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Techniques

Multiplex Ligation-dependent Probe Amplification (MLPA)

Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) is a molecular technique developed by MRC-Holland back in 2002. In a nutshell, MLPA is a sensitive technique that allows quantification of nucleic acid sequences, quickly and efficiently. It is performed in many laboratories worldwide, and can be applied to detect copy number changes (like deletions or duplications) of a…

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Thinking Outside the Box: Microscopy for Immunologists

When you think of an immunologist, you will likely imagine someone who studies the immune system… or maybe a person who speaks in a completely different language (CD? IL? The list goes on.). You may also think of a slew of assays that almost exclusively “belong” to immunologists, including ELISA, ELISpot, Flow Cytometry, chromium release…

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Kick-Start Your Gut Microbiome Study in Four Easy Steps

Today, the gut microbiome is garnering a large amount of media attention for its role in human health and disease. From influencing immune responses to impact our brain, the gut microbiome is an important and necessary aspect of our life. So much so, that current investigations in the gut microbiome are focusing on developing biomarkers for…

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Studying the Epigenome by Next Generation Sequencing

The epigenome has been in the research spotlight, and for good reason. Not only has it been associated with the developmental stages of an organism, but epigenetic alterations lead to disorders and have been linked to many human diseases. So, the question stands: what exactly is an epigenome? What Is the Epigenome? Simply put, the…

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RNA Strandedness: A Road Travelled In Both Directions

For most molecular biology purposes, DNA is thought of as a string of nucleotides running from 3’ to 5’, and the corresponding mRNA sequence is complementary to this DNA string. However, visualizing this quirky DNA structure for what it is – two antiparallel strands joined together – it quite important for many applications, such as…

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The Next Big Thing: Alternative Polyadenylation

What Is Alternative Polyadenylation? Processing of mRNA and its regulation plays a fundamental role in gene expression. As science progresses, alternative polyadenylation takes center stage in the undercurrents of gene expression. 1,2 Polyadenylation is part of the pre-mRNA maturation process and involves polyadenylation of the 3’ end of the emerging RNA.  This process happens to…

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The Importance of Non-coding RNAs

What Are Non-Coding RNAs? What was once considered “junk” may end up being the most important part of our genome. Non-coding RNA (ncRNA) is RNA that is transcribed from DNA but diverts from the “central dogma” because it does not code for proteins. NcRNAs are ubiquitous in eukaryotes: while 90 percent of eukaryotic genomes are…

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Will the Real NP-40 Please Stand Up? Chemical Nomenclature Woes.

One day, a colleague stopped by my workbench to ask which detergent would not break the nuclear membrane. Based on my previous experience using gentle detergents in lysis buffers, I replied, “NP-40”. However, we had two brands of NP-40. A closer look at the datasheets revealed that the chemical names were different even though they…

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Protocols for Cloning Without Restriction Enzymes or Ligases

There are many cloning methods that do not require restriction enzymes or ligases. Read below to learn about how to achieve seamless cloning results via Topoisomerase cloning, SLIC, and Gibson. Method #1: Topoisomerase Technology Topoisomerase technology requires no special primers and no ligases – it is as easy as cloning comes. This technology is based…

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Five Methods for Assessing Protein Purity and Quality

If you’ve ever worked with proteins in the lab, you probably know just how critical protein purity and quality are for downstream applications. In this article, we’ll review the multitude of problems that are encountered with ‘bad’ protein samples and how you can analyze the purity and integrity of your favorite protein prior to using…

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An Introduction to Live Cell Imaging

The term live cell imaging collectively refers to the technologies used to capture images of cells in a living, active state, either as individual static pictures or as time-lapse series. Correspondingly, the applications of live cell imaging can be divided in two broad categories: image recording of cells in their natural, living state observing and…

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Cloning Methods: 5 Different Ways to Assemble

Over the past few decades molecular biologists have developed procedures to simplify and standardize cloning processes, allowing vast arrays of artificial DNA structures to be more easily assembled. Are you familiar with all the cloning options out there? Let’s look at five different cloning methods you can use to get your construct. At the end…

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Ligation Independent Cloning Primer Design

Ligation independent cloning (LIC) is an easy and effective method to ensure successful cloning, all without the need for ligation. As easy as the technique is, designing primers can be a bit tricky. In this article, we will present a quick overview on primer design for ligation independent cloning.

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Using dbSNP and ClinVar to Classify Gene Variants

As we discussed previously, the gaps in our understanding of the human genome make variant classification an extremely difficult job. However, with each passing day our knowledge increases, and the tools to help us become increasingly more efficient. Let’s pick up where we left off in our first article about variants. After checking Ensemble to…

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“Viable But Non-Culturable (VBNC)”: Zombies of the Bacterial World

Imagine that you want to test the efficiency of an antimicrobial treatment in inhibiting a certain bacterial pathogen. As part of the experiment, you expose the bacteria to the treatment and monitor the cultivability of the microorganism by counting the number of colony forming units (CFU) formed on culture media. If the microorganism is sensitive…

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8 Tricks to Improve Your Negative Staining of Membrane Proteins

Negative staining of proteins is a versatile tool for structural biology. The sample preparation protocol is simple: the sample is embedded in a heavy metal stain that gives rise to increased specimen contrast. Thus, negative staining is a very convenient method to assess sample homogeneity, formation of macromolecular complexes, or quality of protein preparation. Conventional…

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