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  • Affinity Network Fusion and Semi-supervised Learning for Cancer Patient Clustering
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-05-26
    Tianle Ma, Aidong Zhang

    Defining subtypes of complex diseases such as cancer and stratifying patient groups with the same disease but different subtypes for targeted treatments is important for personalized and precision medicine. Approaches that incorporate multi-omic data are more advantageous to those using only one data type for patient clustering and disease subtype discovery. However, it is challenging to integrate multi-omic data as they are heterogeneous and noisy. In this paper, we present Affinity Network Fusion (ANF) to integrate multi-omic data for patient clustering. ANF first constructs patient affinity networks for each omic data type, and then calculates a fused network for spectral clustering. We applied ANF to a processed harmonized cancer dataset downloaded from GDC data portal consisting of 2193 patients, and generated promising results on clustering patients into correct disease types. Moreover, we developed a semi-supervised model combining ANF and neural network for few-shot learning. In several cases, the model can achieve greater than 90% acccuracy on test set with training less than 1% of the data. This demonstrates the power of ANF in learning a good representation of patients, and shows the great potential of semi-supervised learning in cancer patient clustering.

  • Statistical Selection of Biological Models for Genome-Wide Association Analyses
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-05-25
    Wenjian Bi, Guolian Kang, Stanley B. Pounds

    Genome-wide association studies have discovered many biologically important associations of genes with phenotypes. Typically, genome-wide association analyses formally test the association of each genetic feature (SNP, CNV, etc) with the phenotype of interest and summarize the results with multiplicity-adjusted p-values. However, very small p-values only provide evidence against the null hypothesis of no association without indicating which biological model best explains the observed data. Correctly identifying a specific biological model may improve the scientific interpretation and can be used to more effectively select and design a follow-up validation study. Thus, statistical methodology to identify the correct biological model for a particular genotype-phenotype association can be very useful to investigators. Here, we propose a general statistical method to summarize how accurately each of five biological models (null, additive, dominant, recessive, co-dominant) represents the data observed for each variant in a GWAS study. We show that the new method stringently controls the false discovery rate and asymptotically selects the correct biological model. Simulations of two-stage discovery-validation studies show that the new method has these properties and that its validation power is similar to or exceeds that of simple methods that use the same statistical model for all SNPs. Example analyses of three data sets also highlight these advantages of the new method. An R package is freely available at www.stjuderesearch.org/site/depts/biostats/maew.

  • 5C-ID: Increased resolution Chromosome-Conformation-Capture-Carbon-Copy with in situ 3C and double alternating primer design
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-05-24
    Ji Hun Kim, Katelyn R. Titus, Wanfeng Gong, Jonathan A. Beagan, Zhendong Cao, Jennifer E. Phillips-Cremins

    Mammalian genomes are folded in a hierarchy of compartments, topologically associating domains (TADs), subTADs, and looping interactions. Currently, there is a great need to evaluate the link between chromatin topology and genome function across many biological conditions and genetic perturbations. Hi-C can generate genome-wide maps of looping interactions but is intractable for high-throughput comparison of loops across multiple conditions due to the enormous number of reads (>6 Billion) required per library. Here, we describe 5C-ID, a new version of Chromosome-Conformation-Capture-Carbon-Copy (5C) with restriction digest and ligation performed in the nucleus (in situ Chromosome-Conformation-Capture (3C)) and ligation-mediated amplification performed with a double alternating primer design. We demonstrate that 5C-ID produces higher-resolution 3D genome folding maps with reduced spatial noise using markedly lower cell numbers than canonical 5C. 5C-ID enables the creation of high-resolution, high-coverage maps of chromatin loops in up to a 30 Megabase subset of the genome at a fraction of the cost of Hi-C.

  • Storage, Visualization, and Navigation of 3D genomics data
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-05-22
    Jérôme Waldispühl, Eric Zhang, Alexander Butyaev, Elena Nazarova, Yan Cyr

    The field of 3D genomics grew at increasing rates in the last decade. The volume and complexity of 2D and 3D data produced is progressively outpacing the capacities of the technology previously used for distributing genome sequences. The emergence of new technologies provides also novel opportunities for the development of innovative approaches. In this paper, we review the state-of-the-art computing technology, as well as the solutions adopted by the platforms currently available.

  • Affinity capillary electrophoresis for studying interactions in life sciences
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-05-19
    Mais Olabi, Matthias Stein, Hermann Wätzig

    Affinity capillary electrophoresis (ACE) analyzes noncovalent interactions between ligands and analytes based on changes in their electrophoretic mobility. This technique has been widely used to investigate various biomolecules, mainly proteins, polysaccharides and hormones. ACE is becoming a technique of choice to validate high throughput screening results, since it is very predictively working in realistic and relevant media, e.g. in body fluids. It is highly recommended to incorporate ACE as a powerful analytical tool to properly prepare animal testing and preclinical studies. The interacting molecules can be found free in solution or can be immobilized to a solid support. Thus, ACE is classified in two modes, free solution ACE and immobilized ACE. Every ACE mode has advantages and disadvantages. Each can be used for a variety of applications. This review covers literature of scopus and SciFinder data base in the period from 2016 until beginning 2018, including the keywords “affinity capillary electrophoresis”, “immunoaffinity capillary electrophoresis”, “immunoassay capillary electrophoresis” and “immunosorbent capillary electrophoresis”. More than 200 articles have been found and 112 have been selected and thoroughly discussed. During this period, the data processing and the underlying calculations in mobility shift ACE (ms ACE), frontal analysis ACE (FA ACE) and plug-plug kinetic capillary electrophoresis (ppKCE) as mostly applied free solution techniques have substantially improved. The range of applications in diverse free solution and immobilized ACE techniques has been considerably broadened.

  • Installation, validation, and application examples of two instrumental setups for gas-phase HDX-MS analysis of peptides and proteins
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-05-18
    Ulrik H. Mistarz, Kasper D. Rand

    Gas-phase hydrogen/deuterium exchange measured by mass spectrometry in a millisecond timeframe after ESI (gas-phase HDX-MS) is a fast and sensitive, yet unharnessed method to analyze the primary- and higher-order structure, intramolecular and intermolecular interactions, surface properties, and charge location of peptides and proteins. During a gas-phase HDX-MS experiment, heteroatom-bound non-amide hydrogens are made to exchange with deuterium during a millisecond timespan after electrospray ionization (ESI) by reaction with the highly basic reagent ND3, enabling conformational analysis of protein states that are pertinent to the native solution-phase. Here, we describe two different instrumental approaches to enable gas-phase HDX-MS for analysis of peptides and proteins on high-resolution Q-TOF mass spectrometers. We include a description of the procedure and equipment required for successful installation as well as suggested procedures for testing, validation, and troubleshooting of a gas-phase HDX-MS setup. In the two described approaches, gas-phase HDX-MS are performed either immediately after ESI in the cone exit region by leading N2-gas over a deuterated ND3/D2O solution, or by leading purified ND3-gas into different traveling wave ion guides (TWIG) of the mass spectrometer. We envision that a detailed description of the two gas-phase HDX-MS setups and their practical implementation and validation can pave the way for gas-phase HDX-MS to become a more routinely used MS technique for structural analysis of peptides and proteins.

  • The fine art of integral membrane protein crystallisation
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-05-18
    James Birch, Danny Axford, James Foadi, Arne Meyer, Annette Eckardt, Yvonne Thielmann, Isabel Moraes

    Integral membrane proteins are among the most fascinating and important biomolecules as they play a vital role in many biological functions. Knowledge of their atomic structures is fundamental to the understanding of their biochemical function and key in many drug discovery programs. However, over the years, structure determination of integral membrane proteins has proven to be far from trivial, hence they are underrepresented in the protein data bank. Low expression levels, insolubility and instability are just a few of the many hurdles one faces when studying these proteins. X-ray crystallography has been the most used method to determine atomic structures of membrane proteins. However, the production of high quality membrane protein crystals is always very challenging, often seen more as art than a rational experiment. Here we review valuable approaches, methods and techniques to successful membrane protein crystallisation.

