The BLAST programs are widely used tools for searching protein and DNA databases for sequence similarities. For protein comparisons, a variety of definitional, algorithmic and statistical refinements described here permits the execution time of the BLAST programs to be decreased substantially while enhancing their sensitivity to weak similarities. A new criterion for triggering the extension of word hits, combined with a new heuristic for generating gapped alignments, yields a gapped BLAST program that runs at approximately three times the speed of the original. In addition, a method is introduced for automatically combining statistically significant alignments produced by BLAST into a position-specific score matrix, and searching the database using this matrix. The resulting Position-Specific Iterated BLAST (PSI-BLAST) program runs at approximately the same speed per iteration as gapped BLAST, but in many cases is much more sensitive to weak but biologically relevant sequence similarities. PSI-BLAST is used to uncover several new and interesting members of the BRCT superfamily.
A method has been devised for the electrophoretic transfer of proteins from polyacrylamide gels to nitrocellulose sheets. The method results in quantitative transfer of ribosomal proteins from gels containing urea. For sodium dodecyl sulfate gels, the original band pattern was obtained with no loss of resolution, but the transfer was not quantitative. The method allows detection of proteins by autoradiography and is simpler than conventional procedures. The immobilized proteins were detectable by immunological procedures. All additional binding capacity on the nitrocellulose was blocked with excess protein; then a specific antibody was bound and, finally, a second antibody directed against the first antibody. The second antibody was either radioactively labeled or conjugated to fluorescein or to peroxidase. The specific protein was then detected by either autoradiography, under UV light, or by the peroxidase reaction product, respectively. In the latter case, as little as 100 pg of protein was clearly detectable. It is anticipated that the procedure will be applicable to analysis of a wide variety of proteins with specific reactions or ligands.
A new method of total RNA isolation by a single extraction with an acid guanidinium thiocyanate-phenol-chloroform mixture is described. The method provides a pure preparation of undegraded RNA in high yield and can be completed within 4 h. It is particularly useful for processing large numbers of samples and for isolation of RNA from minute quantities of cells or tissue samples.
The hallmarks of cancer comprise six biological capabilities acquired during the multistep development of human tumors. The hallmarks constitute an organizing principle for rationalizing the complexities of neoplastic disease. They include sustaining proliferative signaling, evading growth suppressors, resisting cell death, enabling replicative immortality, inducing angiogenesis, and activating invasion and metastasis. Underlying these hallmarks are genome instability, which generates the genetic diversity that expedites their acquisition, and inflammation, which fosters multiple hallmark functions. Conceptual progress in the last decade has added two emerging hallmarks of potential generality to this list-reprogramming of energy metabolism and evading immune destruction. In addition to cancer cells, tumors exhibit another dimension of complexity: they contain a repertoire of recruited, ostensibly normal cells that contribute to the acquisition of hallmark traits by creating the "tumor microenvironment." Recognition of the widespread applicability of these concepts will increasingly affect the development of new means to treat human cancer.
A new method called the neighbor-joining method is proposed for reconstructing phylogenetic trees from evolutionary distance data. The principle of this method is to find pairs of operational taxonomic units (OTUs [= neighbors]) that minimize the total branch length at each stage of clustering of OTUs starting with a starlike tree. The branch lengths as well as the topology of a parsimonious tree can quickly be obtained by using this method. Using computer simulation, we studied the efficiency of this method in obtaining the correct unrooted tree in comparison with that of five other tree-making methods: the unweighted pair group method of analysis, Farris's method, Sattath and Tversky's method, Li's method, and Tateno et al.'s modified Farris method. The new, neighbor-joining method and Sattath and Tversky's method are shown to be generally better than the other methods.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous approximately 22 nt RNAs that can play important regulatory roles in animals and plants by targeting mRNAs for cleavage or translational repression. Although they escaped notice until relatively recently, miRNAs comprise one of the more abundant classes of gene regulatory molecules in multicellular organisms and likely influence the output of many protein-coding genes.
Use of the real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify cDNA products reverse transcribed from mRNA is on the way to becoming a routine tool in molecular biology to study low abundance gene expression. Real-time PCR is easy to perform, provides the necessary accuracy and produces reliable as well as rapid quantification results. But accurate quantification of nucleic acids requires a reproducible methodology and an adequate mathematical model for data analysis. This study enters into the particular topics of the relative quantification in real-time RT-PCR of a target gene transcript in comparison to a reference gene transcript. Therefore, a new mathematical model is presented. The relative expression ratio is calculated only from the real-time PCR efficiencies and the crossing point deviation of an unknown sample versus a control. This model needs no calibration curve. Control levels were included in the model to standardise each reaction run with respect to RNA integrity, sample loading and inter-PCR variations. High accuracy and reproducibility (<2.5% variation) were reached in LightCycler PCR using the established mathematical model.
