Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 5033 Views Jun 20, 2024

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a severe and extremely contagious viral disease of cloven-hoofed domestic and wild animals, which leads to serious economic losses to the livestock industry globally. FMD is caused by the FMD virus (FMDV), a positive-strand RNA virus that belongs to the genus Aphthovirus, within the family Picornaviridae. Early detection and characterization of FMDV strains are key factors to control new outbreaks and prevent the spread of the disease. Here, we describe a direct RNA sequencing method using Oxford Nanopore Technology (ONT) Flongle flow cells on MinION Mk1C (or GridION) to characterize FMDV. This is a rapid, low cost, and easily deployed point of care (POC) method for a near real-time characterization of FMDV in endemic areas or outbreak investigation sites.

0 Q&A 309 Views Jun 5, 2024

Leishmaniasis, a neglected tropical disease, is caused by the intracellular protozoan parasite Leishmania. Upon its transmission through a sandfly bite, Leishmania binds and enters host phagocytic cells, ultimately resulting in a cutaneous or visceral form of the disease. The limited therapeutics available for leishmaniasis, in combination with this parasite’s techniques to evade the host immune system, call for exploring various methods to target this infection. To this end, our laboratory has been characterizing how Leishmania is internalized by phagocytic cells through the activation of multiple host cell signaling pathways. This protocol, which we use routinely for our experiments, delineates how to infect mammalian macrophages with either promastigote or amastigote forms of the Leishmania parasite. Subsequently, the number of intracellular parasites, external parasites, and macrophages can be quantified using immunofluorescence microscopy and semi-automated analysis protocols. Studying the pathways that underlie Leishmania uptake by phagocytes will not only improve our understanding of these host–pathogen interactions but may also provide a foundation for discovering additional treatments for leishmaniasis.

0 Q&A 303 Views Apr 5, 2024

Periodontal disease is characterized by the destruction of the hard and soft tissues comprising the periodontium. This destruction translates to a degradation of the extracellular matrices (ECM), mediated by bacterial proteases, host-derived matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), and other proteases released by host tissues and immune cells. Bacterial pathogens interact with host tissue, triggering adverse cellular functions, including a heightened immune response, tissue destruction, and tissue migration. The oral spirochete Treponema denticola is highly associated with periodontal disease. Dentilisin, a T. denticola outer membrane protein complex, contributes to the chronic activation of pro-MMP-2 in periodontal ligament (PDL) cells and triggers increased expression levels of activators and effectors of active MMP-2 in PDL cells. Despite these advances, no mechanism for dentilisin-induced MMP-2 activation or PDL cytopathic behaviors leading to disease is known. Here, we describe a method for purification of large amounts of the dentilisin protease complex from T. denticola and demonstrate its ability to activate MMP-2, a key regulator of periodontal tissue homeostasis. The T. denticola dentilisin and MMP-2 activation model presented here may provide new insights into the dentilisin protein and identify potential therapeutic targets for further research.

0 Q&A 321 Views Mar 5, 2024

The genome of the dengue virus codes for a single polypeptide that yields three structural and seven non-structural (NS) proteins upon post-translational modifications. Among them, NS protein-3 (NS3) possesses protease activity, involved in the processing of the self-polypeptide and in the cleavage of host proteins. Identification and analysis of such host proteins as substrates of this protease facilitate the development of specific drugs. In vitro cleavage analysis has been applied, which requires homogeneously purified components. However, the expression and purification of both S3 and erythroid differentiation regulatory factor 1 (EDRF1) are difficult and unsuccessful on many occasions. EDRF1 was identified as an interacting protein of dengue virus protease (NS3). The amino acid sequence analysis indicates the presence of NS3 cleavage sites in this protein. As EDRF1 is a high-molecular-weight (~138 kDa) protein, it is difficult to express and purify the complete protein. In this protocol, we clone the domain of the EDRF1 protein (C-terminal end) containing the cleavage site and the NS3 into two different eukaryotic expression vectors containing different tags. These recombinant vectors are co-transfected into mammalian cells. The cell lysate is subjected to SDS-PAGE followed by western blotting with anti-tag antibodies. Data suggest the disappearance of the EDRF1 band in the lane co-transfected along with NS3 protease but present in the lane transfected with only EDRF1, suggesting EDRF1 as a novel substrate of NS3 protease. This protocol is useful in identifying the substrates of viral-encoded proteases using ex vivo conditions. Further, this protocol can be used to screen anti-protease molecules.