  • Evaluating the susceptibility of AGO2-loaded microRNAs to degradation by nucleases in vitro
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-05-17
    Reyad Elbarbary, Lynne E. Maquat

    MicroRNAs (miRNAs) comprise a class of small non-coding RNAs that regulate the stability and/or translatability of most protein-coding transcripts. Steady-state levels of mature miRNAs can be controlled through mechanisms that influence their biogenesis and/or decay rates. Pathways that mediate mature miRNA decay are less well understood than those that mediate miRNA biogenesis. We recently described Tudor-staphylococcal/micrococcal-like nuclease (TSN)-mediated miRNA decay (TumiD) as a cellular pathway that promotes the sequence-specific endonucleolytic decay of miRNAs that harbor a CA and/or UA dinucleotide. Here, we describe an in vitro assay for evaluating the susceptibility of AGO2-loaded miRNAs to degradation by different classes of nucleases. This in vitro approach can be used to complement in vivo studies that aim to identify novel miRNA decay factors.

  • POST: a framework for set-based association analysis in high-dimensional data ☆
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-05-17
    Xueyuan Cao, E. Olusegun George, Mingjuan Wang, Dale B. Armstrong, Cheng Cheng, Susana Raimondi, Jeffrey E. Rubnitz, James R. Downing, Mondira Kundu, Stanley B. Pounds

    Evaluating the differential expression of a set of genes belonging to a common biological process or ontology has proven to be a very useful tool for biological discovery. However, existing gene-set association methods are limited to applications that evaluate differential expression across k⩾2 k ⩾ 2 treatment groups or biological categories. This limitation precludes researchers from most effectively evaluating the association with other phenotypes that may be more clinically meaningful, such as quantitative variables or censored survival time variables. Projection onto the Orthogonal Space Testing (POST) is proposed as a general procedure that can robustly evaluate the association of a gene-set with several different types of phenotypic data (categorical, ordinal, continuous, or censored). For each gene-set, POST transforms the gene profiles into a set of eigenvectors and then uses statistical modeling to compute a set of z-statistics that measure the association of each eigenvector with the phenotype. The overall gene-set statistic is the sum of squared z-statistics weighted by the corresponding eigenvalues. Finally, bootstrapping is used to compute a p-value. POST may evaluate associations with or without adjustment for covariates. In simulation studies, it is shown that the performance of POST in evaluating the association with a categorical phenotype is similar to or exceeds that of existing methods. In evaluating the association of 875 biological processes with the time to relapse of pediatric acute myeloid leukemia, POST identified the well-known oncogenic WNT signaling pathway as its top hit. These results indicate that POST can be a very useful tool for evaluating the association of a gene-set with a variety of different phenotypes. We have developed an R package named POST which is freely available in Bioconductor.

  • Bifunctional cross-linking approaches for mass spectrometry-based investigation of nucleic acids and protein-nucleic acid assemblies
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-05-10
    M. Scalabrin, S.M. Dixit, M.M. Makshood, C.E. Krzemien, Daniele Fabris

    With the goal of expanding the very limited toolkit of cross-linking agents available for nucleic acids and their protein complexes, we evaluated the merits of a wide range of bifunctional agents that may be capable of reacting with the functional groups characteristic of these types of biopolymers. The survey specifically focused on the ability of test reagents to produce desirable inter-molecular conjugates, which could reveal the identity of interacting components and the position of mutual contacts, while also considering a series of practical criteria for their utilization as viable nucleic acid probes. The survey employed models consisting of DNA, RNA, and corresponding protein complexes to mimic as close as possible typical applications. Denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) and mass spectrometric (MS) analyses were implemented in concert to monitor the formation of the desired conjugates. In particular, the former was used as a rapid and inexpensive tool for the efficient evaluation of cross-linker activity under a broad range of experimental conditions. The latter was applied after preliminary rounds of reaction optimization to enable full-fledged product characterization and, more significantly, differentiation between mono-functional and intra- versus inter-molecular conjugates. This information provided the feedback necessary to further optimize reaction conditions and explain possible outcomes. Among the reagents tested in the study, platinum complexes and nitrogen mustards manifested the most favorable characteristics for practical cross-linking applications, whereas other compounds provided inferior yields, or produced rather unstable conjugates that did not survive the selected analytical conditions. The observed outcomes will help guide the selection of the most appropriate cross-linking reagent for a specific task, whereas the experimental conditions described here will provide an excellent starting point for approaching these types of applications. As a whole, the results of the survey clearly emphasize that finding a universal reagent, which may afford excellent performance with all types of nucleic acid substrates, will require extending the exploration beyond the traditional chemistries employed to modify the constitutive functional groups of these vital biopolymers.

  • NMR-based investigations into target DNA search processes of proteins
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-05-10
    Junji Iwahara, Levani Zandarashvili, Catherine A. Kemme, Alexandre Esadze

    To perform their function, transcription factors and DNA-repair/modifying enzymes must first locate their targets in the vast presence of nonspecific, but structurally similar sites on genomic DNA. Before reaching their targets, these proteins stochastically scan DNA and dynamically move from one site to another on DNA. Solution NMR spectroscopy provides unique atomic-level insights into the dynamic DNA-scanning processes, which are difficult to gain by any other experimental means. In this review, we provide an introductory overview on the NMR methods for the structural, dynamic, and kinetic investigations of target DNA search by proteins. We also discuss advantages and disadvantages of these NMR methods over other methods such as single-molecule techniques and biochemical approaches.

  • Efficient computation of co-transcriptional RNA-ligand interaction dynamics
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-05-04
    Michael T. Wolfinger, Christoph Flamm, Ivo L. Hofacker

    Riboswitches form an abundant class of cis-regulatory RNA elements that mediate gene expression by binding a small metabolite. For synthetic biology applications, they are becoming cheap and accessible systems for selectively triggering transcription or translation of downstream genes. Many riboswitches are kinetically controlled, hence knowledge of their co-transcriptional mechanisms is essential. We present here an efficient implementation for analyzing co-transcriptional RNA-ligand interaction dynamics. This approach allows for the first time to model concentration-dependent metabolite binding/unbinding kinetics. We exemplify this novel approach by means of the recently studied I-A 2’-deoxyguanosine (2’dG)-sensing riboswitch from Mesoplasma florum.

  • Iteratively improving Hi-C experiments one step at a time
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-30
    Rosela Golloshi, Jacob Sanders, Rachel Patton McCord

    The 3D organization of eukaryotic chromosomes affects key processes such as gene expression, DNA replication, cell division, and response to DNA damage. The genome-wide chromosome conformation capture (Hi-C) approach can characterize the landscape of 3D genome organization by measuring interaction frequencies between all genomic regions. Hi-C protocol improvements and rapid advances in DNA sequencing power have made Hi-C useful to study diverse biological systems, not only to elucidate the role of 3D genome structure in proper cellular function, but also to characterize genomic rearrangements, assemble new genomes, and consider chromatin interactions as potential biomarkers for diseases. Yet, the Hi-C protocol is still complex and subject to variations at numerous steps that can affect the resulting data. Thus, there is still a need for better understanding and control of factors that contribute to Hi-C experiment success and data quality. Here, we evaluate recently proposed Hi-C protocol modifications as well as often overlooked variables in sample preparation and examine their effects on Hi-C data quality. We examine artifacts that can occur during Hi-C library preparation, including microhomology-based artificial template copying and chimera formation that can add noise to the downstream data. Exploring the mechanisms underlying Hi-C artifacts pinpoints steps that should be further optimized in the future. To improve the utility of Hi-C in characterizing the 3D genome of specialized populations of cells or small samples of primary tissue, we identify steps prone to DNA loss which should be considered to adapt Hi-C to lower cell numbers.

  • Gut metabolome meets microbiome: A methodological perspective to understand the relationship between host and microbe
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-30
    Santosh Lamichhane, Partho Sen, Alex M. Dickens, Matej Orešič, Hanne Christine Bertram

    It is well established that gut microbes and their metabolic products regulate host metabolism. The interactions between the host and its gut microbiota are highly dynamic and complex. In this review we present and discuss the metabolomic strategies to study the gut microbial ecosystem. We highlight the metabolic profiling approaches to study faecal samples aimed at deciphering the metabolic product derived from gut microbiota. We also discuss how metabolomics data can be integrated with metagenomics data derived from gut microbiota and how such approaches may lead to better understanding of the microbial functions. Finally, the emerging approaches of genome-scale metabolic modelling to study microbial co-metabolism and host–microbe interactions are highlighted.

