VHH Nanobodies in Superresolution Imaging and More

From the large number of recent publications using GFP-Trap beads, it appears that GFP-Trap is on the way to becoming one the most popular tags for co-IP thanks to its unparalleled “cleanness” of precipitated protein bands and its quantitative binding capabilities. As described previously, the antibody conjugated on the GFP-Trap beads is a single-domain antigen binding module from camelid single-chain antibodies. Termed VHH, this domain is only ~12 kD and can fit into structures that other types of antibodies cannot. We have successfully created VHH antibodies against a number of neural factors as a research project for the NIDA/NIH.

VHH antibodies are often called nanobodies as a result of their size (1.5 – 2.5nm) and binding affinity ( GFP-trap has a binding affinity of 0.59nM). In addition to their use for co-IP, VHH antibodies have proven themselves as a resilient tool for various other applications. Anti-GFP nanobodies, for example, are currently used to enhance the fluorescence of GFP (GFP-trap booster utilizes the same VHH binding antibody coupled to a fluorescent dye); others have used VHH antibodies that can insert into certain part of GFP to dim the fluorescence signal . More recently, Ries et al. published in Nature Methods that the anti-GFP nanobodies offered a simple and versatile method for super-resolution imaging (i.e. PALM)-previously super-resolution imaging requires photoconvertible fluorescent proteins (such as Eos, mClavGR2). With dye-conjugated nanobodies, generating fusions to these newer FPs is no longer needed, however, using the nanobody super-imaging method requires fixing and permeabilizing the cells.

When using anti-GFP VHH reagents you need to be aware that other fluorescent proteins can also be recognized, if they were derived from the avGFP (jellyfish GFP). Also, some GFPs are not recognized if they are from another species, or engineered such as our mWasabi. We are producing newer and brighter GFP/YFPs based on the lancelet YFP protein to offer alternative series that will not be cross-recognized by the GFP-Trap antibodies.

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Record number of papers citing the GFP-Trap group products in 2011

The following are references in regards to GFP Trap published in the second half of 2011 (not a complete list); a high quality GFP-binding protein based on a single domain antibody derived from Camelids. It is characterized by a small barrel shaped structure (13 KDa, 2.5nm X 4.5 nm) and a very high stability (stable up to 70°C, functional within 2M NaCl or 0.5% SDS). With much greater stability, specificity, and affnity, GFP-Trap®, the recent addition to antibodies for immunoprecipitation, should make GFP the most suitable tag for immunoprecipitation assays.

For live PubMed links, view this version please.

Krastev, D. B., Slabicki, M., et al. (2011). A systematic RNAi synthetic interaction screen reveals a link between p53 and snoRNP assembly. Nature Cell Biology. 13: 809-818. PubMed

Aboobakar, E. F., Wang, X., et al. (2011). The C2 domain protein Cts1 functions in the calcineurin signaling circuit during high temperature stress responses in Cryptococcus neoformans. Eukaryotic Cell. EC. 05148-05111v05141. PubMed

Uhrig, R. G. and Moorhead, G. B. G. (2011). Two ancient bacterial-like PPP family phosphatases from Arabidopsis thaliana are highly conserved plant proteins that possess unique properties. Plant Physiology. PubMed

Larance, M., Kirkwood, K. J., et al. (2011). Characterization of MRFAP1 Turnover and Interactions Downstream of the NEDD8 Pathway. Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. PubMed

Hattersley, N., Shen, L., et al. (2011). The SUMO protease SENP6 is a direct regulator of PML nuclear bodies. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 22: 78-90. PubMed

Rancz, E. A., Franks, K. M., et al. (2011). Transfection via whole-cell recording in vivo: bridging single-cell physiology, genetics and connectomics. Nature Neuroscience. 14: 527-532. PubMed

Palmer, C. S., Osellame, L. D., et al. (2011). MiD49 and MiD51, new components of the mitochondrial fission machinery. EMBO reports. 12: 565-573. PubMed