Key features

• This protocol requires the cloning of protease and substrate into two different eukaryotic expression vectors with different tags.

• Involves the transfection and co-transfection of both the above recombinant vectors individually and together.

• Involves western blotting of the same PVDF membrane containing total proteins of the cell lysate with two different antibodies.

• Does not require purified proteins for the analysis of cleavage of any suspected substrate by the protease.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 311 Views Mar 5, 2024

Intracellular bacterial pathogens have evolved to be adept at manipulating host cellular function for the benefit of the pathogen, often by means of secreted virulence factors that target host pathways for modulation. The lysosomal pathway is an essential cellular response pathway to intracellular pathogens and, as such, represents a common target for bacterial-mediated evasion. Here, we describe a method to quantitatively assess bacterial pathogen–mediated suppression of host cell trafficking to lysosomes, using Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium infection of epithelial cells as a model. This live-cell imaging assay involves the use of a BODIPY TR-X conjugate of BSA (DQ-Red BSA) that traffics to and fluoresces in functional lysosomes. This method can be adapted to study infection with a broad array of pathogens in diverse host cell types. It is capable of being applied to identify secreted virulence factors responsible for a phenotype of interest as well as domains within the bacterial protein that are important for mediating the phenotype. Collectively, these tools can provide invaluable insight into the mechanisms of pathogenesis of a diverse array of pathogenic bacteria, with the potential to uncover virulence factors that may be suitable targets for therapeutic intervention.

Key features

• Infection-based analysis of bacterial-mediated suppression of host trafficking to lysosomes, using Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium infection of human epithelial cells as a model.

• Live microscopy–based analysis allows for the visualization of individually infected host cells and is amenable to phenotype quantification.

• Assay can be adapted to a broad array of pathogens and diverse host cell types.

• Assay can identify virulence factors mediating a phenotype and protein domains that mediate a phenotype.

0 Q&A 974 Views Dec 20, 2023

Advanced immunoassays are crucial in assessing antibody responses, serving immune surveillance goals, characterising immunological responses to evolving viral variants, and guiding subsequent vaccination initiatives. This protocol outlines an indirect ELISA protocol to detect and quantify virus-specific antibodies in plasma or serum after exposure to viral antigens. The assay enables the measurement of IgG, IgA, and IgM antibodies specific to the virus of interest, providing qualitative and quantitative optical densities and concentration data. Although this protocol refers to SARS-CoV-2, its methodology is versatile and can be modified to assess antibody responses for various viral infections and to evaluate vaccine trial outcomes.

Key features

• This protocol builds upon previously described methodology [1] explicitly tailored for SARS-CoV-2 and broadens its applicability to other viral infections.

• The protocol outlines establishing antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 infections by determining optical densities and concentrations from blood plasma or serum.

Graphical overview

Summary of the conventional ELISA (A) vs. sensitive ELISA (B) procedures. In both A and B, wells are coated with a capture antigen, such as the spike protein, while in (C) they are coated with human Kappa and Lambda capture antibodies. For the conventional ELISA (A), wells with immobilised capture antigens receive serum/plasma containing the target antibody (A1 and B1). This is followed by an HRP-conjugated detection antibody specific to the captured antibody (A2 and B2) and then a substrate solution that reacts with the HRP, producing a colour proportional to the concentration of the antibody in the serum/plasma (A3 and B3). The reaction is halted, and absorbance is measured. In the sensitive ELISA (B), after the serum/plasma addition (A1 and B1), a Biotin-conjugated primary detection antibody is introduced (A2 and B2). Depending on the target antibody, a secondary streptavidin-HRP conjugated detection antibody is added for IgG or IgM (3a) or a poly-HRP 40 detection antibody for IgA (3b). A substrate is introduced, producing a colour change proportional to the antibody concentration (A4 and B4). The reaction is then stopped, and absorbance is measured. In Panel C, wells are coated with human Kappa and Lambda capture antibodies. Serial dilutions of a known antibody standard are introduced. After undergoing the standard ELISA steps, a detection antibody is added, specifically binding to the Ig standard antibody. Subsequently, a substrate solution causes a colour change proportional to the antibody concentration in the serum/plasma. The reaction is halted, and the absorbance of each well is measured. The resulting optical densities from the coated wells form the standard curve, plotting the absorbance against concentrations.

