Biochemistry


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0 Q&A 614 Views Apr 5, 2024

The assessment of peptide–protein interactions is a pivotal aspect of studying the functionality and mechanisms of various bioactive peptides. In this context, it is essential to employ methods that meet specific criteria, including sensitivity, biocompatibility, versatility, simplicity, and the ability to offer real-time monitoring. In cellular contexts, only a few proteins naturally possess inherent fluorescence, specifically those containing aromatic amino acids, particularly tryptophan. Nonetheless, by covalently attaching fluorescent markers, almost all proteins can be modified for monitoring purposes. Among the early extrinsic fluorescent probes designed for this task, dansyl chloride (DNSC) is a notable option due to its versatile nature and reliable performance. DNSC has been the primary choice as a fluorogenic derivatizing reagent for analyzing amino acids in proteins and peptides for an extended period of time. In our work, we have effectively utilized the distinctive properties of dansylated-calmodulin (D-CaM) for monitoring the interaction dynamics between proteins and peptides, particularly in the context of their association with calmodulin (CaM), a calcium-dependent regulatory protein. This technique not only enables us to scrutinize the affinity of diverse ligands but also sheds light on the intricate role played by calcium in these interactions.


Key features

• Dynamic fluorescence and real-time monitoring: dansyl-modified CaM enables sensitive, real-time fluorescence, providing valuable insights into the dynamics of molecular interactions and ligand binding.

• Selective interaction and stable fluorescent adducts: DNSC selectively interacts with primary amino groups, ensuring specific detection and forming stable fluorescent sulfonamide adducts.

• Versatility in research and ease of identification: D-CaM is a versatile tool in biological research, facilitating identification, precise quantification, and drug assessment for therapeutic development.

• Sensitivity to surrounding alterations: D-CaM exhibits sensitivity to its surroundings, particularly ligand-induced changes, offering subtle insights into molecular interactions and environmental influences.


Graphical overview



Fluorescence emission profiles of dansylated-calmodulin (D-CaM) in different states. Fluorescence emission spectra of D-CaM upon excitation at 320 nm are depicted. Conditions include apo-D-CaM (gray), holo-D-CaM (red), apo-D-CaM bound to peptide (blue), and holo-D-CaM bound to peptide (purple). Corresponding structural representations of D-CaM next to each condition are superimposed on the respective spectra along with the hydrophobicity of the dansyl environment, which increases upon binding of peptide or Ca2+ to D-CaM. Upon peptide binding to D-CaM, there is an enhancement in the fluorescent intensity of the spectra; upon Ca2+ binding, there is an enhancement of the intensity and a leftward shift of the spectra.

0 Q&A 427 Views Feb 5, 2024

The human pathogenic yeast Candida albicans can attach to epithelial cells or indwelling medical devices to form biofilms. These microbial communities are highly problematic in the clinic as they reduce both sensitivity to antifungal drugs and detection of fungi by the immune system. Amyloid structures are highly organized quaternary structures that play a critical role in biofilm establishment by allowing fungal cells to adhere to each other. Thus, fungal amyloids are exciting targets to develop new antifungal strategies. Thioflavin T is a specific fluorescent dye widely used to study amyloid properties of target proteins in vitro (spectrophotometry) and in vivo (epifluorescence/confocal microscopy). Notably, thioflavin T has been used to demonstrate the ability of Als5, a C. albicans adhesin, to form an amyloid fiber upon adhesion. We have developed a pipeline that allows us to study amyloid properties of target proteins using thioflavin T staining in vitro and in vivo, as well as in intact fungal biofilms. In brief, we used thioflavin T to sequentially stain (i) amyloid peptides, (ii) recombinant proteins, (iii) fungal cells treated or not with amyloid peptides, (iv) fungal amyloids enriched by cell fractionation, and (v) intact biofilms of C. albicans. Contrary to other methods, our pipeline gives a complete picture of the amyloid behavior of target proteins, from in vitro analysis to intact fungal biofilms. Using this pipeline will allow an assessment of the relevance of the in vitro results in cells and the impact of amyloids on the development and/or maintenance of fungal biofilm.


