Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 1695 Views Jul 5, 2022

Understanding protein-protein interactions (PPIs) and interactome networks is essential to reveal molecular mechanisms mediating various cellular processes. The most common method to study PPIs in vivo is affinity purification combined with mass spectrometry (AP–MS). Although AP–MS is a powerful method, loss of weak and transient interactions is still a major limitation. Proximity labeling (PL) techniques have been developed as alternatives to overcome these limitations. Proximity-dependent biotin identification (BioID) is one such widely used PL method. The first-generation BioID enzyme BirA*, a promiscuous bacterial biotin ligase, has been effectively used in cultured mammalian cells; however, relatively slow enzyme kinetics make it less effective for temporal analysis of protein interactions. In addition, BirA* exhibits reduced activity at temperatures below 37°C, further restricting its use in intact organisms cultured at lower optimal growth temperatures (e.g., Drosophila melanogaster). TurboID, miniTurbo, and BirA*-G3 are next generation BirA* variants with improved catalytic activity, allowing investigators to use this powerful tool in model systems such as flies. Here, we describe a detailed experimental workflow to efficiently identify the proximal proteome (proximitome) of a protein of interest (POI) in the Drosophila brain using CRISPR/Cas9-induced homology-directed repair (HDR) strategies to endogenously tag the POI with next generation BioID enzymes.

0 Q&A 1759 Views May 20, 2022

Subcellular localization dynamics of proteins involved in signal transduction processes is crucial in determining the signaling outcome. However, there is very limited information about the localization of endogenous signaling proteins in living cells. For example, biochemical mechanisms underlying the signaling pathway from epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) to RAS-RAF and ERK1/2/MAPK are well understood, whereas the operational domains of this pathway in the cell remain poorly characterized. Tagging of endogenous components of signaling pathways with fluorescent proteins allows more accurate characterization of their intracellular dynamics at their native expression levels controlled by endogenous regulatory mechanisms, thus avoiding possible tainting effects of overexpression and mistargeting. In this study, we describe methodological approaches to label components of the EGFR-RAS-MAPK pathway, such as Grb2, KRAS, and NRAS, with the fluorescent protein mNeonGreen (mNG) using CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing, as well as generation of homozygous single-cell clones of the edited target protein.

0 Q&A 1710 Views Feb 5, 2022

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a toxic oxidant produced as a byproduct of several biological processes. At too high levels of hydrogen peroxide cells will experience oxidative stress, leading to a cellular response to decrease its levels and to protect the cells. Previously, methods used to study and quantify intracellular H2O2 have been limited by both sensitivity and specificity. However, an increasing number of genetically encoded fluorescent indicators (GEFIs) are becoming available, which can specifically detect low levels of intracellular hydrogen peroxide. In this study, we use such a biosensor designed to monitor cytosolic H2O2 levels in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae during continuous cultivation and in the absence of a fluorescence microscope. The fluorescent biosensor contains a peroxiredoxin protein fused to an engineered GFP molecule expressed from a commonly used yeast plasmid (pRS416-TEF1). The peroxiredoxin-based fluorescent indicator reduces H2O2, ultimately resulting in a GFP signal being emitted by the sensor. Here, we apply this biosensor to study cytosolic H2O2 levels in S. cerevisiae strains with and without recombinant protein production.


Graphic abstract:

Schematic overview of experimental steps.


