Molecular Biology


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0 Q&A 1421 Views Oct 20, 2022

Directed evolution is a powerful technique for identifying beneficial mutations in defined DNA sequences with the goal of improving desired phenotypes. Recent methodological advances have made the evolution of short DNA sequences quick and easy. However, the evolution of DNA sequences >5kb in length, notably gene clusters, is still a challenge for most existing methods. Since many important microbial phenotypes are encoded by multigene pathways, they are usually improved via adaptive laboratory evolution (ALE), which while straightforward to implement can suffer from off-target and hitchhiker mutations that can adversely affect the fitness of the evolved strain. We have therefore developed a new directed evolution method (Inducible Directed Evolution, IDE) that combines the specificity and throughput of recent continuous directed evolution methods with the ease of ALE. Here, we present detailed methods for operating Inducible Directed Evolution (IDE), which enables long (up to 85kb) DNA sequences to be mutated in a high throughput manner via a simple series of incubation steps. In IDE, an intracellular mutagenesis plasmid (MP) tunably mutagenizes the pathway of interest, located on the phagemid (PM). MP contains a mutagenic operon (danQ926, dam, seqA, emrR, ugi, and cda1) that can be expressed via the addition of a chemical inducer. Expression of the mutagenic operon during a cell cycle represses DNA repair mechanisms such as proofreading, translesion synthesis, mismatch repair, and base excision and selection, which leads to a higher mutation rate. Induction of the P1 lytic cycle results in packaging of the mutagenized phagemid, and the pathway-bearing phage particles infect naïve cells, generating a mutant library that can be screened or selected for improved variants. Successive rounds of IDE enable optimization of complex phenotypes encoded by large pathways (as of this writing up to 36 kb), without requiring inefficient transformation steps. Additionally, IDE avoids off-target genomic mutations and enables decoupling of mutagenesis and screening steps, establishing it as a powerful tool for optimizing complex phenotypes in E. coli.

Graphical abstract:

Figure 1. Overview of Inducible Directed Evolution (IDE).

Pathways of interest are cloned into a P1 phagemid (PM) backbone and transformed into a strain of E. coli containing MP (diversification strain). The mutagenesis plasmid is induced to generate mutations. Phage lysate is produced and used to infect a strain that expresses the phenotype of interest (screening/selection strain). The resulting strain library is screened to identify those with improved properties. Narrowed-down libraries can then go through another IDE cycle by infecting a fresh diversification strain.

0 Q&A 686 Views Sep 5, 2022

Geobacillus kaustophilus, a thermophilic Gram-positive bacterium, is an attractive host for the development of high-temperature bioprocesses. However, its reluctance against genetic manipulation by standard methodologies hampers its exploitation. Here, we describe a simple methodology in which an artificial DNA segment on the chromosome of Bacillus subtilis can be transferred via pLS20-mediated conjugation resulting in subsequent integration in the genome of G. kaustophilus. Therefore, we have developed a transformation strategy to design an artificial DNA segment on the chromosome of B. subtilis and introduce it into G. kaustophilus. The artificial DNA segment can be freely designed by taking advantage of the plasticity of the B. subtilis genome and combined with the simplicity of pLS20 conjugation transfer. This transformation strategy would adapt to various Gram-positive bacteria other than G. kaustophilus.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 3313 Views Nov 5, 2021

This protocol details a rapid and reliable method for the production and titration of high-titre viral pseudotype particles with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (and D614G or other variants of concern, VOC) on a lentiviral vector core, and use for neutralisation assays in target cells expressing angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2). It additionally provides detailed instructions on substituting in new spike variants via gene cloning, lyophilisation and storage/shipping considerations for wide deployment potential. Results obtained with this protocol show that SARS-CoV-2 pseudotypes can be produced at equivalent titres to SARS-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) pseudotypes, neutralised by human convalescent plasma and monoclonal antibodies, and stored at a range of laboratory temperatures and lyophilised for distribution and subsequent application.

