Molecular Biology


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Protocols in Current Issue
0 Q&A 990 Views May 20, 2024

Lipid nanoparticle (LNP)-based drug delivery systems (DDSs) are widely recognized for their ability to enhance efficient and precise delivery of therapeutic agents, including nucleic acids like DNA and mRNA. Despite this acknowledgment, there is a notable knowledge gap regarding the systemic biodistribution and organ accumulation of these nanoparticles. The ability to track LNPs in vivo is crucial for understanding their fate within biological systems. Fluorescent labeling of LNPs facilitates real-time tracking, quantification, and visualization of their behavior within biological systems, providing valuable insights into biodistribution, cellular uptake, and the optimization of drug delivery strategies. Our prior research established reversely engineered LNPs as an exceptional mRNA delivery platform for treating ulcerative colitis. This study presents a detailed protocol for labeling interleukin-22 (IL-22) mRNA-loaded LNPs, their oral administration to mice, and visualization of DiR-labeled LNPs biodistribution in the gastrointestinal tract using IVIS spectrum. This fluorescence-based approach will assist researchers in gaining a dynamic understanding of nanoparticle fate in other models of interest.

0 Q&A 1025 Views May 20, 2024

The cell–cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin has been intensively studied due to its prevalence in tissue function and its spatiotemporal regulation during epithelial-to-mesenchymal cell transition. Nonetheless, regulating and studying the dynamics of it has proven challenging. We developed a photoswitchable version of E-cadherin, named opto-E-cadherin, which can be toggled OFF with blue light illumination and back ON in the dark. Herein, we describe easy-to-use methods to test and characterise opto-E-cadherin cell clones for downstream experiments.

Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 386 Views May 5, 2024

Two-dimensional (2D) agarose gel electrophoresis is the method of choice to analyze DNA topology. The possibility to use E. coli strains with different genetic backgrounds in combination with nicking enzymes and different concentrations of norfloxacin improves the resolution of 2D gels to study the electrophoretic behavior of three different families of DNA topoisomers: supercoiled DNA molecules, post-replicative catenanes, and knotted DNA molecules. Here, we describe the materials and procedures required to optimize their separation by 2D gels. Understanding the differences in their electrophoretic behavior can help explain some important physical characteristics of these different types of DNA topoisomers.

0 Q&A 190 Views May 5, 2024

Pseudouridine (Ψ), the most prevalent modified base in cellular RNAs, has been mapped to numerous sites not only in rRNAs, tRNAs, and snRNAs but also mRNAs. Although there have been multiple techniques to identify Ψs, due to the recent development of sequencing technologies some reagents are not compatible with the current sequencer. Here, we show the updated Pseudo-seq, a technique enabling the genome-wide identification of pseudouridylation sites with single-nucleotide precision. We provide a comprehensive description of Pseudo-seq, covering protocols for RNA isolation from human cells, library preparation, and detailed data analysis procedures. The methodology presented is easily adaptable to any cell or tissue type with high-quality mRNA isolation. It can be used for discovering novel pseudouridylation sites, thus constituting a crucial initial step toward understanding the regulation and function of this modification.

0 Q&A 2824 Views Apr 20, 2024

The field of oligonucleotide therapeutics is rapidly advancing, particularly for combating orphan diseases and cancer. However, the intrinsic instability of oligonucleotides, especially RNA, poses a substantial challenge in the face of the harsh conditions encountered intracellularly and in circulation. Therefore, evaluating the stability of oligos in serum is of great significance when developing oligonucleotide therapeutics. This protocol outlines a dependable and reproducible method for preparing oligonucleotide duplexes, coupled with confirmation by gel electrophoresis. Subsequently, the protocol defines a mechanism to assess the stability of the oligo duplexes in serum. This protocol seeks to establish a standardized reference for researchers, enabling them to compare the impact of various modifications on oligo stability and assess the degradation kinetics effectively.

