Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 145 Views Mar 20, 2023

Adult stem cells not only maintain tissue homeostasis but are also critical for tissue regeneration during injury. Skeletal stem cells are multipotent stem cells that can even generate bones and cartilage upon transplantation to an ectopic site. This tissue generation process requires essential stem cell characteristics including self-renewal, engraftment, proliferation, and differentiation in the microenvironment. Our research team has successfully characterized and isolated skeletal stem cells (SSCs) from the cranial suture called suture stem cells (SuSCs), which are responsible for craniofacial bone development, homeostasis, and injury-induced repair. To assess their stemness features, we have demonstrated the use of kidney capsule transplantation for an in vivo clonal expansion study. The results show bone formation at a single-cell level, thus permitting a faithful assessment of stem cell numbers at the ectopic site. The sensitivity in assessing stem cell presence permits using kidney capsule transplantation to determine stem cell frequency by limiting dilution assay. Here, we described detailed protocols for kidney capsule transplantation and limiting dilution assay. These methods are extremely valuable both for the evaluation of skeletogenic ability and the determination of stem cell frequency.

1 Q&A 482 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.

0 Q&A 496 Views Dec 5, 2022

Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) is a significant complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. In order to develop new therapeutic approaches, there is a need to recapitulate GvHD effects in pre-clinical, in vivo systems, such as mouse and humanized mouse models. In humanized mouse models of GvHD, mice are reconstituted with human immune cells, which become activated by xenogeneic (xeno) stimuli, causing a multi-system disorder known as xenoGvHD. Testing the ability of new therapies to prevent or delay the development of xenoGvHD is often used as pre-clinical, proof-of-concept data, creating the need for standardized methodology to induce, monitor, and report xenoGvHD. Here, we describe detailed methods for how to induce xenoGvHD by injecting human peripheral blood mononuclear cells into immunodeficient NOD SCID gamma mice. We provide comprehensive details on methods for human T cell preparation and injection, mouse monitoring, data collection, interpretation, and reporting. Additionally, we provide an example of the potential utility of the xenoGvHD model to assess the biological activity of a regulatory T-cell therapy. Use of this protocol will allow better standardization of this model and comparison of datasets across different studies.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 1530 Views Jun 5, 2022

Transplantation of hematopoietic material into recipient mice is an assay routinely used to determine the presence and function of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) in vivo. The principle of the method is to transplant donor cells being tested for HSPCs into a recipient mouse following bone marrow ablation and testing for reconstitution of hematopoiesis. Congenic mouse strains where donor and recipient differ by a distinct cell surface antigen (commonly CD45.1 versus CD45.2) are used to distinguish between cells derived from the donor and any residual recipient cells. Typically, the transplantation is performed using bone marrow cells, which are enriched for HSPCs. Here, we describe an analogous procedure using hematopoietic material from spleen, allowing detection of functional progenitors and/or stem cells in the spleen that can occur under certain pathologies. Key to the success of this procedure is the prior removal of mature T cells from the donor sample, to minimize graft versus host reactions. As such, this protocol is highly analogous to standard bone marrow transplant procedures, differing mainly only in the source of stem cells (spleen rather than bone marrow) and the recommendation for T cell depletion to avoid potential immune incompatibilities.

Graphical abstract:

Schematic overview for assessment of stem cells in spleen by transplantation.
Single cell suspensions from spleens are depleted of potentially pathogenic mature T lymphocytes by magnetic bead immunoselection using biotinylated antibodies against CD4 and CD8, followed by streptavidin magnetic beads, which are subsequently removed by using a magnet (MojoSort, Biolegend). Successful T cell depletion is then evaluated by Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS). T-cell depleted cell suspension is injected intravenously through the retro-orbital sinus into lethally irradiated recipients. Recipients are analyzed for successful engraftment by FACS analysis for the presence of donor-derived mature hematopoietic lineages in the peripheral blood. A second serial transplantation can be used to document the presence of long-term reconstituting stem cells in the periphery of the original donor mice.

