Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 577 Views Sep 20, 2023

Immune cell trafficking in steady-state conditions and inflammatory cell recruitment into injured tissues is crucial for the surveillance of the immune system and the maintenance of body homeostasis. Tracking the cell journey from the infection site in the skin to lymphoid tissues has been challenging, and is typically determined using fluorescent cell tracers, antibodies, or photoconvertible models. Here, we describe the detailed method to track Leishmania-infected myeloid cells migrating from the skin to lymphatic tissues by multiparametric flow cytometry. These methods involve labeling of infective Leishmania donovani parasites with fluorescent cell tracers and phenotyping of myeloid cells with fluorescent antibodies, to determine the infection status of migratory myeloid cells. We also describe the detailed protocol to trace donor monocytes transferred intradermally into recipient mice in Leishmania donovani infection. These protocols can be adapted to study skin-lymphoid tissue migration of dendritic cells, inflammatory monocytes, neutrophils, and other phagocytic myeloid cells in response to vaccine antigens and infection.

Key features

• Cell-tracking of cell-trace-labeled parasites and monocytes from the skin to lymphatic tissues after transference into donor mice.

• Identification of migratory cells labeled with fluorescent cell tracers and antibodies by flow cytometry.

• Isolation, labeling, and transference of bone marrow monocytes from donor mice into the skin of recipient mice.

• Description of a double-staining technique with fluorescent cell tracers to determine cell and parasite dissemination from the skin to lymphoid tissues.

Graphical overview

Overview of the methods to trace the migration of Leishmania and monocytes from the skin to lymphatic tissues by flow cytometry. Infective metacyclic promastigotes (from axenic culture) and monocytes (isolated from the bone marrow of donor mice) are labeled with fluorescent cell tracers. After intradermal injection into the test mouse (1, 2), migratory cells and infected cells are isolated from the skin and lymphoid tissues of the test mouse. These cells are then labeled with fluorescent antibodies against myeloid cells and recognized according to the differential excitation/emission wavelengths of the fluorochromes by flow cytometry.

0 Q&A 758 Views Jul 20, 2023

Immotile cilia of crown cells at the node of mouse embryos are required for sensing leftward fluid flow that gives rise to the breaking of left-right (L-R) symmetry. The flow-sensing mechanism has long remained elusive, mainly because of difficulties inherent in manipulating and precisely analyzing the cilium. Recent progress in optical microscopy and biophysical analysis has allowed us to study the mechanical signals involving primary cilia. In this study, we used high-resolution imaging with mechanical modeling to assess the membrane tension in a single cilium. Optical tweezers, a technique used to trap sub-micron-sized particles with a highly focused laser beam, allowed us to manipulate individual cilia. Super-resolution microscopy allowed us to discern the precise localization of ciliary proteins. Using this protocol, we provide a method for applying these techniques to cilia in mouse embryonic nodes. This method is widely applicable to the determination of mechanical signals in other cilia.

1 Q&A 471 Views May 20, 2023

Here, we present an in vivo drug screening protocol using a zebrafish model of metastasis for the identification of anti-metastatic drugs. A tamoxifen-controllable Twist1a-ERT2 transgenic zebrafish line was established to serve as a platform for the identification. By crossing Twist1a-ERT2 with xmrk (a homolog of hyperactive form of the epidermal growth factor receptor) transgenic zebrafish, which develop hepatocellular carcinoma, approximately 80% of the double transgenic zebrafish show spontaneous cell dissemination of mCherry-labeled hepatocytes from the liver to the entire abdomen and tail regions in five days, through induction of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). This rapid and high-frequency induction of cell dissemination makes it possible to perform an in vivo drug screen for the identification of anti-metastatic drugs targeting metastatic dissemination of cancer cells. The protocol evaluates the suppressor effect of a test drug on metastasis in five days, by comparing the frequencies of the fish showing abdominal and distant dissemination patterns in the test drug–treated group with those in the vehicle-treated group. Our study previously identified that adrenosterone, an inhibitor for hydroxysteroid (11-beta) dehydrogenase 1 (HSD11β1), has a suppressor effect on cell dissemination in the model. Furthermore, we validated that a pharmacologic and genetic inhibition of HSD11β1 suppressed metastatic dissemination of highly metastatic human cell lines in a zebrafish xenotransplantation model. Taken together, this protocol opens new routes for the identification of anti-metastatic drugs.