0 Q&A 604 Views Apr 20, 2024

DNA methylation is a key epigenetic mechanism underlying many biological processes, and its aberrant regulation has been tightly associated with various human diseases. Precise manipulation of DNA methylation holds the promise to advance our understanding of this critical mechanism and to develop novel therapeutic methods. Previously, we were only able to alter genome-wide DNA methylation by treating with small molecules (e.g., 5-Aza-2-deoxycytidine) or perturbing relevant genes (e.g., DNA methyltransferase) targetlessly, which makes it challenging to investigate the functional significance of this epigenetic mark at specific genomic loci. By fusing the catalytic domain of a key enzyme in the DNA demethylation process (Ten-eleven translocation dioxygenases 1, Tet1) with a reprogrammable sequence-specific DNA-targeting molecular protein, dCas9, we developed a DNA methylation editing tool (dCas9-Tet1) to demethylate specific genomic loci in a targeted manner. This dCas9-Tet1 system allows us to study the role of DNA methylation at almost any given loci with only the replacement of a single-guide RNA. Here, we describe a protocol that enables modular and scalable manipulation of DNA methylation at specific genomic loci in various cell cultures with high efficiency and specificity using the dCas9-Tet1 system.

0 Q&A 307 Views Apr 20, 2024

Precision-cut lung slices (PCLS), ex vivo 3D lung tissue models, have been widely used for various applications in lung research. PCLS serve as an excellent intermediary between in vitro and in vivo models because they retain all resident cell types within their natural niche while preserving the extracellular matrix environment. This protocol describes the TReATS (TAT-Cre recombinase-mediated floxed allele modification in tissue slices) method that enables rapid and efficient gene modification in PCLS derived from adult floxed animals. Here, we present detailed protocols for the TReATS method, consisting of two simple steps: PCLS generation and incubation in a TAT-Cre recombinase solution. Subsequent validation of gene modification involves live staining and imaging of PCLS, quantitative real-time PCR, and cell viability assessment. This four-day protocol eliminates the need for complex Cre-breeding, circumvents issues with premature lethality related to gene mutation, and significantly reduces the use of animals. The TReATS method offers a simple and reproducible solution for gene modification in complex ex vivo tissue-based models, accelerating the study of gene function, disease mechanisms, and the discovery of drug targets.

0 Q&A 598 Views Apr 5, 2024

The assessment of peptide–protein interactions is a pivotal aspect of studying the functionality and mechanisms of various bioactive peptides. In this context, it is essential to employ methods that meet specific criteria, including sensitivity, biocompatibility, versatility, simplicity, and the ability to offer real-time monitoring. In cellular contexts, only a few proteins naturally possess inherent fluorescence, specifically those containing aromatic amino acids, particularly tryptophan. Nonetheless, by covalently attaching fluorescent markers, almost all proteins can be modified for monitoring purposes. Among the early extrinsic fluorescent probes designed for this task, dansyl chloride (DNSC) is a notable option due to its versatile nature and reliable performance. DNSC has been the primary choice as a fluorogenic derivatizing reagent for analyzing amino acids in proteins and peptides for an extended period of time. In our work, we have effectively utilized the distinctive properties of dansylated-calmodulin (D-CaM) for monitoring the interaction dynamics between proteins and peptides, particularly in the context of their association with calmodulin (CaM), a calcium-dependent regulatory protein. This technique not only enables us to scrutinize the affinity of diverse ligands but also sheds light on the intricate role played by calcium in these interactions.


Key features

• Dynamic fluorescence and real-time monitoring: dansyl-modified CaM enables sensitive, real-time fluorescence, providing valuable insights into the dynamics of molecular interactions and ligand binding.

• Selective interaction and stable fluorescent adducts: DNSC selectively interacts with primary amino groups, ensuring specific detection and forming stable fluorescent sulfonamide adducts.

• Versatility in research and ease of identification: D-CaM is a versatile tool in biological research, facilitating identification, precise quantification, and drug assessment for therapeutic development.

• Sensitivity to surrounding alterations: D-CaM exhibits sensitivity to its surroundings, particularly ligand-induced changes, offering subtle insights into molecular interactions and environmental influences.


Graphical overview



Fluorescence emission profiles of dansylated-calmodulin (D-CaM) in different states. Fluorescence emission spectra of D-CaM upon excitation at 320 nm are depicted. Conditions include apo-D-CaM (gray), holo-D-CaM (red), apo-D-CaM bound to peptide (blue), and holo-D-CaM bound to peptide (purple). Corresponding structural representations of D-CaM next to each condition are superimposed on the respective spectra along with the hydrophobicity of the dansyl environment, which increases upon binding of peptide or Ca2+ to D-CaM. Upon peptide binding to D-CaM, there is an enhancement in the fluorescent intensity of the spectra; upon Ca2+ binding, there is an enhancement of the intensity and a leftward shift of the spectra.

