The ITS2 Database is a workbench for phylogenetic inference simultaneously considering sequence and secondary structure of the internal transcribed spacer 2. This includes data collection with accurate annotation, structure prediction, multiple sequence-structure alignment and fast tree calculation. In a nutshell, this workbench simplifies first phylogenetic analyses to a few clicks.
Guidelines for computer based structural and functional characterization of protein using the I-TASSER pipeline is described. Starting from query protein sequence, 3D models are generated using multiple threading alignments and iterative structural assembly simulations. Functional inferences are thereafter drawn based on matches to proteins with known structure and functions.
The assembly of a nearfield infrared microscope for imaging protein aggregates is described.
1Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, 2State Key Laboratory of Bioelectronics, Southeast University, 3Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, 4Geriatrics Research, Education and Clinical Center, Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare Center
Electrospinning techniques can create a variety of nanofibrous scaffolds for tissue engineering or other applications. We describe here a procedure to optimize the parameters of the electrospinning solution and apparatus to obtain fibers with the desired morphology and alignment. Common problems and troubleshooting techniques are also presented.
A TIRF Microscopy Technique for Real-time, Simultaneous Imaging of the TCR and its Associated Signaling Proteins
The compartmentalization of proteins either within the plasma membrane or into intracellular locations is one regulatory mechanism that can greatly influence signaling outcomes; hence, to understand signaling it is important to study the spatial and temporal behavior of the proteins involved. We describe here a TIRF microscopy based system to study signal transduction in T cells, but is broadly applicable.
In this protocol, we demonstrate the fabrication of a microactuator array of vertically displaced posts on which the technology is based, and how this base technology can be modified to conduct high-throughput mechanically dynamic cell culture in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional culture paradigms.
Laser axotomy followed by time-lapse imaging is a sensitive way to assay the effects of mutations in C. elegans on axon regeneration. A high quality, but inexpensive, laser ablation system can be easily added to most microscopes. Time lapse imaging over 15 hours requires careful immobilization of the worm.
Construction and Implantation of a Microinfusion System for Sustained Delivery of Neuroactive Agents.
As neuroscience inquiry becomes more sophisticated, investigation of brain structures and circuitry requires improved levels of accuracy and higher resolution. We have developed a method for the preparation and implantation of a chronic infusion system within the brain utilizing a borosilicate microcannula with a tip diameter of 50 microns.
Single Particle Electron Microscopy Reconstruction of the Exosome Complex Using the Random Conical Tilt Method
This article describes a standard method to get a three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of biological macromolecules using negative staining electron microscopy (EM). In this protocol, we explain how to get the 3D structure of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae exosome complex at medium resolution using the random conical tilt reconstruction method (RCT).
Construction of a High Resolution Microscope with Conventional and Holographic Optical Trapping Capabilities
The system described herein employs a traditional optical trap as well as an independent holographic optical trapping line, capable of creating and manipulating multiple traps. This allows for the creation of complex geometric arrangements of refractive particles while also permitting simultaneous high-speed, high-resolution measurements of the activity of biological enzymes.
With its small transparent body, well-documented neuroanatomy and a host of amenable genetic techniques and reagents, C. elegans makes an ideal model organism for in vivo neuronal imaging using relatively simple, low-cost techniques. Here we describe single neuron imaging within intact adult animals using genetically encoded fluorescent calcium indicators.
The analytical ultracentrifuge (AUC) sample cell holds sample and reference buffer and during experiments and is exposed to high vacuum and rotor speeds up to 60,000 rpm. This video will demonstrate the rigorous attention to detail necessary for assembly, loading and alignment of this very important component of an AUC experiment.
We describe the experimental method to deposit nanostructured oxide thin films by nanosecond Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) in the presence of a background gas. By using this method Al-doped ZnO (AZO) films, from compact to hierarchically structured as nano-tree forests, can be deposited.
Gene microarrays are powerful tools in gene expression profiling at a genome-wide level. This technology has application in a variety of biological disciplines including developmental biology and toxicology. In this video, we detail a protocol for global gene expression analysis using a comprehensive oligonucleotide microarray platform for the zebrafish.
