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Rosella: A Fluorescent pH-Biosensor for Studying Autophagy

Posted by Beth Kenkel on Apr 13, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Rosella is a pH-sensitive fluorescent biosensor that was recently deposited with Addgene by Dr. Mark Prescott. This system was developed for monitoring and analyzing autophagy of cytosol and organelles in yeast cells. Autophagy (Greek for “self-eating”) is induced by a lack of nutrients and targets cytosol and organelles to the vacuole/lysosome for degradation and recycling. The key to Rosella’s autophagy-sensing abilities is that its fluorescence emission spectra changes when it goes from a more neutral pH compartment, ­­like the cytosol, to the higher pH of the vacuole. Read on to learn more about prior methods for studying autophagy and how Rosella improves upon them.

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Topics: Fluorescent Proteins

Plasmids 101: Aptamer Fluorophores

Posted by Eric J. Perkins on Apr 11, 2017 10:30:00 AM

What is an Aptamer?

Nearly 30 years ago, two independent groups, led by Jack Szostak and Larry Gold, developed methods for selecting and amplifying RNA sequences that could bind very specifically to target molecules. Using a technique called systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX), some 1010 oligonucleotides could be screened for their affinity to a wide range of non-nucleotide targets. These RNA molecules, which could bind their targets with high specificity and affinity, were eventually called aptamers, from the Latin aptus, meaning “to fit”. SELEX could be used to classify DNA aptamers as well, and over the course of the next two decades, these nucleotide-based ligand binders would prove to be highly adaptable tools.

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Topics: Plasmids 101, Fluorescent Proteins

Plasmids for Endogenous Gene Tagging in Human Cells

Posted by Guest Blogger on Apr 6, 2017 9:02:59 AM

This post was contributed by the gene editing team at the Allen Institute for Cell Science. Learn more by visiting the Allen Cell Explorer at allencell.org and the Allen Institute website at alleninstitute.org.

A classic challenge in cell biology is making sure that what we observe through the microscope represents reality as accurately as possible. This is especially true in the case of protein tagging to elucidate cellular structures. Overexpression methods flood the cell with protein, which can both interfere with a cell’s normal function and result in a ubiquitous background signal that makes it hard to visualize the precise location of the protein or structure of interest.

Endogenous gene tagging is an ideal solution because it allows for tagging and visualization of specific, individual proteins under endogenous regulatory control. But even with the advent of CRISPR/Cas9 technology, inserting large tags into a precise location in the genome is still inefficient, particularly in human cell lines. Furthermore, the quality control necessary to ensure the edited cells are behaving normally can be prohibitively expensive for many labs.

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Topics: Plasmid How To, CRISPR, Techniques

Screening for Successful Genome Editing with Digital PCR

Posted by Guest Blogger on Mar 30, 2017 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed by Scott Findlay, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta.

If you’re like many researchers these days, you are ready to take (if you haven’t already) the plunge into the world of precision genome editing. When it comes time to (hopefully) validate successful mutation of your favourite gene, there are several different methods available. Thankfully, there are many great resources available to help guide you through the rough waters of mutation validation, such as this "CRISPR 101" post. Next-generation sequencing technologies are the gold standard but they remain cost-prohibitive for many labs, and are often impractical for small projects. Most researchers instead turn to so-called “mismatch nuclease” assays (e.g. Surveyor® or T7E1) for mutation detection. While these methods paved the way for mutation validation, we found these assays frustrating to work with, time consuming, and minimally informative. In this blog post, we’ll introduce digital PCR as an emerging validation technology. Digital PCR has several advantages over mismatch nuclease assays that will be elaborated below.

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Plasmids 101: SunTag and Fluorescent Imaging

Posted by Mary Gearing on Mar 28, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Quick Announcement from the Plasmids 101 Team: In preparation for the release of Addgene's Fluorescent Protein eBook - our next couple of plasmids 101 posts will gain a healthy, fluorescent glow. Stay tuned for more fluorescence-based Plasmid 101 posts in the coming weeks!

In biology as in life, more is often better. More transcription factor binding sites in a promoter lead to higher transcriptional activation. Multiple nuclear localization signals (NLS) increase protein import into the nucleus. In developing their SunTag technology, the Vale and Weissman labs took this biological lesson and created a system to amplify fluorescent signals. Named for the "stellar explosion SUperNova," SunTag can help you turn up the brightness in your fluorescent imaging experiments.

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Topics: Hot Plasmids, Plasmids 101, Fluorescent Proteins

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