Guanine-rich RNA oligonucleotides display many novel structural motifs in recent crystal structures. Here we describe the procedures of the chemical synthesis and the purification of such RNA molecules that are suitable for X-ray crystallographic studies. Modifications of the previous purification methods allow us to obtain better yields in shorter time. We also provide 24 screening conditions that are very effective in crystallization of the guanine-rich RNA oligonucleotides. Optimal crystallization conditions are usually achieved by adjustment of the concentration of the metal ions and pH of the buffer. Crystals obtained by this method usually diffract to high resolution.
Isolation and Purification; Crystallization; Oligonucleotides
Elucidating the mechanism of over and under expression of proteins is critical in developing a better understanding of cancer. Multiple techniques are used to examine differential expression of proteins in cells and assess changes in protein expression in response to therapies such as radiation. Reduced expression can be caused by protein inactivation, mRNA instability, or reduced transcription. The following protocol was used to determine the mechanism for the reduced expression of an antiapoptotic factor, survivin, in normal tissues in response to radiation and the defect in cancer cells that prevents this reduction. We also examined ways to overcome survivin over expression in cancer cells in order to sensitize them to radiation. We will focus on the use of antisense oligonucleotides, cell cycle analysis, and luciferase reporter genes.
Survivin; Antisense oligonucleotides; Luciferase
Herein we have explored two practical aspects of cryopreserving cultured mammalian cells during routine laboratory maintenance. First, we have examined the possibility of using a serum-free, hence more affordable, cryopreservative. Using five mammalian lines (Crandell Feline Kidney, MCF7, A72, WI 38 and NB324K), we found that the serum-free alternative preserves nearly as efficiently as the serum-containing preservatives. Second, we compared cryostorage of those cells in suspended versus a pellet form using both aforementioned cryopreservatives. Under our conditions, cells were in general recovered equally well in a suspended versus a pellet form.
Cryopreservation; Cells, Cultured; Culture Media, Serum-Free
Experimental modulation of capsule size is an important technique for the study of the virulence of the encapsulated pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. In this paper, we summarize the techniques available for experimental modulation of capsule size in this yeast and describe improved methods to induce capsule size changes. The response of the yeast to the various stimuli is highly dependent on the cryptococcal strain. A high CO2 atmosphere and a low iron concentration have been used classically to increase capsule size. Unfortunately, these stimuli are not reliable for inducing capsular enlargement in all strains. Recently we have identified new and simpler conditions for inducing capsule enlargement that consistently elicited this effect. Specifically, we noted that mammalian serum or diluted Sabouraud broth in MOPS buffer pH 7.3 efficiently induced capsule growth. Media that slowed the growth rate of the yeast correlated with an increase in capsule size. Finally, we summarize the most commonly used media that induce capsule growth in C. neoformans.
Cryptococcus neoformans; Infection; Virulence
Quorum sensing (QS) is a cell density-dependent signaling system used by bacteria to coordinate gene expression within a population. QS systems in Gram negative bacteria consist of transcription factors of the LuxR family and their acyl homoserine lactone (AHL) ligands. We describe here a method for examining QS signaling systems in mammalian cells that uses engineered LuxR-type proteins from the opportunistic pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can function as AHL-dependent transcription factors. The engineered proteins respond to their cognate ligands and display sequence specific DNA binding properties. This system has several potential biotechnological and biological applications. It may be used to characterize any LuxR-type protein, screen animal and plant cell extracts or exudates for compounds that mimic or interfere with AHL signaling or to screen different cell types for AHL inactivating activities.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa autoinducer; LuxR protein
A simple and non-radioactive technique based on O-cresolpthalein complexone assay was developed to study in vitro non-radioactive calcium (40Ca) deposition by isolated matrix vesicles. Using this technique, the effect of various phosphoester substrates including ATP, AMP and β-GP on in vitro MV-calcification was studied. O-cresolpthalein complexone assay with non-radioactive calcium demonstrated that AMP or β-GP were more effective in promoting calcium deposition by isolated MVs than ATP. The application of this non-radioactive technique, which is highly sensitive and simple, would offer a useful alternative approach to the routinely used radiometric biomineralization assay which employs radioactive 45Ca.
