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In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (11)

Articles by Navin Varadarajan in JoVE

 JoVE Immunology and Infection

Quantitative High-throughput Single-cell Cytotoxicity Assay For T Cells

1Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Houston, 2Division of Pediatrics, Research Unit 907, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


JoVE 50058

We describe a single-cell high-throughput assay to measure cytotoxicity of T cells when incubated with tumor target cells. This method employs a dense, elastomeric array of sub-nanoliter wells (~100,000 wells/array) to spatially confine the T cells and target cells at defined ratios and is coupled to fluorescence microscopy to monitor effector-target conjugation and subsequent apoptosis.

Other articles by Navin Varadarajan on PubMed

Engineering of Protease Variants Exhibiting High Catalytic Activity and Exquisite Substrate Selectivity

The exquisite selectivity and catalytic activity of enzymes have been shaped by the effects of positive and negative selection pressure during the course of evolution. In contrast, enzyme variants engineered by using in vitro screening techniques to accept novel substrates typically display a higher degree of catalytic promiscuity and lower total turnover in comparison with their natural counterparts. Using bacterial display and multiparameter flow cytometry, we have developed a novel methodology for emulating positive and negative selective pressure in vitro for the isolation of enzyme variants with reactivity for desired novel substrates, while simultaneously excluding those with reactivity toward undesired substrates. Screening of a large library of random mutants of the Escherichia coli endopeptidase OmpT led to the isolation of an enzyme variant, 1.3.19, that cleaved an Ala-Arg peptide bond instead of the Arg-Arg bond preferred by the WT enzyme. Variant 1.3.19 exhibited greater than three million-fold selectivity (-Ala-Arg-/-Arg-Arg-) and a catalytic efficiency for Ala-Arg cleavage that is the same as that displayed by the parent for the preferred substrate, Arg-Arg. A single amino acid Ser223Arg substitution was shown to recapitulate completely the unique catalytic properties of the 1.3.19 variant. These results can be explained by proposing that this mutation acts to "swap" the P(1) Arg side chain normally found in WT substrate peptides with the 223Arg side chain in the S(1) subsite of OmpT.

Substrate Specificity of the Escherichia Coli Outer Membrane Protease OmpP

Escherichia coli OmpP is an F episome-encoded outer membrane protease that exhibits 71% amino acid sequence identity with OmpT. These two enzymes cleave substrate polypeptides primarily between pairs of basic amino acids. We found that, like OmpT, purified OmpP is active only in the presence of lipopolysaccharide. With optimal peptide substrates, OmpP exhibits high catalytic efficiency (k(cat)/K(m) = 3.0 x 10(6) M(-1)s(-1)). Analysis of the extended amino acid specificity of OmpP by substrate phage revealed that both Arg and Lys are strongly preferred at the P1 and P1' sites of the enzyme. In addition, Thr, Arg, or Ala is preferred at P2; Leu, Ala, or Glu is preferred at P4; and Arg is preferred at P3'. Notable differences in OmpP and OmpT specificities include the greater ability of OmpP to accept Lys at the P1 or P1', site as well as the prominence of Ser at P3 in OmpP substrates. Likewise, the OmpP P1 site could better accommodate Ser; as a result, OmpP was able to cleave a peptide substrate between Ser-Arg about 120 times more efficiently than was OmpT. Interestingly, OmpP and OmpT cleave peptides with three consecutive Arg residues at different sites, a difference in specificity that might be important in the inactivation of cationic antimicrobial peptides. Accordingly, we show that the presence of an F' episome results in increased resistance to the antimicrobial peptide protamine both in ompT mutants and in wild-type E. coli cells.

Highly Active and Selective Endopeptidases with Programmed Substrate Specificities

A family of engineered endopeptidases has been created that is capable of cleaving a diverse array of peptide sequences with high selectivity and catalytic efficiency (kcat/KM > 10(40 M(- 1) s(- 1)). By screening libraries with a selection-counterselection substrate method, protease variants were programmed to recognize amino acids having altered charge, size and hydrophobicity properties adjacent to the scissile bond of the substrate, including GluArg, a specificity that to our knowledge has not been observed among natural proteases. Members of this artificial protease family resulted from a relatively small number of amino acid substitutions that (at least in one case) proved to be epistatic.

