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0 Q&A 3602 Views Mar 5, 2021

In bacteria, the restart of stalled DNA replication forks requires the DNA helicase PriA. PriA can recognize and remodel abandoned DNA replication forks, unwind DNA in the 3'-to-5' direction, and facilitate the loading of the helicase DnaB onto the DNA to restart replication. ssDNA-binding protein (SSB) is typically present at the abandoned forks, protecting the ssDNA from nucleases. Research that is based on the assays for junction dissociation, surface plasmon resonance, single-molecule FRET, and x-ray crystal structure has revealed the helicase activity of PriA, the SSB-PriA interaction, and structural information of PriA helicase. Here, we used Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) to visualize the interaction between PriA and DNA substrates with or without SSB in the absence of ATP to delineate the substrate recognition pattern of PriA before its ATP-catalyzed DNA-unwinding reaction. The protocol describes the steps to obtain high-resolution AFM images and the details of data analysis and presentation.

0 Q&A 5311 Views Feb 20, 2021

Precise genome engineering has become a commonplace technique for metabolic engineering. Also, insertion, deletion and alteration of genes and other functional DNA sequences are essential for understanding and engineering cells. Several techniques have been developed to this end (e.g., CRISPR/Cas-assisted methods, homologous recombination, or λ Red recombineering), yet most of them rely on the use of auxiliary plasmids, which have to be cured after the editing procedure. Temperature-sensitive replicons, counter-selectable markers or repeated passaging of plasmid-bearing cells have been traditionally employed to circumvent this hurdle. While these protocols work reasonably well in some bacteria, they are not applicable for other species or are time consuming and laborious. Here, we present a fast and versatile protocol of fluorescent marker-assisted genome editing in Pseudomonas putida, followed by clean curing of auxiliary plasmids through user-controlled plasmid replication. One fluorescent marker facilitates identification of genome-edited colonies, while the second reporter enables detection of plasmid-free bacterial clones. Not only is this protocol the fastest available for Pseudomonas species, but it can be easily adapted to any type of genome modifications, including sequence deletions, insertions, and replacements.

Graphical abstract:

Rapid genome engineering of Pseudomonas with curable plasmids

0 Q&A 2270 Views Dec 5, 2020

DNA footprinting is a classic technique to investigate protein-DNA interactions. However, traditional footprinting protocols can be unsuccessful or difficult to interpret if the binding of the protein to the DNA is weak, the protein has a fast off-rate, or if several different protein-DNA complexes are formed. Our protocol differs from traditional footprinting protocols, because it provides a method to isolate the protein-DNA complex from a native gel after treatment with the footprinting agent, thus removing the bound DNA from the free DNA or other protein-DNA complexes. The DNA is then extracted from the isolated complex before electrophoresis on a sequencing gel to determine the footprinting pattern. This analysis provides a possible solution for those who have been unable to use traditional footprinting methods to determine protein-DNA contacts.