  • Selective recovery of RNAs from bacterial pathogens after their internalization by human host cells
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-27
    Simon Raynaud, Hélène LePabic, Brice Felden

    Selective RNA extractions are required when studying bacterial gene expression within complex mixtures of pathogens and human cells, during adhesion, internalization and survival within the host. New technologies should be developed and implemented to enrich the amount of bacterial RNAs since the majority of RNAs are from the eukaryotic host cells, requiring high read depth coverage to capture the bacterial transcriptomes in dual-RNAseq studies. This will improve our understanding about bacterial adaptation to the host cell defenses, and about how they will adapt to an intracellular life. Here we present an RNA extraction protocol to selectively enrich the lowest bacterial RNA fraction from a mixture of human and bacterial cells, using Zirconium beads, with minimal RNA degradation. Zirconium beads have higher capacity to extract bacterial RNAs than glass beads after pathogen internalization. We optimized the beads size and composition for an optimal bacterial lysis and RNA extraction. The protocol was validated on two human cell lines, differentiated macrophages and osteoblasts, with either Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus) or -negative (Salmonella typhimurium) bacteria. Relative to other published protocols, yield of total RNA recovery was significantly improved, while host cell infection was performed with a lower bacterial inoculum. Within the host, bacterial RNA recovery yields were about six-fold lower than an RNA extraction from pure bacteria, but the quality of the RNA recovered was essentially similar. Bacterial RNA recovery was more efficient for S. aureus than for S. typhimurium, probably due to their higher protection by the Gram positive cell walls during the early step of eukaryotic cell lysis. These purified bacterial RNAs allow subsequent genes expression studies in the course of host cell-bacteria interactions.

  • Mass Spectrometry Approaches to Metabolic Profiling of Microbial Communities within the Human Gastrointestinal Tract
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-26
    Simon JS Cameron, Zoltán Takáts

    The interaction between microbial communities and their environment, such as the human gastrointestinal tract, has been an area of microbiology rapidly advanced, by developments in sequencing technology. However, these techniques are largely limited to the detection of the taxonomic composition of a microbial community and/or its genetic functional capacity. Here, we discuss a range of mass spectrometry-based approaches which researchers can employ to explore the host-microbiome interactions at the metabolic level. Traditional approaches to mass spectrometry are detailed, alongside new developments in the field, namely ambient ionisation mass spectrometry and imaging mass spectrometry, which we believe will prove to be important to future work in this field. We further discuss considerations for experimental workflows, data analysis options and propose a methodology for the establishment of causal relationships between functional host-microbiome interactions with regards to health and disease in the human gastrointestinal tract.

  • Contemporary Hydrogen Deuterium Exchange Mass Spectrometry
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-26
    Irina Oganesyan, Cristina Lento, Derek J. Wilson

    Hydrogen/deuterium exchange (HDX) mass spectrometry (MS) emerged as a tool for biochemistry and structural biology around 25 years ago. It has since become a key approach for studying protein dynamics, protein-ligand interactions, membrane proteins and intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs). In HDX labeling, proteins are exposed to deuterated solvent (usually D2O) for a variable ‘labeling time’, resulting in isotope exchange of unprotected labile protons on the amide backbone and amino acid side chains. By comparing the levels of deuterium uptake in different regions of a protein, information on conformational and dynamic changes in the system can be acquired. When coupled with MS, HDX is suitable for probing allosteric effects in catalysis and ligand binding, epitope mapping, validation of biosimilars, drug candidate screening and mapping membrane-protein interactions among many other bioanalytical applications. This review introduces HDX-MS via a brief description of HDX-MS development, followed by an overview of HDX theory and ultimately an outline of methods and procedures involved in performing HDX-MS experiments.

  • Resolving biomolecular motion and interactions by R2 and R1ρ Relaxation Dispersion NMR
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-26
    Erik Walinda, Daichi Morimoto, Kenji Sugase

    Among the tools of structural biology, NMR spectroscopy is unique in that it not only derives a static three-dimensional structure, but also provides an atomic-level description of the local fluctuations and global dynamics around this static structure. A battery of NMR experiments is now available to probe the motions of proteins and nucleic acids over the whole biologically relevant timescale from picoseconds to hours. Here we focus on one of these methods, relaxation dispersion, which resolves dynamics on the micro- to millisecond timescale. Key biological processes that occur on this timescale include enzymatic catalysis, ligand binding, and local folding. In other words, relaxation-dispersion-resolved dynamics are often closely related to the function of the molecule and therefore highly interesting to the structural biochemist. With an astounding sensitivity of ∼0.5%, the method detects low-population excited states that are invisible to any other biophysical method. The kinetics of the exchange between the ground state and excited states are quantified in the form of the underlying exchange rate, while structural information about the invisible excited state is obtained in the form of its chemical shift. Lastly, the population of the excited state can be derived. This diversity in the information that can be obtained makes relaxation dispersion an excellent method to study the detailed mechanisms of conformational transitions and molecular interactions. Here we describe the two branches of relaxation dispersion, R2 and R1ρ, discussing their applicability, similarities, and differences, as well as recent developments in pulse sequence design and data processing.

  • How can native mass spectrometry contribute to characterization of biomacromolecular higher-order structure and interactions?
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-26
    Wenjun Tong, Guanbo Wang

    Native mass spectrometry (MS) is an emerging approach for characterizing biomacromolecular structure and interactions under physiologically relevant conditions. In native MS measurement, intact macromolecules or macromolecular complexes are directly ionized from a non-denaturing solvent, and key noncovalent interactions that hold the complexes together can be preserved for MS analysis in the gas phase. This technique provides unique multi-level structural information such as conformational changes, stoichiometry, topology and dynamics, complementing conventional biophysical techniques. Despite the maturation of native MS and greatly expanded range of applications in recent decades, further dissemination is needed to make the community aware of such a technique. In this review, we attempt to provide an overview of the current body of knowledge regarding major aspects of native MS and explain how such technique contributes to the characterization of biomacromolecular higher-order structure and interactions.

  • Synthesis of multi-omic data and community metabolic models reveals insights into the role of hydrogen sulfide in colon cancer
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-26
    Vanessa L. Hale, Patricio Jeraldo, Michael Mundy, Janet Yao, Gary Keeney, Nancy Scott, E. Heidi Cheek, Jennifer Davidson, Megan Green, Christine Martinez, John Lehman, Chandra Pettry, Erica Reed, Kelly Lyke, Bryan A. White, Christian Diener, Osbaldo Resendis-Antonio, Jaime Gransee, Tumpa Dutta, Xuan-Mai Petterson, Lisa Boardman, David Larson, Heidi Nelson, Nicholas Chia

    Multi-omic data and genome-scale microbial metabolic models have allowed us to examine microbial communities, community function, and interactions in ways that were not available to us historically. Now, one of our biggest challenges is determining how to integrate data and maximize data potential. Our study demonstrates one way in which to test a hypothesis by combining multi-omic data and community metabolic models. Specifically, we assess hydrogen sulfide production in colorectal cancer based on stool, mucosa, and tissue samples collected on and off the tumor site within the same individuals. 16S rRNA microbial community and abundance data were used to select and inform the metabolic models. We then used MICOM, an open source platform, to track the metabolic flux of hydrogen sulfide through a defined microbial community that either represented on-tumor or off-tumor sample communities. We also performed targeted and untargeted metabolomics, and used the former to quantitatively evaluate our model predictions. A deeper look at the models identified several unexpected but feasible reactions, microbes, and microbial interactions involved in hydrogen sulfide production for which our 16S and metabolomic data could not account. These results will guide future in vitro, in vivo, and in silico tests to establish why hydrogen sulfide production is increased in tumor tissue.

  • Functional Microbiomics: Evaluation of Gut Microbiota-Bile Acid Metabolism Interactions in Health and Disease
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-26
    Benjamin H. Mullish, Alexandros Pechlivanis, Grace F. Barker, Mark R. Thursz, Julian R. Marchesi, Julie A.K. McDonald

    There is an ever-increasing recognition that bile acids are not purely simple surfactant molecules that aid in lipid digestion, but are a family of molecules contributing to a diverse range of key systemic functions in the host. It is now also understood that the specific composition of the bile acid milieu within the host is related to the expression and activity of bacterially-derived enzymes within the gastrointestinal tract, as such creating a direct link between the physiology of the host and the gut microbiota. Coupled to the knowledge that perturbation of the structure and/or function of the gut microbiota may contribute to the pathogenesis of a range of diseases, there is a high level of interest in the potential for manipulation of the gut microbiota-host bile acid axis as a novel approach to therapeutics. Much of the growing understanding of the biology of this area reflects the recent development and refinement of a range of novel techniques; this study applies a number of those techniques to the analysis of human samples, aiming to illustrate their strengths, drawbacks and biological significance at all stages. Specifically, we used microbial profiling (using 16S rRNA gene sequencing), bile acid profiling (using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry), bsh and baiCD qPCR, and a BSH enzyme activity assay to demonstrate differences in the gut microbiota and bile metabolism in stool samples from healthy and antibiotic-exposed individuals.

