Molecular Biology


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0 Q&A 1712 Views Apr 5, 2022

Genetic networks regulate nearly all biological processes, including cellular differentiation, homeostasis, and immune responses. Determining the precise role of each gene within a regulatory network can explain its overall, integrated function, and pinpoint mechanisms underlying misregulation in disease states. Transcriptional reporter assays are a useful tool for dissecting these genetic networks, because they link a molecular process to a measurable readout, such as the expression of a fluorescent protein. Here, we introduce a new technique that uses expressed RNA barcodes as reporters, to measure transcriptional changes induced by CRISPRi-mediated genetic perturbation across a diverse, genome-wide library of guide RNAs. We describe an exemplary reporter based on the promoter that drives His4 expression in these guidelines, which can be used as a framework to interrogate other expression phenotypes. In this workflow, a library of plasmids is assembled, encoding a CRISPRi guide RNA (gRNA) along with one or more transcriptional reporters that drive expression of guide-specific nucleotide barcode sequences. For example, when interrogating regulation of the budding yeast HIS4 promoter normalized against a control housekeeping promoter that drives Pgk1 expression, this plasmid library contains a gRNA expression cassette, a HIS4 reporter driving expression of one gRNA-specific nucleotide barcode, and a PGK1 reporter driving expression of a second, gRNA-specific barcode. Long-read sequencing is used to determine which gRNA is associated with these nucleotide barcodes. The plasmid library is then transformed into yeast cells, where each cell receives one plasmid, and experiences a genetic perturbation driven by the guide on that plasmid. The expressed RNA barcodes are extracted in bulk and quantified using high-throughput sequencing, thereby measuring the effect of their corresponding gRNA on barcoded reporter expression. In the case of the HIS4 reporter described above, guides disrupting translation elongation will increase expression of the associated HIS4 barcode specifically, without changing expression of the PGK1 control barcode. It is further possible to quantify plasmid abundance by DNA sequencing, as an additional approach to normalize for differences in plasmid abundance within the population of cells. This protocol outlines the steps to prepare barcode reporter CRISPRi plasmid libraries, link guides to barcodes with long-read sequencing, and measure expression changes through barcode RNA and DNA sequencing. This method is ideal for probing transcriptional or post-transcriptional regulation, as it measures the effects of a genetic perturbation by directly quantifying reporter RNA abundance, rather than relying on indirect growth or fluorescence readouts.

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0 Q&A 2662 Views Dec 5, 2021

High-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) has extraordinarily advanced our understanding of gene expression and disease etiology, and is a powerful tool for the identification of biomarkers in a wide range of organisms. However, most RNA-seq methods rely on retroviral reverse transcriptases (RTs), enzymes that have inherently low fidelity and processivity, to convert RNAs into cDNAs for sequencing. Here, we describe an RNA-seq protocol using Thermostable Group II Intron Reverse Transcriptases (TGIRTs), which have high fidelity, processivity, and strand-displacement activity, as well as a proficient template-switching activity that enables efficient and seamless RNA-seq adapter addition. By combining these activities, TGIRT-seq enables the simultaneous profiling of all RNA biotypes from small amounts of starting material, with superior RNA-seq metrics, and unprecedented ability to sequence structured RNAs. The TGIRT-seq protocol for Illumina sequencing consists of three steps: (i) addition of a 3' RNA-seq adapter, coupled to the initiation of cDNA synthesis at the 3' end of a target RNA, via template switching from a synthetic adapter RNA/DNA starter duplex; (ii) addition of a 5' RNA-seq adapter, by using thermostable 5' App DNA/RNA ligase to ligate an adapter oligonucleotide to the 3' end of the completed cDNA; (iii) minimal PCR amplification, to add capture sites and indices for Illumina sequencing. TGIRT-seq for the Illumina sequencing platform has been used for comprehensive profiling of coding and non-coding RNAs in ribodepleted, chemically fragmented cellular RNAs, and for the analysis of intact (non-chemically fragmented) cellular, extracellular vesicle (EV), and plasma RNAs, where it yields continuous full-length end-to-end sequences of structured small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs), including tRNAs, snoRNAs, snRNAs, pre-miRNAs, and full-length excised linear intron (FLEXI) RNAs.

Graphic abstract:

Figure 1. Overview of the TGIRT-seq protocol for Illumina sequencing.

