Cancer Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 617 Views Dec 20, 2022

CRISPR/Cas9 screening has revolutionized functional genomics in biomedical research and is a widely used approach for the identification of genetic dependencies in cancer cells. Here, we present an efficient and versatile protocol for the cloning of guide RNAs (gRNA) into lentiviral vectors, the production of lentiviral supernatants, and the transduction of target cells in a 96-well format. To assess the effect of gene knockouts on cellular fitness, we describe a competition-based cell proliferation assay using flow cytometry, enabling the screening of many genes at the same time in a fast and reproducible manner. This readout can be extended to any parameter that is accessible to flow-based measurements, such as protein expression and stability, differentiation, cell death, and others. In summary, this protocol allows to functionally assess the effect of a set of 50–300 gene knockouts on various cellular parameters within eight weeks.


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0 Q&A 1554 Views Aug 20, 2022

The in-cell western (ICW) is an immunocytochemical technique that has been used to screen for effects of siRNAs, drugs, and small molecule inhibitors. The reduced time and number of cells required to follow this protocol illustrates its semi-high-throughput nature. Performing a successful ICW protocol requires fixing and permeabilizing adherent cells directly in the plate that specifically exposes the epitope of interest. After blocking of non-specific proteins, the cells are incubated overnight with a primary antibody of interest, which is detected via a host-specific near-infrared fluorescently labeled LI-COR secondary antibody. In the final step, the plate is scanned using an Odyssey LI-COR Imaging System or similar, and each of the wells is quantified. For the first time, this technique has been demonstrated to be reproducibly utilized for semi-high-throughput selection of knockout or overexpression clones.


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0 Q&A 1518 Views May 20, 2022

The majority of biopsies in both basic research and translational cancer studies are preserved in the format of archived formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) samples. Profiling histone modifications in archived FFPE tissues is critically important to understand gene regulation in human disease. The required input for current genome-wide histone modification profiling studies from FFPE samples is either 10–20 tissue sections or whole tissue blocks, which prevents better resolved analyses. Nevertheless, it is desirable to consume a minimal amount of FFPE tissue sections in the analysis as clinical tissue of interest are limited. Here, we present FFPE tissue with antibody-guided chromatin tagmentation with sequencing (FACT-seq), highly sensitive method to efficiently profile histone modifications in FFPE tissue by combining a novel fusion protein of hyperactive Tn5 transposase and protein A (T7-pA-Tn5) transposition and T7 in vitro transcription. FACT-seq generates high-quality chromatin profiles from different histone modifications with low number of FFPE nuclei. We showed a very small piece of FFPE tissue section containing ~4000 nuclei is sufficient to decode H3K27ac modifications with FACT-seq. In archived FFPE human colorectal and human glioblastoma cancer tissue, H3K27ac FACT-seq revealed disease specific super enhancers. In summary, FACT-seq allows researchers to decode histone modifications like H3K27ac and H3K27me3 in archival FFPE tissues with high sensitivity, thus allowing us to understand epigenetic regulation.


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(i) FFPE tissue section; (ii) Isolated nuclei; (iii) Primary antibody, secondary antibody and T7-pA-Tn5 bind to targets; (iv) DNA purification; (v) In vitro transcription and sequencing library preparation; (vi) Sequencing


0 Q&A 1564 Views Mar 20, 2022

The centrosome is the main microtubule-organizing center of animal cells, and is composed of two barrel-shaped microtubule-based centrioles embedded in protein dense pericentriolar material. Compositional and architectural re-organization of the centrosome drives its duplication, and enables its microtubule-organizing activity and capability to form the primary cilium, which extends from the mature (mother) centriole, as the cell exits the cell cycle. Centrosomes and primary cilia are essential to human health, signified by the causal role of centrosome- and cilia-aberrations in numerous congenic disorders, as well as in the etiology and progression of cancer. The list of disease-associated centrosomal proteins and their proximitomes is steadily expanding, emphasizing the need for high resolution mapping of such proteins to specific substructures of the organelle. Here, we provide a detailed 3D-structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM) protocol for comparative localization analysis of fluorescently labeled proteins at the centrosome in fixed human cell lines, at approximately 120 nm lateral and 300 nm axial resolution. The procedure was optimized to work with primary antibodies previously known to depend on more disruptive fixation reagents, yet largely preserves centriole and centrosome architecture, as shown by transposing acquired images of landmark proteins on previously published transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images of centrosomes. Even more advantageously, it is compatible with fluorescent protein tags. Finally, we introduce an internal reference to ensure correct 3D channel alignment. This protocol hence enables flexible, swift, and information-rich localization and interdependence analyses of centrosomal proteins, as well as their disorder-associated mutations.

0 Q&A 5542 Views Mar 5, 2022

The CRISPR/Cas9 technology has transformed our ability to edit eukaryotic genomes. Despite this breakthrough, it remains challenging to precisely knock-in large DNA sequences, such as those encoding a fluorescent protein, for labeling or modifying a target protein in post-mitotic cells. Previous efforts focusing on sequence insertion to the protein coding sequence often suffer from insertions/deletions (INDELs) resulting from the efficient non-homologous end joining pathway (NHEJ). To overcome this limitation, we have developed CRISPR-mediated insertion of exon (CRISPIE). CRISPIE circumvents INDELs and other editing errors by inserting a designer exon flanked by adjacent intron sequences into an appropriate intronic location of the targeted gene. Because INDELs at the insertion junction can be spliced out, “CRISPIEd” genes produce precisely edited mRNA transcripts that are virtually error-free. In part due to the elimination of INDELs, high-efficiency labeling can be achieved in vivo. CRISPIE is compatible with both N- and C-terminal labels, and with all common transfection methods. Importantly, CRISPIE allows for later removal of the protein modification by including exogenous single-guide RNA (sgRNA) sites in the intronic region of the donor module. This protocol provides the detailed CRISPIE methodology, using endogenous labeling of β-actin in human U-2 OS cells with enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) as an example. When combined with the appropriate gene delivery methods, the same methodology can be applied to label post-mitotic neurons in culture and in vivo. This methodology can also be readily adapted for use in other gene editing contexts.