0 Q&A 1757 Views Dec 5, 2021

Bone is a dynamic tissue that adapts to changes in its mechanical environment. Mechanical stimuli pressurize interstitial fluid in the lacunar-canalicular system within the bone matrix, causing fluid shear stress (FSS) across bone embedded, mechano-sensitive osteocytes. Therefore, modeling this mechanical stimulus in vitro is vital for identifying mechano-transduction cascades that contribute to the regulation of mechano-responsive proteins, such as the Wnt/β-catenin antagonist, sclerostin, which is reduced in response to FSS. Recently, we reported the rapid post-translational degradation of sclerostin protein in bone cells following FSS. Given the fundamental nature of sclerostin to bone physiology and the nuances of studying its rapid post-translational control, here, we detail our FSS protocol, and adaptations that can be made, to stimulate Ocy454 osteocyte-like cells to study sclerostin protein in vitro. While this protocol is optimized for detecting sclerostin degradation by western blot, this protocol can be adapted to examine transcriptional changes with RT-qPCR, cellular dynamics with live cell imaging, or secreted factors in the FSS buffer. This protocol utilizes 3D-printed FSS tips that are compatible with commercially available 96-well plates, allowing for high experimental accessibility, versatility, and throughput. However, this protocol can be adapted for any FSS chamber. It can also be combined with pharmacological inhibitors or genetic manipulations to interrogate the role of specific cellular components. In all, this experimental set-up and protocol is highly adaptable to allow for many experimental outcomes to examine many aspects of cell mechano-transduction.

0 Q&A 2185 Views Feb 5, 2021

Signal transduction is the process by which molecular signals are transmitted from the cell surface to its interior, resulting in functional changes inside the cell. B cell receptor (BCR) signaling is of crucial importance for B cells, as it regulates their differentiation, selection, survival, cellular activation and proliferation. Upon BCR engagement by antigen several protein kinases, lipases and linker molecules become phosphorylated. Phosphoflow cytometry (phosphoflow) is a flow cytometry-based method allowing for analysis of protein phosphorylation in single cells. Due to recent advances in methodology and antibody availability – together with the relatively easy quantification of phosphorylation – phosphoflow is increasingly and more commonly used, compared to classical western blot analysis. It can however be challenging to set-up a method that works for all targets of interest. Here, we present a step-by-step phosphoflow protocol allowing the evaluation of the phosphorylation status of signaling molecules in conjunction with extensive staining to identify various human and murine B cell subpopulations, as was previously published in the original paper by Rip et al. (2020). Next to a description of phosphoflow targets from the original paper, we provide directions on additional targets that play a pivotal role in BCR signaling. The step-by-step phosphoflow protocol is user-friendly and provides sensitive detection of phosphorylation of various BCR signaling molecules in human and murine B cell subpopulations.

