Cancer Biology


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0 Q&A 904 Views Aug 20, 2023

Maintenance of genome integrity requires efficient and faithful resolution of DNA breaks and DNA replication obstacles. Dysfunctions in any of the processes orchestrating such resolution can lead to chromosomal instability, which appears as numerical and structural chromosome aberrations. Conventional cytogenetics remains as the golden standard method to detect naturally occurring chromosomal aberrations or those resulting from the treatment with genotoxic drugs. However, the success of cytogenetic studies depends on having high-quality chromosome spreads, which has been proven to be particularly challenging. Moreover, a lack of scoring guidelines and standardized methods for treating cells with genotoxic agents contribute to significant variability amongst different studies. Here, we report a simple and effective method for obtaining well-spread chromosomes from mammalian cells for the analysis of chromosomal aberrations. In this method, cells are (1) arrested in metaphase (when chromosome morphology is clearest), (2) swollen in hypotonic solution, (3) fixed before being dropped onto microscope slides, and (4) stained with DNA dyes to visualize the chromosomes. Metaphase chromosomes are then analyzed using high-resolution microscopy. We also provide examples, representative images, and useful guidelines to facilitate the scoring of the different chromosomal aberrations. This method can be used for the diagnosis of genetic diseases, as well as for cancer studies, by identifying chromosomal defects and providing insight into the cellular processes that influence chromosome integrity.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 542 Views Jul 5, 2023

Errors in chromosome segregation during mitosis lead to chromosome instability, resulting in an unbalanced number of chromosomes in the daughter cells. Light microscopy has been used extensively to study chromosome missegregation by visualizing errors of the mitotic spindle. However, less attention has been paid to understanding spindle function in the broader context of intracellular structures and organelles during mitosis. Here, we outline a protocol to visualize chromosomes and endomembranes in mitosis, combining light microscopy and 3D volume electron microscopy, serial block-face scanning electron microscopy (SBF-SEM). SBF-SEM provides high-resolution imaging of large volumes and subcellular structures, followed by image analysis and 3D reconstruction. This protocol allows scientists to visualize the whole subcellular context of the spindle during mitosis.

0 Q&A 584 Views May 20, 2023

Mitochondria play decisive roles in bioenergetics and intracellular communication. These organelles contain a circular mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genome that is duplicated within one to two hours by a mitochondrial replisome, independently from the nuclear replisome. mtDNA stability is regulated in part at the level of mtDNA replication. Consequently, mutations in mitochondrial replisome components result in mtDNA instability and are associated with diverse disease phenotypes, including premature aging, aberrant cellular energetics, and developmental defects. The mechanisms ensuring mtDNA replication stability are not completely understood. Thus, there remains a need to develop tools to specifically and quantifiably examine mtDNA replication. To date, methods for labeling mtDNA have relied on prolonged exposures of 5′-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU) or 5′-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine (EdU). However, labeling with these nucleoside analogs for a sufficiently short time in order to monitor nascent mtDNA replication, such as under two hours, does not produce signals suited for efficient or accurate quantitative analysis. The assay system described here, termed Mitochondrial Replication Assay (MIRA), utilizes proximity ligation assay (PLA) combined with EdU-coupled Click-IT chemistry to address this limitation, thereby enabling sensitive and quantitative analysis of nascent in situ mtDNA replication with single-cell resolution. This method can be further paired with conventional immunofluorescence (IF) for multi-parameter cell analysis. By enabling monitoring nascent mtDNA prior to the complete replication of the entire mtDNA genome, this new assay system allowed the discovery of a new mitochondrial stability pathway, mtDNA fork protection. Moreover, a modification in primary antibodies application allows the adaptation of our previously described in situ protein Interactions with nascent DNA Replication Forks (SIRF) for the detection of proteins of interest to nascent mtDNA replication forks on a single molecule level (mitoSIRF).