0 Q&A 3459 Views Jun 20, 2020
The orientation of a DNA-binding protein bound on DNA is determinative in directing the assembly of other associated proteins in the complex for enzymatic action. As an example, in a replisome, the orientation of the DNA helicase at the replication fork directs the assembly of the other associated replisome proteins. We have recently determined the orientation of Saccharalobus solfataricus (Sso) Minichromosome maintenance (MCM) helicase at a DNA fork utilizing a site-specific DNA cleavage and mapping assay. Here, we describe a detailed protocol for site-specific DNA footprinting using 4-azidophenacyl bromide (APB). This method provides a straightforward, biochemical method to reveal the DNA binding orientation of SsoMCM helicase and can be applied to other DNA binding proteins.
0 Q&A 6497 Views Apr 5, 2019
Persistence of the human hepatitis B virus (HBV) requires the maintenance of covalently closed circular (ccc)DNA, the episomal genome reservoir in nuclei of infected hepatocytes. cccDNA elimination is a major aim in future curative therapies currently under development. In cell culture based in vitro studies, both hybridization- and amplification-based assays are currently used for cccDNA quantification. Southern blot, the current gold standard, is time-consuming and not practical for a large number of samples. PCR-based methods show limited specificity when excessive HBV replicative intermediates are present. We have recently developed a real-time quantitative PCR protocol, in which total cellular DNA plus all forms of viral DNA are extracted by silica column. Subsequent incubation with T5 exonuclease efficiently removes cellular DNA and all non-cccDNA forms of viral DNA while cccDNA remains intact and can reliably be quantified by PCR. This method has been used for measuring kinetics of cccDNA accumulation in several in vitro infection models and the effect of antivirals on cccDNA. It allowed detection of cccDNA in non-human cells (primary macaque and swine hepatocytes, etc.) reconstituted with the HBV receptor, human sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP). Here we present a detailed protocol of this method, including a work flowchart, schematic diagram and illustrations on how to calculate “cccDNA copies per (infected) cell”.
0 Q&A 3994 Views Dec 20, 2018
Trypanosoma cruzi is a protozoan parasite belonging to the Trypanosomatidae family. Although the trypanosomatids multiply predominantly by clonal generation, the presence of DNA exchange in some of them has been puzzling researchers over the years, mainly because it may represent a novel form that these organisms use to gain variability. Analysis of DNA Exchange using Thymidine Analogs (ADExTA) is a method that allows the in vitro detection and measurement of rates of DNA exchange, particularly in trypanosomatid cells, in a rapid and simple manner by indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA). The method can be used to detect DNA exchange within one trypanosomatid lineage or among different lineages by paired analysis. The principle of this assay is based on the incorporation of two distinguishable halogenated thymidine analogs called 5′-chloro-2′-deoxyuridine (CldU) and 5′-iodo-2′-deoxyuridine (IdU) during DNA replication. After mixing the two cell cultures that had been previously incorporated with CldU and IdU separately, the presence of these unusual deoxynucleosides in the genome can be detected by specific antibodies. For this, a DNA denaturation step is required to expose the sites of thymidine analogs incorporated. Subsequently, a secondary reaction using fluorochrome-labeled antibodies will generate distinct signals under fluorescence analysis. By using this method, DNA exchange verification (i.e., the presence of both CldU and IdU in the same cell) is possible using a standard fluorescence microscope. It typically takes 2-3 days from the thymidine analogs incorporation to results. Of note, ADExTA is relatively cheap and does not require transfections or harsh genetic manipulation. These features represent an advantage when compared to other time-consuming protocols that demand DNA manipulation to introduce distinct drug-resistance markers in different cells for posterior selection.
0 Q&A 9013 Views Aug 5, 2017
Minimal DNA vectors exclusively comprising therapeutically relevant sequences hold great promise for the development of novel therapeutic regimen. Dumbbell-shaped vectors represent non-viral non-integrating DNA minimal vectors which have entered an advanced stage of clinical development (Hardee et al., 2017). Spliceable introns and DNA nuclear import signals such as SV40 enhancer sequences are molecular features that have found multiple applications in plasmid vectors to improve transgene expression. In dumbbells however, effects triggered by introns were not investigated and DNA-based nuclear import sequences have not found applications yet, presumably because dumbbell vectors have continuously been minimized with regard to size. We investigated the effects of an intron and/or SV40 enhancer derived sequences on dumbbell vector driven reporter gene expression. The implementation of a spliceable intron was found to enhance gene expression unconditionally in all investigated cell lines. Conversely, the use of the SV40 enhancer improved gene expression in a cell type-dependent manner. Though both features significantly enlarge dumbbell vector size, neither the intron nor the enhancer or a combination of both revealed a negative effect on gene expression. On the contrary, both features together improved dumbbell-driven gene expression up to 160- or 56-fold compared with plasmids or control dumbbells. Thus, it is highly recommended to consider an intron and the SV40 enhancer for dumbbell vector design. Such an advanced design can facilitate pre-clinical and clinical applications of dumbbell-shaped DNA vectors.
0 Q&A 11603 Views May 5, 2017
CRISPR-Cas is a prokaryotic adaptive immune system that prevents uptake of mobile genetic elements such as bacteriophages and plasmids. Plasmid transfer between bacteria is of particular clinical concern due to increasing amounts of antibiotic resistant pathogens found in humans as a result of transfer of resistance plasmids within and between species. Testing the ability of CRISPR-Cas systems to block plasmid transfer in various conditions or with CRISPR-Cas mutants provides key insights into the functionality and mechanisms of CRISPR-Cas as well as how antibiotic resistance spreads within bacterial communities. Here, we describe a method for quantifying the impact of CRISPR-Cas on the efficiency of plasmid transfer by conjugation. While this method is presented in Staphylococcus species, it could be more broadly used for any conjugative prokaryote.
0 Q&A 9341 Views Jun 5, 2016
Digestion of chromatin by micrococcal nuclease MNase followed by high throughput sequencing allows us to determine the location and occupancy of nucleosomes on the genome. Here in this protocol we have described optimized conditions of MNase digestion of filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa chromatin without a requirement of a nuclear fractionation step.
0 Q&A 9675 Views Dec 20, 2015
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) mutants can lead to vaccine failure, diagnostic failure of HBV detection, increase viral replication and resistance to antiviral agents. To study the biological characteristics of these mutations may contribute to our knowledge on viral pathogenesis. Therefore, it is essential to isolate and characterize HBV strains from patients. Here we describe the experimental methods to isolate and clone HBV DNA from patient serum. The method will facilitate isolation and functional analysis of new HBV variants.

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