Robert Huber, 1988 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, looks to the rising generation of scientists for an “Einstein of biology” to solve the folding problem, one of sciences great mysteries.
Using High Resolution Computed Tomography to Visualize the Three Dimensional Structure and Function of Plant Vasculature
1U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2Department of Viticulture and Enology, University of California - Davis, 3Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, University of Western Sydney, 4Advanced Light Source, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, 5Citrus Research & Education Center, University of Florida
High resolution x-ray computed tomography (HRCT) is a non-destructive diagnostic imaging technique that can be used to study the structure and function of plant vasculature in 3D. We demonstrate how HRCT facilitates exploration of xylem networks across a wide range of plant tissues and species.
The demonstration of the small and wide angle X-ray scattering (SWAXS) procedure has become instrumental in the study of biological macromolecules. Through the use of the instrumentation and procedures of specific angle methods and preparation, the experimental data from the SWAXS displays the atomic and nano-scale characterization of macromolecules.
1Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State University, 2Department of Mechanical Engineering, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 3Center for Biophotonics, University of California, Davis
In this work we explain the fabrication and use of a microfluidic mixer capable of mixing two solutions in ~8 μs. We also demonstrate the use of these mixers with spectroscopic detection using UV fluorescence and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET).
Collecting Variable-concentration Isothermal Titration Calorimetry Datasets in Order to Determine Binding Mechanisms
ITC is a powerful tool for studying the binding of a ligand to its host. In complex systems however, several models may fit the data equally well. The method described here provides a means to elucidate the appropriate binding model for complex systems and extract the corresponding thermodynamic parameters.
A Convenient and General Expression Platform for the Production of Secreted Proteins from Human Cells
In the post-human genomics era, the availability of recombinant proteins in native conformations is crucial to structural, functional and therapeutic research and development. Here, we describe a test- and large-scale protein expression system in human embryonic kidney 293T cells that can be used to produce a variety of recombinant proteins.
Cellular viability depends on timely and efficient management of protein misfolding. Here we describe a method for visualizing the different potential fates of a misfolded protein: refolding, degradation, or sequestration in inclusions. We demonstrate the use of a folding sensor, Ubc9ts, for monitoring proteostasis and aggregation quality control in live cells using 4D microscopy.
Mass spectrometry has proven to be a valuable tool for analyzing large protein complexes. This method enables insights into the composition, stoichiometry and overall architecture of multi-subunit assemblies. Here, we describe, step-by-step, how to perform a structural mass spectrometry analysis, and characterize macromolecular structures.
Ion mobility-mass spectrometry is an emerging gas-phase technology that separates ions, based on their collision cross-section and mass. The method provides three-dimensional information on the overall topology and shape of protein complexes. Here, we outline a basic procedure for instrument setting and optimization, calibration of drift times, and data interpretation.
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).
We describe a qualitative assay to monitor bacterial competition mediated by the Pseudomonas aeruginosa type VI secretion system (T6SS). The assay relies on the survival/killing of Escherichia coli target cells carrying a lacZ-reporter. This technique is adjustable to assess the bactericidal/bacteriostasis activity of T6SS-proficient microorganisms.
A suite of colorimetric assays is described for rapidly distinguishing protein, RNA, DNA, and reducing sugars in potentially heterogeneous biomolecular samples.
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.
Expression and Purification of the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator Protein in Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Attempts to express the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae have, until now, yielded relatively low amounts of protein. This protocol and the associated reagents distributed via the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation should allow the preparation of milligram amounts of this 'difficult' eukaryotic membrane protein.
Assessing Two-dimensional Crystallization Trials of Small Membrane Proteins for Structural Biology Studies by Electron Crystallography
Evaluating two-dimensional (2D) crystallization trials for the formation of ordered membrane protein arrays is a highly critical and difficult task in electron crystallography. Here we describe our approach in screening for and identifying 2D crystals of predominantly small membrane proteins in the range of 15 – 90kDa.
Here are some highlights from the October 2011 Issue of Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE).
Here are some highlights from the December 2011 Issue of Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE).
