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0 Q&A 279 Views Feb 5, 2024

Vertebrate embryogenesis is a highly dynamic process involving coordinated cell and tissue movements that generate the final embryonic body plan. Many of these movements are difficult to image at high resolution because they occur deep within the embryo along the midline, causing light scattering and requiring longer working distances. Here, we present an explant-based method to image transverse cross sections of living zebrafish embryos. This method allows for the capture of all cell movements at high-resolution throughout the embryonic trunk, including hard-to-image deep tissues. This technique offers an alternative to expensive or computationally difficult microscopy methods.


Key features

• Generates intact zebrafish explants with minimal tissue disturbance.

• Allows for live imaging of deep tissues normally obscured by common confocal microscopy techniques.

• Immobilizes tissues for extended periods required for time-lapse imaging.

• Utilizes readily available reagents and tools, which can minimize the time and cost of the procedure.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 752 Views Jan 20, 2024

All living organisms require the division of a cell into daughter cells for their growth and maintenance. During cell division, both genetic and cytoplasmic contents are equally distributed between the two daughter cells. At the end of cell division, cytoplasmic contents and the plasma membrane are physically separated between the two daughter cells via a process known as cytokinesis. Hundreds of proteins and lipids involved in the cytokinetic process have been identified; however, much less is known about the mechanisms by which these molecules regulate cytokinesis, being therefore an intense area of current research. Male meiotic cytokinesis in Drosophila melanogaster testes has been shown to be an excellent model to study cytokinesis in vivo. Currently, several excellent protocols are available to study cytokinesis in Drosophila testes. However, improved methods are required to study cytokinesis under in vitro and ex vivo conditions. Here, we demonstrate a simple method to perform live imaging on individual spermatocyte cysts isolated from adult testes. We evaluate amenability of this in vitro method for treatment with pharmacological agents. We show that cytokinesis is strongly inhibited upon treatment with Dynasore, a dynamin inhibitor known to block clathrin-mediated endocytosis. In addition, we also demonstrate an ex vivo method to perform live imaging on whole mount adult testes on gas permeable membrane chambers. We believe the protocols described here are valuable tools to study cytokinetic mechanisms under various genetic and treatment conditions.


Key features

• In vitro method to study male meiotic cytokinesis in dissected spermatocyte cysts.

• In vitro method allows acute treatment with various pharmacological agents to study cytokinesis.

• Ex vivo method to image male meiosis cytokinesis in intact adult testes.

• Requires 15–60 min to set up and could be imaged up to 6–12 h.


Graphical overview



In vitro and ex vivo live imaging of male meiotic cytokinesis in adult Drosophila testes

0 Q&A 244 Views Jan 20, 2024

Capillary density in skeletal muscles is key to estimate exercise capacity in healthy individuals, athletes, and those with muscle-related pathologies. Here, we present a step-by-step, high-throughput semi-automated method for quantifying capillary density from whole human skeletal muscle cross-sections, in areas of the muscle occupied by myofibers. We provide a detailed protocol for immunofluorescence staining, image acquisition, processing, and quantification. Image processing is performed in ImageJ, and data analysis is conducted in R. The provided protocol allows high-throughput quantification of capillary density.


Key features

• This protocol builds upon the method and results described in Abbassi-Daloii et al. (2023b).

• It includes step-by-step details on image acquisition and image processing of the entire muscle section.

• It enables high-throughput and semi-automated image quantification of capillary density.

• It provides a robust analysis for determining capillary density over the entire muscle cross section.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 501 Views Jan 5, 2024

