Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 621 Views Apr 20, 2023

In cells, p62/SQSTM1 undergoes liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS) with poly-ubiquitin chains to form p62 bodies that work as a hub for various cellular events, including selective autophagy. Cytoskeleton components such as Arp2/3-derived branched actin network and motor protein myosin 1D have been shown to actively participate in the formation of phase-separated p62 bodies. Here, we describe a detailed protocol on the purification of p62 and other proteins, the assembly of the branched actin network, and the reconstitution of p62 bodies along with cytoskeletal structures in vitro. This cell-free reconstitution of p62 bodies vividly mimics the phenomenon in which low concentrations of protein in vivo rely on cytoskeleton dynamics to increase the local concentration to reach the threshold for phase separation. This protocol provides an easily implemented and typical model system to study cytoskeleton-involved protein phase separation.

0 Q&A 1806 Views Jun 5, 2022

A multitude of membrane-localized receptors are utilized by cells to integrate both biochemical and physical signals from their microenvironment. The clustering of membrane receptors is widely presumed to have functional consequences for subsequent signal transduction. However, it is experimentally challenging to selectively manipulate receptor clustering without altering other biochemical aspects of the cellular system. Here, we describe a method to fabricate multicomponent, ligand-functionalized microarrays, for spatially segregated and simultaneous monitoring of receptor activation and signaling in individual living cells. While existing micropatterning techniques allow for the display of fixed ligands, this protocol uniquely allows for functionalization of both mobile membrane corrals and immobile polymers with selective ligands, as well as microscopic monitoring of cognate receptor activation at the cell membrane interface. This protocol has been developed to study the effects of clustering on EphA2 signaling transduction. It is potentially applicable to multiple cell signaling systems, or microbe/host interactions.

Graphical abstract:

A side-by-side comparison of clustered or non-clustered EphA2 receptor signaling in a single cell.

0 Q&A 6337 Views Mar 5, 2021

Monitoring vesicle trafficking is an excellent tool for the evaluation of protein dynamics in living cells. Such study is key for the understanding of protein sorting and secretion. Recent developments in microscopy, as well as new methodologies developed to study synchronized trafficking of proteins, allowed a better understanding of signaling, regulation and trafficking dynamics at the secretory pathway. One of the most helpful tools so far developed is the Retention Using Selective Hooks (RUSH) system, a methodology that facilitates the evaluation of synchronized cargo trafficking by monitoring fluorescent vesicles in cells upon biotin addition. Here we present a protocol that allows the quantitative evaluation of protein cargo trafficking at different fixed time points and an analytic approach that enables a better examination of specific cargo trafficking dynamics at the secretory pathway.

Graphic abstract:

Schematic representation of RUSH sorting assay in mammalian cells

0 Q&A 3956 Views Aug 20, 2020
The study of RNA-binding proteins (RBP) offers insight into the mechanisms of pathologic protein aggregation in neurodegenerative diseases. We developed a protocol for purifying an RBP FUS and a nuclear import receptor (NIR) Kapβ2 and testing the ability of Kapβ2 to mitigate FUS aggregation and liquid-liquid phase separation.
0 Q&A 2778 Views Aug 20, 2020
Microtubule dynamic instability is driven by the hydrolysis of the GTP bound to the β-subunit of the α-β tubulin heterodimer. Nucleotide analogues are commonly used to mimic the different steps of the tubulin GTPase cycle, but most of them are poor microtubule nucleators. Usually, microtubule assembly is seeded by guanylyl-(α, β)-methylene-diphosphonate (GMPCPP) or glycerol that can be limiting factors in monitoring the effect of other nucleotide analogs on their polymerization. Here, we describe a protocol that allows the assembly of microtubules in the presence of nucleotide analogues without the need of heterogeneous seeds and at a low final glycerol concentration. Microtubules are first assembled in the presence of the analogue of interest and glycerol to promote assembly. These microtubules are then sonicated to produce seeds that will be used to assemble microtubules in the absence of glycerol. This strategy produces homogeneous nucleotide-bound microtubules that can be further analyzed by biochemical or structural methods such as cryo-electron microscopy.
0 Q&A 3147 Views May 5, 2020
Cells infected with flavivirus release various forms of infectious and non-infectious particles as products and by-products. Comprehensive profiling of the released particles by density gradient centrifugation is informative for understanding viral particle assembly. However, it is difficult to detect low-abundance minor particles in such analyses. We developed a method for viral particle analysis that integrates a high-sensitivity split luciferase system and density gradient centrifugation. This protocol enables high-resolution profiling of particles produced by cells expressing Japanese encephalitis virus factors.
0 Q&A 7203 Views Jan 20, 2020
Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) underlies the physiological assembly of many membrane-less organelles throughout the cell. However, dysregulation of LLPS may mediate the formation of pathological aggregates associated with neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we present complementary experimental approaches to study protein aggregation within and outside the context of LLPS in order to ascertain the impact of LLPS on aggregation kinetics. Techniques described include imaging-based approaches [fluorescence microscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM), fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP)] as well as plate reader assays [Thioflavin-T (ThT) fluorescence intensity and turbidity]. Data and conclusions utilizing these approaches were recently reported for the low complexity domain (LCD) of the transactive response DNA binding protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43).
0 Q&A 5283 Views Dec 5, 2018
Pyrene Fluorescent Assay is established to monitor the dynamic actin nucleation, elongation, capping and disassembly in vitro. This technique provides an easy handle procedure and straightforward visual data analysis. By coupling actin purification and polymerization assays in this protocol, the readers could quickly get the affordable and straightforward assays to study actin dynamics.
0 Q&A 5531 Views Aug 20, 2018
Fibronectin (FN) is an extracellular matrix protein that is secreted by many cell types and binds predominantly to the cell surface receptor Integrin α5β1. Integrin α5β1 binding initiates the step-wise assembly of FN into fibrils, a process called fibrillogenesis. We and several others have demonstrated critical effects of fibrillogenesis on cell migration and metastasis. While immunostaining and microscopy methods help visualize FN incorporation into fibrils, with each fibril being at least 3 μm in length, the first study that developed a method to biochemically fractionate FN to quantify fibril incorporated FN was published by Jean Schwarzbauer’s group in 1996. Our protocol was adapted from the original publication, and has been tested on multiple cell types including as shown here in MCF10A mammary epithelial and Caki-1 renal cancer epithelial cells. Using two detergent extractions, cellular FN is separated into detergent insoluble or fibril incorporated FN and soluble FN or unincorporated fractions. To determine whether fibrillogenesis utilizes a recycled pool of FN, we have used a Biotin labeled FN (FN-Biotin) recycling assay, that has been modified from a previous study. Using a combination of the recycling assay and deoxycholate fractionation methods, one can quantitatively demonstrate the extent of fibrillogenesis in cells under different experimental conditions and determine the source of FN for fibrillogenesis.
1 Q&A 12556 Views Jul 20, 2018
Studying the aggregation of amyloid proteins like α-synuclein in vitro is a convenient and popular tool to gain kinetic insights into aggregation as well as to study factors (e.g., aggregation inhibitors) that influence it. These aggregation assays typically make use of the fluorescence dye Thioflavin T as a sensitive fluorescence reporter of amyloid fibril formation and are conducted in a plate-reader-based format, permitting the simultaneous screening of multiple samples and conditions. However, aggregation assays are generally prone to poor reproducibility due to the stochastic nature of fibril nucleation and the multiplicity of modulating factors. Here we present a simple and reproducible protocol to study the aggregation of α-synuclein in a plate-reader based assay.

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