The present article describes the steps required to isolate and characterize RNA polymerase fidelity variants of RNA viruses and how to use mutation frequency data to confirm fidelity changes in tissue culture.
Amblyopia is a developmental disorder of the visual cortex that is often accompanied by strong suppression of one eye. We present a new technique for measuring and treating interocular suppression in patients with amblyopia that can be deployed using virtual reality goggles or a portable iPod Touch device.
The procedure for implementing a refractive index sensor for terahertz frequencies based on a grooved parallel-plate waveguide geometry is described here. The method yields a measurement of the refractive index of a small volume of liquid through monitoring of the shift in the resonant frequency of the waveguide structure
Large Scale Non-targeted Metabolomic Profiling of Serum by Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (UPLC-MS)
Non-targeted metabolite profiling by ultra performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS) is a powerful technique to investigate metabolism. This article outlines a typical workflow utilized for non-targeted metabolite profiling of serum including sample organization and preparation, data acquisition, data analysis, quality control, and metabolite identification.
1Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology, Department of Genetics, Washington University School of Medicine, 2Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, 3Department of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine
Pooled DNA sequencing is a fast and cost-effective strategy to detect rare variants associated with complex phenotypes in large cohorts. Here we describe the computational analysis of pooled, next-generation sequencing of 32 cancer-related genes using the SPLINTER software package. This method is scalable, and applicable to any phenotype of interest.
Determination of Molecular Structures of HIV Envelope Glycoproteins using Cryo-Electron Tomography and Automated Sub-tomogram Averaging
1Laboratory of Cell Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, 2The Medical Research Council Mitochondrial Biology Unit, University of Cambridge, 3National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, 4Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 5William Fremd High School, 6University of Virginia, 7Duke University, 8Yale University, 9University of Notre Dame, 10Washington University in St. Louis, 11Bioinformatics and Computational Biosciences Branch, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, 12Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
The protocol describes a high-throughput approach to determining structures of membrane proteins using cryo-electron tomography and 3D image processing. It covers the details of specimen preparation, data collection, data processing and interpretation, and concludes with the production of a representative target for the approach, the HIV-1 Envelope glycoprotein. These computational procedures are designed in a way that enables researchers and students to work remotely and contribute to data processing and structural analysis.
In this video we present the microfluidic probe1 (MFP). We explain in detail how to assemble the MFP, mount it atop an inverted microscope, and align it relative to the substrate surface, and finally show how to use it to process a substrate surface immersed in a buffer solution.
We present a simple method to produce microfluidic devices capable of applying similar dynamic conditions to multiple distinct strains, without the need for a clean room or soft lithography.
Metaphase to anaphase transition is triggered through anaphase-promoting complex (APC/C)-dependent ubiquitination and subsequent destruction of cyclin B. Here, we established a system which, following pulse-chase labeling, allows monitoring cyclin B proteolysis in entire cell populations and facilitates the detection of interference by the mitotic checkpoint.
Visualizing Proteins and Macromolecular Complexes by Negative Stain EM: from Grid Preparation to Image Acquisition
Visualizing protein samples by negative stain electron microscopy (EM) has become a popular structural analysis method. It is useful for quantitative structural analysis, such as calculating a 3D reconstruction of the molecules being studied, and also for qualitative examination of the quality of protein preparations. In this article we present detailed protocols for preparing the EM grids, staining the sample and visualizing the sample in an electron microscope. Novice users can follow these protocols easily and to utilize negative stain EM as a routine assay, in addition to other biochemical assays, for evaluating their protein samples.
Evaluation of Cancer Stem Cell Migration Using Compartmentalizing Microfluidic Devices and Live Cell Imaging
1Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2Materials Science Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 3Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 4Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center and Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison
A compartmentalizing microfluidic device for investigating cancer stem cell migration is described. This novel platform creates a viable cellular microenvironment and enables microscopic visualization of live cell locomotion. Highly motile cancer cells are isolated to study molecular mechanisms of aggressive infiltration, potentially leading to more effective future therapies.