  • Cryo-electron microscopy of membrane proteins.
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-25
    Nopnithi Thonghin, Vasileios Kargas, Jack Clews, Robert C. Ford

    Membrane proteins represent a large proportion of the proteome, but have characteristics that are problematic for many methods in modern molecular biology (that have often been developed with soluble proteins in mind). For structural studies, low levels of expression and the presence of detergent have been thorns in the flesh of the membrane protein experimentalist. Here we discuss the use of cryo-electron microscopy in breakthrough studies of the structures of membrane proteins. This method can cope with relatively small quantities of sample and with the presence of detergent. Until recently, cryo-electron microscopy could not deliver high-resolution structures of membrane proteins, but recent developments in transmission electron microscope technology and in the image processing of single particles imaged in the microscope have revolutionized the field, allowing high resolution structures to be obtained. Here we focus on the specific issues surrounding the application of cryo-electron microscopy to the study of membrane proteins, especially in the choice of a system to keep the protein soluble.

  • Engineering expression and function of membrane proteins
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-24
    Min-Kyoung Kang, Danielle Tullman-Ercek

    Membrane proteins are involved in a diverse array of cellular functions and part of many important metabolic pathways. As such, they are attractive targets in the pharmaceutical and bio-based chemical industries. Despite their great potential, many challenges remain before membrane proteins gain widespread success in biotechnology. The two biggest issues are that expression of membrane proteins leads to inhibition of cellular growth and metabolism, and native membrane proteins often lack a desired function or specificity for use in engineered processes. To address these issues, protein engineering and synthetic biology approaches are leading the charge to develop membrane proteins for biotechnological applications. Here, we describe current methods for engineering membrane proteins and optimizing their expression levels in bacteria. We highlight success stories and describe challenges that still face this growing field.

  • SigEMD: A powerful method for differential gene expression analysis in single-cell RNA sequencing data
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-24
    Tianyu Wang, Sheida Nabavi

    Differential gene expression analysis is one of the significant efforts in single cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) analysis to discover the specific changes in expression levels of individual cell types. Since scRNAseq exhibits multimodality, large amounts of zero counts, and sparsity, it is different from the traditional bulk RNA sequencing (RNAseq) data. The new challenges of scRNAseq data promote the development of new methods for identifying differentially expressed (DE) genes. In this study, we proposed a new method, SigEMD, that combines a data imputation approach, a logistic regression model and a nonparametric method based on the Earth Mover’s Distance, to precisely and efficiently identify DE genes in scRNAseq data. The regression model and data imputation are used to reduce the impact of large amounts of zero counts, and the nonparametric method is used to improve the sensitivity of detecting DE genes from multimodal scRNAseq data. By additionally employing gene interaction network information to adjust the final states of DE genes, we further reduce the false positives of calling DE genes. We used simulated datasets and real datasets to evaluate the detection accuracy of the proposed method and to compare its performance with those of other differential expression analysis methods. Results indicate that the proposed method has an overall powerful performance in terms of precision in detection, sensitivity, and specificity.

  • Hidden motions and motion-induced invisibility: dynamics-based spectral editing in solid-state NMR
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-24
    Irina Matlahov, Patrick C.A. van der Wel

    Solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (ssNMR) spectroscopy enables the structural characterization of a diverse array of biological assemblies that include amyloid fibrils, non-amyloid aggregates, membrane-associated proteins and viral capsids. Such biological samples feature functionally relevant molecular dynamics, which often affect different parts of the sample in different ways. Solid-state NMR experiments’ sensitivity to dynamics represents a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it offers a chance to measure dynamics in great detail. On the other hand, certain types of motion lead to signal loss and experimental inefficiencies that at first glance interfere with the application of ssNMR to overly dynamic proteins. Dynamics-based spectral editing (DYSE) ssNMR methods leverage motion-dependent signal losses to simplify spectra and enable the study of sub-structures with particular motional properties.

  • An integrative approach to investigate the association among high-sensitive C-reactive protein, body fat mass distribution, and other cardiometabolic risk factors in young healthy women
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-24
    Bin Wu, Jingshan Huang, Lihua Zhang, Mohan Vamsi Kasukurthi, Fangwan Huang, Jiang Bian, Keisuke Fukuo, Tsutomu Kazumi

    Prior research has indicated that as an important biomarker of chronic low-grade inflammation, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) can play important roles on the onset of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). We conducted an integrative approach, which combines biological wet-lab experiments, statistical analysis, and semantics-oriented bioinformatics & computational analysis, to investigate the association among hs-CRP, body fat mass (FM) distribution, and other cardiometabolic risk factors in young healthy women. Research outcomes in this study resulted in two novel discoveries. Discovery 1: There are four primary determinants for hs-CRP, i.e., central/abdominal FM (a.k.a. trunk FM) accumulation, leptin, high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and plasminogen activator inhibitior-1 (PAI-1). Discovery 2: Chronic inflammation may involve in adipocyte-cytokine interaction underlying the metabolic derangement in healthy young women.

  • Three invariant Hi-C interaction patterns: applications to genome assembly
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-22
    Sivan Oddes, Aviv Zelig, Noam Kaplan

    Assembly of reference-quality genomes from next-generation sequencing data is a key challenge in genomics. Recently, we and others have shown that Hi-C data can be used to address several outstanding challenges in the field of genome assembly. This principle has since been developed in academia and industry, and has been used in the assembly of several major genomes. In this paper, we explore the central principles underlying Hi-C-based assembly approaches, by quantitatively defining and characterizing three invariant Hi-C interaction patterns on which these approaches can build: Intrachromosomal interaction enrichment, distance-dependent interaction decay and local interaction smoothness. Specifically, we evaluate to what degree each invariant pattern holds on a single locus level in different species, cell types and Hi-C map resolutions. We find that these patterns are generally consistent across species and cell types but are affected by sequencing depth, and that matrix balancing improves consistency of loci with all three invariant patterns. Finally, we overview current Hi-C-based assembly approaches in light of these invariant patterns and demonstrate how local interaction smoothness can be used to easily detect scaffolding errors in extremely sparse Hi-C maps. We suggest that simultaneously considering all three invariant patterns may lead to better Hi-C-based genome assembly methods.

  • Methodological considerations for the identification of choline and carnitine-degrading bacteria in the gut
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-19
    Eleanor Jameson, Mussa Quareshy, Yin Chen

    The bacterial formation of trimethylamine (TMA) has been linked to cardiovascular disease. This review focuses on the methods employed to investigate the identity of the bacteria responsible for the formation of TMA from dietary choline and carnitine in the human gut. Recent studies have revealed the metabolic pathways responsible for bacterial TMA production, primarily the anaerobic glycyl radical-containing, choline-TMA lyase, CutC and the aerobic carnitine monooxygenase, CntA. Identification of these enzymes has enabled bioinformatics approaches to screen both human-associated bacterial isolate genomes and whole gut metagenomes to determine which bacteria are responsible for TMA formation in the human gut. We centre on several key methodological aspects for identifying the TMA-producing bacteria and report how these pathways can be identified in human gut microbiota through bioinformatics analysis of available bacterial genomes and gut metagenomes.

