Biological mechanisms are often mediated by transient interactions between multiple proteins. The isolation of intact protein complexes is essential to understanding biochemical processes and an important prerequisite for identifying new drug targets and biomarkers. However, low-affinity interactions are often difficult to detect. Here, we use a newly described method called immiscible filtration assisted by surface tension (IFAST) to isolate proteins under defined binding conditions. This method, that gives a near-instantaneous isolation, enables significantly higher recovery of transient complexes as compared to current wash-based protocols, which require re-equilibration at each of several wash steps, resulting in protein loss. The method moves proteins, or protein complexes, captured on a solid phase through one or more immiscible phase barriers that efficiently exclude the passage of non-specific material in a single operation. We use a previously described polyol-responsive monoclonal antibody (PR-mAb) to investigate the potential of this new method to study protein-binding. In addition, difficult-to-isolate complexes involving the biologically and clinically important Wnt signaling pathway were isolated. We anticipate that this simple, rapid method to isolate intact, transient complexes will enable the discoveries of new signaling pathways, biomarkers, and drug targets.
Immunoprecipitation; polyol-responsive; green fluorescent protein; lowdensity lipoprotein receptor; glycogen synthase kinase-3beta; exclusion-based sample preparation
In screening a library of natural and synthetic products for eukaryotic translation modulators, we identified two natural products, isohymenialdisine and hymenialdisine, that exhibit stimulatory effects on translation. The characterization of these compounds lead to the insight that mRNA used to program the translation extracts during high throughput assay set-up was leading to phosphorylation of eIF2α, a potent negative regulatory event that is mediated by one of four kinases. We identified double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) as the eIF2α kinase that was being activated by exogenously added mRNA template. Characterization of the mode of action of isohymenialdisine revealed that it directly acts on PKR by inhibiting autophosphorylation, perturbs the PKR-eIF2α phosphorylation axis, and can be modeled into the PKR ATP binding site. Our results identify a source of false positives for high throughput screening (HTS) campaigns using translation extracts, raising a cautionary note for this type of screen.
High Throughput Screens; Translation; PKR; eIF2α; Isohymenialdisine; Hymenialdisine
An assay was developed for phosphofructokinase-1 (PFK-1) using capillary electrophoresis (CE). In the glycolytic pathway, this enzyme catalyzes the rate-limiting step from fructose-6-phosphate and magnesium-bound adenosine triphosphate (Mg-ATP) to fructose-1,6-bisphosphate and magnesium-bound adenosine diphosphate (Mg-ADP). This enzyme has recently become a research target because of the importance of glycolysis in cancer and obesity. The CE assay for PFK-1 is based on the separation and detection by UV absorbance at 260 nm of Mg-ATP and Mg-ADP. The separation was enhanced by addition of Mg2+ to the separation buffer. Inhibition studies of PFK-1 by aurintricarboxylic acid and palmitoyl coenzyme A were also performed. An IC50 value was determined for aurintricarboxylic acid, and this value matched values in the literature obtained using coupled spectrophotometric assays. This assay for PFK-1 directly monitors the enzyme-catalyzed reaction, and the CE separation reduces the potential of spectral interference by inhibitors.
phosphofructokinase-1; inhibition; capillary electrophoresis; enzyme assay
Azaspiracids (AZAs) are a group of lipophilic toxins discovered in mussels from Ireland in 1995 following a human poisoning incident. Nowadays the regulatory limit for AZAs in many countries is set at 160 Fg of azaspiracid equivalents per kg of shellfish meat. In this work a microsphere-based immunoassay has been developed for the detection of AZAs using a Luminex system. This method is based on the competition between AZA-2 immobilized onto the surface of microspheres and free AZAs for the interaction with a monoclonal anti-azaspiracid antibody (mAb 8F4). In this inhibition immunoassay the amount of mAb 8F4 bound to AZA-2-microspheres was quantified using a phycoerythrin-labeled anti-mouse antibody, and the fluorescence was measured with a Luminex analyzer. Simple acetate/methanol or methanol extractions yielded final extracts with no matrix interferences and adequate recovery rates of 86.5% and 75.8%, respectively. In summary, this work presents, a sensitive and easily performed screening method capable of detecting AZAs at concentrations below the range of the European regulatory limit using a microsphere/flow cytometry system.
