Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 104 Views Mar 5, 2023

Recombinant proteins of high quality are crucial starting materials for all downstream applications, but the inherent complexities of proteins and their expression and purification create significant challenges. The Pichia pastoris yeast is a highly useful eukaryotic protein expression system. Pichia’s low cost, genetic tractability, rapid gene expression, and scalability make it an ideal expression system for foreign proteins. Here, we developed a protocol that has optimized the expression and isolation of a non-mammalian secreted metalloprotease, where we can routinely generate recombinant proteins that are pure and proteolytically active. We maximized growth and protein production by altering the feeding regime, through implementation of a non-fermentable and non-repressing carbon source during the methanol-induction phase. This approach increased biomass production and yielded milligrams of recombinant protein. Downstream applications involving active, recombinant fungal proteases, such as conjugation to nanoparticles and structure-related studies, are greatly facilitated with this improved, standardized approach.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 518 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 206 Views Feb 5, 2023

Proteases control plant growth and development by limited proteolysis of regulatory proteins at highly specific sites. This includes the processing of peptide hormone precursors to release the bioactive peptides as signaling molecules. The proteases involved in this process have long remained elusive. Confirmation of a candidate protease as a peptide precursor–processing enzyme requires the demonstration of protease-mediated precursor cleavage in vitro. In vitro cleavage assays rely on the availability of suitable substrates and the candidate protease with high purity. Here, we provide a protocol for the expression, purification, and characterization of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) phytaspases as candidate proteases for the processing of the phytosulfokine precursor. We also show how synthetic oligopeptide substrates can be used to demonstrate site-specific precursor cleavage.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 607 Views Jan 20, 2023

Single-particle electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) is an effective tool to determine high-resolution structures of macromolecular complexes. Its lower requirements for sample concentration and purity make it an accessible method to determine structures of low-abundant protein complexes, such as those isolated from native sources. While there are many approaches to protein purification for cryo-EM, attaining suitable particle quality and abundance is generally the major bottleneck to the typical single-particle project workflow. Here, we present a protocol using budding yeast (S. cerevisiae), in which a tractable immunoprecipitation tag (3xFLAG) is appended at the endogenous locus of a gene of interest (GOI). The modified gene is expressed under its endogenous promoter, and cells are grown and harvested using standard procedures. Our protocol describes the steps in which the tagged proteins and their associated complexes are isolated within three hours of thawing cell lysates, after which the recovered proteins are used directly for cryo-EM specimen preparation. The prioritization of speed maximizes the ability to recover intact, scarce complexes. The protocol is generalizable to soluble yeast proteins that tolerate C-terminal epitope tags.

Graphical abstract

Overview of lysate-to-grid workflow. Yeast cells are transformed to express a tractable tag on a gene of interest. Following cell culture and lysis, particles of interest are rapidly isolated by co-immunoprecipitation and prepared for cryo-EM imaging (created with

0 Q&A 311 Views Dec 5, 2022

Immunoglobulins are proteins produced by the immune system, which bind specifically to the antigen that induced their formation and target it for destruction. Highly purified human immunoglobulins are commonly used in research laboratories for several applications, such as in vitro to obtain hybridomas and in vivo animal immunisation. Several affinity purification methods are used to purify immunoglobulins from human serum, such as protein A/G Sepharose beads, polyethylene glycol, and caprylic acid ammonium sulphate precipitation. Here, we provide a detailed protocol for purification of high-quality IgG from human serum, using affinity chromatography with protein G. The protocol is divided into four main steps (column preparation, serum running, wash, and elution) for IgG purification, and two extra steps (protein dialysis and sucrose concentration) that should be performed when buffer exchange and protein concentration are required. Several IgG affinity purification methods using protein A or G are available in the literature, but protein A has a higher affinity for rabbit, pig, dog, and cat IgG, while protein G has a higher affinity for mouse and human IgG. This affinity-based purification protocol uses protein G for a highly specific purification of human IgG for animal immunization, and it is particularly useful to purify large amounts of human IgG.

Graphical abstract

IgG purification protocol.
The IgG purification protocol consists of four main steps (column preparation, serum running, wash, and elution) and two extra steps (protein dialysis and concentration). a. Diluted serum is added to the protein G beads and IgG binds to the Fc receptors on protein G beads. b. Beads are washed in Hartman’s solution to fully remove the complex protein mixture (multicolour shapes, as depicted in the graphical abstract). c. IgG (orange triangles, as depicted in the graphical abstract) are removed from protein G with glycine and collected in Tris buffer. d. The IgG is transferred into a semi-permeable membrane (‘snake skin’) and allowed to dialyse overnight for buffer exchange with a physiological solution (Hartmann’s).