Major steps are: (1) Template switching from a synthetic R2 RNA/R2R DNA starter duplex with a 1-nt 3' DNA overhang (a mixture of A, C, G, and T residues, denoted N) that base pairs to the 3' nucleotide of a target RNA, and upon initiating reverse transcription by adding dNTPs, seamlessly links an R2R adapter to the 5' end of the resulting cDNA; (2) Ligation of an R1R adapter to the 3' end of the completed cDNA; and (3) Minimal PCR amplification with primers that add Illumina capture sites (P5 and P7) and barcode sequences (indices 5 and 7). The index 7 barcode is required, while the index 5 barcode is optional, to provide unique dual indices (UDIs).

0 Q&A 1685 Views Sep 5, 2021

Site-specific transcription arrest is the basis of emerging technologies that assess nascent RNA structure and function. Cotranscriptionally folded RNA can be displayed from an arrested RNA polymerase (RNAP) for biochemical manipulations by halting transcription elongation at a defined DNA template position. Most transcription “roadblocking” approaches halt transcription elongation using a protein blockade that is non-covalently attached to the template DNA. I previously developed a strategy for halting Escherichia coli RNAP at a chemical lesion, which expands the repertoire of transcription roadblocking technologies and enables sophisticated manipulations of the arrested elongation complexes. To facilitate this chemical transcription roadblocking approach, I developed a sequence-independent method for preparing internally modified dsDNA using PCR and translesion synthesis. Here, I present a detailed protocol for the preparation and characterization of internally modified dsDNA templates for chemical transcription roadblocking experiments.

Graphic abstract:

Precise transcription roadblocking using functionalized DNA lesions

0 Q&A 2772 Views Aug 5, 2021

Primary somatosensory neurons, whose cell bodies reside in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and trigeminal ganglion, are specialized to transmit sensory information from the periphery to the central nervous system. Our molecular understanding of peripheral sensory neurons has been limited by both their heterogeneity and low abundance compared with non-neuronal cell types in sensory ganglia. We describe a protocol to isolate nuclei from mouse DRGs using iodixanol density gradient centrifugation, which enriches for neuronal nuclei while still sampling non-neuronal cells such as satellite glia and Schwann cells. This protocol is compatible with a range of downstream applications such as single-nucleus transcriptional and epigenomic assays.

0 Q&A 1975 Views Jun 20, 2021

DNA transcription by RNA polymerases has always interested the scientific community as it is one of the most important processes involved in genome expression. This has led scientists to come up with different protocols allowing analysis of this process in specific locations across the genome by quantitating the amount of RNA polymerases transcribing that genomic site in a cell population. This can be achieved by either detecting the total number of polymerases in contact with that region (i.e., by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) with anti-RNA polymerase antibodies) or by measuring the number of polymerases that are effectively engaged in transcription in that position. This latter strategy is followed using transcription run-on (TRO), also known as nuclear run-on (NRO), which was first developed in mammalian cells over 40 years ago and has since been adapted to many other different organisms and high-throughput methods. Here, we detail the procedure for performing TRO in Saccharomyces cerevisiae for single genomic regions to study active transcription on a single gene scale. To do so, we wash the cells in the detergent sarkosyl, which prevents new initiations at the promoter level, and then perform an in situ reaction, leading to the radiolabeling of transcripts by RNA polymerases that were already engaged in transcription at the moment of harvesting. By subsequently quantitating the signal of these transcripts, we can determine the level of active transcription in a single gene. This presents a major advantage over other forms of transcription quantitation such as RNA polymerase ChIP, since in the latter, both active and inactive polymerases are measured. By combining both ChIP and TRO, the amount of inactive or paused polymerases on a particular gene can be estimated.

Graphic abstract:

Transcriptional run-on scheme

0 Q&A 4139 Views Feb 20, 2021

Transcription errors can substantially affect metabolic processes in organisms by altering the epigenome and causing misincorporations in mRNA, which is translated into aberrant mutant proteins. Moreover, within eukaryotic genomes there are specific Transcription Error-Enriched genomic Loci (TEELs) which are transcribed by RNA polymerases with significantly higher error rates and hypothesized to have implications in cancer, aging, and diseases such as Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s. Therefore, research into transcription errors is of growing importance within the field of genetics. Nevertheless, methodological barriers limit the progress in accurately identifying transcription errors. Pro-Seq and NET-Seq can purify nascent RNA and map RNA polymerases along the genome but cannot be used to identify transcriptional mutations. Here we present background Error Model-coupled Precision nuclear run-on Circular-sequencing (EmPC-seq), a method combining a nuclear run-on assay and circular sequencing with a background error model to precisely detect nascent transcription errors and effectively discern TEELs within the genome.

