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Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology

Dalen Chan, Chao Feng, Robert C Spitale
RNA molecules can be found at the heart of nearly every aspect of gene regulation: from gene expression to protein translation. The ability of RNA molecules to fold into intricate structures guides their function. Chemical methods to measure RNA structure have been part of the RNA biologists toolkit for several decades. These methods, although often cumbersome and difficult to perform on large RNAs, are notable for their accuracy and precision of structural measurements. Recent extension of these methods to transcriptome-wide analyses has opened the door to interrogating the structure of complete RNA molecules inside cells...
March 20, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Volker J Schmid, Marion Cremer, Thomas Cremer
Recent advancements of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy have revolutionized microscopic studies of cells, including the exceedingly complex structural organization of cell nuclei in space and time. In this paper we describe and discuss tools for (semi-) automated, quantitative 3D analyses of the spatial nuclear organization. These tools allow the quantitative assessment of highly resolved different chromatin compaction levels in individual cell nuclei, which reflect functionally different regions or sub-compartments of the 3D nuclear landscape, and measurements of absolute distances between sites of different chromatin compaction...
March 18, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Soowon Kang, Seunghyun Park, Sungroh Yoon, Hyeyoung Min
A "miRNA sponge" is an artificial oligonucleotide-based miRNA inhibitor containing multiple binding sites for a specific miRNA. Each miRNA sponge can bind and sequester several miRNA copies, thereby decreasing the cellular levels of the target miRNA. In addition to developing artificial miRNA sponges, scientists have sought endogenous RNA transcripts and found that long non-coding RNAs, competing endogenous RNAs, pseudogenes, circular RNAs, and coding RNAs could act as miRNA sponges under precise conditions...
March 17, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Andreas Schlundt, Jan-Niklas Tants, Michael Sattler
Recent advances in RNA sequencing technologies have greatly expanded our knowledge of the RNA landscape in cells, often with spatiotemporal resolution. These techniques identified many new (often non-coding) RNA molecules. Large-scale studies have also discovered novel RNA binding proteins (RBPs), which exhibit single or multiple RNA binding domains (RBDs) for recognition of specific sequence or structured motifs in RNA. Starting from these large-scale approaches it is crucial to unravel the molecular principles of protein-RNA recognition in ribonucleoprotein complexes (RNPs) to understand the underlying mechanisms of gene regulation...
March 15, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Xuejun Liu, Chuanxiao Xie, Huaijun Si, Jinxiao Yang
The increasing burden of the world's population on agriculture necessitates the development of more robust crops. As the amount of information from sequenced crop genomes increases, technology can be used to investigate the function of genes in detail and to design improved crops at the molecular level. Recently, an RNA-programmed genome-editing system composed of a clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-encoded guide RNA and the nuclease Cas9 has provided a powerful platform to achieve these goals...
March 14, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Diego M Presman, David A Ball, Ville Paakinaho, Jonathan B Grimm, Luke D Lavis, Tatiana S Karpova, Gordon L Hager
Progressive, technological achievements in the quantitative fluorescence microscopy field are allowing researches from many different areas to start unraveling the dynamic intricacies of biological processes inside living cells. From super-resolution microscopy techniques to tracking of individual proteins, fluorescence microscopy is changing our perspective on how the cell works. Fortunately, a growing number of research groups are exploring single-molecule studies in living cells. However, no clear consensus exists on several key aspects of the technique such as image acquisition conditions, or analysis of the obtained data...
March 14, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Jamie L Bingaman, Kyle J Messina, Philip C Bevilacqua
Reaction kinetics on the millisecond timescale pervade the protein and RNA fields. To study such reactions, investigators often perturb the system with abiological solution conditions or substrates in order to slow the rate to timescales accessible by hand-mixing; however, such perturbations can change the rate-limiting step and obscure key folding and chemical steps that are found under biological conditions. Mechanical methods for collecting data on the millisecond timescale, which allow these perturbations to be avoided, have been developed over the last few decades...
March 14, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Shahad Albadri, Filippo Del Bene, Céline Revenu
With its variety of applications, the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology has been rapidly evolving in the last few years. In the zebrafish community, knock-out reports are constantly increasing but insertion studies have been so far more challenging. With this review, we aim at giving an overview of the homologous directed repair (HDR)-based knock-in generation in zebrafish. We address the critical points and limitations of the procedure such as cutting efficiency of the chosen single guide RNA, use of cas9 mRNA or Cas9 protein, homology arm size etc...
March 11, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Matthew C Canver, Daniel E Bauer, Stuart H Orkin
ologies to interrogate non-coding regions have lagged behind coding regions despite comprising the vast majority of the genome. However, the rapid evolution of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-based genome editing has provided a multitude of novel techniques for laboratory investigation including significant contributions to the toolbox for studying non-coding DNA. CRISPR-mediated loss-of-function strategies rely on direct disruption of the underlying sequence or repression of transcription without modifying the targeted DNA sequence...
March 10, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Alexis Guernet, Luca Grumolato
The CRISPR/Cas9 revolution has democratized access to genome editing in many biological fields, including cancer research. Cancer results from the multistep accumulation of mutations that confer to the transformed cells certain biological hallmarks typical of the malignant phenotype. One of the major goals in cancer research is to characterize such mutations and assess their implication in the oncogenic process. Through CRISPR/Cas9 technology, genetic aberrations identified in a patient's tumor can now be easily recreated in experimental models, which can then be used for basic research or for more translational applications...
