Biological Sciences


Protocols in Current Issue
0 Q&A 55 Views Feb 5, 2023

While wound healing in humans occurs primarily through re-epithelization, in rodents it also occurs through contraction of the panniculus carnosus, an underlying muscle layer that humans do not possess. Murine experimental models are by far the most convenient and inexpensive research model to study wound healing, as they offer great variability in genetic alterations and disease models. To overcome the obstacle of contraction biasing wound healing kinetics, our group invented the splinted excisional wound model. While other rodent wound healing models have been used in the past, the splinted excisional wound model has persisted as the most used model in the field of wound healing. Here, we present a detailed protocol of updated and refined techniques necessary to utilize this model, generate results with high validity, and accurately analyze the collected data. This model is simple to conduct and provides an easy, standardizable, and replicable model of human-like wound healing.

Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 350 Views Jan 20, 2023

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a devastating neuropsychiatric disease with a prevalence rate of approximately 0.3%–1% among women and morbidity and mortality rates among the highest of all neuropsychiatric disorders. The disease etiology is complex but primarily characterized by reduced food intake and body weight, and intense anxiety and fear associated with gaining weight. Existing rodent models of AN are useful and capture features of the disease, but either require specialized genetic mouse models or are difficult to implement in mice. Here, we describe two simple mouse models of stress-induced anorexia that are easy to implement in basic research labs, and capture core features associated with AN, such as reduced food intake in the context of social/physical stress and increased anxiety-related behavior. These protocols provide reproducible and robust assays for stress-induced anorexia and may be implemented with additional assays to probe the neural circuitry mediating the effects of psychological stress on feeding in mice.


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0 Q&A 709 Views Jan 20, 2023

Identifying genetic variations or treatments that confer greater resistance to drought is paramount to ensuring sustainable crop productivity. Accurate and reproducible measurement of drought stress symptoms can be achieved via automated, image-based phenotyping. Many phenotyping platforms are either cost-prohibitive, require specific technical expertise, or are simply more complex than necessary to effectively evaluate drought resistance. Certain mutations, allelic variations, or treatments result in plants that constitutively use less water. To accurately identify genetic differences or treatments that confer a drought phenotype, plants from all experimental groups must be subjected to equal levels of drought stress. This can be easily achieved by growing and imaging plants that are grown in the same pot. Here, we provide a detailed protocol to configure a Raspberry Pi computer and camera module to image seedlings of multiple genotypes growing in shared pots and to transfer images and metadata via the cloud for downstream analyses. Also detailed is a method to calculate percent soil water content of pots while being imaged to allow for comparison of stress symptoms with water availability. This protocol was recently used to uncouple differential water usage from drought resistance in a dwarf Arabidopsis thaliana mutant chiquita1-1/cost1 compared to the wild-type control. It is cost effective, suitable for any plant species, customizable to various biological questions, and requires no prior experience with electronics or basic software programming.

0 Q&A 167 Views Jan 5, 2023

In nature, parasitoid wasp infections are a major cause of insect mortality. Parasitoid wasps attack a vast range of insect species to lay their eggs. As a defense, insects evolved survival strategies to protect themselves from parasitoid infection. While a growing number of studies reported both host defensive tactics and parasitoid counter-offensives, we emphasize that this parasite–host relationship presents a unique ecological and evolutionary relevant model that is often challenging to replicate in a laboratory. Although maintaining parasitoid wasp cultures in the laboratory requires meticulous planning and can be labor intensive, a diverse set of wasp species that target many different insect types can be maintained in similar culture conditions. Here, we describe the protocol for culturing parasitoid wasp species on Drosophila larvae and pupae in laboratory conditions. We also detail an egg-laying assay to assess the reproductive modification of Drosophila females in response to parasitoid wasps. This behavioral study is relatively simple and easily adaptable to study environmental or genetic influences on egg-laying, a readout for female germline development. Neither the parasitoid culture conditions or the behavioral assay require special supplies or equipment, making them a powerful and versatile approach in research or teaching laboratory settings.


