Biochemistry


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0 Q&A 365 Views Oct 5, 2023

Disruptions and perturbations of the cellular plasma membrane by peptides have garnered significant interest in the elucidation of biological phenomena. Typically, these complex processes are studied using liposomes as model membranes—either by encapsulating a fluorescent dye or by other spectroscopic approaches, such as nuclear magnetic resonance. Despite incorporating physiologically relevant lipids, no synthetic model truly recapitulates the full complexity and molecular diversity of the plasma membrane. Here, biologically representative membrane models, giant plasma membrane vesicles (GPMVs), are prepared from eukaryotic cells by inducing a budding event with a chemical stressor. The GPMVs are then isolated, and bilayers are labelled with fluorescent lipophilic tracers and incubated in a microplate with a membrane-active peptide. As the membranes become damaged and/or aggregate, the resulting fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between the two tracers increases and is measured periodically in a microplate. This approach offers a particularly useful way to detect perturbations when the membrane complexity is an important variable to consider. Additionally, it provides a way to kinetically detect damage to the plasma membrane, which can be correlated with the kinetics of peptide self-assembly or structural rearrangements.


Key features

• Allows testing of various peptide–membrane interaction conditions (peptide:phospholipid ratio, ionic strength, buffer, etc.) at once.

• Uses intact plasma membrane vesicles that can be prepared from a variety of cell lines.

• Can offer comparable throughput as with traditional synthetic lipid models (e.g., dye-encapsulated liposomes).


Graphical overview



0 Q&A 1035 Views Jul 20, 2023

Loss of plasma membrane lipid asymmetry contributes to many cellular functions and responses, including apoptosis, blood coagulation, and cell fusion. In this protocol, we describe the use of fluorescently labeled annexin V to detect loss of lipid asymmetry in the plasma membrane of adherent living cells by fluorescence microscopy. The approach provides a simple, sensitive, and reproducible method to detect changes in lipid asymmetry but is limited by low sample throughput. The protocol can also be adapted to other fluorescently labeled lipid-binding proteins or peptide probes. To validate the lipid binding properties of such probes, we additionally describe here the preparation and use of giant unilamellar vesicles as simple model membrane systems that have a size comparable to cells.


Key features

• Monitoring loss of lipid asymmetry in the plasma membrane via confocal microscopy.

• Protocol can be applied to any type of cell that is adherent in culture, including primary cells.

• Assay can be adapted to other fluorescently labeled lipid-binding proteins or peptide probes.

• Giant unilamellar vesicles serve as a tool to validate the lipid binding properties of such probes.


Graphical overview



Imaging the binding of fluorescent annexin V to adherent mammalian cells and giant vesicles by confocal microscopy. Annexin V labeling is a useful method for detecting a loss of plasma membrane lipid asymmetry in cells (top image, red); DAPI can be used to identify nuclei (top image, blue). Giant vesicles are used as a tool to validate the lipid binding properties of annexin V to anionic lipids (lower image, red).

0 Q&A 1029 Views Mar 20, 2023

The envelope of Gram-negative bacteria consists of an outer membrane (OM), a peptidoglycan cell wall, and an inner membrane (IM). The OM and IM have different components of proteins and lipids. Separating the IM and OM is a basic biochemical procedure to further study lipids and membrane proteins in different locations. Sucrose gradient ultracentrifugation of lysozyme/EDTA-treated total membrane is the most widely used method to separate the IM and OM of Gram-negative bacteria. However, EDTA is often harmful to protein structure and function. Here, we describe a relatively simple sucrose gradient ultracentrifugation method to separate the IM and OM of Escherichia coli. In this method, the cells are broken by a high-pressure microfluidizer, and the total cell membrane is collected by ultracentrifugation. The IM and OM are then separated on a sucrose gradient. Because EDTA is not used, this method is beneficial for subsequent membrane protein purification and functional study.

0 Q&A 1611 Views May 5, 2022

Endosomal recycling is essential for the appropriate function of the endosome. During this process, endosomal coat complexes (i.e., retromer, and Mvp1) are recruited to the endosome, and deform its membrane to form recycling vesicles. To further analyze this, we developed a protocol for the immunoisolation of recycling vesicles from budding yeast. This method is a powerful way to characterize endosomal recycling pathways.

0 Q&A 1589 Views Mar 20, 2022

Transbilayer movement of phospholipids in biological membranes is mediated by a diverse set of lipid transporters. Among them are scramblases that facilitate rapid bi-directional movement of lipids without metabolic energy input. In this protocol, we describe the incorporation of phospholipid scramblases into giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) formed from scramblase-containing large unilamellar vesicles by electroformation. We also describe how to analyze their activity using membrane-impermeant sodium dithionite, to bleach symmetrically incorporated fluorescent ATTO488-conjugated phospholipids. The fluorescence-based readout allows single vesicle tracking for a large number of settled/immobilized GUVs, and provides a well-defined experimental setup to directly characterize these lipid transporters at the molecular level.


Graphic abstract:



Giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) are formed by electroformation from large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs) containing phospholipid scramblases (purple) and trace amounts of a fluorescent lipid reporter (green). The scramblase activity is analyzed by a fluorescence-based assay of single GUVs, using the membrane-impermeant quencher dithionite. Sizes not to scale. Modified from Mathiassen et al. (2021).