0 Q&A 4488 Views Sep 5, 2020
Human neuron transplantation offers novel opportunities for modeling human neurologic diseases and potentially replacement therapies. However, the complex structure of the human cerebral cortex, which is organized in six layers with tightly interconnected excitatory and inhibitory neuronal networks, presents significant challenges for in vivo transplantation techniques to obtain a balanced, functional and homeostatically stable neuronal network. Here, we present a protocol to introduce human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived neural progenitors to rat brains. Using this approach, hiPSC-derived neurons structurally integrate into the rat forebrain, exhibit electrophysiological characteristics, including firing, excitatory and inhibitory synaptic activity, and establish neuronal connectivity with the host circuitry.
0 Q&A 2877 Views Jul 5, 2020
For years, the mammary gland serves as a perfect example to study the self-renew and differentiation of adult stem cells, and the regulatory mechanisms of these processes as well. To assess the function of given genes and/or other factors on stemness of mammary cells, several In vitro assays were developed, such as mammospheres formation assay, detection of stem cell markers by mRNA expression or flow cytometry and so on. However, the capacity of reconstruction of whole mount in the cleared fat pad of recipient female mice is a golden standard to estimate the stemness of the cells. Here we described a step-by-step protocol for in vivo mammary gland formation assay, including preparation of “cleared” recipients and mammary cells for implantation, the surgery process and how to assess the experimental results. Combined with manipulation of mammary cells via gene editing and /or drug treatment, this protocol could be very useful in the researches of mammary stem cells and mammary development.
0 Q&A 6284 Views Feb 5, 2019
Bone is one of common metastasis sites for many types of cancer. In bone metastatic microenvironment, tumor-bone interactions play a significant role in the regulation of osteolytic or osteoblastic bone metastasis. In order to investigate the direct interaction between tumor cells and bone tissue, it is essential to generate appropriate animal models that mimic the behavior of tumor cells in bone metastatic lesions. Calvarial implantation model (bone invasion model) is a newly-established animal model that accurately recapitulates the behavior of tumor cells in the tumor-bone microenvironment. The surgical technique for tumor cell implantation is simpler than intracardiac, intra-arterial, or intraosseous injection techniques. This model can be useful for the identification of key factors driving tumor-induced osteolytic or osteoblastic changes.
1 Q&A 11814 Views Sep 20, 2018
Xenograft models, and in particular the mouse xenograft model, where human cancer cells are transplanted into immunocompromised mice, have been used extensively in cancer studies. Although these models have contributed enormously to our understanding of cancer biology, the zebrafish xenograft model offers several advantages over the mouse model. Zebrafish embryos can be easily cultured in large quantities, are small and easy to handle, making it possible to use a high number of embryos for each experimental condition. Young embryos lack an efficient immune system. Therefore the injected cancer cells are not rejected, and the formation of primary tumors and micrometastases is rapid. Transparency of the embryos enables imaging of primary tumors and metastases in an intact and living embryo. Here we describe a method where GFP expressing tumor cells are injected into pericardial space of zebrafish embryos. At four days post-injection, the embryos are imaged and the formation of primary tumor and distant micrometastases are analyzed.
0 Q&A 5266 Views May 20, 2018
The goal of this protocol is to establish a procedure for cultivating stem cells on a fibrin carrier to allow for eventual transplantation to the eye. The ability to transfer stem cells to a patient is critical for treatment for a variety of disorders and wound repair. We took hair follicle stem cells from the vibrissae of transgenic mice expressing a dual reporter gene under the control of the Tet-on system and the keratin 12 promoter (Meyer-Blazejewska et al., 2011). A clonal growth assay was performed to enrich for stem cells. Once holoclones formed they were transferred onto a fibrin carrier and cultivated to obtain a confluent epithelial cell layer. Limbal stem cell deficient (LSCD) mice were used as the transplant recipient in order to test for successful grafting and eventual differentiation into a corneal epithelial phenotype.
1 Q&A 5871 Views May 20, 2018
Recent outbreaks of infectious neuro-developmental diseases such as congenital Zika syndrome - have led to a demand for prognosis data from animal models. We developed an intra-amniotic injection mice model that allows Zika virus (ZIKV) infected mice to grow to puberty. In this system, ZIKV is injected into the amniotic fluid of pregnant mice and infected embryos thereafter. ZIKV-infected mice show several symptoms of clinical ‘congenital Zika syndrome’, including decreased brain volume and mis-laminated retina. We also evaluated several behavioral functions of these ZIKV-infected mice, for example, after the mice reach puberty, they have visual and motor defects. This technique can be used to screen and evaluate drug candidates and may help evaluate the prognosis of infectious neuro-developmental diseases.

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