0 Q&A 987 Views Oct 20, 2022

The ribosome is a complex cellular machinery whose solved structure allowed for an incredible leap in structural biology research. Different ions bind to the ribosome, stabilizing inter-subunit interfaces and structurally linking rRNAs, proteins, and ligands. Besides cations such as K+ and Mg2+, polyamines are known to stabilize the folding of RNA and overall structure. The bacterial ribosome is composed of a small (30S) subunit containing the decoding center and a large (50S) subunit devoted to peptide bond formation. We have previously shown that the small ribosomal subunit of Staphylococcus aureus is sensitive to changes in ionic conditions and polyamines concentration. In particular, its decoding center, where mRNA codons and tRNA anticodons interact, is prone to structural deformations in the absence of spermidine. Here, we report a detailed protocol for the purification of the intact and functional 30S, achieved through specific ionic conditions and the addition of spermidine. Using this protocol, we obtained the cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of the 30S–mRNA complex from S. aureus at 3.6 Å resolution. The 30S–mRNA complex formation was verified by a toeprinting assay. In this article, we also include a description of toeprinting and cryo-EM protocols. The described protocols can be further used to study the process of translation regulation.

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0 Q&A 1150 Views Oct 5, 2022

A number of molecules, such as secreted peptides, have been shown to mediate root-to-shoot signaling in response to various conditions. The xylem is a pathway for water and molecules that are translocated from roots to shoots. Therefore, collecting and analyzing xylem exudates is an efficient approach to study root-to-shoot long-distance signaling. Here, we describe a step-by-step protocol for the collection of xylem exudate from the model plant Arabidopsis and the crop plant soybean (Glycine max). In this protocol, we can collect xylem exudate from plants cultured under normal growth conditions without using special equipment.

Graphical abstract:

Xylem exudates on the cut surfaces of an Arabidopsis hypocotyl and a soybean internode.

0 Q&A 637 Views Sep 5, 2022

Nucleic acids in living organisms are more complex than the simple combinations of the four canonical nucleotides. Recent advances in biomedical research have led to the discovery of numerous naturally occurring nucleotide modifications and enzymes responsible for the synthesis of such modifications. In turn, these enzymes can be leveraged towards toolkits for DNA and RNA manipulation for epigenetic sequencing or other biotechnological applications. Here, we present the protocol to obtain purified 5-hydroxymethylcytosine carbamoyltransferase enzymes and the associated assays to convert 5-hydroxymethylcytosine to 5-carbamoyloxymethylcytosine in vitro. We include detailed assays using DNA, RNA, and single nucleotide/deoxynucleotide as substrates. These assays can be combined with downstream applications for genetic/epigenetic regulatory mechanism studies and next-generation sequencing purposes.

0 Q&A 1427 Views Aug 20, 2022

RNA granules are conserved, non-membranous, biphasic structures predominantly composed of RNA and RNA-binding proteins. RNA granules often assemble as a result of cellular responses to a variety of stresses, including infection. Two types of RNA granules are best characterized: stress granules (SGs) and processing bodies (P-bodies). The mechanism of RNA granule assembly and disassembly is still understudied because of its complex composition and dynamic behavior. The assembly of RNA granules is driven by a process known as phase separation of granule components. Edc3 is a conserved decapping activator and an essential P-body component in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Phase separation of P-body proteins has been poorly explored. This protocol will enable the visualization of the phase transition behavior of Edc3, since it is tagged to mCherry. It further describes using small molecules and other proteins to study P-body dynamics. In addition to the assembly of Edc3, this assay also lays the foundation to study disassembly of phase-separated assemblies in vitro, which was not explored earlier. We have devised the assay to describe the use of one such protein that acts as a disassembly factor. Overall, this protocol is simple to perform and can potentially be combined with analyzing these assemblies using other approaches.

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0 Q&A 603 Views Aug 5, 2022

Protein aggregation remains a major challenge in the purification of recombinant proteins in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic expression systems. One such protein is the nucleocapsid protein of Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV), which has high aggregation tendency and rapidly precipitates upon purification by NiNTA chromatography. Using the detergent gradient purification approach reported here, the freshly purified protein by NiNTA chromatography was mixed with the dilution buffer containing a high detergent concentration, followed by overnight freezing at -80 °C. Thawing the resulting mixture at room temperature triggered the formation of a detergent concentration gradient containing the active protein in the low detergent concentration zone towards the top of the gradient. The inactive aggregates migrated to the high detergent concentration zone towards the bottom of the gradient. The method prevented further aggregation and retained the activity of the native protein despite numerous freeze–thaw cycles. This simple approach creates an appropriate microenvironment towards the top of the gradient for correctly folded proteins, and it prevents aggregation by rapidly separating the preformed early aggregates from the correctly folded protein in the mixture. This unique approach will be of potential importance for the biotechnological industry, as well as other fields of protein biochemistry that routinely purify recombinant proteins and face the challenges of protein aggregation.

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