1. Culture conditions
One day before a transfection experiment, adjust the HEK293 cell concentration by plating the cells so that they will be nearly confluent when transfected. Plating 2-5 x 106 cells in a 60-mm culture dish and incubating 18 h in 5 mL of medium overnight usually achieves the desired density of 60-80% confluency.
2. Transfection of cells
The following protocol is for a 60 cm dish of cells (5 mL culture medium). If using 6-well or 12-well plates, the total medium volume should be 2 mL and 1 mL,
respectively, and the amount of each reagent should be decreased accordingly.
Plate cells as above to give 60-80% confluence on the day of transfection. Transfection efficiency may decrease if the cells are over- or under-confluent.
Change the culture medium (using 4 mL/dish) prior to transfection with up to 1 mL of transfection complex medium.
Formation of transfection complexes
To a small sterile tube, pipet 0.6 mL of serum-free high-glucose DMEM and add 2 µg of each plasmid.
Mix well by flicking the tube to create a slight vortex action (about 12 times).
Add 8 μL of the Targeting Systems Targefect F-2 transfection reagent.
Mix well again by flicking the tube 12 times.
Incubate tube with the transfection reagent-DNA complex for 25 min at 37oC.
Addition of transfection complexes to cells
Add 0.6 mL of the transfection complex, drop-wise, directly to the medium and gently swirl the culture dish to ensure transfection complexes are spread evenly over the entire field of cells.
Incubate for 36-48 h at 37oC
Use 5-10 μL of cell medium supernatant to measure the CLuc and GLuc activities as outlined below.
3. Determination of Luc activities in transfected cells
After 36 h, Luc activities are ready for measurement in transfected cells. The endpoint should be determined on a per-experiment basis. In our studies, a 36 h incubation time yielded sufficiently robust RLU signals for significant outcome determination. To demonstrate that the assay can be performed using cell culture media as well as cell lysates, we examined both. However, since the two Luc proteins are actively secreted, it is usually more advantageous to study gene expression by measuring Luc activities in supernatant media after centrifugation.
Assay protocols for sequential detection of CLuc and GLuc using the Ultrabrite TM Cypridina-Gaussia Dual Luciferase Assay Reagent from Targeting Systems (Catalog #DLAR-4SG-1000)
A. Protocol using cell culture medium to measure secreted Luc activity
Pipette 5-10 μL of cell culture medium, after centrifugation, into tubes or wells of a microtiter plate (white-walled plates are preferred). The assay can also be performed in microtubes and assessed using a tube luminometer.
Add 50 μL of the working CLAR reagent from the UltraBriteTM Cypridina-Gaussia Dual Luciferase Assay Reagent and measure CLuc activity in a microplate luminometer (we used a Berthold Impulse-3 microplate luminometer and an integration time of 2 s/well). The working CLAR reagent is prepared by diluting the 100x Cyripdina luciferin (50 μL) to 5 mL using the CLAR Substrate Dilution Buffer.
Wait 1-2 min (for more efficient quenching) and then add 50 μL of the working GAR Quench and GloTM Reagent. Mix the plate samples gently (swirling by hand if needed) and then measure GLuc photon release by luminometry. The working reagent is prepared by diluting 50 μL of the 100x GAR Substrate Solution to 5 mL using the GAR Quench and GloTM Dilution Buffer.
B. Protocol using cell culture lysates to measure intracellular Luc activity
1. If performing an assay to assess intracellular Luc, first lyse the cells using Targeting Systems Cell Lysis Buffer (catalog # 5X CLR-01) following steps 2-5 of the instructions below and use 5-10 μL centrifuged cell lysate instead of cell media. All reagents should be at or close to room temperature.
2. Dilute 5x CLR-01 buffer to 1x using water (4 mL water plus 1 mL 5x lysis buffer).
3. Aspirate the cell culture medium and wash cells twice with serum-free DMEM. This can be done rapidly by inverting a plate over a sink (with gently tapping) to remove liquid from all wells. Remaining medium can be removed by absorption; gently tapping inverted plates on a paper towel.
4. Add enough lysis buffer to cover cells in a multi-well plate (50 μL/96-well, 300 μL/ 12-well, 800 μL/6-well plate and 3 mL /10 cm dish).
5. Shake for 20 min at 400 rpm on an orbital shaker at room temperature.
6. Using 5-10 µL of Luc-containing cell lysate, follow steps A1-3 above using CLAR reagent from the UltraBriteTM Cypridina-Gaussia Dual Luciferase Assay Reagent and to measure CLuc activity and then GLuc activity in the cell lystates.