Azaspiracid poisoning; anti-azaspiracid antibody; flow fluorimetry system
Solutions of hypochlorous acid (HOCl) decay over time. This decay indicates the necessity for methods and reagents for the routine measurement of this oxidant. 2-Nitro-5-thiobenzoate is commonly used to measure HOCl concentrations. The following article describes a method for the preparation of 2-nitro-5-thiobenzoate that is stable for at least three months. This method relies on the partial rather than full reduction of 5,5′-dithiobis-(2-nitrobenzoic acid) and the resulting equilibrium between the substrate and product.
Direct efficient facile screening of bacterial transformants with the goal of selecting, retrieving, and using recombinant DNA is exemplified by simple visual-based colorimetric inspections or fluorescent protein-based assays. We describe pRedScript, which introduces the constitutive expression of a very bright red fluorescent protein into transformants. On agar plates, red colonies are simply visualized in ambient white light in stark contrast to recombinant transformants that are white. In addition, the bright red fluorescence of the reporter protein can also be harnessed as a sensitive signal for screening bacterial promoters during the development of optimized fermentation conditions.
Recombinant DNA; Screening; mCherry; Red colo r
S -Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) is recognized as an important cofactor in a variety of biochemical reactions. As more proteins and pathways that require SAM are discovered, it is important to establish a method to quickly identify and characterize SAM binding proteins. The affinity of S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine (SAH) for SAM binding proteins was used to design two SAH-derived capture compounds (CCs). We demonstrate interactions of the proteins COMT and SAHH with SAH–CC with biotin used in conjunction with streptavidin–horseradish peroxidase. After demonstrating SAH-dependent photo-crosslinking of the CC to these proteins, we used a CC labeled with a fluorescein tag to measure binding affinity via fluorescence anisotropy. We then used this approach to show and characterize binding of SAM to the PR domain of PRDM2, a lysine methyltransferase with putative tumor suppressor activity. We calculated the Kd values for COMT, SAHH, and PRDM2 (24.1 ± 2.2 μM, 6.0 ± 2.9 μM, and 10.06 ± 2.87 μM, respectively) and found them to be close to previously established Kd values of other SAM binding proteins. Here, we present new methods to discover and characterize SAM and SAH binding proteins using fluorescent CCs.
Capture compound; Fluorescence anisotropy; S-Adenosyl-L-homocysteine; S-Adenosyl-L-methionine
Translocase I (MraY/MurX) is an essential enzyme in growth of the vast majority of bacteria that catalyzes the transformation from UDP-MurNAc-pentapeptide (Park’s nucleotide) to prenyl-MurNAc-pentapeptide (lipid I), the first membrane-anchored peptidoglycan precursor. MurX has been received considerable attentions to the development of new TB drugs due to the fact that the MurX inhibitors kill exponentially growing Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) much faster than clinically used TB drugs. Lipid I isolated from Mtb contains the C50-prenyl unit that shows very poor water-solubility, and thus, this chemical characteristic of lipid I renders MurX enzyme assays impractical for screening and lacks reproducibility of the enzyme assays. We have established a scalable chemical synthesis of Park’s nucleotide-Nε-dansylthiourea 2 that can be used as a MurX enzymatic substrate to form lipid I analogues. In our investigation of minimum structure requirement of the prenyl phosphate in the MraY/MurX-catalyzed lipid I analogue synthesis with 2, we found that neryl phosphate (C10-phosphate) can be recognized by MraY/MurX to generate the water-soluble lipid I analogue in quantitative yield under the optimized conditions. Herein, we report a rapid and robust analytical method for quantifying MraY/MurX inhibitory activity of library molecules.
Mur X; Mra Y; Translocase I; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Water-soluble lipid I; Park’s nucleotide; MraY assay; HTS; MraY inhibitors
We have developed a self-reporting PCR system for visual colorimetric gene detection and distinction of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). Amplification is performed using target-specific primers modified with a 5’-end tail that is complementary to a G-quadruplex deoxyribozyme-forming sequence. At end-point G-quadruplexes are forced to fold from PCR-generated duplex DNA and then used to colorimetrically report the successful occurrence of PCR by assaying their peroxidase activity using a chromogenic substrate. Furthermore, primer design considerations for the G-quadruplex-generating PCR system have allowed us to visually distinguish SNPs associated with Mycobacterium tuberculosis drug resistance alleles.
