Biochemistry


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1 Q&A 1651 Views Aug 20, 2022

Von Willebrand factor (VWF) is a complex glycoprotein found in plasma, composed of disulfide-bond-linked multimers with apparent molecular weights between 500 kDa and 20,000 kDa. After release of VWF from storage granules, it is cleaved in flowing blood by the specific metalloproteinase ADAMTS13, resulting in a highly characteristic cleavage pattern and structure. As the structure of VWF multimers determines diagnosis of von Willebrand disease, which has different sub-types with different multimer- and cleavage patterns, VWF analysis is performed using low-resolution horizontal SDS-agarose gel electrophoresis. However, almost every laboratory uses a different protocol, and all experimental details are rarely, if at all, described. Therefore, the results from similar methods may be substantially different. Here, we present a detailed description of a validated VWF multimer method that we have developed. It has been successfully used for over more than 20 years in quality control of recombinant and plasma-derived VWF drug products, and in preclinical and clinical studies with VWF drug candidates. As most of the published methods, it enables visualization of VWF multimers separated by electrophoresis by immunostaining with a polyclonal anti-human VWF antibody followed by a secondary antibody coupled to alkaline phosphatase. VWF appears as a series of regularly spaced bands on the low and middle molecular weight range of the gel, with an unresolved zone in the high molecular weight (HMW) range, where ultra-large multimers are found. An example is shown below. This low-resolution agarose gel electrophoresis allows the determination of the number of VWF multimers with high reproducibility.


Graphical abstract:



Example of electrophoretic analysis of multimer structure of four batches of a recombinant VWF drug substance.


0 Q&A 1012 Views Aug 5, 2022

Capillary electrophoresis (CE) is a laboratory method usually used to separate proteins in body fluids such as serum, cerebrospinal fluid, or urine. Separation of proteins in urine can have clinical applications for evaluating samples from healthy dogs and dogs with proteinuria in a qualitative way, which would not be possible with gel electrophoresis. Other advantages of CE over gel electrophoresis in serum include the reduced separation time (2 min vs. 20 min in a gel), reduction of waste harmful to humans and the environment, and ability to obtain a curve without the need for additional staining. This protocol is divided into four steps. Firstly, urine needs to be prepared prior to dialysis. Secondly, urine needs to undergo dialysis to eliminate compounds that could interfere with separation, and to concentrate the urine. The third step is CE using specific equipment. The last step is to separate the fractions of the phoretograms obtained in the previous step. This method is mostly an automatized process, easily reproducible, and that can be performed in any laboratory, as a part of the diagnostic or follow-up of patients with renal disease.


Graphical abstract:




0 Q&A 2254 Views Sep 5, 2021

Photosynthesis is the main process by which sunlight is harvested and converted into chemical energy and has been a focal point of fundamental research in plant biology for decades. In higher plants, the process takes place in the thylakoid membranes where the two photosystems (PSI and PSII) are located. In the past few decades, the evolution of biophysical and biochemical techniques allowed detailed studies of the thylakoid organization and the interaction between protein complexes and cofactors. These studies have mainly focused on model plants, such as Arabidopsis, pea, spinach, and tobacco, which are grown in climate chambers even though significant differences between indoor and outdoor growth conditions are present. In this manuscript, we present a new mild-solubilization procedure for use with “fragile” samples such as thylakoids from conifers growing outdoors. Here, the solubilization protocol is optimized with two detergents in two species, namely Norway spruce (Picea abies) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). We have optimized the isolation and characterization of PSI and PSII multimeric mega- and super-complexes in a close-to-native condition by Blue-Native gel electrophoresis. Eventually, our protocol will not only help in the characterization of photosynthetic complexes from conifers but also in understanding winter adaptation.

0 Q&A 3444 Views Aug 20, 2021

Studies characterizing how cells respond to the mechanical properties of their environment have been enabled by the use of soft elastomers and hydrogels as substrates for cell culture. A limitation of most such substrates is that, although their elastic properties can be accurately controlled, their viscous properties cannot, and cells respond to both elasticity and viscosity in the extracellular material to which they bind. Some approaches to endow soft substrates with viscosity as well as elasticity are based on coupling static and dynamic crosslinks in series within polymer networks or forming gels with a combination of sparse chemical crosslinks and steric entanglements. These materials form viscoelastic fluids that have revealed significant effects of viscous dissipation on cell function; however, they do not completely capture the mechanical features of soft solid tissues. In this report, we describe a method to make viscoelastic solids that more closely mimic some soft tissues using a combination of crosslinked networks and entrapped linear polymers. Both the elastic and viscous moduli of these substrates can be altered separately, and methods to attach cells to either the elastic or the viscous part of the network are described.


Graphic abstract:



Polyacrylamide gels with independently controlled elasticity and viscosity.