Cartilage; Growth Plate; Bone and Bones; Calcification, Physiologic
Recombinant production and biochemical analysis of actin mutants has been hampered by the fact that actin has an absolute requirement for the eukaryotic chaperone CCT to reach its native state. We therefore have developed a method to rapidly screen the folding capacity and functionality of actin variants, by combining in vitro expression of labelled actin with analysis on native gels, band shift assays or copolymerization tests. Additionally, we monitor, using immuno-fluorescence, incorporation of actin variants in cytoskeletal structures in transfected cells. We illustrate the method by two examples. In one we show that tagged versions of actin do not always behave native-like and in the other we study some of the molecular defects of three β-actin mutants that have been associated with diseases.
Actins; Binding sites; Protein folding
Due to their hydrophobic nature, lipophilic compounds are always bound to proteins when transported in the organism. The transfer of such compounds between their binding proteins and cells as well as intracellular trafficking is mediated by a very low water-phase concentration of monomers. The use of protein filled resealed red cell membranes (erythrocyte ghosts) as semipermeable bags enables us to determine directly such water-phase concentrations in a biological system where the lipophilic compound is in equilibrium with the compound bound to its binding protein. Equilibrium dissociation constants (Kd’s) and number of binding sites are determined by regression analyses of data. We describe the method with the hydrophobic anion arachidonate and the neutral N-arachidonoylethanolamide as examples.
Erythrocyte membrane; Ligands; Binding sites
The worldwide rapid increase in bacterial resistance to numerous antibiotics requires on-going development of new drugs to enter the market. As the development of new antibiotics is lengthy and costly, early monitoring of compound's toxicity is essential in the development of novel agents. Our interest is in a rapid, simple, high throughput screening method to assess cytotoxicity induced by potential agents. Some intracellular pathogens, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis primary site of infection is human alveolar macrophages. Thus, evaluation of candidate drugs for macrophage toxicity is crucial. Protocols for high throughput drug toxicity screening of macrophages using flow cytometry are lacking in the literature. For this application we modified a preexisting technique, propidium iodide (PI) exclusion staining and utilized it for rapid toxicity tests. Samples were prepared in 96 well plates and analyzed by flow cytometry, which allowed for rapid, inexpensive and precise assessment of compound's toxicity associated with cell death.
Flow cytometry; Propidium; Lethal Dose 50
A method was developed to assess the functional significance of a sequence motif in yeast Upf3p, a protein required for nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD). The motif lies at the edge of the Upf3p-Upf2p interaction domain, but at the same time resembles the canonical leucine-rich nuclear export sequence (NES) found in proteins that bind Crm1p exportin. To test the function of the putative NES, site-directed mutations that cause substitutions of conserved NES-A residues were first selected to identify hypermorphic alleles. Next, a portable Crm1p-binding NES from HIV-1 Rev protein that functions in yeast was fused en masse to the C-terminus of variant Upf3 proteins using loxP sites recognized by bacterial cre-recombinase. Finally, variant Upf3-Rev proteins that were functional in NMD were selected and examined for the types of amino acid substitutions present in NES-A. The mutational analysis revealed that amino acid substitutions in the Upf3 NES impair both nuclear export and the Upf2p-Upf3p interaction, both of which are required for Upf3p to function in NMD. The method described in this report could be modified for the genetic analysis of a variety of portable protein domains.
Recombination, Genetic; Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal; RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
We have identified a peptide substrate for molecular chaperone Hsp40 Ydj1 by utilizing the combination of phage display library screening and isothemol titration calirimetry (ITC). The initial peptide substrate screening for Hsp40 Ydj1 has been carried out by utilizing a 7-mer phage display library. The peptide sequences from the bio-panning were synthesized and object to the direct affinity measurement for Hsp40 Ydj1 by isothemol titration calirimetry studies. The peptide which has the measurable affinity with Ydj1 shows enriched hydrophobic residues in the middle of the substrate fragment. The peptide substrate specificity for molecular chaperone Hsp40 has been analyzed.