In vitro differentiation of human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) model systems has furthered our understanding of human development. Techniques used to elucidate gene function during early development have encountered technical challenges, especially when targeting embryonic lethal genes. The introduction of CRISPRoff by Nuñez and collaborators provides an opportunity to heritably silence genes during long-term differentiation. We modified CRISPRoff and sgRNA Sleeping Beauty transposon vectors that depend on tetracycline-controlled transcriptional activation to silence the expression of embryonic lethal genes at different stages of differentiation in a stable manner. We provide instructions on how to generate sgRNA transposon vectors that can be used in combination with our CRISPRoff transposon vector and a stable hPSC line. We validate the use of this tool by silencing MCL-1, an anti-apoptotic protein, which results in pre-implantation embryonic lethality in mice; this protein is necessary for oligodendrocyte and hematopoietic stem cell development and is required for the in vitro survival of hPSCs. In this protocol, we use an adapted version of the differentiation protocol published by Douvaras and Fossati (2015) to generate oligodendrocyte lineage cells from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). After introduction of the CRISPRoff and sgRNAs transposon vectors in hESCs, we silence MCL-1 in committed oligodendrocyte neural precursor cells and describe methods to measure its expression. With the methods described here, users can design sgRNA transposon vectors targeting MCL-1 or other essential genes of interest to study human oligodendrocyte development or other differentiation protocols that use hPSC model systems.


Key features

• Generation of an inducible CRISPRoff Sleeping Beauty transposon system.

• Experiments performed in vitro for generation of inducible CRISPRoff pluripotent stem cell line amenable to oligodendrocyte differentiation.

• Strategy to downregulate an essential gene at different stages of oligodendrocyte development.


Graphical overview



Workflow for generating inducible CRISPRoff stem cell line and assessing knockdown phenotype in stem cell–derived committed oligodendrocyte neural precursor cells

0 Q&A 340 Views Dec 20, 2023

The inferior colliculus (IC) is an important processing center in the auditory system, which also receives non-auditory sensory input. The IC consists of several subnuclei whose functional role in (non-) auditory processing and plastic response properties are best approached by studying awake animals, preferably in a longitudinal fashion. The increasing use of mice in auditory research, the availability of genetic models, and the superficial location of the IC in the mouse have made it an attractive species for studying IC function. Here, we describe a protocol for exposing the mouse IC for up to a few weeks for in vivo imaging or electrophysiology in a stable manner. This method allows for a broader sampling of the IC while maintaining the brain surface in good quality and without reopening the craniotomy. Moreover, as it is adaptable for both electrophysiological recordings of the entire IC and imaging of the dorsal IC surface, it can be applied to answer a multitude of questions.


Key features

• A surgical protocol for long-term physiological recordings from the same or separate neuronal populations in the inferior colliculus.

• Optimized for awake in vivo experiments in the house mouse (Mus musculus).

0 Q&A 1146 Views Dec 20, 2023

The African killifish Nothobranchius furzeri is an attractive research organism for regeneration- and aging-related studies due to its remarkably short generation time and rapid aging. Dynamic changes in cell proliferation are an essential biological process involved in development, regeneration, and aging. Quantifying the dynamics of cell proliferation in these contexts facilitates the elucidation of the attendant underlying mechanisms. Whole-mount and cryosectioning sample preparation are the preferred approaches to investigate the distribution of cellular structures, cell–cell communication, and spatial gene expression within tissues. Using African killifish caudal fin regeneration as an example, we describe an efficient and detailed protocol to investigate cell proliferation dynamics in both space and time during caudal fin regeneration. The quantification of cell proliferation was achieved through high-resolution immunofluorescence of the proliferation marker Phospho-Histone H3 (H3P). We focused on the characterization of epithelial and mesenchymal proliferation in three-dimensional space at two regeneration time points. Our protocol provides a reliable tool for comparing cell proliferation under different biological contexts.


Key features

• Elaborates in detail the method used by Wang et al. (2020) to quantify whole-organ mitotic events during tail fin regeneration in vertebrates.

• Enables proliferation analysis of millimeter-sized homeostatic and regenerating tissues.

• Three-day alternative method to whole mount using cryosections.

• Allows automatic quantification using ImageJ macros and R scripts.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 379 Views Dec 5, 2023