G-quadruplex; single nucleotide polymorphism; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; polymerase chain reaction; colorimetric detection
We evaluated a sequential elution protocol from immobilized metal affinity chromatography (SIMAC) employing gallium-based immobilized metal affinity chromatography (IMAC) in conjunction with titanium-dioxide-based metal oxide affinity chromatography (MOAC). The quantitative performance of this SIMAC enrichment approach, assessed in terms of repeatability, dynamic range, and linearity, was evaluated using a mixture composed of tryptic peptides from caseins, bovine serum albumin, and phosphopeptide standards. While our data demonstrate the overall consistent performance of the SIMAC approach under various loading conditions, the results also revealed that the method had limited repeatability and linearity for most phosphopeptides tested, and different phosphopeptides were found to have different linear ranges. These data suggest that, unless additional strategies are used, SIMAC should be regarded as a semi-quantitative method when used in large-scale phosphoproteomics studies in complex backgrounds.
In this paper we present a modified and improved protein assay that was previously described as ‘amidoschwarz assay’ by Schaffner and Weissmann (Anal. Biochem. 56, 1973, 502–514). Our improved protein assay is user-friendly and 30 to 40 times more sensitive than the earlier method. The assay was developed into 3 formats (maco, micro, and nanoassay) with TCA as protein precipitating agent; measuring up to 96 samples. The macro and micro formats of this assay require a single reagent staining with amido black of protein dots, bound to nitrocellulose membrane with lowest protein measurements to 1 μg and 0.1 μg respectively. The nanoassay on the other hand with combination staining of amido black followed by colloidal gold can extend the detection limit to 2.5 ng of protein. Protein concentrations were determined by densitometry and/or spectrophotometry. This assay is compatible with many ionic and non-ionic detergents. This improved protein assay provides an additional choice to researchers in measuring total protein concentration accurately in dilute biological samples as low as 0.125 μg/ml, prior to their biochemical analysis such as in comparative proteomics.
Protein assay; amido black; colloidal gold; TCA; densitometry; spectrophotometry; nitrocellulose membrane
There is a continuing need to increase the brightness and photostability of fluorophores for use in biotechnology, medical diagnostics and cell imaging. One approach developed during the past decade is to use metallic surfaces and nanostructures. It is now known that excited state fluorophores display interactions with surface plasmons, which can increase the radiative decay rates, modify the spatial distribution of emission and result in directional emission. One important example is Surface Plasmon-Coupled Emission (SPCE). In this phenomenon the fluorophores at close distances from a thin metal film, typically silver, display emission over a small range of angles into the substrate. A disadvantage of SPCE is that the emission occur at large angles relative to the surface normal, and at angles which are larger than the critical angle for the glass substrate. The large angles make it difficult to collect all the coupled emission and have prevented use of SPCE with high-throughput and/or array applications.
In the present report we describe a simple multi-layer metal-dielectric structure which allows excitation with light that is perpendicular (normal) to the plane and provides emission within a narrow angular distribution that is normal to the plane. This structure consist of a thin silver film on top of a multi-layer dielectric Bragg grating, with no nanoscale features except for the metal or dielectric layer thicknesses. Our structure is designed to support optical Tamm states, which are trapped electromagnetic modes between the metal film and the underlying Bragg grating. We used simulations with the transfer matrix method to understand the optical properties of Tamm states and localization of the modes or electric fields in the structure. Tamm states can exist with zero in-plane wavevector components and can be created without the use of a coupling prism. We show that fluorophores on top of the metal film can interact with the Tamm state under the metal film and display Tamm state-coupled emission (TSCE). In contrast to SPCE, the Tamm states can display either S- or P-polarization. The TSCE angle is highly sensitive to wavelength which suggests the use of Tamm structures to provide both directional emission and wavelength dispersion. Metallic structures can modify fluorophore decay rates but also have high losses. Photonic crystals have low losses, but may lack the enhanced light-induced fields near metals. The combination of plasmonic and photonic structures offers the opportunity for radiative decay engineering to design new formats for clinical testing and other fluorescence-based applications.
Radiative Decay Engineering; One-Dimensional Photonic Crystals; Tamm States; Tamm State-Coupled Emission; Surface Plasmon-Coupled Emission; Metal-Enhanced Fluorescence
Salicylic acid coated magnetic nanoparticles were prepared via a modified, one-step synthesis and used for a one-stop extraction of genomic DNA from mammalian cells. The synthesized magnetic particles were used for magnetic separation of cells from the media by non-specific binding of the particles, as well as extraction of genomic DNA from the lysate. The quantity and quality were confirmed by agarose gel electrophoresis and polymerase chain reaction. The entire process of extraction and isolation can be completed within 30 min. Compared to traditional methods based on centrifugation and filtration, the established method is fast, simple, reliable, and environmentally-friendly.