Graphical overview


Day 0: Zebrafish spawning

Day 8: Primary tumor induction

Day 11: Chemical treatment

Day 11.5: Metastatic dissemination induction in the presence of a test chemical

Day 16: Data analysis

0 Q&A 576 Views Apr 5, 2023

The developing cerebral cortex of mammals is generated from nascent pyramidal neurons, which radially migrate from their birthplace in the ventral part of the neural tube to the cortical surface. Subtle aberrations in this process may cause significant changes in cortical structure and lead to developmental neurological disorders. During pyramidal neuron migration, we recently showed that the migrating neuron, which bypasses its last preceding neuron, is critical for its proper positioning and contributes to cerebral cortex thickness. Studying this process requires an imaging system with single-cell resolution and a prolonged observation window. Therefore, we built a system to maintain an organotypic brain slice on the stage of a Leica SP5 confocal microscope, which facilitated high-resolution imaging over a 12-hour time-lapse observation period of cellular events during neuron migration. Here, we share our protocol along with guidelines for overcoming difficulties during the setup. This protocol facilitates the observation of, but is not limited to, neurodevelopmental and pathological processes occurring during neuron migration.

0 Q&A 1389 Views Dec 20, 2022

The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a non-cellular network of macromolecules, which provides cells and tissues with structural support and biomechanical feedback to regulate cellular function, tissue tension, and homeostasis. Even subtle changes to ECM abundance, architecture, and organization can affect downstream biological pathways, thereby influencing normal cell and tissue function and also driving disease conditions. For example, in cancer, the ECM is well known to provide both biophysical and biochemical cues that influence cancer initiation, progression, and metastasis, highlighting the need to better understand cell–ECM interactions in cancer and other ECM-enriched diseases. Initial cell-derived matrix (CDM) models were used as an in vitro system to mimic and assess the physiologically relevant three-dimensional (3D) cell–ECM interactions. Here, we describe an expansion to these initial CDM models generated by fibroblasts to assess the effect of genetic or pharmacological intervention on fibroblast-mediated matrix production and organization. Additionally, we highlight current methodologies to quantify changes in the ultrastructure and isotropy of the resulting ECM and also provide protocols for assessing cancer cell interaction with CDMs. Understanding the nature and influence of these complex and heterogeneous processes can offer insights into the biomechanical and biochemical mechanisms, which drive cancer development and metastasis, and how we can target them to improve cancer outcomes.

0 Q&A 999 Views Nov 5, 2022

Mature B-cell lymphomas are highly dependent upon the protective lymphoid organ microenvironment for their growth and survival. Targeting integrin-mediated homing and retention of the malignant B cells in the lymphoid organs, using the Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor ibrutinib, is a highly efficacious FDA-approved therapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), and Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM). Unfortunately, a significant subset of patients is intrinsically resistant to ibrutinib or will develop resistance upon prolonged treatment. Here, we describe an unbiased functional genomic CRISPR-Cas9 screening method to identify novel proteins involved in B-cell receptor–controlled integrin-mediated adhesion, which provides novel therapeutic targets to overcome ibrutinib resistance. This screening method is highly flexible and can be easily adapted to identify cell adhesion–regulatory proteins and signaling pathways for other stimuli, adhesion molecules, and cell types.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 980 Views Oct 5, 2022

Few models exist that allow for rapid and effective screening of anti-metastasis drugs. Here, we present a drug screening protocol utilizing gastrulation of zebrafish embryos for identification of anti-metastasis drugs. Based on the evidence that metastasis proceeds through utilizing the molecular mechanisms of gastrulation, we hypothesized that chemicals interrupting zebrafish gastrulation might suppress the metastasis of cancer cells. Thus, we developed a phenotype-based chemical screen that uses epiboly, the first morphogenetic movement in gastrulation, as a marker. The screen only needs zebrafish embryos and enables hundreds of chemicals to be tested in five hours by observing the epiboly progression of chemical-treated embryos. In the screen, embryos at the two-cell stage are firstly corrected and then developed to the sphere stage. The embryos are treated with a test chemical and incubated in the presence of the chemical until vehicle-treated embryos develop to the 90% epiboly stage. Finally, positive ‘hit’ chemicals that interrupt epiboly progression are selected by comparing epiboly progression of the chemical-treated and vehicle-treated embryos under a stereoscopic microscope. A previous study subjected 1,280 FDA-approved drugs to the screen and identified adrenosterone and pizotifen as epiboly-interrupting drugs. These were validated to suppress metastasis of breast cancer cells in mice models of metastasis. Furthermore, 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 (HSD11β1) and serotonin receptor 2C (HTR2C), the primary targets of adrenosterone and pizotifen, respectively, promoted metastasis through induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Therefore, this screen could be converted into a chemical genetic screening platform for identification of metastasis-promoting genes.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 2150 Views Mar 5, 2022

Dozens of Mycoplasma species belonging to the class Mollicutes bind to solid surfaces through the organelle formed at a cell pole and glide in its direction by a unique mechanism. In Mycoplasma mobile, the fastest gliding species in Mycoplasma, the force for gliding is generated by ATP hydrolysis on an internal structure. However, the spatial and temporal behaviors of the internal structures in living cells were unclear. High-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) is a powerful method to monitor the dynamic behaviors of biomolecules and cells that can be captured while maintaining their active state in aqueous solution. In this protocol, we describe a method to detect their movements using HS-AFM. This protocol should be useful for the studies of many kinds of microorganisms.