Molecular chaperones; Protein folding; Heat-shock proteins 70; Peptide library
Chromatin structure, determined in part by DNA methylation, is established during differentiation and prevents expression of genes unnecessary for the function of a given cell type. We reported that DNA methylation and chromatin structure contributes to lymphoid-specific ITGAL (CD11a) and PRF1 (perforin) expression. We used bisulfite sequencing to compare methylation patterns in the ITGAL promoter and 5' flanking region of T cells and fibroblasts, and in the PRF1 promoter and upstream enhancer of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells with fibroblasts. The effects of methylation on promoter function were tested using regional methylation of reporter constructs, and confirmed by DNA methyltransferase inhibition. The relationship between DNA methylation and chromatin structure was analyzed by DNaseI hypersensitivity. Herein we described the methods and results in greater detail.
DNA methylation; T-lymphocytes; Gene expression regulation
Substitution patterns among nucleotides are often assumed to be constant in phylogenetic analyses. Although variation in the average rate of substitution among sites is commonly accounted for, variation in the relative rates of specific types of substitution is not. Here, we review details of methodologies used for detecting and analyzing differences in substitution processes among predefined groups of sites. We describe how such analyses can be performed using existing phylogenetic tools, and discuss how new phylogenetic analysis tools we have recently developed can be used to provide more detailed and sensitive analyses, including study of the evolution of mutation and substitution processes. As an example we consider the mitochondrial genome, for which two types of transition deaminations (C⇒T and A⇒G) are strongly affected by single-strandedness during replication, resulting in a strand asymmetric mutation process. Since time spent single-stranded varies along the mitochondrial genome, their differential mutational response results in very different substitution patterns in different regions of the genome.
Deamination; DNA, single-strandedness
Leukocyte endothelial cell interaction is a fundamentally important process in many disease states. Current methods to analyze such interactions include the parallel-plate flow chamber and intravital microscopy. Here, we present an improvement of the traditional intravital microscopy that allows leukocyte-endothelial cell interaction to be studied from the time the leukocyte makes its initial contact with the endothelium until it adheres to or detaches from the endothelium. The leukocyte is tracked throughout the venular tree with the aid of a motorized stage and the rolling and adhesive behavior is measured off-line. Because this method can involve human error, methods to automate the tracking procedure have been developed. This novel tracking method allows for a more detailed examination of leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions.
Animals; Cell Adhesion; Leukocytes; Mice, Knockout; Tumor Necrosis Factor; Venules
We have established a uniform procedure for the expression and purification of the cyclin-dependent kinases CDK7/CycH/MAT1, CDK8/CycC and CDK9/CycT1. We attach a His6-tag to one of the subunits of each complex and then co-express it together with the other subunits in Spodoptera frugiperda insect cells. The CDK complexes are subsequently purified by Ni2+-NTA and Mono S chromatography. This approach generates large amounts of active recombinant kinases that are devoid of contaminating kinase activities. Importantly, the properties of these recombinant kinases are similar to their natural counterparts (Pinhero et al. 2004, Eur J Biochem 271:1004-14). Our protocol provides a novel systematic approach for the purification of these three (and possibly other) recombinant CDKs.
Cyclin-Dependent Kinases; Baculoviridae; Isolation and Purification
Post-translational modifications of core histones play an important role in regulating fundamental biological processes such as DNA repair, transcription and replication. In this paper, we describe a novel assay that allows sequential targeting of distinct histone modifying enzymes to immobilized nucleosomal templates using recombinant chimeric targeting molecules. The assay can be used to study the histone substrate specificity of chromatin modifying enzymes as well as whether and how certain enzymes affect each other's histone modifying activities. As such the assay can help to understand how a certain histone code is established and interpreted.
