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RNA, Double-Stranded: RNA consisting of two strands as opposed to the more prevalent single-stranded RNA. Most of the double-stranded segments are formed from transcription of DNA by intramolecular base-pairing of inverted complementary sequences separated by a single-stranded loop. Some double-stranded segments of RNA are normal in all organisms.

RNAi in C. elegans

JoVE 5105

RNA interference (RNAi) is a widely used technique in which double stranded RNA is exogenously introduced into an organism, causing knockdown of a target gene. In the nematode, C. elegans, RNAi is particularly easy and effective because it can be delivered simply by feeding the worms bacteria that express double stranded RNA (dsRNA) that is complementary to a gene of interest. First, this video will introduce the concept of RNA interference and explain how it causes targeted gene knockdown. Then, we will demonstrate a protocol for using RNAi in C. elegans, which includes preparation of the bacteria and RNAi worm plates, culturing of the worms, and how to assess the effects of RNAi on the worms. RNAi is frequently used to perform reverse genetic screens in order to reveal which genes are important to carry out specific biological processes. Furthermore, automated reverse genetic screens allow for the efficient knockdown and analysis of a large collection of genes. Lastly, RNAi is often used to study the development of C. elegans. Since its discovery, scientists have used RNAi to make tremendous progress on the understanding of many biological phenomena.

 Biology I

An Introduction to Transfection

JoVE 5068

Transfection is the process of inserting genetic material, such as DNA and double stranded RNA, into mammalian cells. The insertion of DNA into a cell enables the expression, or production, of proteins using the cells own machinery, whereas insertion of RNA into a cell is used to down-regulate the production of a specific protein by stopping translation. While the site of action for transfected RNA is the cytoplasm, DNA must be transported to the nucleus for effective transfection. There, the DNA can be transiently expressed for a short period of time, or become incorporated into the genomic DNA, where the change is passed on from cell to cell as it divides. This video describes the basics behind chemical mediated transfections and introduces some of the most commonly-used reagents, including charged lipids, polymers, and calcium phosphate. Each step is described from the preparation of cells for transfection through analysis of transfection efficiency. Additionally, the applications section of this video-article describes the use of electroporation and a biolistic transfection as alternative methods for introducing nucleic acid into mammalian cells. It also describes an advanced use of transfection where co-transfection of interfering RNA and DNA are introduced as a way to down-regulate a naturally occurring protein while at the same time producing a

 Basic Methods in Cellular and Molecular Biology


JoVE 5548

Among different methods to evaluate gene expression, the high-throughput sequencing of RNA, or RNA-seq. is particularly attractive, as it can be performed and analyzed without relying on prior available genomic information. During RNA-seq, RNA isolated from samples of interest is used to generate a DNA library, which is then amplified and sequenced. Ultimately, RNA-seq can determine which genes are expressed, the levels of their expression, and the presence of any previously unknown transcripts.Here, JoVE presents the basic principles behind RNA-seq. We then discuss the experimental and analytical steps of a general RNA-seq protocol. Finally, we examine how researchers are currently using RNA-seq, for example, to compare gene expression between different biological samples, or to characterize protein-RNA interactions.


Genetic Screens

JoVE 5542

Genetic screens are critical tools for defining gene function and understanding gene interactions. Screens typically involve mutating genes and then assessing the affected organisms for phenotypes of interest. The process can be “forward”, where mutations are generated randomly to identify unknown genes responsible for the phenotypes, or it can be “reverse”, where specific genes are targeted for mutation to observe what phenotypes are produced.Here, JoVE reviews various types of genetic screens, including those that depend on either loss-of-function or gain-of-function mutations, which respectively decrease or increase the activity of genes. We then explore general protocols for forward and reverse screens in a popular model organism, the nematode worm. Finally, we highlight how screens are applied in research today, for example to better understand gene interactions that may contribute to neurodegenerative diseases.


Cell Cycle Analysis

JoVE 5641

Cell cycle refers to the set of events through which a cell grows, replicates its genome, and ultimately divides into two daughter cells through the process of mitosis. Because the amount of DNA in a cell shows characteristic changes throughout the cycle, techniques known as cell cycle analysis can be used to separate a population of cells according to the different phases of cell cycle they are in, based on their varying DNA content.This video will cover the principles behind cell cycle analysis via DNA-staining. We will review a generalized protocol for performing this staining using bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU, a thymidine analog that is incorporated into newly synthesized DNA strands) and propidium iodide (PI, a DNA dye that stains all DNA), followed by analysis of the stained cells with flow cytometry. During flow cytometry, a single cell suspension of fluorescently labeled cells is passed through an instrument with a laser beam and the fluorescence of each cell is read. We will then discuss how to interpret data from flow cytometric scatter plots, and finally, look at a few applications of this technique.