Graphic abstract:

Scannnig Mycoplasma cell

0 Q&A 3359 Views Feb 20, 2022

The invasion of tumor cells into the neighboring blood vessels and lymph nodes is a vital step for distant metastasis. Traditionally, the invasive activity of growth factors (or the anti-invasive activity of drugs) is measured with the Boyden chamber assay. However, this assay has a few disadvantages like poor physiological relevance of transwell inserts and an inability to control chemokine gradients. The Boyden chamber assay is one of the most prevalent methods to measure the invasion of cancer cells. It would be advantageous to develop another assay that could validate the results of the Boyden chamber assay. With this in mind, our laboratory developed the spherical invasion assay (SIA) to measure the pro-invasive activity of human cancer cells. The SIA also circumvents some of the drawbacks of the Boyden chamber assay. The present manuscript measures the anti-invasive activity of the Src kinase inhibitor PP2 in A549 human non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) cells using the SIA. The SIA protocol is comprised of two steps. In the first step, A549 human NSCLC cells (treated or not with PP2) were mixed with Matrigel and seeded in the middle of an eight-well chamber slide. After 24 h, a second layer of Matrigel was overlaid over the first layer. Over the course of the next 24 h, the A549 cells invade from the primary to the secondary Matrigel layers. Subsequently, the cells are visualized by phase-contrast microscopy and the images obtained are quantified using ImageJ to calculate the anti-invasive activity of PP2 in A549 cells. The results of the SIA correlate well with Boyden chamber assays. The SIA may be adapted for multiple experimental designs, such as drug screening (to combat invasion and metastasis), measuring the pro-invasive activity of growth factors, and elucidating the signaling pathways underlying the pro-invasive/anti-invasive activity of biological modifiers.

Graphic abstract:

Diagrammatic illustration of the spherical invasion assay (Hurley et al., 2017). A. The first layer is comprised of human cancer cells mixed in a 1:1 suspension with Phenol Red containing Matrigel (represented as LAYER 1 in the figure). After 24 h, the cancer cells grow and extend up to the boundary of this first layer. B. A second layer of 1:1 solution Phenol Red-free Matrigel, in Phenol Red-free RPMI (represented as LAYER 2 in the figure) is added on top of the first Matrigel spot. The cells are incubated for 24 h at 37°C. C. Over these 24 h, the cancer cells invade from the primary layer into the secondary Matrigel layer. The chamber slides are observed by phase-contrast microscopy. D. A representative photograph of the images obtained by the SIA is shown. The black arrow indicates the cancer cells invading into the second layer of Matrigel. The dotted line represents the interface between the two layers. The distance to which the cells have traveled (into the secondary Matrigel layer) is measured at ten sites (for each photograph) in a randomized double-blind fashion by three independent observers, using NIH ImageJ Version 1.47. This process is repeated for three separate photographic fields per sample.

0 Q&A 1464 Views Feb 5, 2022

To identify causative substances for allergies to drugs or foods, the lymphocyte transformation test (LTT) is currently widely used as in vitro test, but its accuracy is not satisfactory. We have developed a novel method designated high-sensitivity allergy test (HiSAT) for determining allergy expression by measuring cell kinetics, using the chemotactic cells from non-allergic volunteers against a gradient field of cytokines released from immune cells when allergy develops. HiSAT requires a very small sample of 5 µL or less, and is applicable to three types of tests, depending on the situation in clinical practice: (i) diagnosis of the allergic expression, (ii) identification of the causative drug, and, in principle, (iii) pre-inspection.

Graphic abstract:

Schematic diagram of HiSAT. Serum from patients/subjects is used for rapid diagnosis in HiSAT. To identify the causative drug, the lymphocytes of interest are incubated with the candidate drug solution for 48 h to 72 h and then the culture supernatant is used in HiSAT. Before drug administration, it may possible to avoid the risk of allergies by performing pre-inspection, as well as the determination of the causative drug in HiSAT. A granulocyte-rich cell layer isolated from a non-allergic volunteer is used in HiSAT. Chemotactic cells migrate toward chemotactic factors in the test sample according to the concentration gradient. Cell kinetics (e.g., velocity or distance) are analyzed using sequential images of the test samples, and compared to the PHA-positive control.>

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