Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 1016 Views Dec 20, 2022

The importance of studying the mechanistic aspects of long non-coding RNAs is being increasingly emphasized as more and more regulatory RNAs are being discovered. Non-coding RNA sequences directly associate with generic RNA-binding proteins as well as specific proteins, which cooperate in the downstream functions of the RNA and can also be dysregulated in various physiologic states and/or diseases. While current methods exist for identifying RNA–protein interactions, these methods require high quantities of input cells or use pooled capture reagents that may increase non-specific binding. We have developed a method to efficiently capture specific RNAs using less than one million input cells. One single oligonucleotide is used to pull down the target RNA of choice and oligonucleotide selection is driven by sequence accessibility. We perform thermal elution to specifically elute the target RNA and its associated proteins, which are identified by mass spectrometry. Ultimately, two target and control oligonucleotides are used to create an enrichment map of interacting proteins of interest.

0 Q&A 318 Views Dec 20, 2022

Atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by thickening of the arteries due to lipid deposition, is the major contributor to and hallmark of cardiovascular disease. Although great progress has been made in lowering the lipid plaques in patients, the conventional therapies fail to address the needs of those that are intolerant or non-responsive to the treatment. Therefore, additional novel therapeutic approaches are warranted. We have previously shown that increasing the cellular amounts of microRNA-30c (miR-30c) with the aid of viral vectors or liposomes can successfully reduce plasma cholesterol and atherosclerosis in mice. To avoid the use of viruses and liposomes, we have developed new methods to synthesize novel miR-30c analogs with increasing potency and efficacy, including 2’-O-methyl (2’OMe), 2’-fluoro (2’F), pseudouridine (ᴪ), phosphorothioate (PS), and N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc). The discovery of these modifications has profoundly impacted the modern RNA therapeutics, as evidenced by their increased nuclease stability and reduction in immune responses. We show that modifications on the passenger strand of miR-30c not only stabilize the duplex but also aid in a more readily uptake by the cells without the aid of viral vectors or lipid emulsions. After uptake, the analogs with PS linkages and GalNAc-modified ribonucleotides significantly reduce the secretion of apolipoprotein B (ApoB) without affecting apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1) in human hepatoma Huh-7 cells. We envision an enormous potential for these modified miR-30c analogs in therapeutic intervention for treating cardiovascular diseases.

0 Q&A 1431 Views Dec 5, 2022

RNA is a vital component of the cell and is involved in a diverse range of cellular processes through a variety of functions. However, many of these functions cannot be performed without interactions with proteins. There are currently several techniques used to study protein–RNA interactions, such as electrophoretic mobility shift assay, fluorescence anisotropy, and filter binding. RNA-pulldown is a technique that uses biotinylated RNA probes to capture protein–RNA complexes of interest. First, the RNA probe and a recombinant protein are incubated to allow the in vitro interaction to occur. The fraction of bound protein is then captured by a biotin pull-down using streptavidin-agarose beads, followed by elution and immunoblotting for the recombinant protein with a His-tag–reactive probe. Overall, this method does not require specialized equipment outside what is typically found in a modern molecular laboratory and easily facilitates the maintenance of an RNase-free environment.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 1214 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.

0 Q&A 1922 Views May 5, 2022

Mammalian tissues are highly heterogenous and complex, posing a challenge in understanding the molecular mechanisms regulating protein expression within various tissues. Recent studies have shown that translation at the level of the ribosome is highly regulated, and can vary independently of gene expression observed at a transcriptome level, as well as between cell populations, contributing to the diversity of mammalian tissues. Earlier methods that analyzed gene expression at the level of translation, such as polysomal- or ribosomal-profiling, required large amounts of starting material to isolate enough RNA for analysis by microarray or RNA-sequencing. Thus, rare or less abundant cell types within tissues were not able to be properly studied with these methods. Translating ribosome affinity purification (TRAP) utilizes the incorporation of an eGFP-affinity tag on the large ribosome subunit, driven by expression of cell-type specific Cre-lox promoters, to allow for identification and capture of transcripts from actively translating ribosomes in a cell-specific manner. As a result, TRAP offers a unique opportunity to evaluate the entire mRNA translation profile within a specific cell type, and increase our understanding regarding the cellular complexity of mammalian tissues.

Graphical abstract:

Schematic demonstrating TRAP protocol for identifying ribosome-bound transcripts specifically within cerebellar Purkinje cells.