0 Q&A 2293 Views Sep 20, 2021

Circular RNAs (circRNAs), a special type of RNAs without 5’- and 3’-ends, are widely present in eukaryotes and known to function as noncoding RNAs to regulate gene expression, including as miRNA sponges. Recent studies showed that many exonic circRNAs, generated by back-splicing of pre-mRNAs, can be translated in a cap-independent fashion through IRESs or m6A RNA methylation. However, the scope of the translatable circRNAs and the biological function of their translation products are still unclear in different cells and tissues. Ribosome footprinting and proteomic analysis were usually used to globally identify translatable circRNAs. However, both methods have low sensitivity due to the low efficiency in the discovery of circRNA specific reads or peptides (i.e., the back-splicing junctions are difficult to recover by the short reads of ribosome footprinting and the limitation of proteomic analysis). Here, we described an alternative method to identify translatable circRNAs using polysome profiling and circRNA-seq. Generally, polysome-associated RNAs were separated with sucrose gradients. Then polysome-bound circRNAs were enriched by an RNase R treatment and identified through paired-end deep sequencing. Thus, this method is more sensitive than ribosome footprint and proteomic analyses for the identification of translatable circRNAs.

0 Q&A 2658 Views Jul 20, 2021

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a large family of noncoding RNA molecules that have emerged as novel regulators of gene expression by sequestering microRNAs (miRNAs) and RNA-binding proteins (RBPs). Several computational tools have been developed to predict circRNA interaction with target miRNAs and RBPs with a view to studying their potential effect on downstream target genes and cellular physiology. Biochemical assays, including reporter assays, AGO2 pulldown, ribonucleoprotein pulldown, and biotin-labeled RNA pulldown, are used to capture the association of miRNAs and RBPs with circRNAs. Only a few studies have used circRNA pulldown assays to capture the associated miRNAs and RBPs under physiological conditions. In this detailed protocol, the circRNA of interest (e.g., circHipk2) was captured using a biotin-labeled antisense oligo (ASO) targeting the circHipk2 backsplice junction sequence followed by pulldown with streptavidin-conjugated magnetic beads. The specific enrichment of circRNA was analyzed using reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). Furthermore, the ASO pulldown assay can be coupled to miRNA RT-qPCR and western blotting analysis to confirm the association of miRNAs and RBPs predicted to interact with the target circRNA. In summary, the specific pulldown of circRNA using this quick and easy method makes it a useful tool for identifying and validating circRNA interaction with specific miRNAs and RBPs.

0 Q&A 3587 Views Feb 20, 2021

Exosomes and other extracellular vesicles (EVs) are considered the main vehicles transporting RNAs in extracellular samples, including human bodily fluids. However, a major proportion of extracellular RNAs (exRNAs) do not copurify with EVs and remain in ultracentrifugation supernatants of cell-conditioned medium or blood serum. We have observed that nonvesicular exRNA profiles are highly biased toward those RNAs with intrinsic resistance to extracellular ribonucleases. These highly resistant exRNAs are interesting from a biomarker point of view, but are not representative of the actual bulk of RNAs released to the extracellular space. In order to understand exRNA dynamics and capture both stable and unstable RNAs, we developed a method based on size-exclusion chromatography (SEC) fractionation of RNase inhibitor (RI)-treated cell-conditioned medium (RI-SEC-seq). This method has allowed us to identify and study extracellular ribosomes and tRNAs, and offers a dynamical view of the extracellular RNAome which can impact biomarker discovery in the near future.

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Overview of the RI-SEC-seq protocol: sequencing of size-exclusion chromatography fractions from nonvesicular extracellular samples treated or not with RNase inhibitors (+/- RI)



0 Q&A 4565 Views Nov 5, 2020
Understanding tissues in the context of development, maintenance and disease requires determining the molecular profiles of individual cells within their native in vivo spatial context. We developed a Proximity Ligation in situ Hybridization technology (PLISH) that enables quantitative measurement of single cell gene expression in intact tissues, which we have now updated. By recording spatial information for every profiled cell, PLISH enables retrospective mapping of distinct cell classes and inference of their in vivo interactions. PLISH has high sensitivity, specificity and signal to noise ratio. It is also rapid, scalable, and does not require expertise in molecular biology so it can be easily adopted by basic and clinical researchers.
0 Q&A 6926 Views Jul 20, 2020
The CRISPR/Cas9 system is a powerful tool for genome editing, wherein the RNA-guided nuclease Cas9 can be directed to introduce double-stranded breaks (DSBs) at a targeted locus. In mammalian cells, these DSBs are typically repaired through error-prone processes, resulting in insertions or deletions (indels) at the targeted locus. Researchers can use these Cas9-mediated lesions to probe the consequences of loss-of-function perturbations in genes of interest. Here, we describe an optimized protocol to identify specific genes required for cancer cell fitness through a CRISPR-mediated cellular competition assay. Identifying these genetic dependencies is of utmost importance, as they provide potential targets for anti-cancer drug development. This protocol provides researchers with a robust and scalable approach to investigate gene dependencies in a variety of cell lines and cancer types and to validate the results of high-throughput or whole-genome screens.



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