Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 140 Views Sep 5, 2023

In the field of molecular genetics, DNA extraction protocols and kits are sample-specific and proprietary, preventing lateral distribution among similar facilities from different sectors to alleviate supply shortages during a crisis. Expanding upon previous fast extraction protocols such as alkaline- and detergent-based ones, the use of boiling-hot water to rupture cells, virions, and nuclei, as proposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, might alleviate shortages and costs. Different soft, relatively abundant (highly enriched), and uncomplicated (genomically homogenous and with few inhibitors) biosamples are collected in 1.5 mL tubes, mixed with boiling-hot water, and stirred vigorously, so as to have membranes lysed and proteins deactivated; mechanical disruption may be used as well if necessary. Incubation in boiling water bath for 20–30 min follows. Depending on sample type and quantity, which affects the total extraction volume, 2–5 μL are pipetted off for direct PCR and the same volume for two decimal serial dilutions. The latter are intended to optimize the crude extract to a workable DNA/inhibitor concentration balance for direct PCR. Uncomplicated, highly enriched samples such as mycelial growth in fruits and human swab samples can be processed, contrary to complicated samples such as blood and physically unyielding samples such as plant tissue. The extract can be used for immediate PCR in both benchtop and portable thermocyclers, thus allowing nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) being performed in resource-limited settings with low cost and waste footprint or during prolonged crises, where supply chain failures may occur.

Key features

• DNA extraction from different sample types using only boiling water and occasional mechanical assistance.

• Crude extract serially diluted twice, 10- and 100-fold, to bypass purification and quantification steps.

• Direct PCR for 2–10 μL of crude lysate and dilutions (conditional to sample type and quantity) to enhance probability of workable DNA-inhibitors’ concentrations.

• Lowers the cost and curtails the overall footprint of testing to increase sustainability in field operations and in standard lab environments under supply chain derailment.

0 Q&A 270 Views May 20, 2023

Fast and accurate detection of pathogenic bacterial infection in patients with severe pneumonia is significant to its treatment. The traditional culture method currently used by most medical institutions relies on a time-consuming culture process (over two days) that is unable to meet clinical needs. Rapid, accurate, and convenient species-specific bacterial detector (SSBD) has been developed to provide timely information on pathogenic bacteria. The SSBD was designed based on the fact that Cas12a indiscriminately cleaves any DNA following the binding of the crRNA-Cas12a complex to the target DNA molecule. SSBD involves two processes, starting with PCR of the target DNA using primers specific for the pathogen, followed by detection of the existence of pathogen target DNA in the PCR product using the corresponding crRNA and Cas12a protein. Compared to the culture test, the SSBD can obtain accurate pathogenic information in only a few hours, dramatically shortening the detection time and allowing more patients to benefit from timely clinical treatment.

0 Q&A 1107 Views Nov 20, 2022

Membrane transporters and soluble binding proteins recognize particular nutrients, metabolites, vitamins, or ligands. By modifying genetically engineered single cysteine residues near the active sites of such proteins with extrinsic maleimide fluorophores, the approaches that we report create sensitive fluorescent sensors that detect, quantify, and monitor molecules that are relevant to the biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, and clinical properties of pro- and eukaryotic organisms.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 1686 Views Apr 20, 2022

The absence of long term, primary untransformed in vitro models that support hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and replication have hampered HBV pre-clinical research, which was reflected in the absence of a curative therapy until recently. One of the limitations for in vitro HBV research has been the absence of high titer and pure recombinant HBV stocks, which, as we describe here, can be generated using simple, and reproducible protocols. In addition to infection of more conventional in vitro and in vivo liver model systems, recombinant high titer purified HBV stocks can also be used to efficiently infect differentiated human liver organoids, whose generation, maintenance, and infection is discussed in detail in a companion organoid protocol. Here, we also describe the protocols for the detection of specific viral read-outs, including HBV DNA in the supernatant of the cultures, covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) from intracellular DNA preparations, and HBV viral proteins and viral RNA, which can be detected within the cells, demonstrating the presence of a complete viral replication cycle in infected liver organoids. Although an evolving platform, the human liver organoid model system presents great potential as an exciting new tool to study HBV infection and progression to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in primary cells, when combined with the use of high-titer and pure recombinant HBV stock for infection.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 1336 Views Mar 5, 2022

The impact of viral diseases on human health is becoming increasingly prevalent globally with the burden of disease being shared between resource-rich and poor areas. As seen in the global pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2, there is a need to establish viral detection techniques applicable to resource-limited areas that provide sensitive and specific testing with a logistically conscious mindset. Herein, we describe a direct-to-PCR technology utilizing mechanical homogenization prior to viral PCR detection, which allows the user to bypass traditional RNA extraction techniques for accurate detection of human coronavirus. This methodology was validated in vitro, utilizing human coronavirus 229E (HCoV-229E), and then clinically, utilizing patient samples to test for SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this manuscript, we describe in detail the protocol utilized to determine the limit of detection for this methodology with in vitro testing of HCoV-229E.