 Cell Biology

RNA Analysis of Environmental Samples Using RT-PCR

JoVE 10104

Source: Laboratories of Dr. Ian Pepper and Dr. Charles Gerba - Arizona University
Demonstrating Author: Bradley Schmitz

Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) involves the same process as conventional PCR — cycling temperature to amplify nucleic acids. However, while conventional PCR only amplifies deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA), RT-PCR enables the amplification of ribonucleic acids (RNA) through the formation of complementary DNA (cDNA). This enables RNA-based organisms found within the environment to be analyzed utilizing methods and technologies that are designed for DNA. Many viruses found in the environment use RNA as their genetic material. Several RNA-based viral pathogens, such as Norovirus, and indicator organisms, such as pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV), do not have culture-based detection methods for quantification. In order to detect for the presence of these RNA viruses in environmental samples from soil, water, agriculture, etc., molecular assays rely on RT-PCR to convert RNA into DNA. Without RT-PCR, microbiologists would not be able to assay and research numerous RNA-based viruses that pose risks to human and environmental health. RT-PCR can also be employed as a tool to measure microbial activity in the env

 Environmental Microbiology

Plasmid Purification

JoVE 5062

Plasmid purification is a technique used to isolate and purify plasmid DNA from genomic DNA, proteins, ribosomes, and the bacterial cell wall. A plasmid is a small, circular, double-stranded DNA that is used as a carrier of specific DNA molecules. When introduced into a host organism via transformation, a plasmid will be replicated, creating numerous copies of the DNA fragment under study. In this video, a step-by-step generalized procedure is described for how to perform plasmid purification. Plasmid purification includes three basic steps: growth of the bacterial culture, harvesting and lysis of the bacteria, and purification of the plasmid DNA. The video contains an explanation where the plasmid can be found in each step of the protocol and to quantitatively and qualitatively analyze plasmid DNA with a spectrophotometer and/or gel electrophoresis. There are different types of plasmid purification methods available, which are geared toward desired yield, plasmid copy number, and bacterial culture volume.

 Basic Methods in Cellular and Molecular Biology

Quantifying Environmental Microorganisms and Viruses Using qPCR

JoVE 10186

Source: Laboratories of Dr. Ian Pepper and Dr. Charles Gerba - Arizona University
Demonstrating Author: Bradley Schmitz

Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), also known as real-time PCR, is a widely-used molecular technique for enumerating microorganisms in the environment. Prior to this approach, quantifying microorganisms was limited largely to classical culture-based techniques. However, the culturing of microbes from environmental samples can be particularly challenging, and it is generally held that as few as 1 to 10% of the microorganisms present within environmental samples are detectable using these techniques. The advent of qPCR in environmental microbiology research has therefore advanced the field greatly by allowing for more accurate determination of concentrations of microorganisms such as disease-causing pathogens in environmental samples. However, an important limitation of qPCR as an applied microbiological technique is that living, viable populations cannot be differentiated from inactive or non-living populations. This video demonstrates the use of qPCR to detect pepper mild mottle virus from an environmental water sample.

 Environmental Microbiology

Detecting Environmental Microorganisms with the Polymerase Chain Reaction and Gel Electrophoresis

JoVE 10081

Source: Laboratories of Dr. Ian Pepper and Dr. Charles Gerba - Arizona University
Demonstrating Author: Bradley Schmitz

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a technique used to detect microorganisms that are present in soil, water, and atmospheric environments. By amplifying specific sections of DNA, PCR can facilitate the detection and identification of target microorganisms down to the species, strain, and serovar/pathovar level. The technique can also be utilized to characterize entire communities of microorganisms in samples. The culturing of microorganisms in the laboratory using specialized growth media is a long-established technique and remains in use for the detection of microorganisms in environmental samples. Many microbes in the natural environment, while alive, maintain low levels of metabolic activity and/or doubling times and are thus referred to as viable but non-culturable (VBNC) organisms. The use of culture-based techniques alone cannot detect these microbes and, therefore, does not provide a thorough assessment of microbial populations in samples. The use of PCR allows for the detection of culturable microbes, VBNC organisms, and those that are no longer alive or active, as the amplification of genetic sequences does not generally require the pre-enrichment of microorga

 Environmental Microbiology

Primary Neuronal Cultures

JoVE 5214

The complexity of the brain often requires neuroscientists to use a simpler system for experimental manipulations and observations. One powerful approach is to generate a primary culture by dissecting nervous system tissue, dissociating it into single cells, and growing those cells in vitro. Primary cultures make neurons and glia easily accessible to the experimental tools required for techniques like genetic manipulation and time-lapse imaging. Furthermore, these cultures represent a highly controllable environment in which to study complex phenomena such as cell-cell interactions. This video provides an overview of the major steps in producing primary neuronal cultures, which include selecting and dissecting the tissue of interest, mechanically and chemically breaking down the tissue to produce a single cell suspension, plating the cells, and maintaining the cultures in the appropriate media. Several example experiments are also presented to show how cultured cells can be used to investigate protein trafficking, morphological changes, and electrophysiology in living neurons.


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