With the use of a suite of “-omics” technologies you can examine the way in which complex cellular processes work together across all molecular domains (i.e., proteomics, metabolomics, transcriptomics) in a single biological system. Several studies have been published across a wide range of fields illustrating the power of such a unified approach (1,2). Most studies however did not focus on the development of a high-throughput, unified sample preparation approach to complement high-throughput “omic” analytics.
A recent publication by Gutierrez and colleagues presents a simple high-throughput process (SPOT) that has been optimized to provide high-quality specimens for metabolomics, proteomics, and transcriptomics from a common cell culture sample (3). They demonstrate that this approach can process 16−24 samples from a cell pellet to a desalted sample ready for mass spectrometry analysis within 9 hours. They also demonstrated that the combined process did not sacrifice the quality of data when compared to individual sample preparation methods.
1. Roume, H. (2013) Sequential Isolation of Metabolites, RNA, DNA, and Proteins from the Same Unique Sample. Methods Enzymol. 531, 219−236.
2. Lo, A. W. et al. (2017) ‘Omic’ Approaches to Study Uropathogenic Escherichia Coli Virulence. Trends Microbiol. 25, 729−740.
3. Gutierrez, D. et al. (2018) An Integrated, High-Throughput Strategy for Multiomic Systems Level Analysis J. Proteome Res.
My former research career was spent in academic laboratories, and I don’t have first-hand experience in the world of bioprocessing. However in my current job as a science writer/copy editor, I create product information and literature about products that are useful to bioprocessing engineers and technicians, and thus wanted to learn more about this diverse area, where discovery and processing of biomaterials results in better therapeutic drugs, better biofuels and even healthier foods.
Bioprocessing is a combination of biological science and chemistry, and a burgeoning science field. Burgeoning is an understatement. Exploding is a much more apt description.
This 2011 Science magazine careers article defines bioprocessing thusly:
“Bioprocessing is an expanding field encompassing any process that uses living cells or their components (e.g., bacteria, enzymes, or chloroplasts) to obtain desired products, such as biofuels and therapeutics.”
Schematic showing immuno-enrichment using High Capacity Magne® Streptavidin Beads.
During preclinical research and development of therapeutic antibodies, multiple variants of each antibody are assessed for pharmacokinetic (PK) characteristics across model systems such as rodents, beagles and primates. Ligand-binding assays (LBA) or liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry(LC–MS/MS)-based methods represent the two most common technologies used to perform the PK studies for mAb candidates(1,2).
Using either method it is essential to ensure accurate quantitative results that the initial enrichment of the target therapeutic antibody from serum or plasma be optimal. Biotinylated antibodies or antigens (against the therapeutic targets) immobilized onto high capacity streptavidin beads will enrich therapeutic antibody from serum or plasma samples. (Figure13666MC.eps). The affinity of biotin for streptavidin (Kd = 10–15) is one of the strongest and most stable interactions in biology therefore the biotin-streptavidin interaction cannot be reversed under non-denaturing conditions. Hence, it is possible to perform extensive washing to remove nonspecifically bound protein and elute therapeutic antibodies without also eluting the biotinylated component, thus improving the detection limit.
Magnetic based separation techniques have several advantages in comparison with standard separation procedures. This process is usually very simple, with only a few handling steps. All the steps of the purification procedure can take place in one single test tube. The magnetic separation techniques are also the basis of various automated procedures. Learn more about the High Capacity Magne™ Streptavidin Beads (Cat # V7820) .
Antibodies labeled with small molecules such as fluorophore, biotin or drugs play a critical role in various areas of biological research,drug discovery and diagnostics. There are several limitations to current methods for labeling antibodies including the need for purified antibodies at high concentrations and multiple buffer exchange steps.
In a recent publication, a method (on-bead conjugation) is described that addresses these limitations by combining antibody purification and conjugation in a single workflow. This method uses high capacity-magnetic Protein A or Protein G beads to capture antibodies directly from cell media followed by conjugation with small molecules and elution of conjugated antibodies from the beads.
Using a variety of fluorophores the researchers show that the on-bead conjugation method is compatible with both thiol- and amine-based chemistry.
This method enables simple and rapid processing of multiple samples in parallel with high-efficiency antibody recovery. It is further shown that recovered antibodies are functional and compatible with downstream applications.