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0 Q&A 189 Views Dec 20, 2022

Group A streptococcus (GAS) is a Gram-positive human pathogen that causes invasive infections with mild to life-threatening severity, like toxic shock syndrome, rheumatic heart disease, and necrotizing fasciitis (NF). NF is characterized by a clinical presentation of widespread tissue destruction due to the rapid spread of GAS infection into fascial planes. Despite quick medical interventions, mortality from NF is high. The early onset of the disease is difficult to diagnose because of non-specific clinical symptoms. Moreover, the unavailability of an effective vaccine against GAS warrants a genuine need for alternative treatments against GAS NF. One endoplasmic reticulum stress signaling pathway (PERK pathway) gets triggered in the host upon GAS infection. Bacteria utilize asparagine release as an output of this pathway for its pathogenesis. We reported that the combination of sub-cutaneous (SC) and intraperitoneal (IP) administration of PERK pathway inhibitors (GSK2656157 and ISRIB) cures local as well as systemic GAS infection in a NF murine model, by reducing asparagine release at the infection site. This protocol's methodology is detailed below.

0 Q&A 287 Views Dec 5, 2022

Pathogen invasion of the central nervous system (CNS) is an important cause of infection-related mortality worldwide and can lead to severe neurological sequelae. To gain access to the CNS cells, pathogens have to overcome the blood–brain barrier (BBB), a protective fence from blood-borne factors. To study host–pathogen interactions, a number of cell culture and animal models were developed. However, in vitro models do not recapitulate the 3D architecture of the BBB and CNS tissue, and in vivo mammalian models present cellular and technical complexities as well as ethical issues, rendering systematic and genetic approaches difficult. Here, we present a two-pronged methodology allowing and validating the use of Drosophila larvae as a model system to decipher the mechanisms of infection in a developing CNS. First, an ex vivo protocol based on whole CNS explants serves as a fast and versatile screening platform, permitting the investigation of molecular and cellular mechanisms contributing to the crossing of the BBB and consequences of infection on the CNS. Then, an in vivo CNS infection protocol through direct pathogen microinjection into the fly circulatory system evaluates the impact of systemic parameters, including the contribution of circulating immune cells to CNS infection, and assesses infection pathogenicity at the whole host level. These combined complementary approaches identify mechanisms of BBB crossing and responses of a diversity of CNS cells contributing to infection, as well as novel virulence factors of the pathogen.


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Procedures flowchart.
Mammalian neurotropic pathogens could be tested in two Drosophila central nervous system (CNS) infection setups (ex vivo and in vivo) for their ability to: (1) invade the CNS (pathogen quantifications), (2) disturb blood–brain barrier permeability, (3) affect CNS host cell behaviour (gene expression), and (4) alter host viability.


0 Q&A 438 Views Nov 20, 2022

The study of haloarchaea provides an opportunity to expand understanding of the mechanisms used by extremophiles to thrive in and respond to harsh environments, including hypersaline and oxidative stress conditions. A common strategy used to investigate molecular mechanisms of stress response involves the deletion and/or site-directed mutagenesis of genes identified through omics studies followed by a comparison of the mutant and wild-type strains for phenotypic differences. The experimental methods used to monitor these differences must be controlled and reproducible. Current methods to examine recovery of halophilic archaea from extreme stress are complicated by extended incubation times, nutrients not typically encountered in the environment, and other related limitations. Here we describe a method for assessing the function of genes during hypochlorite stress in the halophilic archaeon Haloferax volcanii that overcomes these types of limitations. The method was found reproducible and informative in identifying genes needed for H. volcanii to recover from hypochlorite stress.