Pichler, G., Wolf, P., et al. (2011). Cooperative DNA and histone binding by Uhrf2 links the two major repressive epigenetic pathways. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry. 112: 2585-2593. PubMed

Mitchell, L., Lau, A., et al. (2011). Regulation of Septin Dynamics by the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Lysine Acetyltransferase NuA4. PLoS One. 6: e25336. PubMed

Engeland, C. E., Oberwinkler, H., et al. (2011). The cellular protein Lyric interacts with HIV-1 Gag. Journal of virology. JVI. 00174-00111v00171. PubMed

Wang, C. and Youle, R. (2011). Predominant requirement of Bax for apoptosis in HCT116 cells is determined by Mcl-1’s inhibitory effect on Bak. Oncogene. PubMed

Tulloch, L. B., Howie, J., et al. (2011). The inhibitory effect of phospholemman on the sodium pump requires its palmitoylation. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 286: 36020-36031. PubMed

Sun, L. and Wang, C. C. (2011). The Structural Basis of Localizing Polo-Like Kinase to the Flagellum Attachment Zone in Trypanosoma brucei. PLoS One. 6: e27303. PubMed

Bouttier, M., Saumet, A., et al. (2011). Retroviral GAG proteins recruit AGO2 on viral RNAs without affecting RNA accumulation and translation. Nucleic acids research. PubMed

Matos, J., Blanco, M. G., et al. (2011). Regulatory Control of the Resolution of DNA Recombination Intermediates during Meiosis and Mitosis. Cell. 147: 158-172. PubMed

Nagel, C. H., Albrecht, N., et al. (2011). Herpes Simplex Virus Immediate-Early Protein ICP0 Is Targeted by SIAH-1 for Proteasomal Degradation. Journal of virology. 85: 7644. PubMed

Studencka, M., Konzer, A., et al. (2011). Novel roles of C. elegans heterochromatin protein HP1 and linker histone in the regulation of innate immune gene expression. Molecular and Cellular Biology.PubMed

Muehlen, S., Ruchaud-Sparagano, M. H., et al. (2011). Proteasome-independent Degradation of Canonical NFŒ?B Complex Components by the NleC Protein of Pathogenic Escherichia coli. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 286: 5100. PubMed

Galan, J. A., Paris, L. L., et al. (2011). Proteomic Studies of Syk-Interacting Proteins Using a Novel Amine-Specific Isotope Tag and GFP Nanotrap. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. 1-10. PubMed

Chamousset, D., De Wever, V., et al. (2010). RRP1B Targets PP1 to Mammalian Cell Nucleoli and is Associated with Pre-60S Ribosomal Subunits. Mol Biol Cell. PubMed

Kovacs, E. M., Verma, S., et al. (2011). N-WASP regulates the epithelial junctional actin cytoskeleton through a non-canonical post-nucleation pathway. Nature Cell Biology. 13: 934-943. PubMed

Boysen, K. E. and Matuschewski, K. (2011). Arrested oocyst maturation in Plasmodium parasites lacking type II NADH: ubiquinone dehydrogenase. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 286: 32661-32671. PubMed

Mortusewicz, O., Fouquerel, E., et al. (2011). PARG is recruited to DNA damage sites through poly (ADP-ribose)-and PCNA-dependent mechanisms. Nucleic acids research. 39: 5045. PubMed

Graewe, S., Rankin, K. E., et al. (2011). Hostile takeover by Plasmodium: reorganization of parasite and host cell membranes during liver stage egress. PLoS Pathogens. 7: e1002224. PubMed

Yang, X. D., Huang, S., et al. (2011). Distinct and mutually inhibitory binding by two divergent Œ?-catenins coordinates TCF levels and activity in C. elegans. Development. 138: 4255-4265. PubMed

