Protein Extract Preparation and Co-immunoprecipitation from Caenorhabditis elegans

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Co-immunoprecipitation methods are frequently used to study protein-protein interactions. Confirmation of hypothesized protein-protein interactions or identification of new ones can provide invaluable information about the function of a protein of interest. Some of the traditional methods for extract preparation frequently require labor-intensive and time-consuming techniques. Here, a modified extract preparation protocol using a bead mill homogenizer and metal beads is described as a rapid alternative to traditional protein preparation methods. This extract preparation method is compatible with downstream co-immunoprecipitation studies. As an example, the method was used to successfully co-immunoprecipitate two key C. elegans microRNA pathway components that interact with microRNA Argonaute ALG-1: AIN-1, a GW182 homolog, and HRPK-1. This protocol includes descriptions of animal sample collection, extract preparation, extract clarification, and protein immunoprecipitation. The described protocol can be adapted to test for interactions between any two or more endogenous, endogenously tagged, or overexpressed C. elegans proteins in a variety of genetic backgrounds.