Graphical overview



Schematic overview of Mitochondrial Replication Assay (MIRA). 5′-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine (EdU; green) incorporated in DNA is tagged with biotin (blue) using Click-IT chemistry. Subsequent proximity ligation assay (PLA, pink circles) using antibodies against biotin allows the fluorescent tagging of the nascent EdU and amplification of the signal sufficient for visualization by standard immunofluorescence. PLA signals outside the nucleus denote mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) signals. Ab, antibody. In in situ protein interactions with nascent DNA replication forks (mitoSIRF), one of the primary antibodies is directed against a protein of interest, while the other detects nascent biotinylated EdU, thus enabling in situ protein interactions with nascent mtDNA.

0 Q&A 1483 Views Apr 5, 2023

Cellular senescence is a reprogrammed cell state triggered as an adaptative response to a variety of stresses, most often those affecting the genome integrity. Senescent cells accumulate in most tissues with age and contribute to the development of several pathologies. Studying molecular pathways involved in senescence induction and maintenance, or in senescence escape, can be hindered by the heterogeneity of senescent cell populations. Here, we describe a flow cytometry strategy for sorting senescent cells according to three senescence canonical markers whose thresholds can be independently adapted to be more or less stringent: (i) the senescence-associated-β-galactosidase (SA-β-Gal) activity, detected using 5-dodecanoylaminofluorescein Di-β-D-galactopyranoside (C12FDG), a fluorigenic substrate of β-galactosidase; (ii) cell size, proportional to the forward scatter value, since increased size is one of the major changes observed in senescent cells; and (iii) cell granularity, proportional to the side scatter value, which reflects the accumulation of aggregates, lysosomes, and altered mitochondria in senescent cells. We applied this protocol to the sorting of normal human fibroblasts at the replicative senescence plateau. We highlighted the challenge of sorting these senescent cells because of their large sizes, and established that it requires using sorters equipped with a nozzle of an unusually large diameter: at least 200 µm. We present evidence of the sorting efficiency and sorted cell viability, as well as of the senescent nature of the sorted cells, confirmed by the detection of other senescence markers, including the expression of the CKI p21 and the presence of 53BP1 DNA damage foci. Our protocol makes it possible, for the first time, to sort senescent cells from contaminating proliferating cells and, at the same time, to sort subpopulations of senescent cells featuring senescent markers to different extents.


Graphical abstract


1 Q&A 1099 Views Nov 5, 2022

8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG) is considered to be a premutagenic DNA lesion generated by 2'-deoxyguanosine (dG) oxidation due to reactive oxygen species (ROS). In recent years, the 8-oxodG distribution in human, mouse, and yeast genomes has been underlined using various next-generation sequencing (NGS)–based strategies. The present study reports the OxiDIP-Seq protocol, which combines specific 8-oxodG immuno-precipitation of single-stranded DNA with NGS, and the pipeline analysis that allows the genome-wide 8-oxodG distribution in mammalian cells. The development of this OxiDIP-Seq method increases knowledge on the oxidative DNA damage/repair field, providing a high-resolution map of 8-oxodG in human cells.

0 Q&A 1228 Views Sep 5, 2022

The main cellular pathways to repair DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and protect the integrity of the genome are homologous recombination (HR), non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ), and alternative end-joining (Alt-EJ). Polymerase theta-regulated Alt-EJ is an error-prone DSB repair pathway characterized by microhomology usage. Considering its importance in cancer treatment, technologies for detection of Alt-EJ in cancer cells may facilitate the study of the mechanisms of carcinogenesis and the development of new therapeutic targets. DSB reporter assay is the classical method for detecting Alt-EJ, which is primarily based on components of EJ2-puro cassette integration, I-SceI cleaving, and flow cytometry analysis. Here, we described an assay based on a modified I-Scel plasmid that can screen head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSC) cells that were successfully transfected using selection medium with hygrovetine. We expect that this protocol will improve the fidelity and accuracy of reporter assays.


Graphical abstract:



Schematic overview of the workflow for establishment of Alt-EJ reporters.