Salicylic acid; Magnetic nanoparticles; genomic DNA; extraction; simple and rapid
The pregnane X receptor (PXR) regulates the metabolism and excretion of xenobiotics and endobiotics by regulating the expression of drug-metabolizing enzymes and transporters. The unique structure of PXR allows the binding of many drugs and drug leads to it, possibly causing undesired drug-drug interactions. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate whether lead compounds bind to PXR. Fluorescence-based assays are preferred because of their sensitivity and non-radioactive nature. One fluorescent PXR probe is currently commercially available; however, because its chemical structure is not publicly disclosed, it is not optimal for studying ligand-PXR interactions. Here we report the characterization of BODIPY FL Vinblastine, generated by labeling vinblastine with the fluorophore 4,4-difluoro-5,7-dimethyl-4-bora-3a,4a-diaza-s-indacene (BODIPY FL), as a high-affinity ligand for human PXR with a Kd value of 673 nM. We provide evidence that BODIPY FL Vinblastine is a unique chemical entity different from either vinblastine or the fluorophore 4,4-difluoro-5,7-dimethyl-4-bora-3a,4a-diaza-s-indacene in its function as a high-affinity human PXR ligand. We describe a BODIPY FL Vinblastine-based human PXR Time-Resolved Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer assay, which was used to successfully test a panel of human PXR ligands. The BODIPY FL Vinblastine–based biochemical assay is suitable for high-throughput screening to evaluate whether lead compounds bind to PXR.
PXR; drug metabolism; xenobiotics; high-throughput screening; BODIPY FL Vinblastine; Time-Resolved Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer Assay
Leukocytes are key cellular mediators of human diseases through their role in inflammation. Identifying unique molecules produced by leukocytes may provide new biomarkers and mechanistic insights into the role of leukocytes in disease. Chlorinated lipids are generated as a result of myeloperoxidase-containing leukocyte-derived hypochlorous acid targeting the vinyl ether bond of plasmalogens. The initial product of this reaction is α-chlorofatty aldehyde. α -Chlorofatty aldehyde is both oxidized to α-chlorofatty acid and reduced to α-chlorofatty alcohol by cellular metabolism. This review focuses on the separation techniques and quantitative analysis for these chlorinated lipids. For α-chlorofatty acid the negative charge of carboxylic acids is exploited to detect the chlorinated lipid species of these acids by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry in the negative ion mode. In contrast, α-chlorofatty aldehyde and α-chlorofatty alcohol are converted to pentafluorobenzyl oxime and pentafluorobenzoyl ester derivatives, which are detected by negative ion-chemical ionization mass spectrometry. These two detection methods coupled with the use of stable isotope internal standards and either liquid chromatography or gas chromatography provide highly sensitive analytical approaches to measure these novel lipids.
fatty aldehyde; fatty acid; mass spectrometry; monocytes; chlorinated lipids; chromatography
Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) offers a high-resolution approach
to quantify chromosomal fragmentation in bacteria, measured as percent of
chromosomal DNA entering the gel. The degree of separation in PFG depends upon
the size of DNA, as well as various conditions of electrophoresis, such as
electric field strength (FS), time of electrophoresis, switch time and buffer
composition. Here we describe a new parameter, the structural integrity of the
sample DNA itself, that influences its migration through PFGs. We show that
sub-chromosomal fragments containing both spontaneous and DNA damage-induced
nicks are prone to breakage during PFGE. Such breakage at single strand
interruptions results in artefactual decrease in molecular weight of linear DNA
making accurate determination of the number of double strand breaks difficult.
While breakage of nicked sub-chromosomal fragments is FS-independent, some high
molecular weight sub-chromosomal fragments are also trapped within wells under
the standard PFGE conditions. This trapping can be minimized by lowering the
field strength and increasing the time of electrophoresis. We discuss how
breakage of nicked DNA may be mechanistically linked to trapping. Our results
suggest how to optimize conditions for PFGE when quantifying chromosomal
fragmentation induced by DNA damage.
field strength; time of electrophoresis; DNA trapping; single-strand breaks; double-strand breaks
An imbalance in tryptophan (TRP) metabolites is associated with several neurological and inflammatory disorders. Therefore, analytical methods allowing for simultaneous quantification of TRP and its major metabolites would be highly desirable, and may be valuable as potential biomarkers. We have developed a HPLC method for concurrent quantitative determination of tryptophan, serotonin, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, kynurenine, and kynurenic acid in tissue and fluids. The method utilizes the intrinsic spectroscopic properties of TRP and its metabolites that enable UV absorbance and fluorescence detection by HPLC, without additional labeling. The origin of the peaks related to analytes of interest was confirmed by UV–Vis spectral patterns using a PDA detector and mass spectrometry. The developed methods were validated in rabbit fetal brain and amniotic fluid at gestational day 29. Results are in excellent agreement with those reported in the literature for the same regions. This method allows for rapid quantification of tryptophan and four of its major metabolites concurrently. A change in the relative ratios of these metabolites can provide important insights in predicting the presence and progression of neuroinflammation in disorders such as cerebral palsy, autism, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer disease, and schizophrenia.
