Molecular Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 1680 Views Sep 5, 2021

MicroRNAs are small RNAs that negatively regulate gene expression and play an important role in fine-tuning molecular pathways during development. There is increasing interest in studying their function in the kidney, but the majority of studies to date use kidney cell lines and assess the total amounts of miRNAs of interest either by qPCR or by high-throughput methods such as next generation sequencing. However, this provides little information as to the distribution of the miRNAs in the developing kidney, which is crucial in deciphering their role, especially as there are multiple kidney cell types, each with its own specific transcriptome. Thus, we present a protocol for obtaining spatial information for miRNA expression during kidney development by in situ hybridization (ISH) of anti-miRNA, digoxigenin-labelled (DIG), Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA®) probes on (i) native human embryonic tissue and (ii) human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-derived 3D kidney organoids that model kidney development. We found that the method reveals the precise localization of miRNA in specific anatomical structures and/or cell types and confirms their absence from others, thus informing as to their specific role during development.

0 Q&A 4697 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 3346 Views Aug 20, 2020
The nucleotides involved in RNA-RNA interaction can be tagged by chemical- or UV-induced crosslinking, and further identified by classical or modern high throughput techniques. The contacts of mRNA with 18S rRNA that occur along the mRNA channel of 40S subunit have been mapped by site-specific UV crosslinking followed by reverse transcriptase termination sites (RTTS) using radioactive or fluorescent oligonucleotides. However, the sensitivity of this technique is restricted to the detection of those fragments that resulted from the most frequent crosslinkings. Here, we combined RTTS with RNAseq to map the mRNA-18S rRNA contacts with a much deeper resolution. Although aimed to detect the interaction of mRNA with the ES6S region of 18S rRNA, this technique can also be applied to map the interaction of mRNA with other non-coding RNA molecules (e.g., snRNAs, microRNAs and lncRNAs) during transcription, splicing or RNA-mediated postranscriptional regulation.
0 Q&A 6176 Views May 5, 2020
Genetically encoded light-up RNA aptamers have been shown to be promising tools for the visualization of RNAs in living cells, helping us to advance our understanding of the broad and complex life of RNA. Although a handful of light-up aptamers spanning the visible wavelength region have been developed, none of them have yet been reported to be compatible with advanced super-resolution techniques, mainly due to poor photophysical properties of their small-molecule fluorogens. Here, we describe a detailed protocol for fluorescence microscopy of mRNA in live bacteria using the recently reported fluorogenic silicon rhodamine binding aptamer (SiRA) featuring excellent photophysical properties. Notably, with SiRA, we demonstrated the first aptamer-based RNA visualization using super-resolution (STED) microscopy. This imaging method can be especially valuable for visualization of RNA in prokaryotes since the size of a bacterium is only a few times greater than the optical resolution of a conventional microscope.
0 Q&A 3679 Views Feb 5, 2020
Visualization of RNA molecules in situ helps to better understand the functions of expressed genes. Currently, most conventional in situ hybridization methods for visualization of individual RNAs are based on fluorescence detection. Herein we present a chromogenic in situ hybridization protocol for visualization of single RNA molecules in fixed cells and tissues. The protocol is based on padlock probing and rolling circle amplification to generate detectable chromogenic signal from single RNA molecules. Chromogenic signal can avoid background autofluorescence and can be preserved for a longer period than fluorescence signal.
0 Q&A 3636 Views Nov 20, 2019
Tissues are comprised of different cell types whose interactions elicit distinct gene expression patterns that regulate tissue formation, regeneration, homeostasis and repair. Analysis of these gene expression patterns require methods that can capture as closely as possible the transcriptomes of cells of interest in their tissue microenvironment. Current technologies designed to study in situ transcriptomics are limited by their low sensitivity that require cell types to represent more than 1% of the total tissue, making it challenging to transcriptionally profile rare cell populations rapidly isolated from their native microenvironment. To address this problem, we developed fluorouracil-tagged RNA sequencing (Flura-seq) that utilizes cytosine deaminase (CD) to convert the non-natural pyrimidine fluorocytosine to fluorouracil. Expression of S. cerevisiae CD and exposure to fluorocytosine generates fluorouracil and metabolically labels newly synthesized RNAs specifically in cells of interest. Fluorouracil-tagged RNAs can then be immunopurified and used for downstream analysis. Here, we describe the detailed protocol to perform Flura-seq both in vitro and in vivo. The robustness, simplicity and lack of toxicity of Flura-seq make this tool broadly applicable to many studies in developmental, regenerative, and cancer biology.
