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0 Q&A 855 Views Oct 20, 2022

Single-molecule measurements provide statistical distributions of molecular properties, in addition to the ensemble averages. Evanescent detection approaches have been widely used for single-molecule detection because the evanescent field can significantly enhance the light-analyte interaction and reduce the background noise. However, current evanescent single-molecule detection systems mostly require specially designed sensing components. Here, we show that single proteins can be imaged on a plain cover glass surface by detecting the evanescent waves scattered by the target molecules. This allows us to quantify the protein–antibody interactions at the single-molecule level. This protocol describes a label-free single-molecule imaging approach with conventional consumables and may pave the road for detecting single molecules with commercial optical microscopy.

0 Q&A 3536 Views May 20, 2021

Single molecule imaging and spectroscopy are powerful techniques for the study of a wide range of biological processes including protein assembly and trafficking. However, in vivo single molecule imaging of biomolecules has been challenging because of difficulties associated with sample preparation and technical challenges associated with isolating single proteins within a biological system. Here we provide a detailed protocol to conduct ex vivo single molecule imaging where single transmembrane proteins are isolated by rapidly extracting nanovesicles containing receptors of interest from different regions of the brain and subjecting them to single molecule study by using total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy. This protocol discusses the isolation and separation of brain region specific nanovesicles as well as a detailed method to perform TIRF microscopy with those nanovesicles at the single molecule level. This technique can be applied to study trafficking and stoichiometry of various transmembrane proteins from the central nervous system. This approach can be applied to a wide range of animals that are genetically modified to express a membrane protein-fluorescent protein fusion with a wide range of potential applications in many aspects of neurobiology.

Graphic abstract:

EX vivo single molecue imaging of membrane receptors

0 Q&A 4620 Views Apr 5, 2021

Secondary active transporters reside in cell membranes transporting polar solutes like amino acids against steep concentration gradients, using electrochemical gradients of ions as energy sources. Commonly, ensemble-based measurements of radiolabeled substrate uptakes or transport currents inform on kinetic parameters of transporters. Here we describe a fluorescence-based functional assay for glutamate and aspartate transporters that provides single-transporter, single-transport cycle resolution using an archaeal elevator-type sodium and aspartate symporter GltPh as a model system. We prepare proteo-liposomes containing reconstituted purified GltPh transporters and an encapsulated periplasmic glutamate/aspartate-binding protein, PEB1a, labeled with donor and acceptor fluorophores. We then surface-immobilize the proteo-liposomes and measure transport-dependent Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) efficiency changes over time using single-molecule Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy. The assay provides a 10-100 fold increase in temporal resolution compared to radioligand uptake assays. It also allows kinetic characterization of different transport cycle steps and discerns kinetic heterogeneities within the transporter population.

0 Q&A 5961 Views Sep 20, 2019
Our understanding of the regulation and functions of cell-surface proteins has progressed rapidly with the advent of advanced optical imaging techniques. In particular, single-molecule tracking (SMT) using bright fluorophores conjugated to antibodies and wide-field microscopy methods such as total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy have become valuable tools to discern how endogenous proteins control cell biology. Yet, some technical challenges remain; in SMT, these revolve around the characteristics of the labeling reagent. A good reagent should have neutrality (in terms of not affecting the target protein’s functions), tagging specificity, and a bright fluorescence signal. In addition, a long shelf-life is desirable due to the time and monetary costs associated with reagent preparation. Semiconductor-based quantum dots (Qdots) or Janelia Fluor (JF) dyes are bright and photostable, and are thus excellent candidates for SMT tagging. Neutral, high-affinity antibodies can selectively bind to target proteins. However, the bivalency of antibodies can cause simultaneous binding to two proteins, and this bridging effect can alter protein functions and behaviors. Bivalency can be avoided using monovalent Fab fragments generated by enzymatic digestion of neutral antibodies. However, conjugation of a Fab with a dye using the chemical cross-linking agent SMCC (succinimidyl 4-(N-maleimidomethyl)cyclohexane-1-carboxylate) requires reduction of the interchain disulfide bond within the Fab fragment, which can decrease the structural stability of the Fab and weaken its antigen-binding capability. To overcome this problem, we perform limited reduction of F(ab’)2 to generate Fab’ fragments using a weak reducer, cysteamine, which yields free sulfhydryl groups in the hinge region, while the interchain disulfide bond in Fab’ is intact. Here, we describe a method that generates Fab’ with high yield from two isoforms of IgG and conjugates the Fab’ fragments with Qdots. This conjugation scheme can be applied easily to other types of dyes with similar chemical characteristics.
0 Q&A 5667 Views Jun 20, 2018
Single-molecule FRET (smFRET) is a powerful tool to investigate molecular structures and conformational changes of biological molecules. The technique requires protein samples that are site-specifically equipped with a pair of donor and acceptor fluorophores. Here, we present a detailed protocol for preparing double-labeled proteins for smFRET studies. The protocol describes two cell-free approaches to achieve a selective label scheme that allows the highest possible accuracy in inter‐dye distance determination.
0 Q&A 8868 Views Jun 20, 2017
Activation of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) by agonist ligands is mediated by a transition from an inactive to active receptor conformation. We describe a novel single-molecule assay that monitors activation-linked conformational transitions in individual GPCR molecules in real-time. The receptor is site-specifically labeled with a Cy3 fluorescence probe at the end of trans-membrane helix 6 and reconstituted in phospholipid nanodiscs tethered to a microscope slide. Individual receptor molecules are then monitored over time by single-molecule total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy, revealing spontaneous transitions between inactive and active-like conformations. The assay provides information on the equilibrium distribution of inactive and active receptor conformations and the rate constants for conformational exchange. The experiments can be performed in the absence of ligands, revealing the spontaneous conformational transitions responsible for basal signaling activity, or in the presence of agonist or inverse agonist ligands, revealing how the ligands alter the dynamics of the receptor to either stimulate or repress signaling activity. The resulting mechanistic information is useful for the design of improved GPCR-targeting drugs. The single-molecule assay is described in the context of the β2 adrenergic receptor, but can be extended to a variety of GPCRs.
0 Q&A 11088 Views Apr 5, 2016
This effective, robust protocol generates glass coverslips coated with biotin-functionalized polyethylene glycol (PEG), making the glass surface resistant to non-specific absorption of biomolecules, and permitting immobilization of biomolecules for subsequent single-molecule tracking of biochemical reactions. The protocol can be completed in one day, and the coverslips can be stored for at least 1 month. We have confirmed that the PEG surfaces prepared according to the protocol are resistant to non-specific adsorption by a wide range of biomolecules (bacterial, mitochondrial, and human transcription factors, DNA, and RNA) and biological buffers.

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