A technique for conveniently radiolabeling DNA restriction endonuclease fragments to high specific activity is described. DNA fragments are purified from agarose gels directly by ethanol precipitation and are then denatured and labeled with the large fragment of DNA polymerase I, using random oligonucleotides as primers. Over 70% of the precursor triphosphate is routinely incorporated into complementary DNA, and specific activities of over 10(9) dpm/microgram of DNA can be obtained using relatively small amounts of precursor. These "oligolabeled" DNA fragments serve as efficient probes in filter hybridization experiments.
Differentiated cells can be reprogrammed to an embryonic-like state by transfer of nuclear contents into oocytes or by fusion with embryonic stem (ES) cells. Little is known about factors that induce this reprogramming. Here, we demonstrate induction of pluripotent stem cells from mouse embryonic or adult fibroblasts by introducing four factors, Oct3/4, Sox2, c-Myc, and Klf4, under ES cell culture conditions. Unexpectedly, Nanog was dispensable. These cells, which we designated iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cells, exhibit the morphology and growth properties of ES cells and express ES cell marker genes. Subcutaneous transplantation of iPS cells into nude mice resulted in tumors containing a variety of tissues from all three germ layers. Following injection into blastocysts, iPS cells contributed to mouse embryonic development. These data demonstrate that pluripotent stem cells can be directly generated from fibroblast cultures by the addition of only a few defined factors.
A tetrazolium salt has been used to develop a quantitative colorimetric assay for mammalian cell survival and proliferation. The assay detects living, but not dead cells and the signal generated is dependent on the degree of activation of the cells. This method can therefore be used to measure cytotoxicity, proliferation or activation. The results can be read on a multiwell scanning spectrophotometer (ELISA reader) and show a high degree of precision. No washing steps are used in the assay. The main advantages of the colorimetric assay are its rapidity and precision, and the lack of any radioisotope. We have used the assay to measure proliferative lymphokines, mitogen stimulations and complement-mediated lysis.
Intact ribonucleic acid (RNA) has been prepared from tissues rich in ribonuclease such as the rat pancreas by efficient homogenization in a 4 M solution of the potent protein denaturant guanidinium thiocyanate plus 0.1 M 2-mercaptoethanol to break protein disulfide bonds. The RNA was isolated free of protein by ethanol precipitation or by sedimentation through cesium chloride. Rat pancreas RNA obtained by these means has been used as a source for the purification of alpha-amylase messenger ribonucleic acid.
1. The extracellular patch clamp method, which first allowed the detection of single channel currents in biological membranes, has been further refined to enable higher current resolution, direct membrane patch potential control, and physical isolation of membrane patches. 2. A description of a convenient method for the fabrication of patch recording pipettes is given together with procedures followed to achieve giga-seals i.e. pipette-membrane seals with resistances of 10(9) - 10(11) omega. 3. The basic patch clamp recording circuit, and designs for improved frequency response are described along with the present limitations in recording the currents from single channels. 4. Procedures for preparation and recording from three representative cell types are given. Some properties of single acetylcholine-activated channels in muscle membrane are described to illustrate the improved current and time resolution achieved with giga-seals. 5. A description is given of the various ways that patches of membrane can be physically isolated from cells. This isolation enables the recording of single channel currents with well-defined solutions on both sides of the membrane. Two types of isolated cell-free patch configurations can be formed: an inside-out patch with its cytoplasmic membrane face exposed to the bath solution, and an outside-out patch with its extracellular membrane face exposed to the bath solution. 6. The application of the method for the recording of ionic currents and internal dialysis of small cells is considered. Single channel resolution can be achieved when recording from whole cells, if the cell diameter is small (less than 20 micrometer). 7. The wide range of cell types amenable to giga-seal formation is discussed.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous approximately 23 nt RNAs that play important gene-regulatory roles in animals and plants by pairing to the mRNAs of protein-coding genes to direct their posttranscriptional repression. This review outlines the current understanding of miRNA target recognition in animals and discusses the widespread impact of miRNAs on both the expression and evolution of protein-coding genes.