Chromatin; Histone code
In situ hybridization with 3DNA™ dendrimers is a novel tool for detecting low levels of mRNA in tissue sections and whole embryos. Fluorescently labeled dendrimers were used to identify cells that express mRNA for the skeletal muscle transcription factor MyoD in the early chick embryo. A small population of MyoD mRNA positive cells was found in the epiblast prior to the initiation of gastrulation, two days earlier than previously detected using enzymatic or radiolabeled probes for mRNA. When isolated from the epiblast and placed in culture, the MyoD mRNA positive cells were able to differentiate into skeletal muscle cells. These results demonstrate that DNA dendrimers are sensitive and precise tools for identifying low levels of mRNA in single cells and tissues.
MyoD protein; In situ hybridization
Imatinib (Gleevec) is the effective therapy for BCR-ABL positive CML patients. Point mutations have been detected in ATP-binding domain of ABL gene which disturbs the binding of Gleevec to this target leading to resistance. Detection of mutations is helpful in clinical management of imatinib resistance. We established a very sensitive (ASO) PCR to detect mutations in an imatinib-resistant CML patient. Mutations C944T and T1052C were detected which cause complete partial imatinib resistance, respectively. This is the first report of multiple point mutations conferring primary imatinib resistance in same patient at the same time. Understanding the biological reasons of primary imatinib resistance is one of the emerging issues of pharmacogenomics and will be helpful in understanding primary resistance of molecularly-targeted cancer therapies. It will also be of great utilization in clinical management of imatinib resistance. Moreover, this ASO-PCR assay is very effective in detecting mutations related to imatinib resistance.
Leukemia, Myeloid, Chronic; Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl; ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
Here we describe an experimental design aimed to investigate changes in total cellular levels of Na+ and K+ ions in cultures of freshwater filamentous cyanobacteria. Ion concentrations were measured in whole cells by flame photometry. Cellular Na+ levels increased exponentially with rising alkalinity, with K+ levels being maximal for optimal growth pH (~8). At standardized pH conditions, the increase in cellular Na+, as induced by NaCl at 10 mM, was coupled by the two sodium channel-modulating agents lidocaine hydrochloride at 1 μM and veratridine at 100 μM. Both the channel-blockers amiloride (1 mM) and saxitoxin (1 μM), decreased cell-bound Na+ and K+ levels. Results presented demonstrate the robustness of well-defined channel blockers and channel-activators in the study of cyanobacterial Na+- K+ fluxes.
Cyanobacteria; Sodium; Potassium
The gilthead seabream is a protandrous seasonal breeding teleost that is an excellent model for studying the testicular regression process which occurs in both seasonal testicular involution and sex reversion. Little is known about the cell types and the molecular mechanisms involved in such processes, mainly because of the lack of appropriate methods for testis dissociation, and testicular cell isolation, culture and functional characterization. We have previously reported that gilthead seabream acidophilic granulocytes infiltrate the testis at post-spawning stage, settle close to the spermatogonia and accumulate intracellular interleukin-1β. In this paper, we report several flow cytometry based assays which allow to establish the role played by gilthead seabream testicular acidophilic granulocytes and permits their quantification.
Testis; Flow cytometry; Phagocytosis
Dynamic force microscopy (DFM) allows imaging of the structure and the assessment of the function of biological specimens in their physiological environment. In DFM, the cantilever is oscillated at a given frequency and touches the sample only at the end of its downward movement. Accordingly, the problem of lateral forces displacing or even destroying bio-molecules is virtually inexistent as the contact time and friction forces are reduced. Here, we describe the use of DFM in studies of human rhinovirus serotype 2 (HRV2) weakly adhering to mica surfaces. The capsid of HRV2 was reproducibly imaged without any displacement of the virus. Release of the genomic RNA from the virions was initiated by exposure to low pH buffer and snapshots of the extrusion process were obtained. In the following, the technical details of previous DFM investigations of HRV2 are summarized.