  • How to Run Molecular Dynamics Simulations on Electrospray Droplets and Gas Phase Proteins: Basic Guidelines and Selected Applications
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-18
    Lars Konermann, Haidy Metwally, Robert G. McAllister, Vlad Popa

    The ability to transfer intact proteins and protein complexes into the gas phase by electrospray ionization (ESI) has opened up numerous mass spectrometry (MS)-based avenues for exploring biomolecular structure and function. However, many details regarding the ESI process and the properties of gaseous analyte ions are difficult to decipher when relying solely on experimental data. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations can provide additional insights into the behavior of ESI droplets and protein ions. This review is geared primarily towards experimentalists who wish to adopt MD simulations as a complementary research tool. We touch on basic points such as force fields, the choice of a proper water model, GPU-acceleration, possible artifacts, as well as shortcomings of current MD models. Following this technical overview, we highlight selected applications. Simulations on aqueous droplets confirm that “native” ESI culminates in protein ion release via the charged residue model. MD-generated charge states and collision cross sections match experimental data. Gaseous protein ions produced by native ESI retain much of their solution structure. Moving beyond classical fixed-charge algorithms, we discuss a simple strategy that captures the mobile nature of H+ within gaseous biomolecules. These mobile proton simulations confirm the high propensity of gaseous proteins to form salt bridges, as well as the occurrence of charge migration during collision-induced unfolding and dissociation. It is hoped that this review will promote the use of MD simulations in ESI-related research. We also hope to encourage the development of improved algorithms for charged droplets and gaseous biomolecular ions.

  • Folding and stabilizing membrane proteins in amphipol A8-35
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-18
    Christel Le Bon, Anaïs Marconnet, Sandrine Masscheleyn, Jean-Luc Popot, Manuela Zoonens

    Membrane proteins (MPs) are important pharmacological targets because of their involvement in many essential cellular processes whose dysfunction can lead to a large variety of diseases. A detailed knowledge of the structure of MPs and the molecular mechanisms of their activity is essential to the design of new therapeutic agents. However, studying MPs in vitro is challenging, because it generally implies their overexpression under a functional form, followed by their extraction from membranes and purification. Targeting an overexpressed MP to a membrane is often toxic and expression yields tend to be limited. One alternative is the formation of inclusion bodies (IBs) in the cytosol of the cell, from which MPs need then to be folded to their native conformation before structural and functional analysis can be contemplated. Folding MPs targeted to IBs is a difficult task. Specially designed amphipathic polymers called ‘amphipols’ (APols), which have been initially developed with the view of improving the stability of MPs in aqueous solutions compared to detergents, can be used to fold both α-helical and β-barrel MPs. APols represent an interesting novel amphipathic medium, in which high folding yields can be achieved. In this review, the properties of APol A8-35 and of the complexes they form with MPs are summarized. An overview of the most important studies reported so far using A8-35 to fold MPs is presented. Finally, from a practical point of view, a detailed description of the folding and trapping methods is given.

  • MS-based conformation analysis of recombinant proteins in design, optimization and development of biopharmaceuticals
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-18
    Devrishi Goswami, Jun Zhang, Pavel V. Bondarenko, Zhongqi Zhang

    Mass spectrometry (MS)-based methods for analyzing protein higher order structures have gained increasing application in the field of biopharmaceutical development. The predominant methods used in this area include native MS, hydrogen deuterium exchange-MS, covalent labeling, cross-linking and limited proteolysis. These MS-based methods will be briefly described in this article, followed by a discussion on how these methods contribute at different stages of discovery and development of protein therapeutics.

  • In silico design of ligand triggered RNA switches
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-13
    Sven Findeiß, Stefan Hammer, Michael T. Wolfinger, Felix Kühnl, Christoph Flamm, Ivo L. Hofacker

    This contribution sketches a work flow to design an RNA switch that is able to adapt two structural conformations in a ligand-dependent way. A well characterized RNA aptamer, i.,e., knowing its Kd K d and adaptive structural features, is an essential ingredient of the described design process. We exemplify the principles using the well-known theophylline aptamer throughout this work. The aptamer in its ligand-binding competent structure represents one structural conformation of the switch while an alternative fold that disrupts the binding-competent structure forms the other conformation. To keep it simple we do not incorporate any regulatory mechanism to control transcription or translation. We elucidate a commonly used design process by explicitly dissecting and explaining the necessary steps in detail. We developed a novel objective function which specifies the mechanistics of this simple, ligand-triggered riboswitch and describe an extensive in silico analysis pipeline to evaluate important kinetic properties of the designed sequences. This protocol and the developed software can be easily extended or adapted to fit novel design scenarios and thus can serve as a template for future needs.

  • Real-time imaging of specific genomic loci in eukaryotic cells using the ANCHOR DNA labelling system
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-13
    Germier Thomas, Audibert Sylvain, Kocanova Silvia, Lane David, Bystricky Kerstin

    Spatio-temporal organization of the cell nucleus adapts to and regulates genomic processes. Microscopy approaches that enable direct monitoring of specific chromatin sites in single cells and in real time are needed to better understand the dynamics involved. In this chapter, we describe the principle and development of ANCHOR, a novel tool for DNA labelling in eukaryotic cells. Protocols for use of ANCHOR to visualize a single genomic locus in eukaryotic cells are presented. We describe an approach for live cell imaging of a DNA locus during the entire cell cycle in human breast cancer cells.

  • Theory and practice of using solvent paramagnetic relaxation enhancement to characterize protein conformational dynamics
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-12
    Zhou Gong, Charles D. Schwieters, Chun Tang

    Paramagnetic relaxation enhancement (PRE) has been established as a powerful tool in NMR for investigating protein structure and dynamics. The PRE is usually measured with a paramagnetic probe covalently attached at a specific site of an otherwise diamagnetic protein. The present work provides the numerical formulation for probing protein structure and conformational dynamics based on the solvent PRE (sPRE) measurement, using two alternative approaches. An inert paramagnetic cosolute randomly collides with the protein, and the resulting sPRE manifests the relative solvent exposure of protein nuclei. To make the back-calculated sPRE values most consistent with the observed values, the protein structure is either refined against the sPRE, or an ensemble of conformers is selected from a pre-generated library using a Monte Carlo algorithm. The ensemble structure comprises either N conformers of equal occupancy, or two conformers with different relative populations. We demonstrate the sPRE method using GB1, a structurally rigid protein, and calmodulin, a protein comprising two domains and existing in open and closed states. The sPRE can be computed with a stand-alone program for rapid evaluation, or with the invocation of a module in the latest release of the structure calculation software Xplor-NIH. As a label-free method, the sPRE measurement can be readily integrated with other biophysical techniques. The current limitations of the sPRE method are also discussed, regarding accurate measurement and theoretical calculation, model selection and suitable timescale.

  • Microbial expression systems for membrane proteins
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-12
    Marvin V. Dilworth, Mathilde S. Piel, Kim E. Bettaney, Pikyee Ma, Ji Luo, David Sharples, David R. Poyner, Stephane R. Gross, Karine Moncoq, Peter J. F. Henderson, Bruno Miroux, Roslyn M. Bill

    Despite many high-profile successes, recombinant membrane protein production remains a technical challenge; it is still the case that many fewer membrane protein structures have been published than those of soluble proteins. However, progress is being made because empirical methods have been developed to produce the required quantity and quality of these challenging targets. This review focuses on the microbial expression systems that are a key source of recombinant prokaryotic and eukaryotic membrane proteins for structural studies. We provide an overview of the host strains, tags and promoters that, in our experience, are most likely to yield protein suitable for structural and functional characterization. We also catalogue the detergents used for solubilization and crystallization studies of these proteins. Here, we emphasize a combination of practical methods, not necessarily high-throughput, which can be implemented in any laboratory equipped for recombinant DNA technology and microbial cell culture.

  • An NMR strategy to detect conformational differences in a protein complexed with highly analogous inhibitors in solution
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-12
    John D. Persons, Shahid N. Khan, Rieko Ishima

    This manuscript presents an NMR strategy to investigate conformational differences in protein-inhibitor complexes, when the inhibitors tightly bind to a protein at sub-nanomolar dissociation constants and are highly analogous to each other. Using HIV-1 protease (PR), we previously evaluated amide chemical shift differences, ΔCSPs, of PR bound to darunavir (DRV) compared to PR bound to several DRV analogue inhibitors, to investigate subtle but significant long-distance conformation changes caused by the inhibitor’s chemical moiety variation [Khan, S. N., Persons, J. D, Paulsen, J. L., Guerrero, M., Schiffer, C. A., Kurt-Yilmaz, N., and Ishima, R., Biochemistry, (2018), 57, 1652-1662]. However, ΔCSPs are not ideal for investigating subtle PR-inhibitor interface differences because intrinsic differences in the electron shielding of the inhibitors affect protein ΔCSPs. NMR relaxation is also not suitable as it is not sensitive enough to detect small conformational differences in rigid regions among similar PR-inhibitor complexes. Thus, to gain insight into conformational differences at the inhibitor-protein interface, we recorded 15N-half filtered NOESY spectra of PR bound to two highly analogous inhibitors and assessed NOEs between PR amide protons and inhibitor protons, between PR amide protons and hydroxyl side chains, and between PR amide protons and water protons. We also verified the PR amide-water NOEs using 2D water-NOE/ROE experiments. Differences in water-amide proton NOE peaks, possibly due to amide-protein hydrogen bonds, were observed between subunit A and subunit B, and between the DRV-bound form and an analogous inhibitor-bound form, which may contribute to remote conformational changes.