Pollithy, A., Romer, T., et al. (2011). Magnetosome expression of functional camelid antibody fragments (nanobodies) in Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense. Applied and environmental microbiology. 77: 6165-6171. PubMed

Kozubowski, L., Thompson, J. W., et al. (2011). Association of Calcineurin with the COPI Protein Sec28 and the COPII Protein Sec13 Revealed by Quantitative Proteomics. PLoS One. 6: e25280. PubMed

Garcia-Gomez, J. J., Lebaron, S., et al. (2011). Dynamics of the putative RNA helicase Spb4 during ribosome assembly in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Molecular and Cellular Biology. 31: 4156-4164. PubMed

Van Damme, D., Gadeyne, A., et al. (2011). Adaptin-like protein TPLATE and clathrin recruitment during plant somatic cytokinesis occurs via two distinct pathways. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108: 615. PubMed

Qvist, P., Huertas, P., et al. (2011). CtIP Mutations Cause Seckel and Jawad Syndromes. PLoS Genetics. 7: e1002310. PubMed

Labella, S., Woglar, A., et al. (2011). Polo Kinases Establish Links between Meiotic Chromosomes and Cytoskeletal Forces Essential for Homolog Pairing. Developmental Cell. PubMed

Harterink, M., Port, F., et al. (2011). A SNX3-dependent retromer pathway mediates retrograde transport of the Wnt sorting receptor Wntless and is required for Wnt secretion. Nature Cell Biology. 13: 914-923. PubMed

Konopacki, F. A., Jaafari, N., et al. (2011). Agonist-induced PKC phosphorylation regulates GluK2 SUMOylation and kainate receptor endocytosis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.PubMed

Chuhma, N., Tanaka, K. F., et al. (2011). Functional connectome of the striatal medium spiny neuron. The Journal of Neuroscience. 31: 1183-1192. PubMed

Jackson, B. R., Boyne, J. R., et al. (2011). An Interaction between KSHV ORF57 and UIF Provides mRNA-Adaptor Redundancy in Herpesvirus Intronless mRNA Export. PLoS Pathogens. 7: e1002138. PubMed

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Finding the Best Capture Reagents

As capture reagents, monoclonal antibodies are the most widely used reagents for specifically detecting and quantifying proteins due to their very high specificity. However, development of monoclonal antibodies is time-consuming and expensive. In addition, many antigens prove to be non-immunogenic or extremely toxic, and therefore cannot be used to generate antibodies in animals. Furthermore, the large size of monoclonal antibodies (150 kDa) may limit their use in cases where more than one binding reagent competes for space to recognize closely juxtaposed epitopes. These limitations could arguably be the biggest hurdles to using monoclonal antibodies as capture reagents for a systematic study of the complete human proteome or for clinical applications of advanced proteomics.

Therefore, alternative capture reagents with high specificity, high affinity, and flexible size and structure that can be easily and cost-effectively produced are urgently needed in order to accelerate proteomic research. Single-chain variable-fragment (scFv) antibodies have been commonly used as alternatives in this regard. scFv is comprised of only the light chain and heavy chain variable regions connected by a peptide linker and with a molecular weight of 27 kDa. Since scFv retains the antigen-binding site of the variable regions, it inherits the specificity of an intact antibody and affinity. In addition, scFv can be easily expressed in yeast or in E. coli with yields in milligrams per liter. scFv can be linked to Fc of desired species specificity and maintain binding properties. If necessary, there is also the option of converting scFv into other antibody formats such as Fab or full IgG by simple cloning steps. The converted antibodies can also be efficiently expressed and purified in yeast or E. coli.

More recently, single domain antibodies that exist in nature were discovered that can be as small as half the size of scFv, and judging from the available data, superior in binding capabilities to scFv or even traditional IgG antibodies. This type of affinity molecules, termed VHH isolated from camelid animals or nurse shark, can be highly expressed in E. coli, linked to a fluorescent protein marker, or chemically conjugated to HRP or other signal generating moieties through a one step reaction.