0 Q&A 3273 Views Sep 20, 2020
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the most structurally diverse family of signaling proteins and regulate a variety of cell function. For most GPCRs, the cell surface is their functional destination where they are able to respond a wide range of extracellular stimuli, leading to the activation of intracellular signal transduction cascades. Thus, the quantity of receptor expression at the cell surface is a crucial factor regulating the functionality of the receptors. Over the past decades, many methods have been developed to measure the cell surface expression of GPCRs. Here, we describe an intact live-cell radioligand binding assay to quantify the surface expression of GPCRs at the endogenous levels or after overexpression. In this assay, cell cultures will be incubated with specific cell-nonpermeable radioligands which selectively and stoichiometrically bind to individual GPCRs and the receptor numbers at the cell surface are quantified by the radioactivity of receptor-bound ligands. This method is highly specific for measuring the functional GPCRs at the surface of intact live cells and is particularly useful for endogenous, low-abundant GPCRs.
0 Q&A 4484 Views Sep 5, 2020
Depending on its concentration and cellular origin the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the organism serves a variety of functions. While high concentrations during an oxidative burst are used to fight pathogens, low to moderate amounts of ROS act as signaling molecules important for several physiological processes such as regulation of immune responses. The ROS-sensitive dye 2',7'-dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate (H2DCFDA) is an inexpensive and well-established tool for measuring intracellular ROS levels. However, it needs to be carefully controlled to be able to draw firm conclusions on the nature of ROS species produced and the cellular source of ROS generation such as the enzyme complex NADPH-oxidase 2 (NOX-2). In this protocol, a robust method to determine low intracellular ROS production using H2DCFDA was validated by several ROS-specific as well as NOX-2-specific inhibitors. Cells were treated with inhibitors or control substances prior to treatment with the ROS-inducer of interest. H2DCFDA was added only for the last 30 min of the treatment schedule. To terminate its conversion, we used a ROS-specific inhibitor until analysis by flow cytometry within the FITC-channel (Ex: 488 nm/Em: 519 nm). In summary, this protocol allows the detection of signaling-relevant intracellular ROS production in cell lines and primary immune cells (e.g., Mono Mac 6 cells and Bone marrow-derived dendritic cells, respectively). Using this method in combination with specific inhibitors, we were able to validate even exceptionally low amounts of ROS produced by NOX-2 and relevant for immune-regulatory signaling.
0 Q&A 3599 Views Aug 20, 2020
Cell-based functional assays are an important part of compound screening and drug lead optimization, and they can also play a crucial role in the determination of the residues involved in ligand binding and signaling for a particular G-protein-coupled receptor. Conventional methods used for Gαq/15-coupled receptors rely on the use of fluorescent probes for Ca++ sensing (such as Fura-2 and Fluo-4) or on the incorporation of [3H]-inositol into inositol 1,4,5- triphosphate (IP3). However, these methods are not suitable for screening large libraries of compounds or for screening several mutants of the same receptor. In contrast, the IP-One assay by Cisbio is a TR-FRET assay suitable for large compound library screening when using stable cell lines that express a specific 7TMR. However, when using transiently transfected mutants of a 7TMR, this assay is not ideal, as it requires a two-step protocol of cell culture. Therefore, we have optimized the IP-One assay protocol using the reverse transfection method in 384-well plates. This offers a time- and resource-efficient alternative to the two-step protocol previously used for the screening of several mutants of Gαq/15-coupled 7TMRs.
0 Q&A 4157 Views Mar 20, 2020
Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mROS) are naturally produced signalling molecules extremely relevant for understanding both health- and disease-associated biological processes. The study of mROS in the brain is currently underway to decipher their physiopathological roles and contributions in neurological diseases. Recent advances in this field have highlighted the importance of studying mROS signalling and redox biology at the cellular level. Neurons are especially sensitive to the harmful effects of excess mROS while astrocytic mROS have been shown to play a relevant physiological role in cerebral homeostasis and behaviour. However, given the complexity of the brain, investigating mROS formation in a specific cell-type in adult animals is methodologically challenging. Here we propose an approach to specifically assess mROS abundance in astrocytes that combines i) a targeting strategy based on the use of adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors expressing the green fluorescent protein (GFP) under an astrocyte (glial fibrillary acidic protein or GFAP) promoter, along with, ii) a robust and widely extended protocol for the measurement of mROS by flow cytometry using commercial probes. The significance of this work is that it allows the selective study of astrocytic mROS abundance by means of easily accessible technology.
0 Q&A 4126 Views Jun 20, 2019
Identification of protein-protein interactions of bacterial effectors and cellular targets during infection is at the core to understand how bacteria manipulate the infected host to overcome the immune response. Potential interacting proteins might be identified by genetic methods, i.e., two hybrid screens and could be verified by co-immunoprecipitation. The tandem affinity purification (TAP) method allows an unbiased screen of potential interaction partners of bacterial effectors in a physiological approach: target cells can be infected with a bacterial strain harboring the TAP-tagged bacterial effector protein which is translocated in the host similar as under physiological infection conditions. No transfection and overexpression of the bacterial protein in the eukaryotic host are needed. Therefore, also host target cells not easy to transfect can be analyzed by this method. Moreover, the two consecutive affinity tags Calmodulin-Binding-Peptide (CBP) and Streptavidin-Binding-Peptide (SBP) fused to the translocated bacterial protein allow an outstanding clear purification of protein complexes formed between the bacterial protein of interest and host cell proteins with less occurrence of contaminants. Mass spectrometry allows an unbiased identification of interacting eukaryotic proteins.



We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By using our website, you are agreeing to allow the storage of cookies on your computer.