  • Utilizing dipole-dipole cross-correlated relaxation for the measurement of angles between pairs of opposing CαHα-CαHα bonds in anti-parallel β-sheets
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-12
    T. Michael Sabo, Vytautas Gapsys, Korvin F.A. Walter, R. Bryn Fenwick, Stefan Becker, Xavier Salvatella, Bert L. de Groot, Donghan Lee, Christian Griesinger

    Dipole-dipole cross-correlated relaxation (CCR) between two spin pairs is rich with macromolecular structural and dynamic information on inter-nuclear bond vectors. Measurement of short range dipolar CCR rates has been demonstrated for a variety of inter-nuclear vector spin pairs in proteins and nucleic acids, where the multiple quantum coherence necessary for observing the CCR rate is created by through-bond scalar coupling. In principle, CCR rates can be measured for any pair of inter-nuclear vectors where coherence can be generated between one spin of each spin pair, regardless of both the distance between the two spin pairs and the distance of the two spins forming the multiple quantum coherence. In practice, however, long range CCR (lrCCR) rates are challenging to measure due to difficulties in linking spatially distant spin pairs. By utilizing through-space relaxation allowed coherence transfer (RACT), we have developed a new method for the measurement of lrCCR rates involving CαHα bonds on opposing anti-parallel β-strands. The resulting lrCCR rates are straightforward to interpret since only the angle between the two vectors modulates the strength of the interference effect. We applied our lrCCR measurement to the third immunoglobulin-binding domain of the streptococcal protein G (GB3) and utilize published NMR ensembles and static NMR/Xray structures to highlight the relation between the lrCCR rates and the CαHα-CαHα inter-bond angle and bond mobility. Furthermore, we employ the lrCCR rates to guide the selection of sub-ensembles from the published NMR ensembles for enhancing the structural and dynamic interpretation of the data. We foresee this methodology for measuring lrCCR rates as improving the generation of structural ensembles by providing highly accurate details concerning the orientation of CαHα bonds on opposing anti-parallel β-strands.

  • Tumor classification with MALDI-MSI data of tissue microarrays: a case study
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-12
    Nadine E. Mascini, Jannis Teunissen, Rob Noorlag, Stefan M. Willems, Ron M.A. Heeren

    With mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) on tissue microarrays (TMAs) a large number of biomolecules can be studied for many patients at the same time, making it an attractive tool for biomarker discovery. Here we investigate whether lymph node metastasis can be predicted from MALDI-MSI data. Measurements are performed on TMAs and then filtered based on spectral intensity and the percentage of tumor cells, after which the resulting data for 122 patients is further preprocessed. We assume differences between patients with and without metastasis are expressed in a limited number of features. Two univariate feature selection methods are applied to reduce the dimensionality of the MALDI-MSI data. The selected features are then used in combination with three classifiers. The best classification scores are obtained with a decision tree classifier, which classifies about 72% of patients correctly. Almost all the predictive power comes from a single peak (m/z 718.4). The sensitivity of our classification approach, which can be generically used to search for biomarkers, is investigated using artificially modified data.

  • Covalent Labeling-Mass Spectrometry with Non-Specific Reagents for Studying Protein Structure and Interactions
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-07
    Patanachai Limpikirati, Tianying Liu, Richard W. Vachet

    Using mass spectrometry (MS) to obtain information about a higher order structure of protein requires that a protein’s structural properties are encoded into the mass of that protein. Covalent labeling (CL) with reagents that can irreversibly modify solvent accessible amino acid side chains is an effective way to encode structural information into the mass of a protein, as this information can be read-out in a straightforward manner using standard MS-based proteomics techniques. The differential reactivity of proteins under two or more conditions can be used to distinguish protein topologies, conformations, and/or binding sites. CL-MS methods have been effectively used for the structural analysis of proteins and protein complexes, particularly for systems that are difficult to study by other more traditional biochemical techniques. This review provides an overview of the non-specific CL approaches that have been combined with MS with a particular emphasis on the reagents that are commonly used, including hydroxyl radicals, carbenes, and diethylpyrocarbonate. We describe the reagent and protein factors that affect the reactivity of amino acid side chains. We also include details about experimental design and workflow, data analysis, recent applications, and some future prospects of CL-MS methods.

  • 3D Structure Determination of Amyloid Fibrils using Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-06
    Antoine Loquet, Nadia El Mammeri, Jan Stanek, Mélanie Berbon, Benjamin Bardiaux, Guido Pintacuda, Birgit Habenstein

    The amyloid fold is structurally characterized by a typical cross-β architecture, which is under debate to represent an energy-favourable folding state that many globular or natively unfolded proteins can adopt. Being initially solely associated with amyloid fibrils observed in the propagation of several neurodegenerative disorders, the discovery of non-pathological (or “functional”) amyloids in many native biological processes has recently further intensified the general interest invested in those cross-β supramolecular assemblies. The insoluble and non-crystalline nature of amyloid fibrils and their usually inhomogeneous appearance on the mesoscopic level pose a challenge to biophysical techniques aiming at an atomic-level structural characterization. Solid-state NMR spectroscopy (SSNMR) has granted breakthroughs in structural investigations on amyloid fibrils ranging from the assessment of the impact of polymorphism in disease development to the 3D atomic structure determination of amyloid fibrils. First landmark studies towards the characterization of atomic structures and interactions involving functional amyloids have provided new impulses in the understanding of the role of the amyloid fold in native biological functions. Over the last decade many strategies have been developed in protein isotope labelling, NMR resonance assignment, distance restraint determination and 3D structure calculation of amyloid fibrils based on SSNMR approaches. We will here discuss the emerging concepts and state-of-the-art methods related to the assessment of amyloid structures and interactions involving amyloid entities by SSNMR.

  • Hydrogen-Deuterium Exchange Mass Spectrometry Reveals Folding and Allostery in Protein-Protein Interactions
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-06
    Cesar A. Ramirez-Sarmiento, Elizabeth A. Komives

    Hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDXMS) has emerged as a powerful approach for revealing folding and allostery in protein-protein interactions. The advent of higher resolution mass spectrometers combined with ion mobility separation and ultra-high liquid chromatographic separations have allowed the complete coverage of large protein sequences and multi-protein complexes. Liquid-handling robots have improved the reproducibility and accurate temperature control of the sample preparation. Many researchers are also appreciating the power of combining biophysical approaches such as stopped-flow fluorescence, single molecule FRET, and molecular dynamics simulations with HDXMS. In this review, we focus on studies that have revealed (re)folding of proteins as well as on long-distance allosteric changes upon interaction.

  • Adventures with RNA Graphs
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-04-03
    Tamar Schlick

    The structure of RNA has been a natural subject for mathematical modeling, inviting many innovative computational frameworks. This single-stranded polynucleotide chain can fold upon itself in numerous ways to form hydrogen-bonded segments, imperfect with single-stranded loops. Illustrating these paired and non-paired interaction networks, known as RNA’s secondary (2D) structure, using mathematical graph objects has been illuminating for RNA structure analysis. Building upon such seminal work from the 1970s and 1980s, graph models are now used to study not only RNA structure but also describe RNA’s recurring modular units, sample the conformational space accessible to RNAs, predict RNA’s three-dimensional folds, and apply the combined aspects to novel RNA design. In this chapter, we outline the development of the RNA-As-Graphs (or RAG) approach and highlight current applications to RNA structure prediction and design.