0 Q&A 460 Views Sep 5, 2023

Magnaporthe oryzae is a filamentous fungus responsible for the detrimental rice blast disease afflicting rice crops worldwide. For years, M. oryzae has served as an excellent model organism to study plant pathogen interactions due to its sequenced genome, its amenability to functional genetics, and its capacity to be tracked in laboratory settings. As such, techniques to genetically manipulate M. oryzae for gene deletion range from genome editing via CRISPR-Cas9 to gene replacement through homologous recombination. This protocol focuses on detailing how to perform gene replacement in the model organism, M. oryzae, through a split marker method. This technique relies on replacing the open reading frame of a gene of interest with a gene conferring resistance to a specific selectable chemical, disrupting the transcription of the gene of interest and generating a knockout mutant M. oryzae strain.

Key features

• Comprehensive overview of primer design, PEG-mediated protoplast transformation, and fungal DNA extraction for screening.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 1229 Views Aug 20, 2023

Lipids can play diverse roles in metabolism, signaling, transport across membranes, regulating body temperature, and inflammation. Some viruses have evolved to exploit lipids in human cells to promote viral entry, fusion, replication, assembly, and energy production through fatty acid beta-oxidation. Hence, studying the virus–lipid interactions provides an opportunity to understand the biological processes involved in the viral life cycle, which can facilitate the development of antivirals. Due to the diversity and complexity of lipids, the assessment of lipid utilization in infected host cells can be challenging. However, the development of mass spectrometry, bioenergetics profiling, and bioinformatics has significantly advanced our knowledge on the study of lipidomics. Herein, we describe the detailed methods for lipid extraction, mass spectrometry, and assessment of fatty acid oxidation on cellular bioenergetics, as well as the bioinformatics approaches for detailed lipid analysis and utilization in host cells. These methods were employed for the investigation of lipid alterations in TMEM41B- and VMP1-deficient cells, where we previously found global dysregulations of the lipidome in these cells. Furthermore, we developed a web app to plot clustermaps or heatmaps for mass spectrometry data that is open source and can be hosted locally or at https://kuanrongchan-lipid-metabolite-analysis-app-k4im47.streamlit.app/. This protocol provides an efficient step-by-step methodology to assess lipid composition and usage in host cells.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 357 Views Aug 5, 2023

Plants elicit defense responses when exposed to pathogens, which partly contribute to the resistance of plants to Agrobacterium tumefaciens–mediated transformation. Some pathogenic bacteria have sophisticated mechanisms to counteract these defense responses by injecting Type III effectors (T3Es) through the Type III secretion system (T3SS). By engineering A. tumefaciens to express T3SS to deliver T3Es, we suppressed plant defense and enhanced plant genetic transformation. Here, we describe the optimized protocols for mobilization of T3SS-expressing plasmid to engineer A. tumefaciens to deliver proteins through T3SS and fractionation of cultures to study proteins from pellet and supernatants to determine protein secretion from engineered A. tumefaciens.

0 Q&A 815 Views Jul 20, 2023

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a global public health concern. During chronic infection, the HBV small-surface antigen is expressed in large excess as non-infectious spherical subviral particles (SVPs), which possess strong immunogenicity. To date, attempts at understanding the structure of HBV spherical SVP have been restricted to 12–30 Å with contradictory conclusions regarding its architecture. We have used cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and 3D image reconstruction to solve the HBV spherical SVP to 6.3 Å. Here, we present an extended protocol on combining AlphaFold2 prediction with a moderate-resolution cryo-EM density map to build a reliable 3D model. This protocol utilizes multiple software packages that are routinely used in the cryo-EM community. The workflow includes 3D model prediction, model evaluation, rigid-body fitting, flexible fitting, real-space refinement, model validation, and model adjustment. Finally, the described protocol can also be applied to high-resolution cryo-EM datasets (2–4 Å).

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