Neovascular diseases of the retina, such as diabetic retinopathy (DR) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), are proliferative retinopathies involving the growth of new blood vessels on the retina, which in turn causes impairment and potential loss of vision. A drawback of conventional angiogenesis assays is that they are not representative of the angiogenic processes in the retina. In the retina, the new blood vessels grow (from pre-existing blood vessels) and migrate into a non-perfused region of the eye including the inner limiting membrane of the retina and the vitreous, both of which contribute to vision loss. The Matrigel Duplex Assay (MDA) measures the migration of angiogenic capillaries from a primary Matrigel layer to a secondary Matrigel layer, which resembles the pathological angiogenesis in AMD and DR. The methodology of MDA is comprised of two steps. In the first step, the human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (HRMECs) are mixed with phenol red–containing Matrigel (in a 1:1 ratio) and seeded in the center of an 8-well chamber slide. After 24 h, a second layer of phenol red–free Matrigel is overlaid over the first layer. Over the course of the next 24 h, the HRMECs invade from the primary Matrigel layer to the secondary layer. Subsequently, the angiogenic sprouts are visualized by brightfield phase contrast microscopy and quantified by ImageJ software. The present manuscript measures the angiogenesis-inhibitory activity of the Src kinase inhibitor PP2 in primary HRMECs using the MDA. The MDA may be used for multiple applications like screening anti-angiogenic drugs, measuring the pro-angiogenic activity of growth factors, and elucidating signaling pathways underlying retinal angiogenesis in normal and disease states.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 380 Views Nov 20, 2023

This paper introduces simple analytical methods and bioassays to promptly assess the identity and function of in vitro cultured human Schwann cells (hSCs). A systematic approach is proposed to unequivocally discriminate hSCs from other glial cells, non-glial cells, and non-human SCs (authentication), identify hSCs at different stages of differentiation, and determine whether individual hSCs are proliferative or senescent. Examples of how to use distinct cell-based approaches for quality control and routine troubleshooting are provided to confirm the constitution (identity, purity, and heterogeneity) and potency (bioactivity) of hSC cultures from multiple sources. The bioassays are valuable for rapidly gauging the responses of hSCs to mitogenic and differentiating factors and ascertaining the cells’ basic properties before performing co-culture or cell grafting studies. The assays are image based and use adherent hSCs established in monoculture to simplify the experimental setup and interpretation of results. Finally, all sections contain thorough background information, notes, and references to facilitate decision making, data interpretation, and ad hoc method development for diverse applications.

0 Q&A 366 Views Nov 5, 2023

Cell signaling is highly integrated for the process of various cell activities. Although previous studies have shown how individual genes contribute to cell migration, it remains unclear how the integration of these signaling pathways is involved in the modulation of cell migration. In our two-hit migration screen, we revealed that serine-threonine kinase 40 (STK40) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) worked synergistically, and the suppression of both genes could further lead to suppression in cell migration. Furthermore, based on our analysis of cellular focal adhesion (FA) parameters using MATLAB analysis, we are able to find out the synergistic reduction of STK40 and MAPK that further abolished the increased FA by shSTK40. While FA identification in previous studies includes image analysis using manual selection, our protocol provides a semi-automatic manual selection of FAs using MATLAB. Here, we provide a method that can shorten the amount of time required for manual identification of FAs and increase the precision for discerning individual FAs for various analyses, such as FA numbers, area, and mean signals.

0 Q&A 220 Views Nov 5, 2023

Pancreatic islet β cells preferentially secrete insulin toward the plasma membrane, making contact with the capillary extracellular matrix (ECM). Isolated islets separated from the exocrine acinar cells are the best system for cell biology studies of primary β cells, whereas isolated islets lose their capillary network during ex vivo culture. Providing the appropriate extracellular signaling by attaching islets to vascular ECM-coated surfaces can restore the polarized insulin secretion toward the ECM. The guided secretion toward ECM-coated glass coverslips provides a good model for recording insulin secretion in real time to study its regulation. Additionally, β cells attached to the ECM-coated coverslips are suitable for confocal live imaging of subcellular components including adhesion molecules, cytoskeleton, and ion channels. This procedure is also compatible for total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy, which provides optimal signal-to-noise ratio and high spatial precision of structures close to the plasma membrane. In this article, we describe the optimized protocol for vascular ECM-coating of glass coverslips and the process of attachment of isolated mouse islets on the coverslip. This preparation is compatible with any high-resolution microscopy of live primary β cells.


Key features

• Optimized coating procedure to attach isolated islets, compatible for both confocal and TIRF microscopy.

• The ECM-coated glass coverslip functions as the artificial capillary surface to guide secretion toward the coated surface for optimal imaging of secretion events.

• Shows the process of islets attachment to the ECM-coated surface in a 6-day ex vivo culture.


Graphical overview





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