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    Choosing siRNA, shRNA, and miRNA for Gene Silencing

    RNAi refers to dsRNA-induced gene silencing, a cellular process that degrades RNA homologous to one strand of the dsRNA [1, 2]. The intermediates of long dsRNA-initiated RNAi are double-stranded small interfering RNAs (siRNA), typically 21-23 nucleotide (nt) long. The siRNAs, when introduced into cells, can be used to silence genes in mammalian systems where long dsRNAs prompt protein kinase R (PKR), RNase L, and interferon activities that result in non-specific RNA degradation and general shutdown of protein synthesis [3]. siRNAs can either be chemically synthesized then directly transfected into cells or can be generated inside the cell by introducing vectors that express short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) precursors of siRNAs. The process of shRNA into functional siRNA involves cellular RNAi machinery that naturally process genome encoded microRNAs (miRNA) that are responsible for cellular regulation of gene expression by modulating mRNA stability, translation, and chromatin structures [4].

    Chemically synthesized siRNA is the simplest format for RNAi. One of the biggest hurdles for achieving effective RNAi with siRNA is that many cells are difficult to transfect. An RNAi experiment is typically considered successful when the target gene expression is reduced by >70%, a threshold not reachable by many types of cells due to their low transfection efficiency. Another drawback of using synthetic siRNA is the limited duration of post-transfection effects, typically with gene silencing activities peaking around 24 hours, and diminishing within 48 hours [5]. Chemical synthesis of siRNA, which is a service Allele Biotech and Orbigen (now merged under the Allele brand) pioneered and still provides, is expensive on a per transfection basis relative to DNA vector based reagents.

    shRNA can be introduced by DNA plasmid, linear template, or packaged retroviral/lentiviral vectors. Using any form of DNA construct, except the PCR template format such as Allele’s LineSilence platform, requires creating DNA constructs and sequence verification; a taxing work load if multiple genes need to be studied. However, once the constructs are made, they can be reproduced easily and inexpensively. It is difficult to directly compare the effectiveness of siRNA versus shRNA on a per molecule basis because RNA polymerase III (Pol III) promoters such as U6 or H1 commonly used to express shRNAs can make thousands of copies of shRNA from a single DNA template. However when both siRNA and shRNA are produced the same way, e.g. synthesized chemically, shRNA is reported to be somewhat more effective [6, 7]. For the goals of this research, the most important advantage using shRNA can provide over siRNA is that it can be carried on a lentiviral vector and introduced into a wide variety of cells.

    Similar to the comparison between siRNA versus shRNA, it is also difficult to rank the efficiency of shRNA versus miRNA from published data, partly due to different results from different experimental systems. There have been several reports that showed shRNA can cause significant cell toxicity, especially in vivo such as after injection into mouse brain. It was originally reasoned that highly efficient expression from Pol III promoters might overwhelm the cellular machinery that is needed to execute endogenous RNAi functions such as transporting miRNA from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. It was later found out that even using Pol III promoter to create miRNA could still mitigate the toxic effects of shRNA [8]. Since shRNA and miRNA are processed by endonuclease Dicer before being incorporated into RNA induced silencing complex (RISC), the exact identity of siRNAs produced from a given shRNA or miRNA targeting the same region on the mRNA are not known in most of the earlier studies. By designing shRNA and miRNA to give exactly the same processed siRNAs, Boudreau et al. showed that shRNA is actually more potent than miRNA in various systems [9].