0 Q&A 4926 Views Sep 5, 2019
In situ hybridization methods are routinely employed to detect nucleic acid sequences, allowing to localize gene expression or to study chromosomal organization in their native context. These methods rely on the pairwise binding of a labeled probe to the target endogenous nucleic acid sequence–the hybridization step, followed by detection of annealed sequences by means of fluorescent or colorimetric reactions. Successful hybridization requires permeabilization of tissues, followed by denaturation of nucleic acids strands, which is usually carried out in a formamide-based buffer and at high temperatures. Such reaction conditions, besides posing a health hazard (both concerning manipulation and waste disposal), can be excessively harsh for the delicate tissues of some species or developmental stages. We detail here an alternative method for in situ hybridization, where the toxic formamide is replaced with a urea solution. This substitution improved both tissues preservation and signal-to-noise detection, in several animal species. The protocol described here, originally developed for the hydrozoan jellyfish Clytia hemisphaerica, provides guidelines for adapting formamide-based traditional protocols to the urea variant. Urea-based protocols have already been successfully applied to diverse invertebrate and vertebrate species, showing the ease of such a modification, and providing the scientific community with a promising, safer and versatile tool.
0 Q&A 3985 Views Sep 5, 2018
The physical properties of viral-length polyuridine (PolyU) RNAs, which cannot base-pair and form secondary structures, are compared with those of normal-composition RNAs, composed of comparable numbers of each of A, U, G and C nucleobases. In this protocol, we describe how to synthesize fluorescent polyU RNAs using the enzyme polynucleotide phosphorylase (PNPase) from Uridine diphosphate (UDP) monomers and how to fractionate the polydisperse synthesis mixture using gel electrophoresis, and, after electroelution, how to quantify the amount of polyU recovered with UV-Vis spectrophotometry. Dynamic light scattering was used to determine the hydrodynamic radii of normal-composition RNAs as compared to polyU. It showed that long polyU RNAs behave like linear polymers for which the radii scale with chain length as N1/2, as opposed to normal-composition RNAs that act as compact, branched RNAs for which the radii scale as N1/3.
0 Q&A 8731 Views Jun 20, 2017
DNA polymerase θ (Polθ) is a promiscuous enzyme that is essential for the error-prone DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair pathway called alternative end-joining (alt-EJ). During this form of DSB repair, Polθ performs terminal transferase activity at the 3’ termini of resected DSBs via templated and non-templated nucleotide addition cycles. Since human Polθ is able to modify the 3’ terminal ends of both DNA and RNA with a wide array of large and diverse ribonucleotide and deoxyribonucleotide analogs, its terminal transferase activity is more useful for biotechnology applications than terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT). Here, we present in detail simple methods by which purified human Polθ is utilized to modify the 3’ terminal ends of RNA and DNA for various applications in biotechnology and biomedical research.
0 Q&A 14162 Views Sep 20, 2014
This protocol describes the coupling of (i) “live” in vitro RNA transcription with (ii) binding by a radiolabeled, pre-formed tRNA followed by native gel electrophoresis and phosphorimager scan to visualize the complex. The necessity arose from the stable structure that one RNA forms in the absence of its interaction partner. The T-box leader RNA, a transcription control system, folds into a thermodynamically very stable stem-loop structure without the tRNA present, which makes in vitro binding interaction of both pre-formed RNAs very difficult. I therefore adjusted the binding assay to mimic the “natural” situation in the bacterial cell, where the pre-formed, stable tRNA is already present while the T-box leader RNA is actively transcribed by the RNA polymerase. The first part of the protocol also describes the in vitro transcription and labeling of the tRNA.

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