Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 145 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 785 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 184 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 313 Views Jul 20, 2023

Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is one of the most important agricultural crops in the world, but pathogen infections regularly limit its annual yield. A major threat is the infection with the biotrophic leaf rust fungus, Puccinia hordei. Rust fungi have a complex life cycle, and existing resistances can be easily overcome. To address this problem, it is crucial to develop barley varieties with improved and durable resistance mechanisms. An essential step towards this goal is a simple and reproducible infection protocol to evaluate potential resistance phenotypes in the lab. However, available protocols sometimes lack detailed procedure or equipment information, use spore application methods that are not suitable for uniform spore dispersion, or require special mineral oils or engineered fluids. In addition, they are often optimized for pathogen-dedicated greenhouses or phytochambers, which may not be available to every research institute. Here, we describe an easy and user-friendly procedure to infect barley with Puccinia hordei on a small laboratory scale. This procedure utilizes inexpensive and simple tools to evenly split and apply spores to barley leaves. The treated plants are incubated in affordable and small phytocabinets. Our protocol enables a quick and reproducible infection of barley with leaf rust, a method that can easily be transferred to other rust fungi, including stripe rust, or to other plant species.

Key features

• Step-by-step infection protocol established for barley cv. Golden Promise, the gold standard genotype for genetic transformation

• Plant age–independent protocol

• Precise spore application by using inexpensive pipe cleaners for uniform symptom formation and increased reproducibility

• No specialized equipment needed

• Includes simple spore harvesting method

• Protocol is applicable to other biotrophic pathogens (stripe rust or powdery mildew) and other plants (e.g., wheat)

• Protocol is also applicable for a detached leaf assay

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 486 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).

0 Q&A 165 Views Jul 5, 2023

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death and morbidity worldwide. Patient mortality has been successfully reduced by nearly half in the last four decades, mainly due to advances in minimally invasive surgery techniques and interventional cardiology methods. However, a major hurdle is still the translational gap between preclinical findings and the conversion into effective therapies, which is partly due to the use of model systems that fail to recapitulate key aspects of human physiology and disease. Large animal models such as pigs and non-human primates are highly valuable because they closely resemble humans but are costly and time intensive. Here, we provide a method for long-term ex vivo culture of non-human primate (NHP) myocardial tissue that offers a powerful alternative for a wide range of applications including electrophysiology studies, drug screening, and gene function analyses.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 293 Views May 5, 2023

During infection, complement plays a critical role in inflammation, opsonisation, and destruction of microorganisms. This presents a challenge for pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus to overcome when invading the host. Our current knowledge on the mechanisms that evolved to counteract and disable this system is limited by the molecular tools available. Present techniques utilise labelled complement-specific antibodies to detect deposition upon the bacterial surface, a method not compatible with pathogens such as S. aureus, which are equipped with immunoglobulin-binding proteins, Protein A and Sbi. This protocol uses a novel antibody-independent probe, derived from the C3 binding domain of staphylococcal protein Sbi, in combination with flow cytometry, to quantify complement deposition. Sbi-IV is biotinylated, and deposition is quantified with fluorophore-labelled streptavidin. This novel method allows observation of wild-type cells without the need to disrupt key immune modulating proteins, presenting the opportunity to analyse the complement evasion mechanism used by clinical isolates. Here, we describe a step-by-step protocol for the expression and purification of Sbi-IV protein, quantification and biotinylation of the probe, and finally, optimisation of flow cytometry to detect complement deposition using normal human serum (NHS) and both Lactococcus lactis and S. aureus.

0 Q&A 576 Views Mar 20, 2023

Co-immunoprecipitation or pull-down assays are frequently used to analyze protein–protein interactions. In these experiments, western blotting is commonly used to detect prey proteins. However, sensitivity and quantification problems remain in this detection system. Recently, the HiBiT-tag-dependent NanoLuc luciferase system was developed as a highly sensitive detection system for small amounts of proteins. In this report, we introduce the method of using HiBiT technology for the detection of prey protein in a pull-down assay. Using this protocol, we demonstrate the formation of a ternary complex consisting of Japanese encephalitis virus NS4B and two host factors, namely valosin-containing protein, and nuclear protein localization protein 4, which is a critical biological event during flavivirus replication in cells.

0 Q&A 313 Views Dec 20, 2022

Periodontal disease is a chronic multifactorial disease triggered by a complex of bacterial species. These interact with host tissues to cause the release of a broad array of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and tissue remodelers, such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which lead to the destruction of periodontal tissues. Patients with severe forms of periodontitis are left with a persistent pro-inflammatory transcriptional profile throughout the periodontium, even after clinical intervention, leading to the destruction of teeth-supporting tissues. The oral spirochete, Treponema denticola , is consistently found at significantly elevated levels at sites with advanced periodontal disease. Of all T. denticola virulence factors that have been described, its chymotrypsin-like protease complex, also called dentilisin, has demonstrated a multitude of cytopathic effects consistent with periodontal disease pathogenesis, including alterations in cellular adhesion activity, degradation of various endogenous extracellular matrix–substrates, degradation of host chemokines and cytokines, and ectopic activation of host MMPs. Thus, the following model of T. denticola –human periodontal ligament cell interactions may provide new knowledge about the mechanisms that drive the chronicity of periodontal disease at the protein, transcriptional, and epigenetic levels, which could afford new putative therapeutic targets.

0 Q&A 409 Views Dec 5, 2022

Pathogen invasion of the central nervous system (CNS) is an important cause of infection-related mortality worldwide and can lead to severe neurological sequelae. To gain access to the CNS cells, pathogens have to overcome the blood–brain barrier (BBB), a protective fence from blood-borne factors. To study host–pathogen interactions, a number of cell culture and animal models were developed. However, in vitro models do not recapitulate the 3D architecture of the BBB and CNS tissue, and in vivo mammalian models present cellular and technical complexities as well as ethical issues, rendering systematic and genetic approaches difficult. Here, we present a two-pronged methodology allowing and validating the use of Drosophila larvae as a model system to decipher the mechanisms of infection in a developing CNS. First, an ex vivo protocol based on whole CNS explants serves as a fast and versatile screening platform, permitting the investigation of molecular and cellular mechanisms contributing to the crossing of the BBB and consequences of infection on the CNS. Then, an in vivo CNS infection protocol through direct pathogen microinjection into the fly circulatory system evaluates the impact of systemic parameters, including the contribution of circulating immune cells to CNS infection, and assesses infection pathogenicity at the whole host level. These combined complementary approaches identify mechanisms of BBB crossing and responses of a diversity of CNS cells contributing to infection, as well as novel virulence factors of the pathogen.

Graphical abstract

Procedures flowchart.
Mammalian neurotropic pathogens could be tested in two Drosophila central nervous system (CNS) infection setups (ex vivo and in vivo) for their ability to: (1) invade the CNS (pathogen quantifications), (2) disturb blood–brain barrier permeability, (3) affect CNS host cell behaviour (gene expression), and (4) alter host viability.

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