0 Q&A 593 Views Apr 5, 2024

Camelina sativa, a Brassicaceae family crop, is used for fodder, human food, and biofuels. Its relatively high resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses, as well as being a climate-resilient oilseed crop, has contributed to its popularity. Camelina's seed yield and oil contents have been improved using various technologies like RNAi and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing. A stable transformation system for protein localization and other cell autonomous investigations, on the other hand, is tedious and time consuming. This study describes a transient gene expression protocol for Camelina sativa cultivar DH55 leaves using Agrobacterium strain C58C1. The method is suitable for subcellular protein localization and colocalization studies and can be used with both constitutive and chemically induced genes. We report the subcellular localization of the N-terminal ER membrane signal anchor region (1–32 aa) of the At3G28580 gene-encoded protein from Arabidopsis in intact leaves and the expression and localization of other known organelle markers. This method offers a fast and convenient way to study proteins in the commercially important Camelina crop system.


Key features

• This method is based on the approach of Zhang et al. [1] and has been optimized for bioenergy crop Camelina species.

• A constitutive and inducible transient gene expression in the hexaploid species Camelina sativa cultivar DH55.

• Requires only 16–18 days to complete with high efficacy.


Graphical overview




Agrobacterium-mediated transient gene expression optimized for Camelina sativa

0 Q&A 374 Views Mar 20, 2024

Erwinia persicina is a gram-negative bacterium that causes diseases in plants. Recently, E. persicina BST187 was shown to exhibit broad-spectrum antibacterial activity due to its inhibitory effects on bacterial acetyl-CoA carboxylase, demonstrating promising potential as a biological control agent. However, the lack of suitable genetic manipulation techniques limits its exploitation and industrial application. Here, we developed an efficient transformation system for E. persicina. Using pET28a as the starting vector, the expression cassette of the red fluorescent protein–encoding gene with the strong promoter J23119 was constructed and transformed into BST187 competent cells to verify the overexpression system. Moreover, suicide plasmid–mediated genome editing systems was developed, and lacZ was knocked out of BST187 genome by parental conjugation transfer using the recombinant suicide vector pKNOCK-sacB-km-lacZ. Therefore, both the transformation and suicide plasmid–mediated genome editing system will greatly facilitate genetic manipulations in E. persicina and promote its development and application.


Key features

• Our studies establish a genetic manipulation system for Erwinia persicina, providing a versatile tool for studying the gene function of non-model microorganisms.

• Requires approximately 6–10 days to complete modification of a chromosome locus.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 335 Views Mar 20, 2024

Understanding protein–protein interactions is crucial for unravelling subcellular protein distribution, contributing to our understanding of cellular organisation. Moreover, interaction studies can reveal insights into the mechanisms that cover protein trafficking within cells. Although various techniques such as Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), co-immunoprecipitation, and fluorescence microscopy are commonly employed to detect protein interactions, their limitations have led to more advanced techniques such as the in situ proximity ligation assay (PLA) for spatial co-localisation analysis. The PLA technique, specifically employed in fixed cells and tissues, utilises species-specific secondary PLA probes linked to DNA oligonucleotides. When proteins are within 40 nm of each other, the DNA oligonucleotides on the probes interact, facilitating circular DNA formation through ligation. Rolling-circle amplification then produces DNA circles linked to the PLA probe. Fluorescently labelled oligonucleotides hybridise to the circles, generating detectable signals for precise co-localisation analysis. We employed PLA to examine the co-localisation of dynein with the Kv7.4 channel protein in isolated vascular smooth muscle cells from rat mesenteric arteries. This method enabled us to investigate whether Kv7.4 channels interact with dynein, thereby providing evidence of their retrograde transport by the microtubule network. Our findings illustrate that PLA is a valuable tool for studying potential novel protein interactions with dynein, and the quantifiable approach offers insights into whether these interactions are changed in disease.

0 Q&A 455 Views Mar 5, 2024

Diatoms serve as a source for a variety of compounds with particularbiotechnological interest. Therefore, redirecting the flow to a specific pathwayrequires the elucidation of the gene’s specific function. The mostcommonly used method in diatoms is biolistic transformation, which is a veryexpensive and time-consuming method. The use of episomes that are maintained asclosed circles at a copy number equivalent to native chromosomes has become auseful genetic system for protein expression that avoids multiple insertions,position-specific effects on expression, and potential knockout of non-targetedgenes. These episomes can be introduced from bacteria into diatoms viaconjugation. Here, we describe a detailed protocol for gene expression thatincludes 1) the gateway cloning strategy and 2) the conjugation protocol for themobilization of plasmids from bacteria to diatoms.




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