Molecular Biology


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0 Q&A 513 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 492 Views Sep 20, 2023

Here, we present an approach combining fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and immunolabeling for localization of pri-miRNAs in isolated nuclei of A. thaliana. The presented method utilizes specific DNA oligonucleotide probes, modified by addition of digoxigenin-labeled deoxynucleotides to its 3′ hydroxyl terminus by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT). The probes are then detected by immunolabeling of digoxigenin (DIG) using specific fluorescent-labeled antibodies to visualize hybridized probes. Recently, we have applied this method to localize pri-miRNA156a, pri-miRNA163, pri-miRNA393a, and pri-miRNA414 in the nuclei isolated from leaves of 4-week-old A. thaliana. The present approach can be easily implemented to analyze nuclear distribution of diverse RNA classes, including mRNAs and pri-miRNAs in isolated fixed cells or nuclei from plant.

0 Q&A 389 Views Sep 5, 2023

Since the genetic transformation of Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa) has not been well developed, in situ RT-PCR is a valuable option for detecting guard cell–specific genes. We reported an optimized protocol of in situ RT-PCR by using a FAMA homologous gene Bra001929 in Brassica rapa. FAMA in Arabidopsis has been verified to be especially expressed in guard cells. We designed specific RT-PCR primers and optimized the protocol in terms of the (a) reverse transcription time, (b) blocking time, (c) antigen-antibody incubation time, and (d) washing temperature. Our approach provides a sensitive and effective in situ RT-PCR method that can detect low-abundance transcripts in cells by elevating their levels by RT-PCR in the guard cells in Brassica rapa.

0 Q&A 383 Views Sep 5, 2023

Adult stem cells play key roles in homeostasis and tissue repair. These cells are regulated by a tight control of transcriptional programs. For example, muscle stem cells (MuSCs), located beneath the basal lamina, exist in the quiescent state but can transition to an activated, proliferative state upon injury. The control of MuSC state depends on the expression levels of myogenic transcription factors. Recent studies revealed the presence of different mRNA isoforms, with distinct biological regulation. Quantifying the exact expression levels of the mRNA isoforms encoding these myogenic transcription factors is therefore key to understanding how MuSCs switch between cell states. Previously, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) has been used to quantify RNA expression levels. However, qRT-PCR depends on large amounts of RNA input and only measures relative abundance. Here, we present a protocol for the absolute quantification of mRNA isoforms using microfluidic digital PCR (mdPCR). Primary MuSCs isolated from individual skeletal muscles (gastrocnemius and masseter) are lysed, and their RNA is reverse-transcribed into cDNA and copied into double-stranded DNA. Following exonuclease I digestion to remove remaining single-stranded DNA, the samples are loaded onto a mdPCR chip with TaqMan probes targeting the mRNA isoforms of interest, whereupon target molecules are amplified in nanoliter chambers. We demonstrate that mdPCR can give exact molecule counts per cell for mRNA isoforms encoding the myogenic transcription factor Pax3. This protocol enables the absolute quantification of low abundant mRNA isoforms in a fast, precise, and reliable way.


Graphical overview



Schematic overview of the workflow. (A) Isolation of individual muscles (gastrocnemius and masseter) from C57/BL6 mice followed by digestion using collagenase II and dispase. (B) Sorting of 500 cells directly into PCR tubes using fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). (C) Reverse transcription of mRNA to cDNA. (D) Polymerase reaction to generate a duplicated cDNA product. (E) Exonuclease I digestion to remove remaining single-stranded DNA and the non-hybridized primers. (F) Denaturation step to inactivate exonuclease I. (G) Loading the samples into the microfluidic chip. (H) Running the TaqMan Digital PCR assay in the Fluidigm Biomark HD real-time PCR machine. (I) Data analysis using the Digital PCR software.

0 Q&A 809 Views Jun 5, 2023

Cell populations and tissues exhibit unique gene expression profiles, which allow for characterizing and distinguishing cellular subtypes. Monitoring gene expression of cell type–specific markers can indicate cell status such as proliferation, stress, quiescence, or maturation. Quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR) allows quantifying RNA expression of cell type–specific markers and distinguishing one cell type from another. However, qRT-PCR methods such as TaqMan technology require fluorescent reporters to characterize target genes and are challenging to scale up as they need different probes for each reaction. Bulk or single-cell RNA transcriptomics is time-consuming and expensive. Processing RNA sequencing data can take several weeks, which is not optimal for quality control and monitoring gene expression, e.g., during a differentiation paradigm of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) into a specialized cell type.

A more cost-effective assay is based on SYBR Green technology. SYBR Green is a nucleic acid dye that binds to double-stranded DNA, absorbs blue light at 497 nm, and emits green light at 520 nm up to 1,000-fold upon intercalation with double-stranded DNA. Amplification of a region of interest can be quantified based on the level of fluorescence intensity when normalized to a housekeeping gene and compared to control conditions. Previously, we established a SYBR Green qRT-PCR protocol to characterize samples using a limited set of markers plated on a 96-well plate.

Here, we optimize the process and increase throughput to a 384-well format and compare mRNA expression to distinguish iPSC-derived neuronal subtypes from each other by increasing the number of genes, cell types, and differentiation time points. In this protocol, we develop the following: i) using the command-line version of Primer3 software, we design primers more easily and quickly for the gene of interest; ii) using a 384-well plate format, electronic multichannel pipettes, and pipetting robots, we analyze four times more genes on a single plate while using the same volume of reagents as in a 96-well plate. The advantages of this protocol are the increased throughput of this SYBR Green assay while limiting pipetting errors/inconsistencies, reagent use, cost, and time.