0 Q&A 9202 Views Jun 5, 2017
The main obstacle to eradicating HIV-1 from patients is post-integration latency (Finzi et al., 1999). Antiretroviral treatments target only actively replicating virus, while latent infections that have low or no transcriptional activity remain untreated (Sedaghat et al., 2007). To eliminate viral reservoirs, one strategy focuses on reversing HIV-1 latency via ‘shock and kill’ (Deeks, 2012). The basis of this strategy is to overcome the molecular mechanisms of HIV-1 latency by therapeutically inducing viral gene and protein expression under antiretroviral therapy and to cause selective cell death via the lytic properties of the virus, or the immune system now recognizing the infected cells. Recently, a number of studies have described the therapeutic potential of pharmacologically inhibiting members of the bromodomain and extraterminal (BET) family of human bromodomain proteins (Filippakopoulos et al., 2010; Dawson et al., 2011; Delmore et al., 2011) that include BRD2, BRB3, BRD4 and BRDT. Small-molecule BET inhibitors, such as JQ1 (Filippakopoulos et al., 2010; Delmore et al., 2011), I-BET (Nicodeme et al., 2010), I-Bet151 (Dawson et al., 2011), and MS417 (Zhang et al., 2012) successfully activate HIV transcription and reverse viral latency in clonal cell lines and certain primary T-cell models of latency. To identify the mechanism by which BET proteins regulate HIV-1 latency, we utilized small hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) that target BRD2, BRD4 and Cyclin T1, which is a component of the critical HIV-1 cofactor positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb) and interacts with BRD2, and tested them in the CD4+ J-Lat A2 and A72 cell lines. The following protocol describes a flow cytometry-based method to determine the amount of transcriptional activation of the HIV-1 LTR upon shRNA knockdown. This protocol is optimized for studying latently HIV-1-infected Jurkat (J-Lat) cell lines.
0 Q&A 10823 Views Jun 5, 2017
A set of Cas9 and single guide CRISPR RNA expression vectors was constructed. Only a very simple procedure was needed to prepare specific single-guide RNA expression vectors with high target accuracy. Since the de novo zygotic transcription had been detected in mouse embryo at the 1-cell stage, the plasmid DNA vectors encoding Cas9 and GGTA1 gene specific single-guide RNAs were micro-injected into zygotic pronuclei to confirm such phenomenon in 1-cell pig embryo. Our results demonstrated that mutations caused by these CRISPR/Cas9 plasmids occurred before and at the 2-cell stage of pig embryos, indicating that besides the cytoplasmic microinjection of in vitro transcribed RNA, the pronuclear microinjection of CRISPR/Cas9 DNA vectors provided an efficient solution to generate gene-knockout pig.
0 Q&A 12952 Views Dec 5, 2016
Viral pseudotyped particles (pp) are enveloped virus particles, typically derived from retroviruses or rhabdoviruses, that harbor heterologous envelope glycoproteins on their surface and a genome lacking essential genes. These synthetic viral particles are safer surrogates of native viruses and acquire the tropism and host entry pathway characteristics governed by the heterologous envelope glycoprotein used. They have proven to be very useful tools used in research with many applications, such as enabling the study of entry pathways of enveloped viruses and to generate effective gene-delivery vectors. The basis for their generation lies in the capacity of some viruses, such as murine leukemia virus (MLV), to incorporate envelope glycoproteins of other viruses into a pseudotyped virus particle. These can be engineered to contain reporter genes such as luciferase, enabling quantification of virus entry events upon pseudotyped particle infection with susceptible cells. Here, we detail a protocol enabling generation of MLV-based pseudotyped particles, using the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) spike (S) as an example of a heterologous envelope glycoprotein to be incorporated. We also describe how these particles are used to infect susceptible cells and to perform a quantitative infectivity readout by a luciferase assay.
0 Q&A 10271 Views Nov 5, 2016
The NLRP3 (NLR family, Pyrin domain containing 3) inflammasome is a multiprotein complex comprised of NLRP3, pro-caspase-1, the adaptor protein apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD (ASC), and the protein kinase NIMA related kinase 7 (NEK7) (Shi et al., 2016; He et al., 2016; Schmid-Burgk et al., 2016). When cells are exposed to microbes and/or danger signals, the inflammasome assembles and serves as a platform for the activation of caspase-1. Caspase-1 activation promotes the processing and secretion of the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-18, and IL-33 as well as pyroptosis induction (Gross et al., 2011; Arend et al., 2008), which elicit inflammatory responses. Here, we describe how to co-transfect the NLRP3 inflammasome components into HEK293T cells, which enables inflammasome activation and the production of IL-1β upon stimulation with nigericin.
0 Q&A 16689 Views Aug 5, 2013
Transfection of primary T cells can be challenging. This protocol describes a method to transfect primary human naive CD4+ T cells with an AP-1 luciferase reporter using low-level activation by phytohemagglutinin (PHA) and electroporation, as published (Palin et al., 2013). This technique is a modification of one previously described by our group (Cron et al., 2013). Anyone wishing to transfect murine T cells should consult the publication by Cron et al., 2013. This technique may be adapted for other primary T cell types by optimizing the Neon electroporation conditions, as described in the text. Other luciferase or GFP reporters may be used, and will require optimization of the stimulation conditions for that particular reporter.
11 Q&A 52270 Views May 20, 2012
C2C12 myoblasts are commonly used in biomedical laboratories as an in vitro system to study muscle development and differentiation. This protocol explains the basic procedures of culture, transfection and differentiation of C2C12 myoblast cells.

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