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Characterization of MLKL-mediated Plasma Membrane Rupture in Necroptosis

Published: August 7th, 2018



1Department of Structural Biology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 2Department of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 3Department of Immunology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
* These authors contributed equally

We report methods for characterization of MLKL-mediated plasma membrane rupture in necroptosis including conventional and confocal live-cell microscopy imaging, scanning electron microscopy, and NMR-based lipid binding.

Necroptosis is a programmed cell death pathway triggered by activation of receptor interacting protein kinase 3 (RIPK3), which phosphorylates and activates the mixed lineage kinase-like domain pseudokinase, MLKL, to rupture or permeabilize the plasma membrane. Necroptosis is an inflammatory pathway associated with multiple pathologies including autoimmunity, infectious and cardiovascular diseases, stroke, neurodegeneration, and cancer. Here, we describe protocols that can be used to characterize MLKL as the executioner of plasma membrane rupture in necroptosis. We visualize the process of necroptosis in cells using live-cell imaging with conventional and confocal fluorescence microscopy, and in fixed cells using electron microscopy, which together revealed the redistribution of MLKL from the cytosol to the plasma membrane prior to induction of large holes in the plasma membrane. We present in vitro nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis using lipids to identify putative modulators of MLKL-mediated necroptosis. Based on this method, we identified quantitative lipid-binding preferences and phosphatidyl-inositol phosphates (PIPs) as critical binders of MLKL that are required for plasma membrane targeting and permeabilization in necroptosis.

Identifying genetic components of necroptosis has facilitated the use of animal models to test the implication of necroptosis in physiology and disease1,2,3,4,5. Knockout of RIPK3 or MLKL in mice had minimal implication in development and adult homeostasis suggesting that necroptosis is not essential for life3....

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1. Cloning and Cell Line Generation

  1. PCR amplify the NBB region, corresponding to amino acid residues 1-140 (NBB140), from human MLKL cDNA for in frame standard restriction enzyme-based cloning with the oligomerization domain 2x FK506 binding protein (2xFKBP or 2xFV) and Venus fluorescent protein into the Doxycycline (Dox)-inducible retroviral vector pRetroX-TRE3G to obtain NBB140-2xFV-Venus (Table 1, Figures 1A-B).
  2. Immortalize primary mlkl-/-

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Visualizing regulated necroptosis execution in live cells has been possible through inducible expression of a minimal truncated MLKL construct, NBB140-2xFV-Venus. This construct maintains the ability to induce plasma membrane permeabilization and is activated through Dim-induced oligomerization of the FKBP cassette (2xFV). We observe and quantify necroptosis by live-cell microscopy imaging, monitoring kinetically (every 5 min) the uptake of a cell impermeable green fluorescence.......

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We provide protocols for techniques that we combined to implicated MLKL as the putative executioner of plasma membrane rupture24. In addition to deciphering the regulatory network that regulates MLKL-mediated necroptosis, these techniques can be used independently to characterize other suitable biological systems. Practically speaking, these techniques are medium- to low-throughput discovery tools.

We have routinely used live-cell imaging of NBB140-2xFV-Venus.......

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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Cloning and cell line generation
pRetroX-TRE3G Clontech 631188
Tet-On transactivator plasmid Llambi et al., 2016
Mouse Embryonic Fibroblasts (MEFs) mlkl-/- Dillon et al., 2014
Blasticidin S Hydrochloride Thermo Fisher Scientific BP2647100 CAS#3513-03-9
Cell death quantification and live-cell microscopy
Doxycycline Clontech 631311 CAS# 24390-14-5
B/B Homodimerizer AP20187 Takara 635059 CAS# 195514-80-8
SYTOX Green Thermo Fisher Scientific S7020
Syto16 Thermo Fisher Scientific S7578
15N Ammonium Chloride Cambridge Isotope Laboratories NLM-467-10 CAS# 12125-02-9
Deuterated DTT Cambridge Isotope Laboratories DLM-2622-1
Deuterium Oxide Sigma Aldrich 617385-1 CAS# 7789-20-0
n-Dodecyl-β-D-Maltopyranoside Anatrace D310 CAS# 69227-93-6
L-α-phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate (Brain, Porcine) (ammonium salt) Avanti Polar Lipids 840046X CAS# 383907-42-4
1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoinositol (ammonium salt) (18:0 PI) Avanti Polar Lipids 850143 CAS# 849412-67-5
1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phospho-(1'-myo-inositol) (ammonium salt) (18:1) Avanti Polar Lipids 850149 CAS# 799268-53-4
Specialized Equipment
IncuCyte FLR or ZOOM Essen BioScience, Inc. Live-cell microscopy imaging
Helios NanoLab 660 DualBeam  Thermo Fisher Scientific Electron microscope
IncuCyte 2011A Rev2 v20111.3.4288 (FLR) Essen BioScience, Inc. Imaging analysis
FEI MAPS Thermo Fisher Scientific EM analysis
TopSpin v3.2 Bruker BioSpin NMR data collection
CARA v1.9.1.7  NMR data analysis
Slidebook 3i (Intelligent Imaging Innovations) Confocal microscopy

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