0 Q&A 908 Views Nov 20, 2022

The study and use of decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM) in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and pathophysiology have become more prevalent in recent years. To obtain dECM, numerous decellularization procedures have been developed for the entire organ or tissue blocks, employing either perfusion of decellularizing agents through the tissue’s vessels or submersion of large sections in decellularizing solutions. However, none of these protocols are suitable for thin tissue slices (less than 100 µm) or allow side-by-side analysis of native and dECM consecutive tissue slices. Here, we present a detailed protocol to decellularize tissue sections while maintaining the sample attached to a glass slide. This protocol consists of consecutive washes and incubations of simple decellularizing agents: ultrapure water, sodium deoxycholate (SD) 2%, and deoxyribonuclease I solution 0.3 mg/mL (DNase I). This novel method has been optimized for a faster decellularization time (2–3 h) and a better correlation between dECM properties and native tissue-specific biomarkers, and has been tested in different types of tissues and species, obtaining similar results. Furthermore, this method can be used for scarce and valuable samples such as clinical biopsies.

0 Q&A 417 Views Nov 20, 2022

Actin filaments are essential for various biological activities in eukaryotic cellular processes. Available in vitro experimental data on these systems often lack details and information on sample preparation protocols and experimental techniques, leading to unreproducible results. Additionally, different experimental techniques and polymerization buffers provide different, sometimes contradictory results on the properties of these systems, making it substantially difficult to gather meaningful data and conclusive information from them. This article presents a robust, accurate, detailed polymerization protocol to prepare high-quality actin filament samples for light scattering experiments. It has been shown to provide unicity and consistency in preparing stable, dispersed, aggregates-free, homogenous actin filament samples that could benefit many other scientific research groups currently working in the field. To develop the protocol, we used conventional actin buffers in physiological conditions. However, it can easily be adapted to prepare samples using other buffers and biological fluids. This protocol yielded reproducible results on essential actin filament parameters such as the translational diffusion coefficient and electrophoretic mobility. Overall, suitable modifications of the proposed experimental method could generate accurate, reproducible light scattering results on other highly charged anionic filaments commonly found in biological cells (e.g., microtubules, DNAs, RNAs, or filamentous viruses).


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0 Q&A 592 Views Nov 5, 2022

Ubiquitination is a post-translational modification conserved across eukaryotic species. It contributes to a variety of regulatory pathways, including proteasomal degradation, DNA repair, and cellular differentiation. The ubiquitination of substrate proteins typically requires three ubiquitination enzymes: a ubiquitin-activating E1, a ubiquitin-conjugating E2, and an E3 ubiquitin ligase. Cooperation between E2s and E3s is required for substrate ubiquitination, but some ubiquitin-conjugating E2s are also able to catalyze by themselves the formation of free di-ubiquitin, independently or in cooperation with a ubiquitin E2 variant. Here, we describe a method for assessing (i) di-ubiquitin formation by an E1 together with an E2 and an E2 variant, and (ii) the cooperation of an E3 with an E1 and E2 (with or without the E2 variant). Reaction products are assessed using western blotting with one of two antibodies: the first detects all ubiquitin conjugates, while the second specifically recognizes K63-linked ubiquitin. This allows unambiguous identification of ubiquitinated species and assessment of whether K63 linkages are present. We have developed these methods for studying ubiquitination proteins of Leishmania mexicana, specifically the activities of the E2, UBC2, and the ubiquitin E2 variant UEV1, but we anticipate the assays to be applicable to other ubiquitination systems with UBC2/UEV1 orthologues.

0 Q&A 690 Views Oct 20, 2022

The human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) consists of a viral membrane surrounding the conical capsid. The capsid is a protein container assembled from approximately 1,500 copies of the viral capsid protein (CA), functioning as a reaction and transport chamber for the viral genome after cell entry. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is a widely used technique for characterizing the ultrastructure of isolated viral capsids after removal of the viral membrane, which otherwise hinders negative staining of structures inside the viral particle for TEM. Here, we provide a protocol to permeabilize the membrane of HIV-1 particles using a pore-forming toxin for negative staining of capsids, which are stabilized with inositol hexakisphosphate to prevent premature capsid disassembly. This approach revealed the pleomorphic nature of capsids with a partially intact membrane surrounding them. The permeabilization strategy using pore-forming toxins can be readily applied to visualize the internal architecture of other enveloped viruses using TEM.


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