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    1. Fire, A., S. Xu, M.K. Montgomery, S.A. Kostas, S.E. Driver, and C.C. Mello, Potent and specific genetic interference by double-stranded RNA in Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature, 1998. 391(6669): p. 806-11.
    2. Hannon, G.J., RNA interference. Nature, 2002. 418(6894): p. 244-51.
    3. McManus, M.T. and P.A. Sharp, Gene silencing in mammals by small interfering RNAs. Nat Rev Genet, 2002. 3(10): p. 737-47.
    4. Hutvagner, G. and P.D. Zamore, A microRNA in a multiple-turnover RNAi enzyme complex. Science, 2002. 297(5589): p. 2056-60.
    5. Rao, D.D., J.S. Vorhies, N. Senzer, and J. Nemunaitis, siRNA vs. shRNA: similarities and differences. Adv Drug Deliv Rev, 2009. 61(9): p. 746-59.
    6. Vlassov, A.V., B. Korba, K. Farrar, S. Mukerjee, A.A. Seyhan, H. Ilves, R.L. Kaspar, D. Leake, S.A. Kazakov, and B.H. Johnston, shRNAs targeting hepatitis C: effects of sequence and structural features, and comparision with siRNA. Oligonucleotides, 2007. 17(2): p. 223-36.
    7. Siolas, D., C. Lerner, J. Burchard, W. Ge, P.S. Linsley, P.J. Paddison, G.J. Hannon, and M.A. Cleary, Synthetic shRNAs as potent RNAi triggers. Nat Biotechnol, 2005. 23(2): p. 227-31.
    8. McBride, J.L., R.L. Boudreau, S.Q. Harper, P.D. Staber, A.M. Monteys, I. Martins, B.L. Gilmore, H. Burstein, R.W. Peluso, B. Polisky, B.J. Carter, and B.L. Davidson, Artificial miRNAs mitigate shRNA-mediated toxicity in the brain: implications for the therapeutic development of RNAi. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2008. 105(15): p. 5868-73.
    9. Boudreau, R.L., A.M. Monteys, and B.L. Davidson, Minimizing variables among hairpin-based RNAi vectors reveals the potency of shRNAs. Rna, 2008. 14(9): p. 1834-44.

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    Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 RNAi patent landscape, Viruses and cells No Comments

    Immunoprecipitation Tags

    Immunoprecipitation is a process of isolating a protein as an antigen by using antibodies against it. It is a powerful tool for studying proteins in biological samples and, in case of Co-IP (meaning immunoprecipitation of complexes containing a known antigen), for analyzing protein-protein interactions. Similar technologies such as chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), RNA immunoprecipitation (RIP), or crosslinked and iImmunoprecipitation of RNA-protein complexes (CLIP) aid analysis of protein-DNA or protein-RNA interactions.

    The major obstacle for achieving effective immunoprecipitation is the difficulty of finding usable antibodies against a target of interest. A common practice is to use tags that are fused to the C- or N-terminus of the target protein, thereby any validated, commercially available antibody can be used for co-IP in different experimental systems. However, caution must be exercised against potential interference of biological functions from the added tags. In general, one should choose tags that have been tested in many situations and proven non-interfering; still, each biological system is different. Independent validation or supporting data should be used when interpreting results from tag-based co-IP.

    Tags are often selected based on high quality and commercially available antibodies. Most commonly used tags include: FLAG, Myc, HA, V5, T7, and His, which are quite small in size and in theory less likely to interfere. GST and GFP are in between 20-30kDa, but they are well documented to form self-contained and stable structures independent of their fusion partners and proved to not interfere in many cases. GST can bind to glutathione beads directly, therefore a top choice for pulldown experiments. GFP or other FPs as tags have the advantages of being also a visualization module to follow the protein both inside cells and during pulldown. However, previously available anti-GFP antibodies, either polyclonal or monoclonal, are not comparable to those against other tags, thereby limiting the use of GFP as fusion tag in pulldown experiments.

    GFP-Trap, a recent addition to anti-tag antibodies, is an E. coli expressed, single domain fragment derived from camelid heavy chain antibodies (VHH antibodies) with much higher stability, specificity, and affinity, making GFP based pulldown quantitative. This recent advancement should make GFP in line to become the most suitable tags for many aforementioned precipitation experiments.

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