Graphical overview



Figure 1. Overall optimized SYBR Green qRT-PCR workflow. (A) Primers are designed through the command-line version of Primer3. The program takes a couple of files as arguments: 1) an input file containing a sequence of the region of interest and a target, and 2) settings file with custom settings and primer picking conditions. The results are saved to a text file, checked for secondary and tertiary structures, then synthesized. (B) Primers are then plated using either multichannel pipettes with a pipetting aid or an automated pipetting robot. Plates are left to dry at room temperature and can be stored for an indefinite time. (C) Meanwhile, RNA is extracted from cell samples, reverse-transcribed into cDNA, then plated onto pre-coated 384-well plates. SYBR Green qRT-PCR is run and analyzed with QuantStudio software and Microsoft Excel.
0 Q&A 951 Views Feb 20, 2023

Interactions between RNA-binding proteins and RNA molecules are at the center of multiple biological processes. Therefore, accurate characterization of the composition of ribonucleoprotein complexes (RNPs) is crucial. Ribonuclease (RNase) for mitochondrial RNA processing (MRP) and RNase P are highly similar RNPs that play distinct roles at the cellular level; as a consequence, the specific isolation of either of these complexes is essential to study their biochemical function. Since their protein components are nearly identical, purification of these endoribonucleases using protein-centric methods is not feasible. Here, we describe a procedure employing an optimized high-affinity streptavidin-binding RNA aptamer, termed S1m, to purify RNase MRP free of RNase P. This report details all steps from the RNA tagging to the characterization of the purified material. We show that using the S1m tag allows efficient isolation of active RNase MRP.

0 Q&A 1920 Views Dec 5, 2022

N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is the most prevalent internal modification of eukaryotic messenger RNAs (mRNAs), affecting their fold, stability, degradation, and cellular interaction(s) and implicating them in processes such as splicing, translation, export, and decay. The m6A modification is also extensively present in non-coding RNAs, including microRNAs (miRNAs), ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs), and transfer RNAs (tRNAs). Common m6A methylation detection techniques play an important role in understanding the biological function and potential mechanism of m6A, mainly including the quantification and specific localization of m6A modification sites. Here, we describe in detail the dot blotting method for detecting m6A levels in RNA (mRNA as an example), including total RNA extraction, mRNA purification, dot blotting, and data analysis. This protocol can also be used to enrich specific RNAs (such as tRNA, rRNA, or miRNA) by isolation technology to detect the m6A level of single RNA species, so as to facilitate further studies of the role of m6A in biological processes.

0 Q&A 1507 Views Mar 5, 2022

The impact of viral diseases on human health is becoming increasingly prevalent globally with the burden of disease being shared between resource-rich and poor areas. As seen in the global pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2, there is a need to establish viral detection techniques applicable to resource-limited areas that provide sensitive and specific testing with a logistically conscious mindset. Herein, we describe a direct-to-PCR technology utilizing mechanical homogenization prior to viral PCR detection, which allows the user to bypass traditional RNA extraction techniques for accurate detection of human coronavirus. This methodology was validated in vitro, utilizing human coronavirus 229E (HCoV-229E), and then clinically, utilizing patient samples to test for SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this manuscript, we describe in detail the protocol utilized to determine the limit of detection for this methodology with in vitro testing of HCoV-229E.

0 Q&A 2200 Views Jan 20, 2022

The Drosophila larval haematopoietic organ or lymph gland consists of multiple cell types arranged in zones. The smallest stem cell compartment consists of 40-45 cells that constitute the haematopoietic niche. In order to analyse the haematopoietic niche, it needs to be labelled with a specific antibody to differentiate it from the other cell types. To characterise a phenotype, it is often necessary to investigate the expression of a gene in a particular stem cell compartment within the lymph gland. In such a situation, in-situ hybridization is performed, as it indicates the localization of gene expression. Although chromogenic in-situ hybridization enables us to compare the signal and tissue morphology simultaneously, it fails to harness the information related to the degree of gene expression. Dual immunofluorescence and in-situ hybridization (IF-FISH) serves as the powerful technique that helps to visualize both protein and mRNA expression within the same cell type. This technique also provides reliable quantification regarding mRNA expression levels. When dealing with a few cells within the organ, like the niche of the larval lymph gland, fluorescently labelled riboprobes allows us to localize and assess the magnitude of gene expression within the niche cells, which are also immunolabelled with a niche-specific marker, to distinguish them from the adjoining cell types.


0 Q&A 2042 Views Nov 20, 2021

Regionalized distribution of genes plays crucial roles in the formation of the spatial pattern in tissues and embryos during development. In situ hybridization has been one of the most widely used methods to screen, identify, and validate the spatial distribution of genes in tissues and embryos, due to its relative simplicity and low cost. However, acquisition of high-quality hybridization signals remains a challenge while maintaining good tissue morphology, especially for small tissues such as early post-implantation mouse embryos. In this protocol, we present a detailed RNA in situ hybridization protocol suitable for wholemount early post-implantation mouse embryos and other small tissue samples. This protocol uses digoxigenin (DIG) labeled riboprobes to hybridize with target transcripts, alkaline phosphatase-conjugated anti-DIG antibodies to recognize DIG-labeled nucleotides, and nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT)/5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl-phosphate (BCIP) chromogenic substrates for color development. Specific steps and notes on riboprobe preparation, embryo collection, probe hybridization, and color development are all included in the following protocol.


Graphic abstract:



Overview of Wholemount in situ Hybridization in Early Mouse Embryos.





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