Key features

• Study of amyloid properties of fungal proteins.

• Visualization of the subcellular localization of fungal amyloid material using epifluorescence or confocal microscopy.

• Unraveling of the amyloid properties of target proteins and their physiological meaning for biofilm formation.

• Observation of the presence of amyloid structures with live-cell imaging on intact fungal biofilm using confocal microscopy.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 1061 Views Sep 5, 2023

Biomolecular condensates are membrane-less assemblies of proteins and nucleic acids formed through liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS). These assemblies are known to temporally and spatially regulate numerous biological activities and cellular processes in plants and animals. In vitro phase separation assay using recombinant proteins represents one of the standard ways to examine the properties of proteins undergoing LLPS. Here, we present a detailed protocol to investigate in vitro LLPS using in vitro expressed and purified recombinant proteins.

0 Q&A 719 Views Aug 20, 2023

Nitrate (NO3) is an essential element and nutrient for plants and animals. Despite extensive studies on the regulation of nitrate uptake and downstream responses in various cells, our knowledge of the distribution of nitrogen forms in different root cell types and their cellular compartments is still limited. Previous physiological models have relied on in vitro biochemistry and metabolite level analysis, which limits the ability to differentiate between cell types and compartments. Here, to address this, we report a nuclear-localized, genetically encoded fluorescent biosensor, which we named nlsNitraMeter3.0, for the quantitative visualization of nitrate concentration and distribution at the cellular level in Arabidopsis thaliana. This biosensor was specifically designed for nitrate measurements, not nitrite. Through genetic engineering to create and select sensors using yeast, Xenopus oocyte, and Arabidopsis expression systems, we developed a reversible and highly specific nitrate sensor. This method, combined with fluorescence imaging systems such as confocal microscopy, allows for the understanding and monitoring of nitrate transporter activity in plant root cells in a minimally invasive manner. Furthermore, this approach enables the functional analysis of nitrate transporters and the measurement of nitrate distribution in plants, providing a valuable tool for plant biology research. In summary, we provide a protocol for sensor development and a biosensor that can be used to monitor nitrate levels in plants.


Key features

• This protocol builds upon the concept of FRET biosensors for in vivo visualization of spatiotemporal nitrate levels at a cellular resolution.

• Nitrate levels can be quantified utilizing the biosensor in conjunction with either a plate reader or a fluorescence microscope.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 802 Views Nov 5, 2022

Reconstitution of membrane proteins into large unilamellar vesicles is an essential approach for their functional analysis under chemically defined conditions. The orientation of the protein in the liposomal membrane after reconstitution depends on many parameters, and its assessment is important prior to functional measurements. Common approaches for determining the orientation of a membrane-inserted protein are based on limited proteolytic digest, impermeable labeling reagents for specific amino acids, or membrane-impermeable quenchers for fluorescent proteins. Here, we describe a simple site-specific fluorescent assay based on self-labeling enzyme tags to determine the orientation of membrane proteins after reconstitution, exemplified on a reconstituted SNAP-tag plant H+-ATPase. This versatile method should benefit the optimization of reconstitution conditions and the analysis of many types of membrane proteins.


Graphical abstract:




0 Q&A 2598 Views Oct 20, 2021

Immunofluorescence is a technique to visualize the localization of specific molecule targets within cells using the specificity of antibodies. Here, we describe a protocol to detect two different protein components in a cell simultaneously. Antibody concentrations to be used vary from cell to cell and should be optimized for different cell types. In this protocol, we perform co-immunofluorescence of mitochondrial ribosomal protein L7/L12 (MRPL12) and nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), a potential transcription factor of MRPL12, in HK-2 cells, as an example. Taking advantage of the diverse set of antibodies raised in different species, we are able to analyze the colocalization and expression of these proteins.