0 Q&A 1672 Views Feb 5, 2022

Biofilms serve as a bacterial survival strategy, allowing bacteria to persist under adverse environmental conditions. The non-pathogenic Listeria innocua is used as a surrogate organism for the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, because they share genetic and physiological similarities and can be used in a Biosafety Level 1 laboratory. Several methods are used to evaluate biofilms, including different approaches to determine biofilm biomass or culturability, viability, metabolic activity, or other microbial community properties. Routinely used methods for biofilm assay include the classical culture-based plate counting method, biomass staining methods (e.g., crystal violet and safranin red), DNA staining methods (e.g., Syto 9), methods that use metabolic substrates to detect live bacteria (e.g., tetrazolium salts or resazurin), and PCR-based methods to quantify bacterial DNA. The NanoLuc (Nluc) luciferase biofilm assay is a viable alternative or complement to existing methods. Functional Nluc was expressed in L. innocua using the nisin-inducible expression system and bacterial detection was performed using furimazine as substrate. Concentration dependent bioluminescence signals were obtained over a concentration range greater than three log units. The Nluc bioluminescence method allows absolute quantification of bacterial cells, has high sensitivity, broad range, good day-to-day repeatability, and good precision with acceptable accuracy. The advantages of Nluc bioluminescence also include direct detection, absolute cell quantification, and rapid execution.

Graphic abstract:

Engineering Listeria innocua to express NanoLuc and its application in bioluminescence assay.

1 Q&A 2391 Views Dec 20, 2021

Arabidopsis thaliana-Pseudomonas syringae pathosystem has been used as an important model system for studying plant-microbe interactions, leading to many milestones and breakthroughs in the understanding of plant immune system and pathogenesis mechanisms. Bacterial infection and plant disease assessment are key experiments in the studies of plant-pathogen interactions. The hypersensitive response (HR), which is characterized by rapid cell death and tissue collapse after inoculation with a high dose of bacteria, is a hallmark response of plant effector-triggered immunity (ETI), one layer of plant immunity triggered by recognition of pathogen-derived effector proteins. Here, we present a detailed protocol for bacterial disease and hypersensitive response assays applicable to studies of Pseudomonas syringae interaction with various plant species such as Arabidopsis, Nicotiana benthamiana, and tomato.

1 Q&A 7137 Views May 5, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic requires mass screening to identify those infected for isolation and quarantine. Individually screening large populations for the novel pathogen, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is costly and requires a lot of resources. Sample pooling methods improve the efficiency of mass screening and consume less reagents by increasing the capacity of testing and reducing the number of experiments performed, and are therefore especially suitable for under-developed countries with limited resources. Here, we propose a simple, reliable pooling strategy for COVID-19 testing using clinical nasopharyngeal (NP) and/or oropharyngeal (OP) swabs. The strategy includes the pooling of 10 NP/OP swabs for extraction and subsequent testing via quantitative real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR), and may also be applied to the screening of other pathogens.

0 Q&A 4660 Views Apr 20, 2021

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the major cause of liver diseases and liver cancer worldwide. After infecting hepatocytes, the virus establishes a stable episome (covalently closed circular DNA, or cccDNA) that serves as the template for all viral transcripts. Specific and accurate quantification of cccDNA is difficult because infected cells contain abundant replicative intermediates of HBV DNA that share overlapping sequences but arranged in slightly different forms. HBV cccDNA can be detected by Southern blot or qPCR methods which involve enzymatic digestion. These assays are laborious, have limited sensitivity, or require degradation of cellular DNA (which precludes simple normalization). The method described in this protocol, cccDNA inversion quantitative (cinq)PCR, instead uses a series of restriction enzyme-mediated hydrolysis and ligation reactions that convert cccDNA into an inverted linear amplicon, which is not amplified or detected from other forms of HBV DNA. Importantly, cellular DNA remains quantifiable during sample preparation, allowing normalization and markedly improving precision. Further, a second linear fragment (derived from enzymatic digestion of a separate region of the HBV DNA genome and is present in all forms of HBV DNA) can be used to simultaneously quantify total HBV levels.

Graphic abstract:

Selective detection of HBV cccDNA and total HBV DNA using cinqPCR (Reproduced from Tu et al., 2020a).

0 Q&A 3203 Views Mar 20, 2021

Detection of live African swine fever virus (ASFV) has historically relied on the use of primary swine macrophages (PSM). PSM do not replicate and have to be isolated fresh from donor swine. We previously identified that a MA-104 cells (ATCC #CRL-2378.1), a commercially available cell line isolated from African green monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops) kidney epithelial cells, supports the detection of ASFV from field samples with a sensitivity comparable to that of primary swine macrophages. Collection of swine blood or lungs is time costing, which is often not readily available in most veterinary diagnostic laboratories. MA-104 cells could thus be used as substitute for primary swine macrophages to save significant lead time by avoiding the production of primary swine macrophages.

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