We describe a super-resolution imaging method to probe the structural organization of the bacterial FtsZ-ring, an essential apparatus for cell division. This method is based on quantitative analyses of photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM) images and can be applied to other bacterial cytoskeletal proteins.
This protocol demonstrates how to perform immunohistochemistry on dissected Drosophila larva.
The protocols describe the essential steps for obtaining diffraction quality crystals of a membrane protein starting from reconstitution of the protein in a lipidic cubic phase (LCP), finding initial conditions with LCP-FRAP pre-crystallization assays, setting up LCP crystallization trials and harvesting crystals.
Crystal structure of protein–DNA complexes can provide insight into protein function, mechanism, as well as, the nature of the specific interaction. Here, we report how to optimize the length, sequence and ends of duplex DNA for co-crystallization with Escherichia coli SeqA, a negative regulator of replication initiation.
Structure of HIV-1 Capsid Assemblies by Cryo-electron Microscopy and Iterative Helical Real-space Reconstruction
This article describes a method to obtain a three-dimensional (3D) structure of helically assembled molecules using cryo-electron microscopy. In this protocol, we use HIV-1 capsid assemblies to illustrate the detailed 3D reconstruction procedure for achieving a density map by the iterative helical real-space reconstruction method.
1Department of Integrative Oncology, BC Cancer Research Centre, 2Interdisciplinary Oncology Program, University of British Columbia - UBC, 3Photography/Video Production, Multi-Media Services, BC Cancer Agency, 4Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia - UBC
This video demonstrates the protocol for DNA extraction from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded material. This is a multi-day procedure in which tissue sections are deparaffinized with xylene, rehydrated with ethanol and treated with proteinase K to purify and isolate DNA for subsequent gene-specific or genome-wide analysis.
1Department of Biomedical Science, Cornell University, 2Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, 3Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, 4Department of Computer Science, Cornell University
We present a non-destructive method for sampling spatial variation in the direction of light scattered from structurally complex materials. By keeping the material intact, we preserve gross-scale scattering behavior, while concurrently capturing fine-scale directional contributions with high-resolution imaging. Results are visualized in software at biologically-relevant positions and scales.
A method for large-scale purification of the APP intracellular domain (AICD) is described. We also describe methodology to induce in vitro AICD aggregation and visualization by atomic force microscopy. The methods described are useful for biochemical/structural characterization of the AICD and the effects of molecular chaperones on its aggregation.
Quantitative FRET (Förster Resonance Energy Transfer) Analysis for SENP1 Protease Kinetics Determination
A novel method involving quantitative analysis of FRET (Förster Resonance Energy Transfer) signals is described for studying enzyme kinetics. KM and kcat were obtained for the hydrolysis of the catalytic domain of SENP1 (SUMO/Sentrin specific protease 1) to pre-SUMO1 (Small Ubiquitin-like MOdifier). The general principles of this quantitative-FRET-based protease kinetic study can be applied to other proteases.
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.
The neuromuscular junction (NMJ) of Drosophila melanogaster is an important model system for studying normal synaptic function as well as perturbations to synaptic function found in certain neurological diseases. We present a protocol for dissection of the Drosophila larval motor system and immunostaining for active zone proteins within the NMJ.
This video shows an effective technique for differentiating and dissecting the various semi-transparent structures of the human vitreous body in post mortem eyes.
An injury paradigm using the Drosophila larval ventral nerve cord to investigate central nervous system regeneration and repair is described. Stabbing followed by laser scanning confocal microscopy in time-lapse and fixed specimens, combined with quantitative analysis with purposefully developed software and genetics, are used to investigate the molecular mechanisms of CNS regeneration and repair.
1Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine - Yeshiva University, 2Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine - Yeshiva University, 3Hubrecht Institute-KNAW and University Medical Center Utrecht
Intravital photoswitching and tracking of Dendra2-labeled tumor cells through the Mammary Imaging Window is a technique which allows us to image the metastatic behavior of tumor cells in chosen tumor microenvironments over a timescale of days.
The opener muscle of the crayfish leg is presented for its historical importance and experimental versatility in muscle phenotype, synaptic physiology and plasticity.