0 Q&A 1248 Views Sep 5, 2022

In the human cell cycle, complete replication of DNA is a fundamental process for the maintenance of genome integrity. Replication stress interfering with the progression of replication forks causes difficult-to-replicate regions to remain under-replicated until the onset of mitosis. In early mitosis, a homology-directed repair DNA synthesis, called mitotic DNA synthesis (MiDAS), is triggered to complete DNA replication. Here, we present a method to detect MiDAS in human U2OS 40-2-6 cells, in which repetitive lacO sequences integrated into the human chromosome evoke replication stress and concomitant incomplete replication of the lacO array. Immunostaining of BrdU and LacI proteins is applied for visualization of DNA synthesis in early mitosis and the lacO array, respectively. This protocol has been established to easily detect MiDAS at specific loci using only common immunostaining methods and may be optimized for the investigation of other difficult-to-replicate regions marked with site-specific binding proteins.

0 Q&A 1811 Views May 20, 2022

DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) constantly arise in cells during normal cellular processes or upon exposure to genotoxic agents, and are repaired mostly by homologous recombination (HR) and non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). One key determinant of DNA DSB repair pathway choice is the processing of broken DNA ends to generate single strand DNA (ssDNA) overhangs, a process termed DNA resection. The generation of ssDNA overhangs commits DSB repair through HR and inhibits NHEJ. Therefore, DNA resection must be carefully regulated to avoid mis-repaired or persistent DSBs. Accordingly, many approaches have been developed to monitor ssDNA generation in cells to investigate genes and pathways that regulate DNA resection. Here we describe a flow cytometric approach measuring the levels of replication protein A (RPA) complex, a high affinity ssDNA binding complex composed of three subunits (RPA70, RPA32, and RPA14 in mammals), on chromatin after DNA DSB induction to assay DNA resection. This flow cytometric assay requires only conventional flow cytometers and can easily be scaled up to analyze a large number of samples or even for genetic screens of pooled mutants on a genome-wide scale. We adopt this assay in G0- and G1- phase synchronized cells where DNA resection needs to be kept in check to allow normal NHEJ.

0 Q&A 1576 Views Apr 5, 2022

Bromodomain-containing protein 4 (BRD4) is an acetyl-lysine reader protein and transcriptional regulator implicated in chromatin dynamics and cancer development. Several BRD4 isoforms have been detected in humans with the long isoform (BRD4-L, aa 1-1,362) playing a tumor-suppressive role and a major short isoform (BRD4-S, aa 1-722) having oncogenic activity in breast cancer development. In vivo demonstration of the opposing functions of BRD4 protein isoforms requires development of mouse models, particularly transgenic mice conditionally expressing human BRD4-L or BRD4-S, which can be selectively induced in different mouse tissues in a spatiotemporal-specific manner. Here, we detail the procedures used to genotype transgenic mouse strains developed to define the effects of conditional human BRD4 isoform expression on polyomavirus middle T antigen (PyMT)-induced mouse mammary tumor growth, and the key steps for Western blot detection of BRD4 protein isoforms in those tumors and in cultured cells. With this protocol as a guide, interpretation of BRD4 isoform functions becomes more feasible and expandable to various biological settings. Adequate tracking of BRD4 isoform distributions in vivo and in vitro is key to understanding their biological roles, as well as avoiding misinterpretation of their functions due to improper use of experimental procedures that fail to detect their spatial and temporal distributions.


Graphic abstract:



0 Q&A 1566 Views Mar 20, 2022

Spontaneous DNA damage frequently occurs on the human genome, and it could alter gene expression by inducing mutagenesis or epigenetic changes. Therefore, it is highly desired to profile DNA damage distribution on the human genome and identify the genes that are prone to DNA damage. Here, we present a novel single-cell whole-genome amplification method which employs linear-copying followed by a split-amplification scheme, to efficiently remove amplification errors and achieve accurate detection of DNA damage in individual cells. In comparison to previous methods that measure DNA damage, our method uses a next-generation sequencing platform to detect misincorporated bases derived from spontaneous DNA damage with single-cell resolution.




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