Microscopy, Atomic Force; Rhinovirus
Caenorhabditis elegans is an attractive model system for determining the targets of neuroactive compounds. Genetic screens in C. elegans provide a relatively unbiased approach to the identification of genes that are essential for behavioral effects of drugs and neuroactive compounds such as alcohol. Much work in vertebrate systems has identified multiple potential targets of ethanol but which, if any, of those candidates are responsible for the behavioral effects of alcohol is uncertain. Here we provide detailed methodology for a genetic screen for mutants of C. elegans that are resistant to the depressive effects of ethanol on locomotion and for the subsequent behavioral analysis of those mutants. The methods we describe should also be applicable for use in screening for mutants that are resistant or hypersensitive to many neuroactive compounds and for identifying the molecular targets or biochemical pathways mediating drug responses.
Alcohol; Behavior; Genetics; Invertebrate
In synaptic vesicles, the estimated concentration of the excitatory amino acid glutamate is 100-150 mM. It was recently discovered that VGLUT1, previously characterized as an inorganic phosphate transporter (BNPI) with 9-11 predicted transmembrane spanning domains, is capable of transporting glutamate. The expression and His-tag based purification of recombinant VGLUT1 from PC12 cells and High Five insect cells is described. Significantly better virus and protein expression was obtained using High Five rather than Sf9 insect cells. PC12 cell expressed VGLUT1 is functional but not the Baculovirus expressed protein. The lack of functionality of the Baculovirus expressed VGLUT1 is discussed. The data indicate that VGLUT1 readily oligomerizes/dimerizes. The data are discussed in the context of developing this system further in order to reconstitute vesicular glutamate uptake in vitro using lipid-detergent vesicles.
Membrane Proteins; Baculovirus; Glutamates
High throughput detection of differential expression of genes is an efficient means of identifying genes and pathways that may play a role in biological systems under certain experimental conditions. There exist a variety of approaches that could be used to identify groups of genes that change in expression in response to a particular stimulus or environment. We here describe the application of suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) coupled with cDNA microarray analysis for isolation and identification of chicken transcripts that change in expression on infection of host cells with a paramyxovirus. SSH was used for initial isolation of differentially expressed transcripts, a large-scale validation of which was accomplished by microarray analysis. The data reveals a large group of regulated genes constituting many biochemical pathways that could serve as targets for future investigations to explore their role in paramyxovirus pathogenesis. The detailed methods described herein could be useful and adaptable to any biological system for studying changes in gene expression.
Gene expression; Pneumovirus; Chickens
The steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein, a novel mitochondrial protein, is involved in the regulation of steroid hormone biosynthesis through its mediation of the intramitochondrial transport of the steroid substrate, cholesterol, to the cytochrome P450 cholesterol side chain cleavage (P450scc) enzyme. The expression of StAR protein is regulated by cAMP-dependent signaling in steroidogenic cells. During the course of our studies in mouse Leydig cells, we employ several methods for studying the regulation of StAR protein expression by human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). A sensitive quantitative reverse transcription and polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was utilized for determining StAR mRNA expression. Stimulation of mLTC-1 mouse Leydig tumor cells with hCG resulted in the coordinate regulation of StAR mRNA expression and progesterone accumulation in a time-response manner. The validity and accuracy of quantitative RT-PCR results in mLTC-1 cells were verified by a competitive PCR approach and were further confirmed in primary cultures of isolated mouse Leydig cells. Immunoblotting studies demonstrated an increase in the levels of the StAR protein in a concentration dependent manner following hCG stimulation in mLTC-1 cells. Northern hybridization analysis revealed three StAR transcripts, all of which were of sufficient size to encode functional StAR protein, and which were coordinately expressed in response to hCG. Collectively, the experimental approaches utilized in the present investigation allow for the demonstration and characterization of hCG mediated regulation of StAR mRNA and StAR protein expression in mouse Leydig cells.
Leydig cells; Chorionic Gonadotropin; Methods