Molecular Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 773 Views Oct 5, 2023

Biological processes are dependent on protein concentration and there is an inherent variability among cells even in environment-controlled conditions. Determining the amount of protein of interest in a cell is relevant to quantitatively relate it with the cells (patho)physiology. Previous studies used either western blot to determine the average amount of protein per cell in a population or fluorescence intensity to provide a relative amount of protein. This method combines both techniques. First, the protein of interest is purified, and its concentration determined. Next, cells containing the protein of interest with a fluorescent tag are sorted into different levels of intensity using fluorescence-activated cell sorting, and the amount of protein for each intensity category is calculated using the purified protein as calibration. Lastly, a calibration curve allows the direct relation of the amount of protein to the intensity levels determined with any instrument able to measure intensity levels. Once a fluorescence-based instrument is calibrated, it is possible to determine protein concentrations based on intensity.

Key features

• This method allows the evaluation and comparison of protein concentration in cells based on fluorescence intensity.

• Requires protein purification and fluorescence-activated cell sorting.

• Once calibrated for one protein, it allows determination of the levels of this protein using any fluorescence-based instrument.

• Allows to determine subcellular local protein concentration based on combining volumetric and intensity measurements.

Graphical overview

Protein level quantification across fluorescence-based platforms

0 Q&A 809 Views Jul 20, 2023

Many protein families consist of multiple highly homologous proteins, whether they are encoded by different genes or originating from the same genomic location. Predominance of certain isoforms has been linked to various pathological conditions, such as cancer. Detection and relative quantification of protein isoforms in research are commonly done via immunoblotting, immunohistochemistry, or immunofluorescence, where antibodies against an isoform-specific epitope of particular family members are used. However, isoform-specific antibodies are not always available, making it impossible to decipher isoform-specific protein expression patterns. Here, we describe the insertion of the versatile 11 amino acid HiBiT tag into the genomic location of the protein of interest. This tag was developed and is distributed by Promega (Fitchburg, WI, USA). This protocol describes precise and specific protein expression analysis of highly homologous proteins through expression of the HiBiT tag, enabling protein expression quantification when specific antibodies are missing. Protein expression can be analyzed through traditional methods such as western blotting or immunofluorescence, and also in a luciferase binary reporter system, allowing for reliable and fast relative expression quantification using a plate reader.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 1998 Views May 5, 2023

Western blotting is a universally used technique to identify specific proteins from a heterogeneous and complex mixture. However, there is no clear and common procedure to quantify the results obtained, resulting in variations due to the different software and protocols used in each laboratory. Here, we have developed a procedure based on the increase in chemiluminescent signal to obtain a representative value for each band to be quantified. Images were processed with ImageJ and subsequently compared using R software. The result is a linear regression model in which we use the slope of the signal increase within the combined linear range of detection to compare between samples. This approach allows to quantify and compare protein levels from different conditions in a simple and reproducible way.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 848 Views Jan 5, 2023

RIBO-seq and proteogenomics have revealed that mammalian genomes harbor thousands of unannotated small and alternative open reading frames (smORFs, <100 amino acids, and alt-ORFs, >100 amino acids, respectively). Several dozen mammalian smORF-encoded proteins (SEPs) and alt-ORF-encoded proteins (alt-proteins) have been shown to play important biological roles, while the overwhelming majority of smORFs and alt-ORFs remain uncharacterized, particularly at the molecular level. Functional proteomics has the potential to reveal key properties of unannotated SEPs and alt-proteins in high throughput, and an approach to identify SEPs and alt-proteins undergoing regulated synthesis should be of broad utility. Here, we introduce a chemoproteomic pipeline based on bio-orthogonal non-canonical amino acid tagging (BONCAT) (Dieterich et al., 2006) to profile nascent SEPs and alt-proteins in human cells. This approach is able to identify cellular stress-induced and cell-cycle regulated SEPs and alt-proteins in cells.

Graphical abstract

Schematic overview of BONCAT-based chemoproteomic profiling of nascent, unannotated small and alternative open reading frame-encoded proteins (SEPs and alt-proteins)