0 Q&A 2327 Views Jul 20, 2021

Understanding the folding pathway of any protein is of utmost importance for deciphering the folding problems under adverse conditions. We can obtain important information about the folding pathway by monitoring the folding of any protein from its unfolded state. It is usually very difficult to monitor the folding process in real time as the process is generally very fast, and we need a suitable read out. In this protocol, we have solved this issue by using a protein that is non-fluorescent in its unfolded state but fluoresces in its native state after folding. The kinetics of refolding can be monitored by following the increase in fluorescence in real time. Previously, this was generally achieved by either monitoring a protein’s enzymatic activity or measuring the tryptophan fluorescence, where the signal output depends on well-described enzymatic activity or the frequency of tryptophan residues present in the proteins, respectively. Here, we describe a simple and real-time assay to monitor the refolding of sGFP, a recently described slow-folding mutant of yeGFP (yeast enhanced GFP). We unfold this protein using chemical denaturant and refold in a suitable buffer, monitoring the increase in fluorescence over time. GFP is fluorescent only when correctly folded; thus, using this technique, we can measure the true rate of protein refolding by following the increase in fluorescence over time. Therefore, sGFP can be used as an ideal model to study the in vitro protein folding process. Accordingly, the effects of different conditions and molecules on the protein folding pathway can be efficiently studied using sGFP as a model protein.

Graphical abstract:


Schematic of the steps involved in the sGFP refolding pathway. Native sGFP is unfolded by chemical denaturation using 6 M GuHCl at 25°C for 1 hour and then refolded in refolding buffer by 100-fold dilution.


0 Q&A 2659 Views Jul 5, 2021

The production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress are tightly linked. The generation of ROS can be both the cause and a consequence of ER stress pathways, and an increasing number of human diseases are characterized by tissue atrophy in response to ER stress and oxidative injury. For the assessment of modulators of ER luminal ROS generation and for mechanistic studies, methods to monitor changes in ER reduction-oxidation (redox) states in a time-resolved and organelle-specific manner are needed. This has been greatly facilitated by the development of genetically encoded fluorescent probes, which can be targeted to different subcellular locations by specific amino acid extensions. One of these probes is the yellow fluorescent protein-based redox biosensor, HyPer. Here, we provide a protocol for the time-resolved monitoring of the oxidizing milieu in the ER of adherent mammalian cells using the ratiometric sensor, HyPerER, which is specifically targeted to the ER lumen.

0 Q&A 3559 Views Jul 5, 2021

Immunofluorescence is a reliable method for identifying specific proteins in neuronal and glial cell populations of the hypothalamus. Several immunofluorescence protocols are available to detect protein markers and neuropeptides in the hypothalamus; however, published methods may vary in subtle details that can potentially impact the final outcome of the procedure. Here, we provide a detailed protocol suitable for thin cryostat sections, which has been successful for specific antibodies directed against key markers of hypothalamic neurons and glial cells. We include every detail concerning brain tissue collection, processing, sectioning, and labeling with optimal dilutions of antibodies with the aim of reducing non-specific background. Our background-optimized immunostaining protocol has been routinely used in the lab and allows efficient detection of specific neuropeptides, glial cells, and markers of inflammation and endoplasmic reticulum stress in the hypothalamus.

1 Q&A 4824 Views May 20, 2021

The intracellular interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5) dimerization assay is a technique designed to measure molecular interaction(s) with endogenous IRF5. Here, we present two methods that detect endogenous IRF5 homodimerization and interaction of endogenous IR5 with cell penetrating peptide (CPP) inhibitors. Briefly, to detect endogenous IRF5 dimers, THP-1 cells are incubated in the presence or absence of the IRF5-targeted CPP (IRF5-CPP) inhibitor for 30 min then the cells are stimulated with R848 for 1 h. Cell lysates are separated by native-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) and IRF5 dimers are detected by immunoblotting with IRF5 antibodies. To detect endogenous interactions between IRF5 and FITC-labeled IRF5-CPP, an in-cell fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) assay is used. In this assay, THP-1 cells are left untreated or treated with FITC-IRF5-CPP conjugated inhibitors for 1 h. Next, cells are fixed, permeabilized, and stained with anti-IRF5 and TRITC-conjugated secondary antibodies. Transfer of fluorescence can be measured and calculated as FRET units. These methods provide rapid and accurate assays to detect IRF5 molecular interactions.




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