0 Q&A 3738 Views Jan 5, 2021

Accurate chromosome segregation during mitosis requires the kinetochore, a large protein complex, which makes a linkage between chromosomes and spindle microtubes. An essential kinetochore component, CENP-C, is phosphorylated by Cyclin-B-Cyclin dependent kinase 1 (CDK1) that is a master kinase for mitotic progression, promoting proper kinetochore assembly during mitosis. Here, we describe an in vitro CDK1 kinase assay to detect CENP-C phosphorylation using Phos-tag SDS-PAGE without radiolabeled ATP. Our protocol has advantages in ease and safety over conventional phosphorylation assays using [γ-32P]-ATP, which has potential hazards despite their better sensitivity. The protocol described here can be applicable to other kinases and be also useful for analysis of phospho-sites in substrates in vitro.

0 Q&A 5525 Views Jul 20, 2019
Rhodopsin is a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) that mediates vision under dim light. Upon light exposure, rhodopsin is phosphorylated at multiple serine and threonine sites at its carboxyl-terminus by rhodopsin kinase (GRK1). This, in turn, reduces its ability to activate the visual G-protein transducin. Binding of light-activated, phosphorylated rhodopsin by arrestin (ARR1) fully terminates the catalytic activity of rhodopsin. Quantification of the levels of the differentially phosphorylated rhodopsin species provides definitive information about the role of phosphorylated rhodopsin in visual functions. Isoelectric Focusing (IEF) is a technique which is used to separate ampholytic components, such as proteins, based on their isoelectric point (pI). It is a useful technique used to distinguish protein isoforms and post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation, glycosylation, deamination, and acetylation, due to their effects on the protein’s pI. Isoelectric Focusing can provide high resolution of differentially phosphorylated forms of a protein. Though other techniques such as kinase activity assays, phospho-specific antibodies, western blot, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), radiolabeling and mass spectrometry are used to detect and quantify protein phosphorylation, IEF is a simple and cost-effective method to quantify rhodopsin phosphorylation, as it can readily detect individual phosphorylated forms.

Here we provide a detailed protocol for determining phosphorylated rhodopsin species using the Isoelectric Focusing technique.
0 Q&A 6486 Views Jan 5, 2019
Cyanobacteria represent a frequently used model organism for the study of oxygenic photosynthesis. They belong to prokaryotic microorganisms but their photosynthetic apparatus is quite similar to that found in algal and plant chloroplasts. The key players in light reactions of photosynthesis are Photosystem I and Photosystem II complexes (PSI and PSII, resp.), large membrane complexes of proteins, pigments and other cofactors embedded in specialized photosynthetic membranes named thylakoids. For the study of these complexes a mild method for the isolation of the thylakoids, their subsequent solubilization and analysis is essential. The presented protocol describes such a method which utilizes breaking the cyanobacterial cells using glass beads in an optimized buffer. This is followed by their solubilization using dodecyl-maltoside and analysis using optimized clear-native gel electrophoresis which preserves the native oligomerization state of both complexes and allows the estimation of their content.
0 Q&A 9810 Views Jul 5, 2018
Cerebellar Granule Neurons (CGN) from post-natal rodents have been widely used as a model to study neuronal development, physiology and pathology. CGN cultured in vitro maintain the same features displayed in vivo by mature cerebellar granule cells, including the development of a dense neuritic network, neuronal activity, neurotransmitter release and the expression of neuronal protein markers. Moreover, CGN represent a convenient model for the study of Clostridial Neurotoxins (CNT), most notably known as Tetanus and Botulinum neurotoxins, as they abundantly express both CNT receptors and intraneuronal substrates, i.e., Soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor activating protein receptors (SNARE proteins). Here, we describe a protocol for obtaining a highly pure culture of CGN from postnatal rats/mice and an easy procedure for their intoxication with CNT. We also illustrate handy methods to evaluate CNT activity and their inhibition.
0 Q&A 8024 Views Jun 5, 2018
Bacteria in nature and as pathogens commonly face oxidative stress which causes damage to proteins, lipids and DNA. This damage is produced by the action of reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), singlet oxygen, superoxide anion and hydroxyl radical. ROS are generated by antimicrobials, environmental factors (e.g., ultraviolet radiation, osmotic stress), aerobic respiration, and host phagocytes during infective processes. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a versatile bacterium, is a prevalent opportunistic human pathogen which possesses several defense strategies against ROS. Among them, two catalases (KatA and KatB) have been well characterized by their role on the defense against multiple types of stress. In this protocol, KatA and KatB activities are detected by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE). It is also suggested that the detection of KatB is elusive.
0 Q&A 7203 Views Sep 20, 2017
In plant cells, the analysis of protein S-nitrosothiols (SNOs) under physiological and adverse stress conditions is essential to understand the mechanisms of Nitric oxide (NO)-based signaling. We adapted a previously reported protocol for detecting protein SNOs in animal systems (King et al., 2005) for plant samples. Briefly, proteins from plant samples are separated via non-reducing SDS-PAGE, then the NO bound by S-nitrosylated proteins is released using UV light and, finally, the NO is detected using the fluorescent probe DAF-FM (Rodriguez-Ruiz et al., 2017). Thus, the approach presented here provides a relatively quick and economical procedure that can be used to compare protein SNOs content in plant samples and provide insight in NO-based signaling in plants.



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