0 Q&A 1951 Views Nov 20, 2022

Chemical proteomics focuses on the drug–target–phenotype relationship for target deconvolution and elucidation of the mechanism of action—key and bottleneck in drug development and repurposing. Majorly due to the limits of using chemically modified ligands in affinity-based methods, new, unbiased, proteome-wide, and MS-based chemical proteomics approaches have been developed to perform drug target deconvolution, using full proteome profiling and no chemical modification of the studied ligand. Of note among them, thermal proteome profiling (TPP) aims to identify the target(s) by measuring the difference in melting temperatures between each identified protein in drug-treated versus vehicle-treated samples, with the thermodynamic interpretation of “protein melting” and curve fitting of all quantified proteins, at all temperatures, in each biological replicate. Including TPP, all the other chemical proteomics approaches often fail to provide target deconvolution with sufficient proteome depth, statistical power, throughput, and sustainability, which could hardly fulfill the final purpose of drug development. The proteome integral solubility alteration (PISA) assay provides no thermodynamic interpretation, but a throughput 10–100-fold compared to the other proteomics methods, high sustainability, much lower time of analysis and sample amount requirements, high confidence in results, maximal proteome coverage (~10,000 protein IDs), and up to five drugs / test molecules in one assay, with at least biological triplicates of each treatment. Each drug-treated or vehicle-treated sample is split into many fractions and exposed to a gradient of heat as solubility perturbing agent before being recomposed into one sample; each soluble fraction is isolated, then deep and quantitative proteomics is applied across all samples. The proteins interacting with the tested molecules (targets and off-targets), the activated mechanistic factors, or proteins modified during the treatment show reproducible changes in their soluble amount compared to vehicle-treated controls. As of today, the maximal multiplexing capability is 18 biological samples per PISA assay, which enables statistical robustness and flexible experimental design accommodation for fuller target deconvolution, including integration of orthogonal chemical proteomics methods in one PISA assay. Living cells for studying target engagement in vivo or, alternatively, protein extracts to identify in vitro ligand-interacting proteins can be studied, and the minimal need in sample amount unlocks target deconvolution using primary cells and their derived cultures.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 2059 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.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 2438 Views Jan 20, 2022

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and vaccination campaign has illustrated the need for high throughput serological assays to quantitatively measure antibody levels. Here, we present a protocol for a high-throughput colorimetric ELISA assay to detect IgG antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The assay robustly distinguishes positive from negative samples, while controlling for potential non-specific binding from serum samples. To further eliminate background contributions, we demonstrate a computational pipeline for fitting ELISA titration curves, that produces an extremely sensitive antibody signal metric for quantitative comparisons across samples and time.

0 Q&A 2832 Views Aug 20, 2021

The use of recombinant lentivirus pseudotyped with the coronavirus Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 would circumvent the requirement of biosafety-level 3 (BSL-3) containment facilities for the handling of SARS-CoV-2 viruses. Herein, we describe a fast and reliable protocol for the transient production of lentiviruses pseudotyped with SARS-CoV-2 Spike (CoV-2 S) proteins and green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporters. The virus titer is determined by the GFP reporter (fluorescent) expression with a flow cytometer. High titers (>1.00 E+06 infectious units/ml) are produced using codon-optimized CoV-2 S, harbouring the prevalent D614G mutation and lacking its ER retention signal. Enhanced and consistent cell entry is achieved by using permissive HEK293T/17 cells that were genetically engineered to stably express the SARS-CoV-2 human receptor ACE2 along with the cell surface protease TMPRSS2 required for efficient fusion. For the widespread use of this protocol, its reagents have been made publicly available.

Graphic abstract:

Production and quantification of lentiviral vectors pseudotyped with the SARS-CoV-2 Spike glycoprotein

0 Q&A 2669 Views Jun 20, 2021

Protein N-glycosylation plays a vital role in diverse cellular processes, and dysregulated N-glycosylation is implicated in a variety of human diseases including neurodegenerative disorders and cancer. With recent advances in high-resolution mass spectrometry-based glycoproteomics technologies enabling large-scale N-glycoproteome profiling of disease and control samples, analysis of the large datasets has become a challenge. Here, we provide a protocol for the systems-level analysis of in vivo N-glycosylation sites on N-glycosylated proteins and their changes in human disease, such as Alzheimer's disease. The protocol includes quantitation and differential analysis of N-glycopeptide abundance, in addition to integrative N-glycoproteome and proteome data analyses, to determine disease-associated changes in N-glycosylation site occupancy and identify differentially N-glycosylated proteins in human disease versus control samples. This protocol can be modified and applied to study proteome-wide N-glycosylation alterations in response to different cellular stresses or pathophysiological states in other organisms or model systems.

0 Q&A 3214 Views Feb 20, 2021

Initiation of the complement system results in the formation of a multiprotein pore termed the membrane attack complex (MAC, C5b-C9). MAC pores accumulate on a cell surface and can result in cell lysis. The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is a single monolayer of pigmented epithelial cells located at the posterior poll of the eye that forms the outer blood retinal barrier. RPE cells are highly polarized with apical microvilli and basolateral contact with Bruch’s membrane. In order to obtain biologically relevant polarized RPE cultures in vitro, RPE cells are seeded onto the apical side of a transwell filter and cultured for 4 weeks in low serum media. MAC formation on RPE cells has been reported to be sub-lytic. MAC formation can be achieved in vitro by introduction of normal human serum (NHS) to media following serum starvation for 24 h. NHS contains all serum complement proteins required to initiate complement activation and MAC formation. We combined in vitro RPE polarization and complement activation to visualize MAC formation in vitro utilizing confocal microscopy allowing for high resolution MAC imaging.

We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By using our website, you are agreeing to allow the storage of cookies on your computer.