  • Peak Decay Analysis and Biointeraction Studies of Immunoglobulin Binding and Dissociation on Protein G Affinity Microcolumns
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-31
    Jeanethe A. Anguizola, Erika L. Pfaunmiller, Mitchell L. Milanuk, David S. Hage

    Protein G can be a valuable binding agent for antibodies and immunoglobulins in methods such as immunosensors, chromatographic-based immunoassays, and immunoaffinity chromatography. This report used the method of peak decay analysis along with frontal analysis and zonal elution studies to characterize the binding, elution and regeneration properties of affinity microcolumns that contained immobilized protein G. Frontal analysis was employed with rabbit immunoglobulin G (IgG) to characterize the binding capacity of these affinity microcolumns. Zonal elution experiments looking at the retained peaks for small injections of labeled rabbit IgG were used to optimize the column regeneration conditions. Peak decay analysis was then used to look at the effects of flow rate and elution pH on the release of several types of IgG from the protein G microcolumns. This approach made it possible to obtain detailed information on the use and behavior of such columns, as could be used in future work to optimize the capture or analysis of IgG and antibodies by such devices. The same approach and tools that were used in this report could also be adapted for work with affinity columns that make use of other supports, binding agents or targets.

  • Purification of membrane proteins free from conventional detergents: SMA, new polymers, new opportunities and new insights
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-31
    Zoe Stroud, Stephen C.L. Hall, Tim R. Dafforn

    Membrane proteins remain a somewhat enigmatic group of biomolecules. On the one hand they mediate some of the most important processes in biology with molecular mechanisms that are often elegantly complex. On the other hand they are exceptionally challenging to produce, making studies of membrane protein structure and function among the most difficult projects undertaken by biochemists. The central issue with studies of a membrane protein has been the need to extract them from their native lipid environment before purification and production of a homogenous sample. Historical approaches have utilized detergent solubilisation but these often lead to a sample with low activity and stability. In the past 15 years a new approach that focuses on preserving the local lipid environment surrounding the membrane proteins has been developed. The latest, and perhaps most complete, incarnation of this method has been the use of polymers based on styrene maleic acid (SMA) to stabilise nanoscale discs of lipid that contain membrane proteins. In this review we examine the range of SMA-related polymers that have now been shown to have utility in the production of membrane proteins. We discuss the differences between the polymers and attempt to discover rules and trends that explain their behavior.

  • Dissecting single–cell molecular spatiotemporal mobility and clustering at Focal Adhesions in polarised cells by fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy methods
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-30
    Esther Garcia, Jorge Bernardino de la Serna

    Quantitative fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy from optical microscopy datasets is a very powerful tool to resolve multiple spatiotemporal cellular and subcellular processes at the molecular level. In particular, raster image correlation spectroscopy (RICS) and number and brightness analyses (N&B) yield molecular mobility and clustering dynamic information extracted from real-time cellular processes. This quantitative information can be inferred in a highly flexible and detailed manner, i.e. 1) at the localisation level: from full-frame datasets and multiple regions of interest within; and 2) at the temporal level: not only from full-frame and multiple regions, but also intermediate temporal events. Here we build on previous research in deciphering the molecular dynamics of paxillin, a main component of focal adhesions. Cells use focal adhesions to attach to the extracellular matrix and interact with their local environment. Through focal adhesions and other adhesion structures, cells sense their local environment and respond accordingly; due to this continuous communication, these structures can be highly dynamic depending on the extracellular characteristics. By using a previously well-characterised model like paxillin, we examine the powerful sensitivity and some limitations of RICS and N&B analyses. We show that cells upon contact to different surfaces show differential self-assembly dynamics in terms of molecular diffusion and oligomerisation. In addition, single-cell studies show that these dynamics change gradually following an antero-posterior gradient.

  • Predicting Ion Mobility-Mass Spectrometry Trends of Polymers using the Concept of Apparent Densities
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-28
    Jean R.N. Haler, Denis Morsa, Philippe Lecomte, Christine Jérôme, Johann Far, Edwin De Pauw
  • Two-Detector Number and Brightness Analysis Reveals Spatio-temporal Oligomerization of Proteins in Living Cells
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-21
    Ryosuke Fukushima, Johtaro Yamamoto, Hideto Ishikawa, Masataka Kinjo
  • Studies of Antibody-Antigen Interactions by Capillary Electrophoresis: A Review
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-15
    Annette C. Moser, Sidney Trenhaile, Kati Frankenberg

    Antibody-antigen interactions are vital in immunoassay development and can determine detection limits and analysis times. Capillary electrophoresis (CE) is a powerful technique that can be used to quantify antibody-antigen interactions. These CE methods range from simple separations of a premixed antibody and antigen sample applied as a short plug to allow for separation of complex, free antibody, and free antigen to more complex systems which inject complexed samples in the presence of antibody or antigen; or even injections of antibody and antigen sequentially. The objective of this review is to identify and describe various CE techniques which have been used to study antibody-antigen interactions. A brief discussion of linear and nonlinear curve fitting is also included.

  • Quantifying spatial and temporal variations of the cell membrane ultra-structure by bimFCS
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-09
    Weixiang Jin, M. Fethullah Simsek, Arnd Pralle

    It has been long recognized that the cell membrane is heterogeneous on scales ranging from a couple of molecules to micrometers in size and hence diffusiong of receptors is length scale dependent. This heterogeneity modulates many cell-membrane-associated processes requiring transient spatiotemporal separation of components. The transient increase in local concentration of interacting signal components enables robust signaling in an otherwise thermally noisy system. Understanding how lipids and proteins self-organize and interact with the cell cortex requires quantifying the motion of the components. Multi-length scale diffusion measurements by single particle tracking, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) or related techniques are able to identify components being transiently trapped in nanodomains, from freely moving one and from ones with reduced long-scale diffusion due to interaction with the cell cortex. One particular implementation of multi-length scale diffusion measurements is the combination of FCS with a spatially resolved detector, such as a camera and two-dimensional extended excitation profile. The main advantages of this approach are that all length scales are interrogated simultaneously, uniquely permits quantifying changes to the membrane structure caused by extrenal or internal perturbations. Here, we review how combining total internal reflection microscopy (TIRF) with FC resolves the membrane organization in living cells. We show how to implement the method, which requires only a few seconds of data acquisition to quantify membrane nanodomains, or the spacing of membrane fences caused by the actin cortex. The choice of diffusing fluorescent probe determines which membrane heterogeneity is detected. We review the instrument, sample preparation, experimental and computational requirements to perform such measurements, and discuss the potential and limitations. The discussion includes examples of spatial and temporal comparisons of the membrane structure in response to perturbations demonstrating the complex cell physiology.

  • Methods for Construction and Characterization of Simple or Special Multifunctional RNA Nanoparticles Based on the 3WJ of Phi29 DNA Packaging Motor
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-09
    Sijin Guo, Xijun Piao, Hui Li, Peixuan Guo

    The field of RNA nanotechnology has developed rapidly over the last decade, as more elaborate RNA nanoarchitectures and therapeutic RNA nanoparticles have been constructed, and their applications have been extensively explored. Now it is time to offer different levels of RNA construction methods for both the beginners and the experienced researchers or enterprisers. The first and second parts of this article will provide instructions on basic and simple methods for the assembly and characterization of RNA nanoparticles, mainly based on the pRNA three-way junction (pRNA-3WJ) of phi29 DNA packaging motor. The third part of this article will focus on specific methods for the construction of more sophisticated multivalent RNA nanoparticles for therapeutic applications. In these parts, some simple protocols are provided to facilitate the initiation of the RNA nanoparticle construction in labs new to the field of RNA nanotechnology. This article is intended to serve as a general reference aimed at both apprentices and senior scientists for their future design, construction and characterization of RNA nanoparticles based on the pRNA-3WJ of phi29 DNA packaging motor.

  • Planar lipid bilayers in recombinant ion channel research
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-09
    Jacqueline Maher, Marcus Allen

    There are a number of methods of investigating the function of recombinant proteins such as ion channels. However, after channel purification there are few methods to guarantee that the protein still functions. For ion channels, reconstituting back into planar lipid bilayers and demonstrating preserved function is a convenient and trusted method. It is cell free and even inaccessible, intracellular ion channels can be studied. We have used this method to study the function of recombinant channels of known subunit composition and have found it convenient for investigating the mode of action of ion channel modulators.