An Engineered Protease That Cleaves Specifically After Sulfated Tyrosine

Construction and Flow Cytometric Screening of Targeted Enzyme Libraries

Herein, we describe a methodology for the construction of targeted libraries intended to modify the substrate specificity of proteases expressed on the cell surface of Escherichia coli. The native outer membrane protease, OmpT, is used as a model system. The protocol relies on gene assembly using oligonucleotides and is easily adaptable to any enzyme in which information is available on the putative active site residues. Increasingly complex libraries can be generated in a systematic manner and screened using flow cytometry (fluorescence-activated cell sorting, FACS) for variants displaying altered function. Furthermore, if the substrate-binding pockets have not been elucidated, a protocol for partial multi-site saturation library construction is presented that allows for sampling a large number of residues, while maintaining an appropriate level of protein function. The entire procedure, from start to finish, should take approximately 2-3 weeks.

Proteases That Can Distinguish Among Different Post-translational Forms of Tyrosine Engineered Using Multicolor Flow Cytometry

We report the isolation of a highly active (k(cat)/K(M) approximately 10(5) M(-1)s(-1)) variant of the E. coli endopeptidase OmpT that selectively hydrolyzes peptides after 3-nitrotyrosine while effectively discriminating against similar peptides containing unmodified tyrosine (160-fold), sulfotyrosine (3600-fold), phosphotyrosine (>8000-fold), and phosphoserine (>8000-fold). The isolation of endopeptidase variants that can discriminate between substrates based on the post-translational modification of Tyr was made possible by implementing a multicolor flow cytometric assay for the screening of large mutant libraries. For the multicolor assay, a desired selection substrate was used simultaneously with multiple counterselection fluorescent substrates to isolate rare enzyme variants that displayed finely tuned substrate specificity. This work demonstrates that enzymes with exquisite selectivity can be isolated from large libraries using appropriate high throughput screening approaches and constitutes a critical step toward the production of a 3-nitrotyrosine-specific protease useful for proteomic applications.

A High-throughput Single-cell Analysis of Human CD8⁺ T Cell Functions Reveals Discordance for Cytokine Secretion and Cytolysis

CD8+ T cells are a key component of the adaptive immune response to viral infection. An inadequate CD8+ T cell response is thought to be partly responsible for the persistent chronic infection that arises following infection with HIV. It is therefore critical to identify ways to define what constitutes an adequate or inadequate response. IFN-γ production has been used as a measure of T cell function, but the relationship between cytokine production and the ability of a cell to lyse virus-infected cells is not clear. Moreover, the ability to assess multiple CD8+ T cell functions with single-cell resolution using freshly isolated blood samples, and subsequently to recover these cells for further functional analyses, has not been achieved. As described here, to address this need, we have developed a high-throughput, automated assay in 125-pl microwells to simultaneously evaluate the ability of thousands of individual CD8+ T cells from HIV-infected patients to mediate lysis and to produce cytokines. This concurrent, direct analysis enabled us to investigate the correlation between immediate cytotoxic activity and short-term cytokine secretion. The majority of in vivo primed, circulating HIV-specific CD8+ T cells were discordant for cytolysis and cytokine secretion, notably IFN-γ, when encountering cognate antigen presented on defined numbers of cells. Our approach should facilitate determination of signatures of functional variance among individual effector CD8+ T cells, including those from mucosal samples and those induced by vaccines.

Rapid, Efficient Functional Characterization and Recovery of HIV-specific Human CD8+ T Cells Using Microengraving

