Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 394 Views Jun 20, 2024

The intricate composition, heterogeneity, and hierarchical organization of the human bone marrow hematopoietic microenvironment (HME) present challenges for experimentation, which is primarily due to the scarcity of HME-forming cells, notably bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs). The limited understanding of non-hematopoietic cell phenotypes complicates the unraveling of the HME’s intricacies and necessitates a precise isolation protocol for systematic studies. The protocol presented herein puts special emphasis on the accuracy and high quality of BMSCs obtained for downstream sequencing analysis. Utilizing CD45 and CD235a as negative markers ensures sufficient enrichment of non-hematopoietic cells within the HME. By adding positive selection based on CD271 expression, this protocol allows for selectively isolating the rare and pivotal bona fide stromal cell population with high precision. The outlined step-by-step protocol provides a robust tool for isolating and characterizing non-hematopoietic cells, including stromal cells, from human bone marrow preparations. This approach thus contributes valuable information to promote research in a field that is marked by a scarcity of studies and helps to conduct important experimentation that will deepen our understanding of the intricate cellular interactions within the bone marrow niche.

0 Q&A 1480 Views May 20, 2024

The eye is a complex organ composed of multiple tissues in anterior and posterior eye segments. Malfunctions of any of these tissues can lead to ocular diseases and loss of vision. A detailed understanding of the ocular anatomy and physiology in animal models and humans contributes to the development of ocular drugs by enabling studies on drug delivery and clearance routes, pharmacokinetics, and toxicity. This protocol provides step-by-step instructions for the extraction and homogenization of ocular tissues for enzymatic and proteomics analyses.

0 Q&A 561 Views Apr 5, 2024

Stem cell spheroids are rapidly becoming essential tools for a diverse array of applications ranging from tissue engineering to 3D cell models and fundamental biology. Given the increasing prominence of biotechnology, there is a pressing need to develop more accessible, efficient, and reproducible methods for producing these models. Various techniques such as hanging drop, rotating wall vessel, magnetic levitation, or microfluidics have been employed to generate spheroids. However, none of these methods facilitate the easy and efficient production of a large number of spheroids using a standard 6-well plate. Here, we present a novel method based on pellet culture (utilizing U-shaped microstructures) using a silicon mold produced through 3D printing, along with a detailed and illustrated manufacturing protocol. This technique enables the rapid production of reproducible and controlled spheroids (for 1 × 106 cells, spheroids = 130 ± 10 μm) from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hIPSCs) within a short time frame (24 h). Importantly, the method allows the production of large quantities (2 × 104 spheroids for 1 × 106 cells) in an accessible and cost-effective manner, thanks to the use of a reusable mold. The protocols outlined herein are easily implementable, and all the necessary files for the method replication are freely available.

Key features

• Provision of 3D mold files (STL) to produce silicone induction device of spheroids using 3D printing.

• Cost-effective, reusable, and autoclavable device capable of generating up to 1.2× 104 spheroids of tunable diameters in a 6-well plate.

• Spheroids induction with multiple hIPSC cell lines.

• Robust and reproducible production method suitable for routine laboratory use.

Graphical overview

Spheroid induction process following the pellet method on molded silicon discs

0 Q&A 413 Views Mar 5, 2024

The measurement of transepithelial electrical resistance across confluent cell monolayer systems is the most commonly used technique to study intestinal barrier development and integrity. Electric cell substrate impedance sensing (ECIS) is a real-time, label-free, impedance-based method used to study various cell behaviors such as cell growth, viability, migration, and barrier function in vitro. So far, the ECIS technology has exclusively been performed on cell lines. Organoids, however, are cultured from tissue-specific stem cells, which better recapitulate cell functions and the heterogeneity of the parent tissue than cell lines and are therefore more physiologically relevant for research and modeling of human diseases. In this protocol paper, we demonstrate that ECIS technology can be successfully applied on 2D monolayers generated from patient-derived intestinal organoids.

Key features

• We present a protocol that allows the assessment of various cell functions, such as proliferation and barrier formation, with ECIS on organoid-derived monolayers.

• The protocol facilitates intestinal barrier research on patient tissue-derived organoids, providing a valuable tool for disease modeling.

0 Q&A 701 Views Mar 5, 2024

Here, we describe immunofluorescent (IF) staining assay of 3D cell culture colonoids isolated from mice colon as described previously. Primary cultures developed from isolated colonic stem cells are called colonoids. Immunofluorescence can be used to analyze the distribution of proteins, glycans, and small molecules—both biological and non-biological ones. Four-day-old colonoid cell cultures grown on Lab-Tek 8-well plate are fixed by paraformaldehyde. Fixed colonoids are then subjected to antigen retrieval and blocking followed by incubation with primary antibody. A corresponding secondary antibody tagged with desired fluorescence is used to visualize primary antibody–marked protein. Counter staining to stain actin filaments and nucleus to assess cell structure and DNA in nucleus is performed by choosing the other two contrasting fluorescences. IF staining of colonoids can be utilized to visualize molecular markers of cell behavior. This technique can be used for translation research by isolating colonoids from colitis patients’ colons, monitoring the biomarkers, and customizing their treatments.

Key features

• Analysis of molecular markers of cell behavior.

Protocol to visualize proteins in 3D cell culture.

• This protocol requires colonoids isolated from mice colon grown on matrigel support.