We present a protocol to produce antigen-specific mouse T-cells using retroviral transduction
1Greehey Children's Cancer Research Institute, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 2Small Animal Imaging Resources facility, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 3Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 4Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Contrast enhanced small animal vessel imaging by microCT is a rapid, cost-effective and high-throughput technique for serial in situ examination for tumor development, for analyzing the network of blood vessels that nourish them, and for following the response of tumors to preclinical therapeutic intervention(s).
A formal demonstration of the dissection of a mouse eye, resulting in a whole mount of the retinal pigment epithelium.
Biophysical and biochemical studies of interactions among membrane-embedded protein domains face many technical challenges, the first of which is obtaining appropriate study material. This article describes a protocol for producing and purifying disulfide-stabilized transmembrane peptide complexes that are suitable for structural analysis by solution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and other analytical applications.
A 3D system of culturing human articular chondrocytes in high levels of synovial fluid is described. Synovial fluid reflects the most natural microenvironment for articular cartilage, and can be easily obtained and stored. This system thus can be used for studying cartilage regeneration and for screening therapeutics for treating arthritis.
Radical-based biomimetic chemistry has been applied to building-up libraries necessary for biomarker development.
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.
Herein is described the procedure implemented in the Caffrey Membrane Structural and Functional Biology Group to set up manually crystallization trials of membrane proteins in lipidic mesophases.
Modeling Biological Membranes with Circuit Boards and Measuring Electrical Signals in Axons: Student Laboratory Exercises
This is a demonstration of how biological membranes can be understood using electrical models. We also demonstrate procedures for recording action potentials from the ventral nerve cord of the crayfish for student orientated laboratories.
Here we describe an efficient strategy to remove the silk-producing glands from the abdomen of female black widow spiders. This procedure allows the rapid isolation of the seven distinct silk-producing glands in a highly purified fashion, an important process for investigators studying spider silk production and fiber assembly.
1UMR CNRS 5557 Ecologie Microbienne, Université Lyon 1, Université de Lyon, 2Département Biosciences, INSA de Lyon, Université de Lyon, 3INSERM U758, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Université de Lyon, 4Laboratoire de Génie Civil et Ingénierie Environnementale, INSA de Lyon, Université de Lyon
The design of a synthetic operon encoding both the secretory apparatus and the structural monomers of curli fibers is described. Overproduction of these amyloids and adherent polymers allows a measurable gain of adherence of the E. coli chassis1. Easy ways to visualize and quantify adherence are explained.
Uncoating is an essential step in the early phase of the HIV-1 life cycle and is defined as the disassembly of the capsid shell and the release of the viral ribonucleoprotein complex (vRNP). Here, we demonstrate techniques for isolating intact cores from HIV-1 virions and for quantifying their uncoating in vitro.
Astrocytes have been recognized to be versatile cells participating in fundamental biological processes that are essential for normal brain development and function, and central nervous system repair. Here we present a rapid procedure to obtain pure mouse astrocyte cultures to study the biology of this major class of central nervous system cells.
The activity of the inducible lysine decarboxylase is monitored by reacting the substrate L-lysine and the product cadaverine with 2,4,6-trinitrobenzensulfonic acid to form adducts that have differential solubility in toluene.
1Undergraduate Program, Rice University, 2Proteomics Facility, Department of Pathology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 3Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 4University of Texas Graduate School of Biological Sciences at Houston
A specific and sensitive method to gain insight into the expression profile of glycosphingolipid antigens in immune organs and cells is described. The method takes advantage of the ion trap mass spectrometry allowing step-wise fragmentation of glycosphingolipid molecules for structural analysis in comparison to chemically synthesized standards.
A methodology to estimate ventricular fiber orientations from in vivo images of patient heart geometries for personalized modeling is described. Validation of the methodology performed using normal and failing canine hearts demonstrate that that there are no significant differences between estimated and acquired fiber orientations at a clinically observable level.
The dissection technique illustrates evisceration of the vitreous, retina, and lens from the mouse eye, separation by centrifugation, and characterization with protein assays.
This study describes a method that allows the rapid and clear diagnosis of plant virus diseases in about half a day by using a combination of microwave assisted plant sample preparation for transmission electron microscopy and negative staining methods.