0 Q&A 2040 Views Dec 20, 2021

Various methods have been developed to generate phosphoglyceride liposomes. Approaches resulting in homogeneous populations of unilamellar bilayer vesicles are generally preferred to mimic various cell membrane situations, as well as to optimize aqueous solute trapping efficiency using the least amount of lipid for biotechnological purposes. Most are time-consuming, often tedious, or require specialized equipment, and produce vesicles with limited shelf-life at room temperature or in cold storage. Herein, we describe a straightforward approach that avoids the preceding complications and streamlines the construction of unilamellar bilayer vesicles from 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl phosphatidylcholine (POPC)/dihexanoyl phosphatidylcholine (DHPC) bicelle mixtures at room temperature. The resulting vesicles are small (32-36 nm diameter), unilamellar, bilayer vesicles that are homogeneous, stable, and resistant to freeze-thaw alterations.


Graphic abstract:



Cryo-EM of POPC vesicles formed by dilution of 0.5 q-value POPC/DHPC bicelle mix.


0 Q&A 3888 Views Sep 5, 2021

Biolayer interferometry (BLI) is an emerging analytical tool that allows the study of protein complexes in real time to determine protein complex kinetic parameters. This article describes a protocol to determine the KD of a protein complex using a 6×His tagged fusion protein as bait immobilized on the NTA sensor chip of the FortéBio® Octet K2 System (Sartorius). We also describe how to determine the half maximal effective concentration (EC50, also known as IC50 for inhibiting effectors) of a metabolite. The complete protocol allows the determination of protein complex KD and small molecular effector EC50 within 8 h, measured in triplicates.


Graphic abstract:



Principle of the Biolayer interferometry measurement. (Middle, top) Exemplary result of the BLI measurement using Octet® (Raw Data). Wavelength shift (Δλ) against time. (A) Baseline 1. Baseline measurement. When the sensor is equilibrated in the kinetics buffer. The light is reflected with no difference. (B) Load. The his-tagged proteins (ligand) are loaded onto the sensor surface. The light is reflected with a shift of the wavelength. (C) Baseline 2. The loaded sensor is equilibrated in the kinetics buffer. No further wavelength shift appears. (D) Association. The loaded sensor is dipped into the analyte solution. The analyte binds to the immobilized ligand along with an increased wavelength shift. (E) Dissociation. Afterward, the sensor is dipped again into the kinetics buffer without the analyte. Some analyte molecules dissociate. The wavelength shift decreases. (Subfigures A-E) The left side shows the position of the sensor during the measurement seen in the representative BLI measurement, marked with the figure label. The right side shows the light path in the sensor. Black waves represent the light emitted to the sensor surface. The red waves show the light reflected from the sensor surface back to the detector.


0 Q&A 3745 Views Feb 20, 2021

Sphingolipids are major structural components of endomembranes and have also been described as an intracellular second messenger involved in various biological functions in all eukaryotes and a few prokaryotes. Ceramides (Cer), the central molecules of sphingolipids, have been depicted in cell growth arrest, cell differentiation, and apoptosis. With the development of lipidomics, the identification of ceramides has been analyzed in many species, mostly in model insects. However, there is still a lack of research in non-model organisms. Here we describe a relatively simple and sensitive method for the extraction, identification, and quantification of ceramides in Hemiptera Insects (brown planthooper), followed by Ultra-Performance Liquid Chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS). C18 is used as the separation column for quantitative detection and analysis on the triple quadruple liquid mass spectrometer. In this protocol, the standard curve method is adopted to confirm the more accurate quantification of ceramides based on the optional detection conditions.

0 Q&A 3504 Views Nov 5, 2020
Giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) are a widely used model system for a range of applications including membrane biophysics, drug delivery, and the study of actin dynamics. While several protocols have been developed for their generation in recent years, the use of these techniques involving charged lipid types and buffers of physiological ionic strength has not been widely adopted. This protocol describes the generation of large numbers of free-floating GUVs, even for charged lipid types and buffers of higher ionic strength, using a simple approach involving soft polyacrylamide (PAA) gels. This method entails glass cover slip functionalization with (3-Aminopropyl)trimethoxysilane (APTES) and glutaraldehyde to allow for covalent bonding of PAA onto the glass surface. After polymerization of the PAA, the gels are dried in vacuo. Subsequently, a lipid of choice is evenly dispersed on the dried gel surface, and buffers of varying ionic strength can be used to rehydrate the gels and form GUVs. This protocol is robust for the production of large numbers of free-floating GUVs composed of different lipid compositions under physiological conditions. It can conveniently be performed with commonly utilized laboratory reagents.
0 Q&A 5830 Views Jul 20, 2020
Lipid membranes are involved in regulating biochemical and biological processes and in modulating the selective permeability of cells, organelles, and vesicles. Membrane composition, charge, curvature, and fluidity all have concerted effects on cellular signaling and homeostasis. The ability to prepare artificial lipid assemblies that mimic biological membranes has enabled investigators to obtain considerable insight into biomolecule-membrane interactions. Lipid nanoscale assemblies can vary greatly in size and composition and can consist of a single lipid monolayer, a bilayer, or other more complex assemblies. This structural diversity makes liposomes suitable for a wide variety of biochemical and clinical applications. Here, we describe a calcein dye leakage assay that we have developed to monitor phospholipid vesicle disruption by alpha-synuclein (αSyn), a presynaptic protein that plays a central role in Parkinson’s disease (PD). We present data showing the effect of adenylylation of αSyn on αSyn-mediated vesicle disruption as an example. This assay can be used to study the effect of mutations or post-translational modifications on αSyn-membrane interactions, to identify protein binding partners or chemical entities that perturb these interactions, and to study the effects of different lipids on the permeabilization activity of αSyn or any other protein.



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