Biochemistry


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0 Q&A 759 Views Oct 5, 2023

Biological processes are dependent on protein concentration and there is an inherent variability among cells even in environment-controlled conditions. Determining the amount of protein of interest in a cell is relevant to quantitatively relate it with the cells (patho)physiology. Previous studies used either western blot to determine the average amount of protein per cell in a population or fluorescence intensity to provide a relative amount of protein. This method combines both techniques. First, the protein of interest is purified, and its concentration determined. Next, cells containing the protein of interest with a fluorescent tag are sorted into different levels of intensity using fluorescence-activated cell sorting, and the amount of protein for each intensity category is calculated using the purified protein as calibration. Lastly, a calibration curve allows the direct relation of the amount of protein to the intensity levels determined with any instrument able to measure intensity levels. Once a fluorescence-based instrument is calibrated, it is possible to determine protein concentrations based on intensity.


Key features

• This method allows the evaluation and comparison of protein concentration in cells based on fluorescence intensity.

• Requires protein purification and fluorescence-activated cell sorting.

• Once calibrated for one protein, it allows determination of the levels of this protein using any fluorescence-based instrument.

• Allows to determine subcellular local protein concentration based on combining volumetric and intensity measurements.


Graphical overview



Protein level quantification across fluorescence-based platforms

0 Q&A 1915 Views May 5, 2023

Western blotting is a universally used technique to identify specific proteins from a heterogeneous and complex mixture. However, there is no clear and common procedure to quantify the results obtained, resulting in variations due to the different software and protocols used in each laboratory. Here, we have developed a procedure based on the increase in chemiluminescent signal to obtain a representative value for each band to be quantified. Images were processed with ImageJ and subsequently compared using R software. The result is a linear regression model in which we use the slope of the signal increase within the combined linear range of detection to compare between samples. This approach allows to quantify and compare protein levels from different conditions in a simple and reproducible way.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 781 Views Mar 5, 2023

In mammals, the skin comprises several distinct cell populations that are organized into the following layers: epidermis (stratum corneum, stratum granulosum, stratum spinosum, and basal layer), basement membrane, dermis, and hypodermal (subcutaneous fat) layers. It is vital to identify the exact location and function of proteins in different skin layers. Laser capture microdissection (LCM) is an effective technique for obtaining pure cell populations from complex tissue sections for disease-specific genomic and proteomic analysis. In this study, we used LCM to isolate different skin layers, constructed a stratified developmental lineage proteome map of human skin that incorporates spatial protein distribution, and obtained new insights into the role of extracellular matrix (ECM) on stem cell regulation.

0 Q&A 550 Views Feb 20, 2023

The zebrafish retina is a canonical vertebrate retina. Since the past few years, with the continually growing genetic toolbox and imaging techniques, zebrafish plays a crucial role in retinal research. This protocol describes a method to quantitatively evaluate the expression of Arrestin3a (Arr3a) and G-protein receptor kinase7a (Grk7a) in the adult zebrafish retina at protein levels by infrared fluorescence western blot. Our protocol can be easily adapted to measure protein levels in additional zebrafish tissues.

0 Q&A 1858 Views Nov 20, 2022

Chemical proteomics focuses on the drug–target–phenotype relationship for target deconvolution and elucidation of the mechanism of action—key and bottleneck in drug development and repurposing. Majorly due to the limits of using chemically modified ligands in affinity-based methods, new, unbiased, proteome-wide, and MS-based chemical proteomics approaches have been developed to perform drug target deconvolution, using full proteome profiling and no chemical modification of the studied ligand. Of note among them, thermal proteome profiling (TPP) aims to identify the target(s) by measuring the difference in melting temperatures between each identified protein in drug-treated versus vehicle-treated samples, with the thermodynamic interpretation of “protein melting” and curve fitting of all quantified proteins, at all temperatures, in each biological replicate. Including TPP, all the other chemical proteomics approaches often fail to provide target deconvolution with sufficient proteome depth, statistical power, throughput, and sustainability, which could hardly fulfill the final purpose of drug development. The proteome integral solubility alteration (PISA) assay provides no thermodynamic interpretation, but a throughput 10–100-fold compared to the other proteomics methods, high sustainability, much lower time of analysis and sample amount requirements, high confidence in results, maximal proteome coverage (~10,000 protein IDs), and up to five drugs / test molecules in one assay, with at least biological triplicates of each treatment. Each drug-treated or vehicle-treated sample is split into many fractions and exposed to a gradient of heat as solubility perturbing agent before being recomposed into one sample; each soluble fraction is isolated, then deep and quantitative proteomics is applied across all samples. The proteins interacting with the tested molecules (targets and off-targets), the activated mechanistic factors, or proteins modified during the treatment show reproducible changes in their soluble amount compared to vehicle-treated controls. As of today, the maximal multiplexing capability is 18 biological samples per PISA assay, which enables statistical robustness and flexible experimental design accommodation for fuller target deconvolution, including integration of orthogonal chemical proteomics methods in one PISA assay. Living cells for studying target engagement in vivo or, alternatively, protein extracts to identify in vitro ligand-interacting proteins can be studied, and the minimal need in sample amount unlocks target deconvolution using primary cells and their derived cultures.


