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0 Q&A 789 Views Aug 5, 2023

Integral membrane proteins are an important class of cellular proteins. These take part in key cellular processes such as signaling transducing receptors to transporters, many operating within the plasma membrane. More than half of the FDA-approved protein-targeting drugs operate via interaction with proteins that contain at least one membrane-spanning region, yet the characterization and study of their native interactions with therapeutic agents remains a significant challenge. This challenge is due in part to such proteins often being present in small quantities within a cell. Effective solubilization of membrane proteins is also problematic, with the detergents typically employed in solubilizing membranes leading to a loss of functional activity and key interacting partners. In recent years, alternative methods to extract membrane proteins within their native lipid environment have been investigated, with the aim of producing functional nanodiscs, maintaining protein–protein and protein–lipid interactions. A promising approach involves extracting membrane proteins in the form of styrene maleic acid lipid particles (SMALPs) that allow the retention of their native conformation. This extraction method offers many advantages for further protein analysis and allows the study of the protein interactions with other molecules, such as drugs. Here, we describe a protocol for efficient SMALP extraction of functionally active membrane protein complexes within nanodiscs. We showcase the method on the isolation of a low copy number plasma membrane receptor complex, the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR), from adult Drosophila melanogaster heads. We demonstrate that these nanodiscs can be used to study native receptor–ligand interactions. This protocol can be applied across many biological scenarios to extract the native conformations of low copy number integral membrane proteins.

0 Q&A 852 Views Aug 5, 2023

Blockade of the programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1)/PD-ligand 1 (PD-L1) axis is a promising strategy for cancer immunotherapy. Although antibody-based PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors have shown remarkable results in clinical cancer studies, their inherent limitations underscore the significance of developing novel PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors. Small molecule inhibitors have several advantages over antibody-based inhibitors, including favorable tumor penetration and oral bioavailability, fewer side effects, easier administration, preferred biological half-life, and lower cost. However, small molecule inhibitors that directly target the PD-1/PD-L1 interaction are still in the early development stage, partially due to the lack of reliable biophysical assays. Herein, we present a novel PD-1/PD-L1 blockade assay using a surface plasmon resonance (SPR)-based technique. This blockade assay immobilizes human PD-1 on a sensor chip, which interacts with PD-L1 inhibitors or negative PD-L1 binders with human PD-L1 protein at a range of molecular ratios. The binding kinetics of PD-L1 to PD-1 and the blockade rates of small molecules were determined. Compared to other techniques such as PD-1/PD-L1 pair enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and AlphaLISA immunoassays, our SPR-based method offers real-time and label-free detection with advantages including shorter experimental runs and smaller sample quantity requirements.

Key features

• A SPR protocol screens compounds for their capacity to block the PD-1/PD-L1 interaction.

• Validation of PD-1/PD-L1 interaction, followed by assessing blockade effects with known inhibitors BMS-1166 and BMS-202, and a negative control NO-Losartan A.

• Analysis of percentage blockade of PD-1/PD-L1 of the samples to obtain the IC50.

• Broad applications in the discovery of small molecule–based PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors for cancer immunotherapy.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 1916 Views Jul 20, 2022

Epigenetic modifications play diverse roles in biological systems. Nucleic acid modifications control gene expression, protein synthesis, and sensitivity to nucleic acid-cleaving enzymes. However, the mechanisms underlying the biosynthesis of nucleic acid modifications can be challenging to identify. Studying protein-ligand interactions helps decipher biosynthetic and regulatory pathways underlying biological reactions. Here, we describe a fluorescence labeling-based quantitative method for unraveling the biomolecular interactions of bacteriophage Mu DNA modification protein Mom with its ligands, using microscale thermophoresis (MST). Compared to traditional methods for studying protein-biomolecular interactions, MST requires significantly lower sample amounts, volumes, and analysis time, thus allowing screening of a large number of candidates for interaction with a protein of interest. Another distinguishing feature of the method is that it obviates the need for protein purification, often a time- and resource-consuming step, and works well with whole or partially purified cell extracts. Importantly, the method is sensitive over a broad range of molecular affinities while offering great specificity and can be used to interrogate ligands ranging from metal ions to macromolecules. Although we established this method for a DNA modification protein, it can easily be adapted to study a variety of molecular interactions engaged by proteins.

1 Q&A 4824 Views May 20, 2021

The intracellular interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5) dimerization assay is a technique designed to measure molecular interaction(s) with endogenous IRF5. Here, we present two methods that detect endogenous IRF5 homodimerization and interaction of endogenous IR5 with cell penetrating peptide (CPP) inhibitors. Briefly, to detect endogenous IRF5 dimers, THP-1 cells are incubated in the presence or absence of the IRF5-targeted CPP (IRF5-CPP) inhibitor for 30 min then the cells are stimulated with R848 for 1 h. Cell lysates are separated by native-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) and IRF5 dimers are detected by immunoblotting with IRF5 antibodies. To detect endogenous interactions between IRF5 and FITC-labeled IRF5-CPP, an in-cell fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) assay is used. In this assay, THP-1 cells are left untreated or treated with FITC-IRF5-CPP conjugated inhibitors for 1 h. Next, cells are fixed, permeabilized, and stained with anti-IRF5 and TRITC-conjugated secondary antibodies. Transfer of fluorescence can be measured and calculated as FRET units. These methods provide rapid and accurate assays to detect IRF5 molecular interactions.