A procedure for extracting plasmid DNA from bacterial cells is described. The method is simple enough to permit the analysis by gel electrophoresis of 100 or more clones per day yet yields plasmid DNA which is pure enough to be digestible by restriction enzymes. The principle of the method is selective alkaline denaturation of high molecular weight chromosomal DNA while covalently closed circular DNA remains double-stranded. Adequate pH control is accomplished without using a pH meter. Upon neutralization, chromosomal DNA renatures to form an insoluble clot, leaving plasmid DNA in the supernatant. Large and small plasmid DNAs have been extracted by this method.
The human genome holds an extraordinary trove of information about human development, physiology, medicine and evolution. Here we report the results of an international collaboration to produce and make freely available a draft sequence of the human genome. We also present an initial analysis of the data, describing some of the insights that can be gleaned from the sequence.
Successful reprogramming of differentiated human somatic cells into a pluripotent state would allow creation of patient- and disease-specific stem cells. We previously reported generation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, capable of germline transmission, from mouse somatic cells by transduction of four defined transcription factors. Here, we demonstrate the generation of iPS cells from adult human dermal fibroblasts with the same four factors: Oct3/4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc. Human iPS cells were similar to human embryonic stem (ES) cells in morphology, proliferation, surface antigens, gene expression, epigenetic status of pluripotent cell-specific genes, and telomerase activity. Furthermore, these cells could differentiate into cell types of the three germ layers in vitro and in teratomas. These findings demonstrate that iPS cells can be generated from adult human fibroblasts.
Methods are described for the isolation, complementation and mapping of mutants of Caenorhabditis elegans, a small free-living nematode worm. About 300 EMS-induced mutants affecting behavior and morphology have been characterized and about one hundred genes have been defined. Mutations in 77 of these alter the movement of the animal. Estimates of the induced mutation frequency of both the visible mutants and X chromosome lethals suggests that, just as in Drosophila, the genetic units in C. elegans are large.
KEGG (Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes) is a knowledge base for systematic analysis of gene functions, linking genomic information with higher order functional information. The genomic information is stored in the GENES database, which is a collection of gene catalogs for all the completely sequenced genomes and some partial genomes with up-to-date annotation of gene functions. The higher order functional information is stored in the PATHWAY database, which contains graphical representations of cellular processes, such as metabolism, membrane transport, signal transduction and cell cycle. The PATHWAY database is supplemented by a set of ortholog group tables for the information about conserved subpathways (pathway motifs), which are often encoded by positionally coupled genes on the chromosome and which are especially useful in predicting gene functions. A third database in KEGG is LIGAND for the information about chemical compounds, enzyme molecules and enzymatic reactions. KEGG provides Java graphics tools for browsing genome maps, comparing two genome maps and manipulating expression maps, as well as computational tools for sequence comparison, graph comparison and path computation. The KEGG databases are daily updated and made freely available (http://www. genome.ad.jp/kegg/).
Two different methods of presenting quantitative gene expression exist: absolute and relative quantification. Absolute quantification calculates the copy number of the gene usually by relating the PCR signal to a standard curve. Relative gene expression presents the data of the gene of interest relative to some calibrator or internal control gene. A widely used method to present relative gene expression is the comparative C(T) method also referred to as the 2 (-DeltaDeltaC(T)) method. This protocol provides an overview of the comparative C(T) method for quantitative gene expression studies. Also presented here are various examples to present quantitative gene expression data using this method.
We have mapped and quantified mouse transcriptomes by deeply sequencing them and recording how frequently each gene is represented in the sequence sample (RNA-Seq). This provides a digital measure of the presence and prevalence of transcripts from known and previously unknown genes. We report reference measurements composed of 41-52 million mapped 25-base-pair reads for poly(A)-selected RNA from adult mouse brain, liver and skeletal muscle tissues. We used RNA standards to quantify transcript prevalence and to test the linear range of transcript detection, which spanned five orders of magnitude. Although >90% of uniquely mapped reads fell within known exons, the remaining data suggest new and revised gene models, including changed or additional promoters, exons and 3' untranscribed regions, as well as new candidate microRNA precursors. RNA splice events, which are not readily measured by standard gene expression microarray or serial analysis of gene expression methods, were detected directly by mapping splice-crossing sequence reads. We observed 1.45 x 10(5) distinct splices, and alternative splices were prominent, with 3,500 different genes expressing one or more alternate internal splices.