Optical-resolution photoacoustic microscopy (OR-PAM) is an emerging technology capable of imaging optical absorption contrasts in vivo with cellular resolution and sensitivity. Here, we provide a visualized instruction on the experimental protocols of OR-PAM, including system configuration, system alignment, typical in vivo experimental procedures, and functional imaging schemes.
We illustrate the use of a constant force axial optical tweezers to explore the mechanical properties of short DNA molecules. By stretching DNA axially, we minimize steric hindrances and artifacts arising in conventional lateral manipulation, allowing us to study DNA molecules as short as ~100 nm.
Measuring left ventricular pressure (LV) in embryonic and neonatal mice is described. Pressure is measured by inserting a needle connected to a fluid-filled transducer into the LV under ultrasound guidance. Care must be taken to maintain normal cardiac function during the experimental protocol.
Understanding the function of the vertebrate central nervous system requires recordings from many neurons because cortical function arises on the level of populations of neurons. Here we describe an optical method to record suprathreshold neural activity with single-cell and single-spike resolution, dithered random-access scanning. This method records somatic fluorescence calcium signals from up to 100 neurons with high temporal resolution. A maximum-likelihood algorithm deconvolves the underlying suprathreshold neural activity from the somatic fluorescence calcium signals. This method reliably detects spikes with high detection efficiency and a low rate of false positives and can be used to study neural populations in vitro and in vivo.
The Culture of Primary Motor and Sensory Neurons in Defined Media on Electrospun Poly-L-lactide Nanofiber Scaffolds
1Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, 2State Key Laboratory of Bioelectronics, Southeast University, 3Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, 4Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Health System
Aligned electrospun fibers direct the growth of neurons in vitro and are a potential component of nerve regeneration scaffolds. We describe a procedure for preparing electrospun fiber substrates and the serum-free culture of primary rat E15 sensory (DRG) and motor neurons. Visualization of neurons by immunocytochemistry is also included.
We illustrate here how to use electron cryotomography (ECT) to study the ultrastructure of bacterial cells in near-native states, to "macromolecular" (~4 nm) resolution.
We demonstrate fabrication of a simple microfluidic device that can be integrated with standard electrophysiology setups to expose microscale surfaces of a brain slice in a well controlled manner to different neurotransmitters.
1Centre of Excellence in Neuromics, CHUM Research Center and the Department of Medicine, Universite de Montreal, 2Center of Excellence in Neuromics, CHU Sainte Justine and CHUM Notre-Dame Research Centers, Universite de Montreal, 3Department of Medicine, Universite de Montreal
Molecular genetic strategy for finding de novo mutations causing common disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.
RNA-seq Analysis of Transcriptomes in Thrombin-treated and Control Human Pulmonary Microvascular Endothelial Cells
This protocol presents a complete and detailed procedure to apply RNA-seq, a powerful next-generation DNA sequencing technology, to profile transcriptomes in human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells with or without thrombin treatment. This protocol is generalizable to various cells or tissues affected by different reagents or disease states.
We describe the isolation of neonatal cardiomyocytes and the preparation of the cells for encapsulation in fibrin hydrogel constructs for tissue engineering. We describe methods for analyzing the tissue engineered myocardium after the culture period including active force generated upon electrical stimulation and cell viability and immunohistological staining.
The complete construction of a custom, real-time confocal scanning imaging system is described. This system, which can be readily used for video-rate microscopy and microendoscopy, allows for an array of imaging geometries and applications not accessible using standard commercial confocal systems, at a fraction of the cost.
We report a method for introduction, tracking and quantitative analysis of GFP expression in plant cells. This method utilizes a custom-designed robotics system for semi-continuous image collection from large numbers of samples, over time. We also demonstrate the use of ImageJ and ImageReady for analysis of image series.
We present a microfluidic approach for the expression of protein arrays. The device consists of thousands of reaction chambers controlled by micro-mechanical valves. The microfluidic device is mated to a microarray-printed gene library. These genes are then transcribed and translated on-chip, resulting in a protein array ready for experimental use.
Application of Light-cured Dental Adhesive Resin for Mounting Electrodes or Microdialysis Probes in Chronic Experiments
In this report, we propose a new application of light-curing dental resins for mounting base of electrodes or microdialysis probes in chronic experiments. This material allows direct bonding to the cranium.