The nature of certain clinical samples (tissue biopsies, fluids) or the subjects themselves (pediatric subjects, neonates) often constrain the number of cells available to evaluate the breadth of functional T-cell responses to infections or therapeutic interventions. The methods most commonly used to assess this functional diversity ex vivo and to recover specific cells to expand in vitro usually require more than 10(6) cells. Here we present a process to identify antigen-specific responses efficiently ex vivo from 10(4)-10(5) single cells from blood or mucosal tissues using dense arrays of subnanoliter wells. The approach combines on-chip imaging cytometry with a technique for capturing secreted proteins--called "microengraving"--to enumerate antigen-specific responses by single T cells in a manner comparable to conventional assays such as ELISpot and intracellular cytokine staining. Unlike those assays, however, the individual cells identified can be recovered readily by micromanipulation for further characterization in vitro. Applying this method to assess HIV-specific T-cell responses demonstrates that it is possible to establish clonal CD8(+) T-cell lines that represent the most abundant specificities present in circulation using 100- to 1,000-fold fewer cells than traditional approaches require and without extensive genotypic analysis a priori. This rapid (<24 h), efficient, and inexpensive process should improve the comparative study of human T-cell immunology across ages and anatomic compartments.

Multi-copy Genes That Enhance the Yield of Mammalian G Protein-coupled Receptors in Escherichia Coli

Low yields of recombinant expression represent a major barrier to the physical characterization of membrane proteins. Here, we have identified genes that globally enhance the production of properly folded G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in Escherichia coli. Libraries of bacterial chromosomal fragments were screened using two separate systems that monitor: (i) elevated fluorescence conferred by enhanced expression of GPCR-GFP fusions and (ii) increased binding of fluorescent ligand in cells producing more active receptor. Three multi-copy hits were isolated by both methods: nagD, encoding the ribonucleotide phosphatase NagD; a fragment of nlpD, encoding a truncation of the predicted lipoprotein NlpD, and the three-gene cluster ptsN-yhbJ-npr, encoding three proteins of the nitrogen phosphotransferase system. Expression of these genes resulted in a 3- to 10-fold increase in the yields of different mammalian GPCRs. Our data is consistent with the hypothesis that the expression of these genes may serve to maintain the integrity of the bacterial periplasm and to provide a favorable environment for proper membrane protein folding, possibly by inducing a fine-tuned stress response and/or via modifying the composition of the bacterial cell envelope.

Single-cell Characterization of Autotransporter-mediated Escherichia Coli Surface Display of Disulfide Bond-containing Proteins

Autotransporters (ATs) are a family of bacterial proteins containing a C-terminal β-barrel-forming domain that facilitates the translocation of N-terminal passenger domain whose functions range from adhesion to proteolysis. Genetic replacement of the native passenger domain with heterologous proteins is an attractive strategy not only for applications such as biocatalysis, live-cell vaccines, and protein engineering but also for gaining mechanistic insights toward understanding AT translocation. The ability of ATs to efficiently display functional recombinant proteins containing multiple disulfides has remained largely controversial. By employing high-throughput single-cell flow cytometry, we have systematically investigated the ability of the Escherichia coli AT Antigen 43 (Ag43) to display two different recombinant reporter proteins, a single-chain antibody (M18 scFv) that contains two disulfides and chymotrypsin that contains four disulfides, by varying the signal peptide and deleting the different domains of the native protein. Our results indicate that only the C-terminal β-barrel and the threaded α-helix are essential for efficient surface display of functional recombinant proteins containing multiple disulfides. These results imply that there are no inherent constraints for functional translocation and display of disulfide bond-containing proteins mediated by the AT system and should open new avenues for protein display and engineering.

High-throughput Sequencing of the Paired Human Immunoglobulin Heavy and Light Chain Repertoire

Each B-cell receptor consists of a pair of heavy and light chains. High-throughput sequencing can identify large numbers of heavy- and light-chain variable regions (V(H) and V(L)) in a given B-cell repertoire, but information about endogenous pairing of heavy and light chains is lost after bulk lysis of B-cell populations. Here we describe a way to retain this pairing information. In our approach, single B cells (>5 × 10(4) capacity per experiment) are deposited in a high-density microwell plate (125 pl/well) and lysed in situ. mRNA is then captured on magnetic beads, reverse transcribed and amplified by emulsion V(H):V(L) linkage PCR. The linked transcripts are analyzed by Illumina high-throughput sequencing. We validated the fidelity of V(H):V(L) pairs identified by this approach and used the method to sequence the repertoire of three human cell subsets-peripheral blood IgG(+) B cells, peripheral plasmablasts isolated after tetanus toxoid immunization and memory B cells isolated after seasonal influenza vaccination.

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