Nidhi, N. et al. (2015) On-bead antibody-small molecule conjugation using high-capacity magnetic bead J. Immunol. Methods http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jim.2015.08.008
Protein phosphorylation is a very important protein post-translational modification that controls many cellular processes including metabolism, transcriptional and translation regulation, degradation of proteins, cellular signaling and communication, proliferation, differentiation, and cell survival (1). Approximately 35% of human proteins are phosphorylated. Phosphoproteins are low in abundance, and, therefore, are challenging to detect and characterize by mass spectrometry. Different enrichment systems have been developed to isolate phosphopeptides. Among these techniques, immobilized metal affinity chromatography (IMAC) using Fe3+ and Ga3+ has been widely used for the enrichment of phosphopeptides.
Typical experimental workflows are tedious and consist of numerous steps, including sample collection and cell lysis. One of the major challenges of the process is to maintain the in vivo phosphorylation state of the proteins throughout the preparation process
To evaluate the effect of sample collection protocols on the global phosphorylation status of the cell, a recent paper by Kashin et al. compared different sample workflows by metabolic labeling and quantitative mass spectrometry on Saccharomyces cerevisiae cell cultures (2).
Three different sample collection workflows were evaluated: two that used denaturating conditions and involved mixing of cell cultures with an excess of either ethanol (EtOH) at −80 °C or trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and a third under nondenaturing conditions and washing the cells in PBS.
Their data suggest that either TCA or EtOH sample collection protocols introduced lower collection bias than the PBS protocol. It was also suggested that similar studies be carried out to determine what effects sample preparation has on other post translation modifications such as acetylation or ubiquitination.
- Thingholm T.E. et al, (2009) Analytical strategies for phosphoproteomics. Proteomics 9,1451–68
- Kanshin, E. et al. (2015) Sample Collection Method Bias Effects in Quantitative Phosphoproteomics. J Proteome Res. 14, 2998-04.
Many different polypeptide fusion partners or affinity tags have been developed to facilitate purification of target proteins. The most commonly used tag for the purification and detection of recombinant expressed proteins is the His tag. Cloning vectors designed to generate His-tagged proteins contain 5–10 histidine residues at either the C- or N terminus of the expressed protein. The His tag adds only 0.84kDa to the mass of the protein and is nonimmunogenic. Also, because the tertiary structure of the tag is not important for purification, His-tagged proteins can be purified using native or denaturing conditions. The affinity of histidine residues for immobilized nickel allows selective purification of His-tagged proteins. The MagneHis™ Ni-Particles can bind up to 1mg of His-tagged protein per milliliter of particles providing a fast, efficient method for purifying His-tagged proteins with high yield and low background in a highly scalable format.
Bacterial expression of recombinant His-tagged proteins is a common technique. However, use of other systems, such as Sf9 insect cells,or HeLa or CHO mammalian cells for expression of recombinant proteins either intracellularly or secreted into the culture medium is increasing. These eukaryotic expression systems may allow more natural processing and modification of recombinant His-tagged proteins.
The following article: illustrates the use of FastBreak™ Cell Lysis Reagent and the MagneHis™ Protein Purification System with insect and mammalian cell lysates. Proteins are purified from culture medium in the presence or absence of serum with only minior modifications to the standard protocol for bacterial cultures are required for purification from these diverse sources.
Crystal structure of Polyhistidine tagged recombinant catalytic subunit of cAMP-dependent protein kinase. Credit: StructureID=1fmo; DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.2210/pdb1fmo/pdb;
Researchers often need to purify a single protein for further study. One method for isolating a specific protein is the use of affinity tags. Affinity purification tags can be fused to any recombinant protein of interest, allowing fast and easy purification following a procedure that is based on the affinity properties of the tag.
The most commonly used tag to purify and detect recombinant expressed proteins is the polyhistidine tag. Protein purification using polyhistidine tags relies on the affinity of histidine residues for immobilized metal such as nickel, which allows selective protein purification. The metal is immobilized to a support through complex formation with a chelate that is covalently attached to the support.
Polyhistidine tags offer several advantages for protein purification. The small size of the polyhistidine tag renders it less immunogenic than other larger tags. Therefore, the tag usually does not need to be removed for downstream applications following purification.
A large number of commercial expression vectors that contain polyhistidine are available. The polyhistidine tag may be placed on either the N- or C-terminus of the protein of interest.