0 Q&A 2339 Views Oct 20, 2020
The 5′ cap is a ubiquitous feature of eukaryotic mRNAs. It is added in the nucleus onto newly synthesized pre-mRNA, and in the cytoplasm onto mRNAs after decapping or endonuclease cleavage. Cytoplasmic recapping can occur after loss of the cap at the native 5′ end, or downstream within the body of the mRNA. The identification and location of recapping events is key to understanding the functional consequences of this process. Here we present an approach that addresses this problem, using the Lexogen TeloPrime® cDNA synthesis kit to tag recapped 5′ ends. TeloPrime uses a proprietary DNA ligase to add a double stranded DNA oligonucleotide onto the 3′ end of cDNA while it is base paired with mRNA. Specificity for capped ends is obtained by the oligonucleotide having an unpaired C residue that base pairs weakly with m7G on the mRNA 5′ end. This is followed by PCR amplification of double-stranded cDNA using primers to the appended oligonucleotide and the mRNA of interest. The resulting products are gel purified and sequenced directly (if a single band) or cloned and sequenced. The sequence at the junction between the ligated oligonucleotide and the target mRNA provides the location of the cap on the corresponding transcript. This assay is applicable to all capped transcripts. It can be used with Sanger sequencing for small numbers of transcripts or adapted for use with Illumina library sequencing.
0 Q&A 4646 Views Oct 5, 2019
Skeletal muscle is composed of different cells and myofiber types, with distinct metabolic and structural features. Generally, transcriptomic analysis of skeletal muscle is performed using whole muscle, resulting in average information as all cells composing the organ contribute to the expression value detected for each gene with the loss of information about the distinctive features of each specific myofiber type. Since myofibers are the smallest complete contractile system of skeletal muscle influencing its contraction velocity and metabolism, it would be beneficial to have fiber-specific information about gene expression. Here, we describe a protocol for the isolation and the transcriptomic analysis of single individual myofibers. The protocol was set up using single myofibers isolated from soleus and Extensor Digitorum Longus (EDL) muscles, but it can be applied to all skeletal muscles. Briefly, muscles are enzymatically dissociated and individually collected. Long RNAs (> 200 nt) and short RNAs (< 200 nt) are separately purified from each myofiber and used to produce libraries for microarray or sequencing analysis. Through this approach, myofiber-specific transcriptional profiles can be produced, free from transcripts from other non-contractile cell types, in order to identify mRNA-miRNA-lncRNA regulatory networks specific for each myofiber type.
1 Q&A 5751 Views Sep 5, 2019
Single-cell RNA-seq (scRNA-seq) has become an established method for uncovering the intrinsic complexity within populations. Even within seemingly homogenous populations of isogenic yeast cells, there is a high degree of heterogeneity that originates from a compact and pervasively transcribed genome. Research with microorganisms such as yeast represents a major challenge for single-cell transcriptomics, due to their small size, rigid cell wall, and low RNA content per cell. Because of these technical challenges, yeast-specific scRNA-seq methodologies have recently started to appear, each one of them relying on different cell-isolation and library-preparation methods. Consequently, each approach harbors unique strengths and weaknesses that need to be considered. We have recently developed a yeast single-cell RNA-seq protocol (yscRNA-seq), which is inexpensive, high-throughput and easy-to-implement, tailored to the unique needs of yeast. yscRNA-seq provides a unique platform that combines single-cell phenotyping via index sorting with the incorporation of unique molecule identifiers on transcripts that allows to digitally count the number of molecules in a strand- and isoform-specific manner. Here, we provide a detailed, step-by-step description of the experimental and computational steps of yscRNA-seq protocol. This protocol will ease the implementation of yscRNA-seq in other laboratories and provide guidelines for the development of novel technologies.
3 Q&A 18589 Views Feb 20, 2018
Most nematodes are small worms that lack enough RNA for regular RNA-seq protocols without pooling hundred to thousand of individuals. We have adapted the Smart-seq2 protocol in order to sequence the transcriptome of an individual worm. While developed for individual Steinernema carpocapsae and Caenorhabditis elegans larvae as well as embryos, the protocol should be adaptable for other nematode species and small invertebrates. In addition, we describe how to analyze the RNA-seq results using the Galaxy online environment. We expect that this method will be useful for the studying gene expression variances of individual nematodes in wild type and mutant backgrounds.

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