 Q&A 1020 Views Oct 20, 2022

The human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) consists of a viral membrane surrounding the conical capsid. The capsid is a protein container assembled from approximately 1,500 copies of the viral capsid protein (CA), functioning as a reaction and transport chamber for the viral genome after cell entry. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is a widely used technique for characterizing the ultrastructure of isolated viral capsids after removal of the viral membrane, which otherwise hinders negative staining of structures inside the viral particle for TEM. Here, we provide a protocol to permeabilize the membrane of HIV-1 particles using a pore-forming toxin for negative staining of capsids, which are stabilized with inositol hexakisphosphate to prevent premature capsid disassembly. This approach revealed the pleomorphic nature of capsids with a partially intact membrane surrounding them. The permeabilization strategy using pore-forming toxins can be readily applied to visualize the internal architecture of other enveloped viruses using TEM.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 1262 Views Oct 20, 2022

The ribosome is a complex cellular machinery whose solved structure allowed for an incredible leap in structural biology research. Different ions bind to the ribosome, stabilizing inter-subunit interfaces and structurally linking rRNAs, proteins, and ligands. Besides cations such as K+ and Mg2+, polyamines are known to stabilize the folding of RNA and overall structure. The bacterial ribosome is composed of a small (30S) subunit containing the decoding center and a large (50S) subunit devoted to peptide bond formation. We have previously shown that the small ribosomal subunit of Staphylococcus aureus is sensitive to changes in ionic conditions and polyamines concentration. In particular, its decoding center, where mRNA codons and tRNA anticodons interact, is prone to structural deformations in the absence of spermidine. Here, we report a detailed protocol for the purification of the intact and functional 30S, achieved through specific ionic conditions and the addition of spermidine. Using this protocol, we obtained the cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of the 30S–mRNA complex from S. aureus at 3.6 Å resolution. The 30S–mRNA complex formation was verified by a toeprinting assay. In this article, we also include a description of toeprinting and cryo-EM protocols. The described protocols can be further used to study the process of translation regulation.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 1335 Views Aug 5, 2022

In eukaryotic cells, RNA Polymerase II (RNAP2) is the enzyme in charge of transcribing mRNA from DNA. RNAP2 possesses an extended carboxy-terminal domain (CTD) that gets dynamically phosphorylated as RNAP2 progresses through the transcription cycle, therefore regulating each step of transcription from recruitment to termination. Although RNAP2 residue-specific phosphorylation has been characterized in fixed cells by immunoprecipitation-based assays, or in live cells by using tandem gene arrays, these assays can mask heterogeneity and limit temporal and spatial resolution. Our protocol employs multi-colored complementary fluorescent antibody-based (Fab) probes to specifically detect the CTD of the RNAP2 (CTD-RNAP2), and its phosphorylated form at the serine 5 residue (Ser5ph-RNAP2) at a single-copy HIV-1 reporter gene. Together with high-resolution fluorescence microscopy, single-molecule tracking analysis, and rigorous computational modeling, our system allows us to visualize, quantify, and predict endogenous RNAP2 phosphorylation dynamics and mRNA synthesis at a single-copy gene, in living cells, and throughout the transcription cycle.

Graphical abstract:

Schematic of the steps for visualizing, quantifying, and predicting RNAP2 phosphorylation at a single-copy gene.

We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By using our website, you are agreeing to allow the storage of cookies on your computer.