And finally, the interaction of the polyhistidine tag with the metal does not depend on the tertiary structure of the tag, making it possible to purify otherwise insoluble proteins using denaturing conditions. The resulting purified protein can be used for a variety of applications.
The following references illustrate examples of some of the most common post purification applications with fusion proteins containing a polyhistidine tag:
- Negi, V-S. et al. (2014) A carbon nitrogen Lyase from Leucaena leucocephala catalyzes the first Step of mimosine degradation. Plant Physiol. 164, 922–34.
- Yu, S. et al. (2013) Syk Inhibits the activity of protein kinase A by phosphorylation tyrosine of the catalytic subunit. J. Biol. Chem. 288, 10870-81.
- Rusconi, B. et al. (2013) Discovery of catalases in members of the Chiamydiales order. J. Bact. 195, 3543–51.
- Araiso, Y. et al. (2014) Crystal structure of Saccharomyces cerevisiae mitochondrial GatFAB a novel subunit assembly in tRNA –dependent amidotransferases. Nucl.Acids. Res.(available only online).
- Someya, T. et al. (2012) Crystal Structure of Hfq from Bacillus subtilis in complex with SELEX-dervived RNA aptamer: insight into RNA-binding properties of bacterial Hfq. Nucl. Acid Res. 40, 1856-67.
- Yun, S-C. et al. (2010) Pmr a Histone-like protein H1 (H-NS) family protein encoded by the IncP-7 plasmid pCAR1, is a key global regulator that alters host function. J.Bact. 192, 4720–31.
- Haim, H. et al. (2010) Cytokeratin 8 interacts with clumping factor B: a new possible virulence factor target. Microbiology 156, 3710-21.
His-tagged Protein Purification Systems
When I was characterizing proteins in graduate school, my life was filled with constructs, constructs, constructs. I made a variety of subclones to synthesize and isolate parts and pieces of the protein in vitro. I made clones and subclones to generate a panel of antibodies against different parts of the protein. Some of those antibodies ended up working best on Westerns; others performed better in immunocytochemistry experiments. There was no one tool or tag that could be used for every step in the characterization of the protein.
HaloTag® Technology: A single, multifunctional protein fusion tag.
Halotag® fusion tag changes that.
The HaloTag® fusion tag spans both worlds of looking at proteins in isolation for studies of protein interactions and post-translational modifications to studying proteins in cells through real-time imaging or localization studies. Continue reading
Cleavage of 20µg of GST-MBP fusion protein with ProTEV protease after 60 minutes at 30°C.
Many proteins are expressed as fusion partners with affinity tags, such as the HaloTag® fusion, glutathione-S-transferase (GST) or maltose binding protein (MBP), to selectively bind the proteins using affinity purification resins. While such resins yield high-purity protein quickly, the large affinity tags are undesirable for some downstream applications. Most expression vectors are designed with a specific protein cleavage site between the two fusion partners to remove the affinity tag after purification. ProTEV Protease recognizes a rare amino acid sequence, EXXYXQ, where X is any amino acid, and cleaves after the glutamine residue.
ProTEV Plus functions over a broad pH and temperature range. In a recent study the enzymatic activity of ProTEV Plus in the presence of various compounds (Table 1) commonly found in protein purification protocols were evaluated. Continue reading
Today we can see inside the cell and identify protein interactions in their native environment. Many proteins have been characterized in a macromolecular complex, in an individual cell, or in the whole organism. We study proteins in their native environment because they rarely work in isolation. The study of intracellular protein interactions has been challenged by the ability to efficiently capture and preserve protein complexes, especially when attempting to isolate weak or transient interactions. In a recent webinar Rob Chumanov took us through techniques used to study proteins in their native environment and highlighted the most efficient method for studying them based on the HaloTag® covalent tag.
The older generation of protein tags is not ideal for studying protein interactions. These routine protein tags have been adapted for specific narrow applications, such as GFP for live-cell imaging and epitope tags (His, FLAG, and GST) for both fixed-cell imaging and capture of protein:protein interactions. As a consequence, often researchers create multiple protein fusion constructs with different tags in order to optimally characterize protein function. In contrast, HaloTag® technology provides broad flexibility for both imaging and biochemical applications with a single tag that binds rapidly, covalently, and specifically to synthetic small molecule ligands that ultimately determine the functionality of HaloTag®. Continue reading