March 10, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Antoine Cléry, Thibault J M Sohier, Thomas Welte, Andreas Langer, Frédéric H T Allain
Characterization of RNA-binding protein interactions with RNA became inevitable to properly understand the cellular mechanisms involved in gene expression regulation. Structural investigations bring information at the atomic level on these interactions and complementary methods such as Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC) and Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) are commonly used to quantify the affinity of these RNA-protein complexes and evaluate the effect of mutations affecting these interactions. The switchSENSE technology has recently been developed and already successfully used to investigate protein interactions with different types of binding partners (DNA, protein/peptide or even small molecules)...
March 9, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Mohammad Reza Naghdi, Katia Smail, Joy X Wang, Fallou Wade, Ronald R Breaker, Jonathan Perreault
The discovery of noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) and their importance for gene regulation led us to develop bioinformatics tools to pursue the discovery of novel ncRNAs. Finding ncRNAs de novo is challenging, first due to the difficulty of retrieving large numbers of sequences for given gene activities, and second due to exponential demands on calculation needed for comparative genomics on a large scale. Recently, several tools for the prediction of conserved RNA secondary structure were developed, but many of them are not designed to uncover new ncRNAs, or are too slow for conducting analyses on a large scale...
March 6, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Maya Polishchuk, Inbal Paz, Refael Kohen, Rona Mesika, Zohar Yakhini, Yael Mandel-Gutfreund
RNA binding proteins (RBPs) play an important role in regulating many processes in the cell. RBPs often recognize their RNA targets in a specific manner. In addition to the RNA primary sequence, the structure of the RNA has been shown to play a central role in RNA recognition by RBPs. In recent years, many experimental approaches, both in-vitro and in-vivo, were developed and employed to identify and characterize RBP targets and extract their binding specificities. In-vivo binding techniques, such as CrossLinking and ImmunoPrecipitation (CLIP)-based methods, enable the characterization of protein binding sites on RNA targets...
March 5, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Eckhard Jankowsky, Michael E Harris
To function in a biological setting, RNA binding proteins (RBPs) have to discriminate between alternative binding sites in RNAs. This discrimination can occur in the ground state of an RNA-protein binding reaction, in its transition state, or in both. The extent by which RBPs discriminate at these reaction states defines RBP specificity landscapes. Here, we describe the HiTS-Kin and HiTS-EQ techniques, which combine kinetic and equilibrium binding experiments with high throughput sequencing to quantitatively assess substrate discrimination for large numbers of substrate variants at ground and transition states of RNA-protein binding reactions...
March 2, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Benedikt Wefers, Sanum Bashir, Jana Rossius, Ralf Kühn
The generation of targeted mouse mutants is a key technology for biomedical research. Using the CRISPR/Cas9 system for induction of targeted double-strand breaks, gene editing can be performed in a single step directly in mouse zygotes. This article covers the design of knockout and knockin alleles, preparation of reagents, microinjection or electroporation of zygotes and the genotyping of pups derived from gene editing projects. In addition we include a section for the control of experimental settings by targeting the Rosa26 locus and PCR based genotyping of blastocysts...
March 2, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Thomas A Nketia, Heba Sailem, Gustavo Rohde, Raghu Machiraju, Jens Rittscher
Advances in optical microscopy, biosensors and cell culturing technologies have transformed live cell imaging. Thanks to these advances live cell imaging plays an increasingly important role in basic biology research as well as at all stages of drug development. Image analysis methods are needed to extract quantitative information from these vast and complex data sets. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of available image analysis methods for live cell imaging, in particular required preprocessing image segmentation, cell tracking and data visualisation methods...
February 27, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Michael Uhl, Torsten Houwaart, Gianluca Corrado, Patrick R Wright, Rolf Backofen
CLIP-seq experiments are currently the most important means for determining the binding sites of RNA binding proteins on a genome-wide level. The computational analysis can be divided into three steps. In the first pre-processing stage, raw reads have to be trimmed and mapped to the genome. This step has to be specifically adapted for each CLIP-seq protocol. The next step is peak calling, which is required to remove unspecific signals and to determine bona fide protein binding sites on target RNAs. Here, both protocol-specific approaches as well as generic peak callers are available...
February 22, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Joseph Russo, Adam M Heck, Jeffrey Wilusz, Carol J Wilusz
Changes in the rate of mRNA decay are closely coordinated with transcriptional changes and together these events have profound effects on gene expression during development and disease. Traditional approaches to assess mRNA decay have relied on inhibition of transcription, which can alter mRNA decay rates and confound interpretation. More recently, metabolic labeling combined with chemical modification and fractionation of labeled RNAs has allowed the isolation of nascent transcripts and the subsequent calculation of mRNA decay rates...
February 20, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Zhongyu Li, Dimitris N Metaxas, Aidong Lu, Shaoting Zhang
This paper proposes a novel framework to help biologists explore and analyze neurons based on retrieval of data from neuron morphological databases. In recent years, the continuously expanding neuron databases provide a rich source of information to associate neuronal morphologies with their functional properties. We design a coarse-to-fine framework for efficient and effective data retrieval from large-scale neuron databases. In the coarse-level, for efficiency in large-scale, we employ a binary coding method to compress morphological features into binary codes of tens of bits...
February 17, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
Jerrin Thomas George, Seergazhi G Srivatsan
Recent developments in RNA labeling technology have provided viable tools to analyze RNA synthesis, processing and function in cell-free and cellular environments. Notably, emerging methodologies based on posttranscriptional chemical labeling by using bioorthogonal chemistry have enabled the visualization and profiling of exogenous and endogenous RNA transcripts. In this review, we first give an overview of different RNA labeling strategies based on chemical as well as genetically encoded systems. Subsequently, we provided a detailed discussion on methodologies that have been developed to introduce various bioorthogonal reactive groups into RNA transcripts, which are compatible for posttranscriptional functionalization...
February 16, 2017: Methods: a Companion to Methods in Enzymology
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