0 Q&A 3614 Views Dec 20, 2020

Stress granules (SGs) are membrane-less organelles that form in the cytoplasm through phase separation, in response to diverse stressors. SGs contain translationally stalled mRNAs, proteins involved in translation, and various RNA-binding proteins (RBPs). Due to the high local concentration of aggregation-prone RBPs, SGs might act as condensation sites for aberrant phase transitions of RBPs and could favor formation of solid protein aggregates underlying the pathological cytoplasmic inclusions found in numerous neurodegenerative diseases. Most assays aiming at studying the recruitment of RBPs into SGs are based on overexpression and SG recruitment of RBPs in intact cells. These approaches are, however, often limited by the predominantly nuclear localization of many RBPs, which precludes cytoplasmic RBP concentrations sufficient for SG localization, and does not address RBP recruitment independent of SG formation. Here, we present a quantitative method to assess recruitment of recombinant RBPs into pre-formed SGs, independent of the RBP’s nuclear localization, using semi-permeabilized cells and fluorescence microscopy. In this assay, SGs are firstly induced by a stressor, and then the plasma membrane of the stressed cells is subsequently selectively permeabilized to provide access of the recombinant protein to SGs. Nuclear import of the protein-of-interest is prevented by blocking nuclear pores with wheat germ agglutinin. This assay allows one to study the molecular mechanisms underlying recruitment of RBPs into SGs quantitatively, in absence of their nuclear import and under controlled conditions. The method allows for a direct comparison of wildtype, mutant or posttranslationally modified RBPs, for addressing the influence of other proteins’ preventing or promoting SG association of RBPs, and is also applicable to synthetic peptides.

Graphic abstract

Workflow overview for analysis of SG recruitment of recombinant proteins or peptides in semi-permeabilized cells
0 Q&A 3820 Views Jun 20, 2020
Human leukocyte antigen class I (HLA-I) molecules are a group of structurally-related cell surface proteins with a high degree of variability within the population. While only up to six variants are expressed in an individual person, the whole population contains thousands of different variants. The ability to distinguish specific variants is important in the clinic to determine compatibility during organ and bone marrow transplantation and in the laboratory to study the biological properties of individual variants. Solid phase bead arrays contain purified, individually identifiable HLA-I molecules that can be used to determine antibody specificity for individual HLA-I proteins. This method is high-throughput, highly specific, and allows for simultaneous screening of antibodies against multiple HLA-I allotypes. The beads are particularly useful for screening patient sera for the presence of donor-specific antibodies against individual HLA-I variants (which can arise during pregnancy, blood transfusion, or organ transplantation). Alternate approaches, such as the use of individual HLA-I-expressing cell lines, are more time consuming, and such cell lines are difficult to procure and standardize. The HLA-I beads are also useful to study HLA-I specificity and selectivity for other receptors and binding partners.
0 Q&A 4045 Views Aug 20, 2019
The discoidin domain receptors, DDR1 and DDR2, are key signaling receptors for the extracellular matrix protein collagen. The interactions of cells with collagen are difficult to study because of the difficulty to obtain native collagen fibers for in vitro studies. Thus, in vitro studies often use acid-soluble collagens in the form of single triple helices, which are not representative of the densely packed insoluble collagen fibers found in tissues. In this protocol, we describe a method that allows stimulating DDR1 locally with collagen-coated beads. Latex beads are first coated with acid-soluble collagen, then added to cells expressing DDR1. Recruitment of DDR1 to the beads and collagen-induced DDR1 phosphorylation is visualized by immunofluorescence microscopy on a widefield microscope. In this method, densely packed collagen is presented to cells in an insoluble form. Bead coating is easy to perform, and this method thus presents a straightforward protocol with which to study local recruitment of collagen receptors to insoluble collagen.
0 Q&A 18115 Views Jun 5, 2019
Tryptophan fluorescence quenching is a type of fluorescence spectroscopy used for binding assays. The assay relies on the ability to quench the intrinsic fluorescence of tryptophan residues within a protein that results from changes in the local environment polarity experienced by the tryptophan(s) upon the addition of a binding partner or ligand. The quenching can arise from local changes near the interaction site or from binding-induced conformational changes. In cases where the titrant absorbs at or near the excitation or emission wavelengths of tryptophan, significant quenching can occur even without an interaction. This is known as the inner filter effect. This protocol describes how to use tryptophan fluorescence quenching to investigate the binding affinity of a protein for its partner/ligand and how to check and correct for the inner filter effect. As an example, we measured the binding affinity of the haem-binding protein, HusA, from Porphyromonas gingivalis for haem, and showed how we accounted for the inner filter effect.
0 Q&A 7823 Views Oct 5, 2018
The cyclic-nucleotide modulated ion channel family includes cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) and hyperpolarization-activated and cyclic nucleotide-modulated (HCN) channels, which play essential roles in visual and olfactory signaling and the heart pacemaking activity. Functionally, these channels have been extensively characterized by electrophysiological techniques from protein heterologously expressed in Xenopus oocytes and mammalian cells. On the other hand, expression and purification of these proteins for biophysical and structural analyses in vitro is problematic and expensive and, accordingly, only limited information on the purified channels is available in the literature. Here we describe a protocol for binding studies of fluorescently labeled cyclic nucleotides to a homologue of eukaryotic CNG channels. Furthermore, we describe how to directly probe binding of unlabeled cyclic nucleotides in a competition assay. The use of fluorescence as a sensitive probe for ligand binding reduces the amount of protein needed and enables fast and easy measurements using standard laboratory equipment.
0 Q&A 21307 Views Aug 5, 2018
This protocol can be applied to analyze the direct interaction between a soluble protein and a target ligand molecule using Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC, Malvern). ITC allows the biophysical characterization of binding between label-free, non-immobilized and in-solution biomolecules by providing the stoichiometry of the interaction, the equilibrium binding constants and the thermodynamic parameters. ITC monitors heat changes (released and/or absorbed) caused by macromolecular interactions with no restrictions of buffer and molecular weight of the macromolecules.

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