• Protocol requires at least eight days to complete.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 1516 Views Feb 20, 2024

Astrocytes are increasingly recognized for their important role in neurodegenerative diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In ALS, astrocytes shift from their primary function of providing neuronal homeostatic support towards a reactive and toxic role, which overall contributes to neuronal toxicity and cell death. Currently, our knowledge on these processes is incomplete, and time-efficient and reproducible model systems in a human context are therefore required to understand and therapeutically modulate the toxic astrocytic response for future treatment options. Here, we present an efficient and straightforward protocol to generate human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived astrocytes implementing a differentiation scheme based on small molecules. Through an initial 25 days, hiPSCs are differentiated into astrocytes, which are matured for 4+ weeks. The hiPSC-derived astrocytes can be cryopreserved at every passage during differentiation and maturation. This provides convenient pauses in the protocol as well as cell banking opportunities, thereby limiting the need to continuously start from hiPSCs. The protocol has already proven valuable in ALS research but can be adapted to any desired research field where astrocytes are of interest.

Key features

• This protocol requires preexisting experience in hiPSC culturing for a successful outcome.

• The protocol relies on a small molecule differentiation scheme and an easy-to-follow methodology, which can be paused at several time points.

• The protocol generates >50 × 106 astrocytes per differentiation, which can be cryopreserved at every passage, ensuring a large-scale experimental output.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 1262 Views Feb 20, 2024

Signaling pathways are involved in key cellular functions from embryonic development to pathological conditions, with a pivotal role in tissue homeostasis and transformation. Although most signaling pathways have been intensively examined, most studies have been carried out in murine models or simple cell culture. We describe the dissection of the TGF-β signaling pathway in human tissue using CRISPR-Cas9 genetically engineered human keratinocytes (N/TERT-1) in a 3D organotypic skin model combined with quantitative proteomics and phosphoproteomics mass spectrometry. The use of human 3D organotypic cultures and genetic engineering combined with quantitative proteomics and phosphoproteomics is a powerful tool providing insight into signaling pathways in a human setting. The methods are applicable to other gene targets and 3D cell and tissue models.

Key features

• 3D organotypic models with genetically engineered human cells.

• In-depth quantitative proteomics and phosphoproteomics in 2D cell culture.

• Careful handling of cell cultures is critical for the successful formation of theorganotypic cultures.

• For complete details on the use of this protocol, please refer to Ye et al. 2022.

0 Q&A 1084 Views Jan 20, 2024

The central nervous system (CNS) relies on the complex interaction of neuroglial cells to carry out vital physiological functions. To comprehensively understand the structural and functional interplay between these neuroglial cells, it is essential to establish an appropriate in vitro system that can be utilized for thorough investigation. Traditional protocols for establishing primary neuronal and mixed glial cultures from prenatal mice or neural stem cells require sacrificing pregnant mice and have the drawback of yielding only specific types of cells. Our current protocol overcomes these drawbacks by utilizing the brain from day-0 pups to isolate CNS resident neuroglial cells including astrocytes, microglia, oligodendrocytes [oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) and differentiated oligodendrocytes], and meningeal fibroblasts, as well as hippocampal neurons, avoiding sacrificing pregnant mice, which makes this procedure efficient and cost effective. Furthermore, through this protocol, we aim to provide step-by-step instructions for isolating and establishing different primary neuroglial cells and their characterization using cell-specific markers. This study presents an opportunity to isolate, culture, and establish all major CNS resident cells individually. These cells can be utilized in various cell-based and biochemical assays to comprehensively investigate the cell-specific roles and behaviors of brain resident cells in a reductionist approach.

Key features

• Efficient isolation of major neuroglial cells like meningeal fibroblasts, neurons, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and microglia from a single day-0 neonatal mouse pup’s brain.

• Circumvents the sacrifice of pregnant female mice.

• Acts as a bridging experimental method between secondary cell lines and in vivo systems.

• Isolated cells can be used for performing various cell-based and biochemical assays.

Graphical overview

Steps for isolation of meningeal fibroblast and neuroglial cells from day 0 pups of mice (Created using BioRender.com)

0 Q&A 841 Views Jan 5, 2024

Neurons are complex cells with two distinct compartments: the somatodendritic and the axonal domains. Because of their polarized morphology, it is challenging to study the differential cellular and molecular mechanisms that occur in axons and impact the soma and dendrites using conventional in vitro culture systems. Compartmentalized cultures offer a solution by physically and chemically separating the axonal from the somatodendritic domain of neurons. The microfluidic chamber model presented in this work is valuable for studying these mechanisms in primary cortical cultures derived from rat and mouse. In addition, this chamber model is compatible with various microscopy methods, such as phase contrast, and fluorescence imaging of living and fixed cells.

Key features

• Preparation and attachment of PDMS microfluidic chambers to glass coverslips.

• Primary culture of cortical neurons and plating cortical neurons in microfluidic chamber.

• Confirmation of compartmentalization using the retrograde transport of the fluorescently labeled form of cholera toxin subunit B (f-Ctb).

• Immunofluorescence and multilabeling of compartmentalized cortical neurons.

• Retrograde transport of fluorescently labeled BDNF.

0 Q&A 479 Views Jan 5, 2024

γδ T cells play a critical role in homeostasis and diseases such as infectious diseases and tumors in both mice and humans. They can be categorized into two main functional subsets: IFN-γ-producing γδT1 cells and IL-17-producing γδT17 cells. While CD27 expression segregates these two subsets in mice, little is known about human γδT17 cell differentiation and expansion. Previous studies have identified γδT17 cells in human skin and mucosal tissues, including the oral cavity and colon. However, human γδ T cells from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) primarily produce IFN-γ. In this protocol, we describe a method for in vitro expansion and polarization of human γδT17 cells from PBMCs.

Key Features

• Expansion of γδ T cells from peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

• Human IL-17A-producing γδ T-cell differentiation and expansion using IL-7 and anti-γδTCR.

• Analysis of IL-17A production post γδ T-cell expansion.

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