  • Nonuniform Sampling in Multidimensional NMR for Improving Spectral Sensitivity
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-06
    Matthew A. Zambrello, Adam D. Schuyler, Mark W. Maciejewski, Frank Delaglio, Irina Bezsonova, Jeffrey C. Hoch

    The development of multidimensional NMR spectroscopy enabled an explosion of structural and dynamical investigations on proteins and other biomacromolecules. Practical limitations on data sampling, based on the Jeener paradigm of parametric sampling of indirect time domains, have long placed limits on resolution in the corresponding frequency dimensions. The emergence of nonuniform sampling (NUS) in indirect time dimensions circumvents those limitations, affording high resolution spectra from short data records collected in practically realized measurement times. In addition to substantially improved resolution, NUS can also be exploited to improve sensitivity, with gains comparable to those obtained using cryogenically cooled probes. We describe a general approach for acquiring and processing multidimensional NUS NMR data for improving sensitivity.

  • Catch the live show: Visualizing damaged DNA in vivo
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-06
    Roxanne Oshidari, Karim Mekhail

    The health of an organism is intimately linked to its ability to repair damaged DNA. Importantly, DNA repair processes are highly dynamic. This highlights the necessity of characterizing DNA repair in live cells. Advanced genome editing and imaging approaches allow us to visualize damaged DNA and its associated factors in real time. Here, we summarize both established and recent methods that are used to induce DNA damage and visualize damaged DNA and its repair in live cells.

  • Molecular Dynamics simulations of the Strings and Binders Switch Model of chromatin
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-06
    Carlo Annunziatella, Andrea M. Chiariello, Andrea Esposito, Simona Bianco, Luca Fiorillo, Mario Nicodemi

    In recent years interest has grown on the applications of polymer physics to model chromatin folding in order to try to make sense of the complexity of experimental data emerging from new technologies such as Hi-C or GAM, in a principled way. Here we review the methods employed to efficiently implement Molecular Dynamics computer simulations of polymer models, focusing in particular on the String&Binders Switch (SBS) model. The constant improvement of such methods and computer power is returning increasingly more accurate insights on the structure and molecular mechanisms underlying the spatial organization of chromosomes in the cell nucleus. We aim to provide an account of the state of the art of computational techniques employed in this type of investigations and to review recent applications of such methods to the description of real genomic loci, such as the Sox9 locus in mESC.

  • Construction of synthetic T7 RNA polymerase expression systems
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-05
    Shaunak Kar, Andrew D. Ellington

    T7 RNA polymerase (T7 RNAP) is one of the preferred workhorses for recombinant gene expression, owing in part to its high transcriptional activity and the fact that it has a small (17 base-pair), easily manipulated promoter. Furthermore, the fact that T7 RNAP is largely orthogonal to most hosts enables its use in a wide variety of contexts. However, the high activity of the enzyme also often leads to an increased fitness burden on the host, limiting the predictability of its interactions with and impact on physiology, and potentially leading to mutations to constructs. Here we use a synthetic biology approach to design and characterize a panel of T7 RNAP expression circuits with different modes of regulation that enable the reliable expression of downstream targets under a variety of conditions. First, we describe the construction of a minimal T7 RNAP expression system that is inducible by a small molecule anhydrotetracycline (aTc), and then characterize a self-limiting T7 RNAP expression circuit that provides better control over the amount of T7 RNAP produced upon induction. Finally, we characterize a so-called T7 RNAP homeostasis circuit that leads to constitutive, continuous, and sub-toxic levels of T7 RNAP. Coupled with previously characterized mutant T7 RNAP promoters in vitro, this modular framework can be used to achieve precise and predictable levels of output (sfGFP) in vivo. This new framework should now allow modeling and construction of T7 RNAP expression constructs that expand the utility of this enzyme for driving a variety of synthetic circuits and constructs.

  • Mass spectrometry-enabled structural biology of membrane proteins
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-03
    Antonio N. Calabrese, Sheena E. Radford
  • Studying structure and function of membrane proteins with PELDOR/DEER spectroscopy – a crystallographers’ perspective
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-03
    Janin Glaenzer, Martin F. Peter, Gregor Hagelueken

    In 1985, the first X-ray structure of a membrane protein was determined. Today, more than 30 years later, many more structures have been solved. Nevertheless, studying the structure of membrane proteins remains a very challenging task. Due to their inherent conformational flexibility, having a single X-ray structure is usually only the first step towards truly understanding the function of these dynamic molecules. For this reason, additional methods are needed that can provide complementary information, especially about conformational flexibility. Pulsed electron-electron double resonance spectroscopy (PELDOR, also known as DEER) is such a method. It can be used to precisely measure nanometer distance distributions between intrinsic or artificially introduced spin-centers in macromolecules and thereby to probe the conformational state of the macromolecule. PELDOR can be applied in solution, in detergent, in lipid bilayers and even within cells. However, PELDOR is an advanced spectroscopy technique and requires specialised equipment and training. This chapter aims to be a starting point for crystallographers and other structural biologists who want to get a better understanding of PELDOR spectroscopy and its application. It gives an insight into the planning stages of the experiment (i.e. which spin labels are possible, where to place the spin labels), estimating the spin labelling efficiency, how a PELDOR experiment is conducted and how the results are interpreted. For this purpose, the substrate binding protein (SBP) from a Vibrio cholerae TRAP transporter is used as a step-by-step example. Further, the chapter gives examples of how PELDOR spectroscopy has previously been applied to overcome known limitations of X-ray crystallography in modern integrative structural biology approaches.

  • Functional characterisation of G protein-coupled receptors
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-03
    Romez Uddin, John Simms, David Poyner

    Characterisation of receptors can involve either assessment of their ability to bind ligands or measure receptor activation as a result of agonist or inverse agonist interactions. This review focuses on G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), examining techniques that can be applied to both receptors in membranes and after solubilisation. Radioligand binding remains a widely used technique, although there is increasing use of fluorescent ligands. These can be used in a variety of experimental designs, either directly monitoring ligand itself with techniques such as fluorescence polarisation or indirectly via resonance energy transfer (fluorescence/Forster resonance energy transfer, FRET and bioluminescence resonance energy transfer, BRET). Label free techniques such as isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) and surface plasmon resonance (SPR) are also increasingly being used. For GPCRs, the main measure of receptor activation is to investigate the association of the G protein with the receptor. The chief assay measures the receptor-stimulated binding of GTP or a suitable analogue to the receptor. The direct association of the G protein with the receptor has been investigated via resonance energy techniques. These have also been used to measure ligand-induced conformational changes within the receptor; a variety of experimental techniques are available to incorporate suitable donors and acceptors within the receptor.

  • Characterization of Solution-Phase Drug-Protein Interactions by Ultrafast Affinity Extraction
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-03
    Sandya R. Beeram, Xiwei Zheng, Kyungah Suh, David S. Hage

    A number of tools based on high-performance affinity separations have been developed for studying drug-protein interactions. An example of one recent approach is ultrafast affinity extraction. This method has been employed to examine the free (or non-bound) fractions of drugs and other solutes in simple or complex samples that contain soluble binding agents. These free fractions have also been used to determine the binding constants and rate constants for the interactions of drugs with these soluble agents. This report describes the general principles of ultrafast affinity extraction and the experimental conditions under which it can be used to characterize such interactions. This method will be illustrated by utilizing data that have been obtained when using this approach to measure the binding and dissociation of various drugs with the serum transport proteins human serum albumin and alpha1-acid glycoprotein. A number of practical factors will be discussed that should be considered in the design and optimization of this approach for use with single-column or multi-column systems. Techniques will also be described for analyzing the resulting data for the determination of free fractions, rate constants and binding constants. In addition, the extension of this method to complex samples, such as clinical specimens, will be considered.

  • 3D FISH to analyse gene domain-specific chromatin re-modeling in human cancer cell lines
    Methods (IF 3.802) Pub Date : 2018-03-01
    Silvia Kocanova, Isabelle Goiffon, Kerstin Bystricky

    Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) is a common technique used to label DNA and/or RNA for detection of a genomic region of interest. However, the technique can be challenging, in particular when applied to single genes in human cancer cells. Here, we provide a step-by-step protocol for analysis of short (35kb to 300kb) genomic regions in three dimensions (3D). We discuss the experimental design and provide practical considerations for 3D imaging and data analysis to determine chromatin folding. We demonstrate that 3D FISH using BACs (Bacterial Artificial Chromosomes) or fosmids can provide detailed information of the architecture of gene domains. More specifically, we show that mapping of specific chromatin landscapes informs on changes associated with estrogen stimulated gene activity in human breast cancer cell lines.

Some contents have been Reproduced with permission of the American Chemical Society.
Some contents have been Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.
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