1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, 2Graduate School of Biological Sciences, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, 3Shared Resource-DNA/RNA Peptide, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope
Several 2’-Fluoro RNA aptamers against HIV-1Ba-L gp120 with nanomole affinity are isolated from a RNA library by in vitro SELEX procedure. A new dual inhibitory function anti-gp120 aptamer-siRNA chimera is created and shows considerable promise for systemic anti-HIV therapy.
Corneal Confocal Microscopy: A Novel Non-invasive Technique to Quantify Small Fibre Pathology in Peripheral Neuropathies
Corneal Confocal microscopy is a non-invasive clinical technique which may be used to quantify C fibre damage to diagnose and stratify patients with increasing neuropathic severity.
We demonstrate protocols for manufacturing and automating elastomeric polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)-based microvalve arrays that need no extra energy to close and feature photolithographically defined precise volumes. A parallel subnanoliter-volume mixer and an integrated microfluidic perfusion system are presented.
We developed the Visual-Motor Response to quantitate the motor output of larval zebrafish in response to light increments and decrements. We also examined zebrafish vision mutants, including the no optokinetic response (nrc) mutants, which were thought to be completely blind when tested by another vision assay, the optokinetic reflex.
Patterned Photostimulation with Digital Micromirror Devices to Investigate Dendritic Integration Across Branch Points
Digital micromirror devices (DMD) can generate complex patterns in time and space with which to control neuronal excitability. Issues relevant to the design, construction, and operation of DMD systems are discussed. Such a system enabled the demonstration of non-linear integration across distal dendritic branch points.
A minimally invasive protocol to stabilize the mouse spinal column and perform repetitive in vivo spinal cord imaging using two-photon microscopy is described. This method combines a spinal stabilization device and an anesthetic regimen to minimize respiratory-induced movements and produce raw imaging data that require no alignment or other post-processing.
A standard approach to prepare adult Drosophila eyes for semi-thin sectioning and light microscopic analysis is presented here. The protocol can be used for gross morphological analysis of eye defects, or with the indicated adjustments can be used to determine genetic requirements of genes in specific cell types of the eye (e.g. clonal analysis of photoreceptors) or for electron microscopic analysis.
Near Infrared Optical Projection Tomography for Assessments of β-cell Mass Distribution in Diabetes Research
1Umeå Centre for Molecular Medicine, Umeå University, 2Cell Transplant Center, Diabetes Research Institute, University of Miami,, 3EMBL-CRG Systems Biology Program, Centre for Genomic Regulation, Catalan Institute of Research and Advanced Studies, 4Dept. of Computing Science, Umeå University
We describe the adaptation of optical projection tomography (OPT)1 to imaging in the near infrared spectrum, and the implementation of a number of computational tools. These protocols enable assessments of pancreatic β-cell mass (BCM) in larger specimens, increase the multichannel capacity of the technique and increase the quality of OPT data.
Untargeted Metabolomics from Biological Sources Using Ultraperformance Liquid Chromatography-High Resolution Mass Spectrometry (UPLC-HRMS)
Untargeted metabolomics provides a hypothesis generating snapshot of a metabolic profile. This protocol will demonstrate the extraction and analysis of metabolites from cells, serum, or tissue. A range of metabolites are surveyed using liquid-liquid phase extraction, microflow ultraperformance liquid chromatography/high-resolution mass spectrometry (UPLC-HRMS) coupled to differential analysis software.
Engineering Skeletal Muscle Tissues from Murine Myoblast Progenitor Cells and Application of Electrical Stimulation
Engineered muscle tissue has great potential in regenerative medicine, as disease model and also as an alternative source for meat. Here we describe the engineering of a muscle construct, in this case from mouse myoblast progenitor cells, and the stimulation by electrical pulses.
The generation of aligned myocardial tissue is a key requirement for adapting the recent advances in stem cell biology to clinically useful purposes. Herein we describe a microcontact printing approach for the precise control of cell shape and function. Using highly purified populations of embryonic stem cell derived cardiac progenitors, we then generate anisotropic functional myocardial tissue.