Graphical abstract:




0 Q&A 4043 Views Nov 5, 2021

Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled eukaryotic parasite that chronically infects a quarter of the global population. In recent years, phenotypic screens have identified compounds that block parasite replication. Unraveling the pathways and molecular mechanisms perturbed by such compounds requires target deconvolution. In parasites, such deconvolution has been achieved via chemogenomic approaches—for example, directed evolution followed by whole-genome sequencing or genome-wide knockout screens. As a proteomic alternative that directly probes the physical interaction between compound and protein, thermal proteome profiling (TPP), also known as the cellular thermal shift assay (CETSA), recently emerged as a method to identify small molecule–target interactions in living cells and cell extracts in a variety of organisms, including unicellular eukaryotic pathogens. Ligand binding induces a thermal stability shift—stabilizing or destabilizing proteins that change conformationally in response to the ligand—that can be measured by mass spectrometry (MS). Cells are incubated with different concentrations of ligand and heated, causing thermal denaturation of proteins. The soluble protein is extracted and quantified with multiplexed, quantitative MS, resulting in thousands of thermal denaturation profiles. Proteins engaging the ligand can be identified by their compound-dependent thermal shift. The protocol provided here can be used to identify ligand-target interactions and assess the impact of environmental or genetic perturbations on the thermal stability of the proteome in T. gondii and other eukaryotic pathogens.


Graphic abstract:



Thermal proteome profiling for target identification in the apicomplexan parasite T. gondii.


0 Q&A 2528 Views Oct 20, 2021

Diffusion is a fundamental process in biological systems that governs the molecular collisions driving biochemical reactions and membrane and transport. Measurement of the diffusion coefficient and application of the Stokes-Einstein equation produces the hydrodynamic radius, which is a commonly used gauge of particle size. Additionally, measurement of the diffusion coefficient and the sedimentation coefficient, and application of the Svedberg equation, yields the molecular weight, which is particularly useful in the characterization of very large macromolecules. Dynamic light scattering (DLS) is the most common method to measure the diffusion coefficient of macromolecules. We describe a procedure to perform DLS measurements on monomeric bovine serum albumin (BSA) purified by size-exclusion chromatography using the Zetasizer Nano S particle size analyzer. We compare several analytical methods in existing software programs to estimate the diffusion coefficient of BSA (extrapolated to water at 20°C at infinite dilution, ) and describe a statistical method to obtain 95% confidence limits of the precision of the estimates. We compare estimates to literature values obtained by diffusiometry, sedimentation velocity analytical ultracentrifugation, and other DLS instruments. The method of cumulant analysis in the program SEDFIT (www.analyticalultracentrifugation.com) produced the most precise estimate, 6.06 ± 0.07 F (1 F = 10-7 cm2 s-1), which was within the range of estimates obtained by diffusiometry or sedimentation velocity. This protocol is useful for DLS method validation and quality control.

0 Q&A 2916 Views Feb 5, 2021

Densitometric analysis is often used to quantify NaV1.1 protein on immunoblots, although the sensitivity and dilution linearity of the method are usually poor. Here we present a protocol for quantification of NaV1.1 in mouse brain tissues using a Meso Scale Discovery-Electrochemiluminescence (MSD-ECL) method. MSD-ECL is based on ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) and uses electrochemiluminescence to produce measurable signals. Two different antibodies are used in this assay to capture and detect NaV1.1 respectively in brain tissue lysate. The specificity of the antibodies is confirmed by Scn1a gene knock-out tissue. The calibration curve standards used in this assay were generated with mouse liver lysate spiked with mouse brain lysate, instead of using a recombinant protein. We showed that this method was qualified and used for quantification of NaV1.1 in mouse brain tissues with specificity, accuracy and precision.

0 Q&A 3785 Views Jan 20, 2021

Small GTPases are cellular switches that are switched on when bound to GTP and switched off when bound to GDP. Different small GTPase proteins or those with mutations may bind to GTP or GDP with different relative affinities. However, small GTPases generally have very high affinities for guanine nucleotides, rendering it difficult to compare the relative binding affinities for GTP and GDP. Here we developed a method for comparing the relative binding strength of a protein to GTP and GDP using a mant-GDP dissociation assay, whereby the abilities of GTP and GDP to induce the dissociation of bound mant-GDP are compared. This equilibrium type assay is simple, economic, and much faster than obtaining each protein’s affinity for GDP and GTP. The GDP/GTP preference value obtained is useful for comparing the relative GTP/GDP binding preferences of different GTPases or different mutants, even though it is not the real GDP/GTP affinity ratio (but rather an estimation of the ratio).

0 Q&A 2903 Views Oct 20, 2020
Ascorbic acid (AsA) and gluthathione (GSH) are two key components of the antioxidant machinery of eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. The cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 presents both compounds in different concentrations (AsA, 20-100 μM and GSH, 2-5 mM). Therefore, it is important to have precise and sensitive methods to determine the redox status in the cell and to detect variations in this antioxidants. In this protocol, we describe an improved method to estimate the content of both antioxidants (in their reduced and oxidized forms) from the same sample obtained from liquid cultures of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803.



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