0 Q&A 1337 Views Apr 5, 2022

In Arabidopsis, DICER-LIKE PROTEIN 3 (DCL3) cuts the substrate pre-siRNA into a product siRNA duplex, encompassing one 23-nt strand and one 24-nt strand. To monitor the separation of the siRNA duplex with only 1-nt difference, we developed this protocol to evaluate the in vitro dicing activity of DCL3. The method can be applied for measuring the lengths of single-stranded RNA separated through denaturing urea polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (urea PAGE), which are visualized by a label-free fluorescence SYBR Gold, and quantified in a multi-function imager. This label-free method is easy to conduct, has low cost, and lacks the hazard of the traditional radio-labeled method. This method can also be adapted to the other Dicers and small RNAs.

0 Q&A 1986 Views Feb 20, 2022

Transfer RNAs (tRNAs) are highly abundant species and, along their biosynthetic and functional path, they establish interactions with a plethora of proteins. The high number of nucleobase modifications in tRNAs renders conventional RNA quantification approaches unsuitable to study protein-tRNA interactions and their associated functional roles in the cell. We present an immunoprecipitation-based approach to quantify tRNA bound to its interacting protein partner(s). The tRNA-protein complexes are immunoprecipitated from cells or tissues and tRNAs are identified by northern blot and quantified by tRNA-specific fluorescent labeling. The tRNA interacting protein is quantified by an automated western blot and the tRNA amount is presented per unit of the interacting protein. We tested the approach to quantify tRNAGly associated with mutant glycyl-tRNA-synthetase implicated in Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. This simple and versatile protocol can be easily adapted to any other tRNA binding proteins.

Graphic abstract:

Figure 1. Schematic of the tRNA-Immunoprecipitation approach.

0 Q&A 2216 Views Feb 20, 2022
Ribosome profiling (Ribo-Seq) is a highly sensitive method to quantify ribosome occupancies along individual mRNAs on a genome-wide scale. Hereby, ribosome-protected fragments (= footprints) are generated by nuclease digestion, isolated, and sequenced together with the corresponding randomly fragmented input samples, to determine ribosome densities (RD). For library preparation, equal amounts of total RNA are used. Subsequently, all transcript fragments are subjected to linker ligation, cDNA synthesis, and PCR amplification. Importantly, the number of reads obtained for every transcript in input and footprint samples during sequencing depends on sequencing depth and library size, as well as the relative abundance of the transcript in the sample. However, the information pertaining to the absolute amount of input and footprint sequences is lost during sample preparation, hence ruling out any conclusion whether translation is generally suppressed or activated in one condition over the other. Therefore, the RD fold-changes determined for individual genes do not reflect absolute regulation, but have to be interpreted as relative to bulk mRNA translation. Here, we modified the original ribosome profiling protocol that was first established by Ingolia et al. (2009), by adding small amounts of yeast lysate to the mammalian lysates of interest as a spike-in. This allows us to not only detect changes in the RD of specific transcripts relative to each other, but also to simultaneously measure global differences in RD (normalized ribosome density values) between samples.

Graphic abstract:

Global changes in translation efficiency can be detected with polysome profiling, where the proportion of polysomal ribosomes is interpreted as a proxy for ribosome density (RD) on bulk mRNA.
Ribo-Seq measures changes in RD of specific mRNAs relative to bulk mRNA. The addition of a yeast-lysate, as a spike-in for normalization of read counts, allows for an absolute measurement of changes in RD.
0 Q&A 2203 Views Jan 5, 2022

During development, cells must quickly switch from one cell state to the next to execute precise and timely differentiation. One method to ensure fast transitions in cell states is by controlling gene expression at the post-transcriptional level through action of RNA-binding proteins on mRNAs. The ability to accurately identify the RNA targets of RNA-binding proteins at specific stages is key to understanding the functional role of RNA-binding proteins during development. Here we describe an adapted formaldehyde RNA immunoprecipitation (fRIP) protocol to identify the in vivo RNA targets of a cytoplasmic RNA-binding protein, YTHDC2, from testis, during the first wave of spermatogenesis, at the stage when germ cells are shutting off the proliferative program and initiating terminal differentiation (Bailey et al., 2017). This protocol enables quick and efficient identification of endogenous RNAs bound to an RNA-binding protein, and facilitates the monitoring of stage-specific changes during development.

0 Q&A 1592 Views Dec 5, 2021

To determine the molecular and functional interactions between RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) and their targets RNAs, is of fundamental importance to understand the dynamic organization of the nervous system in health and disease. Nevertheless, this task has remained elusive due to the lack of specific protocols and experimental systems that would allow the combination of biochemical analysis with in vivo functional genetics. In this manuscript, we describe a trustworthy and detailed methodology to establish the molecular organization and intracellular function of RBPs/RNA multimeric complexes in a cell type-defined manner by using the powerful GAL4/UAS system for gene expression in Drosophila melanogaster.

Graphic abstract:

Immunoprecipitation for protein-RNA interaction in Drosophila.

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.