Kynurenine pathway; Serotonin; Kynurenic acid; Tryptophan metabolites; HPLC
The identification of small molecule ligands is an important first step in drug development, especially drugs that target proteins with no intrinsic activity. Towards this goal, it is important to have access to technologies that are able to measure binding affinities for a large number of potential ligands in a fast and accurate way. Since ligand binding stabilizes the protein structure in a manner dependent on concentration and binding affinity, the magnitude of the protein stabilization effect elicited by binding can be used to identify and characterize ligands. For example, the shift in protein denaturation temperature (Tm shift) has become a popular approach to identify potential ligands. However, Tm shifts cannot be readily transformed into binding affinities and the ligand rank order obtained at denaturation temperatures (60°C or higher) does not necessarily coincide with the rank order at physiological temperature. An alternative approach is the use of chemical denaturation, which can be implemented at any temperature. Chemical denaturation shifts allow accurate determination of binding affinities with a surprisingly wide dynamic range (high micromolar to sub nanomolar) and in situations in which binding changes the cooperativity of the unfolding transition. In this paper we develop the basic analytical equations and provide several experimental examples.
The mazEFSa toxin-antitoxin (TA) system is ubiquitous in clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus, yet its physiological role is unclear. MazFSa is a sequence-specific endoribonuclease that inhibits the growth of S. aureus and Escherichia coli upon ectopic overexpression. MazFSa preferentially cleaves RNA at UACAU sites, which are overrepresented in genes encoding pathogenicity factors. The exploitation of the inherent toxicity of MazFSa by artificial toxin activation has been proposed as an antibacterial strategy; however, enzymatic activity of endogenous MazFSa has never been detected, and tools for such analyses are lacking. Herein we detail methods for detection of the ribonuclease activity of MazFSa, including a continuous fluorometric assay and a gel-based cleavage assay. Importantly, these methods allowed for the first detection of endogenous MazFSa enzymatic activity in S. aureus lysate. These robust and sensitive assays provide a toolkit for the identification, analysis, and validation of stressors that induce MazF enzymatic activity, and should assist in the discovery of artificial activators of the MazEFSa TA system.
MazFSa; toxin-antitoxin; ribonuclease; enzyme assay
Thioredoxin reductase (TR) is an oxidoreductase responsible for maintaining thioredoxin in the reduced state, thereby contributing to proper cellular redox homeostasis. The C-terminal active site of mammalian TR contains the rare amino acid selenocysteine, which is essential to its activity. Alterations in thioredoxin-reductase activity due to changes in cellular redox homeostasis are found in clinical conditions such as cancer, viral infection, and various inflammatory processes, and quantification of thioredoxin-activity can therefore be a valuable indicator of clinical conditions. Here we describe a new, direct assay (termed the SC-TR assay) to determine the activity of TR based upon the reduction of selenocystine, a diselenide-bridged amino acid. Rather than being an end-point assay as is in older methods, the SC-TR assay directly monitors the continuous consumption of NADPH at 340 nm by TR as it reduces selenocystine. The SC-TR assay can be used in a cuvette using traditional spectrophotometry, or as a 96-well plate based format using a plate reader. In addition, the SC-TR assay is compatible with the use of non-ionic detergents, making it more versatile than other methods using cell lysates.
Thioredoxin reductase; assay; redox homeostasis
We have utilized 3D printing technology to create an inexpensive spectroelectrochemical cell insert that fits inside a standard cuvette and can be used with any transmission spectrometer. The cell positions the working, counter, and reference electrodes and has an interior volume of approximately 200 microliters while simultaneously providing a full 1 cm path length for spectroscopic measurements. This method reduces the time required to perform a potentiometric titration on a molecule compared with standard chemical titration methods and achieves complete electrolysis of protein samples within minutes. The device thus combines the best aspects of thin-layer cells and standard potentiometry.
safranine; spectroelectrochemistry; reduction potential; 3D printing