Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 303 Views Sep 5, 2023

Store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) is a ubiquitous Ca2+ signaling modality mediated by Orai Ca2+ channels at the plasma membrane (PM) and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca2+ sensors STIM1/2. At steady state, Orai1 constitutively cycles between an intracellular compartment and the PM. Orai1 PM residency is modulated by its endocytosis and exocytosis rates. Therefore, Orai1 trafficking represents an important regulatory mechanism to define the levels of Ca2+ influx. Here, we present a protocol using the dually tagged YFP-HA-Orai1 with a cytosolic YFP and extracellular hemagglutinin (HA) tag to quantify Orai1 cycling rates. For measuring Orai1 endocytosis, cells expressing YFP-HA-Orai1 are incubated with mouse anti-HA antibody for various periods of time before being fixed and stained for surface Orai1 with Cy5-labeled anti-mouse IgG. The cells are fixed again, permeabilized, and stained with Cy3-labeled anti-mouse IgG to reveal anti-HA that has been internalized. To quantify Orai1 exocytosis rate, cells are incubated with anti-HA antibody for various incubation periods before being fixed, permeabilized, and then stained with Cy5-labeled anti-mouse IgG. The Cy5/YFP ratio is plotted over time and fitted with a mono-exponential growth curve to determine exocytosis rate. Although the described assays were developed to measure Orai1 trafficking, they are readily adaptable to other PM channels.

Key features

• Detailed protocols to quantify endocytosis and exocytosis rates of Orai1 at the plasma membrane that can be used in various cell lines.

• The endocytosis and exocytosis assays are readily adaptable to study the trafficking of other plasma membrane channels.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 455 Views Aug 20, 2023

Myeloid cells, specifically microglia and macrophages, are activated in retinal diseases and can improve or worsen retinopathy outcomes based on their inflammatory phenotype. However, assessing the myeloid cell response after retinal injury in mice remains challenging due to the small tissue size and the challenges of distinguishing microglia from infiltrating macrophages. In this protocol paper, we describe a flow cytometry–based protocol to assess retinal microglia/macrophage and their inflammatory phenotype after injury. The protocol is amenable to the incorporation of other markers of interest to other researchers.

Key features

• This protocol describes a flow cytometry–based method to analyze the myeloid cell response in retinopathy mouse models.

• The protocol can distinguish between microglia- and monocyte-derived macrophages.

• It can be modified to incorporate markers of interest.

We show representative results from three different retinopathy models, namely ischemia-reperfusion injury, endotoxin-induced uveitis, and oxygen-induced retinopathy.

0 Q&A 131 Views Aug 5, 2023

Understanding the influence of secondary metabolites from fungi on the mitochondria of the host plant during infection is of great importance for the knowledge of fungus–plant interactions in general; it could help generate resistant plants in the future and in the development of specifically acting plant protection products. For this purpose, it must first be possible to record the mitochondrial parameters in the host plant. As of the date of this protocol, no measurements of mitochondrial respiration parameters have been performed in wheat paleae. The protocol shown here describes the measurements using the XF24 analyzer, which measures the rate of oxygen consumption in the sample by changes in the fluorescence of solid-state fluorophores. This procedure covers the preparation of samples for the XF24 analyzer and the measurement of mitochondrial parameters by adding specific mitochondrial inhibitors. It also shows the necessary approach and steps to be followed to obtain reliable, reproducible results. This is a robust protocol that allows the analysis of mitochondrial respiration directly in the wheat paleae. It demonstrates an important add-on method to existing screenings and also offers the possibility to test the effects of early infection of plants by harmful fungi (e.g., Fusarium graminearum) on mitochondrial respiration parameters.

Key features

• This protocol offers the possibility of testing the effects of early infection of plants by pathogens on mitochondrial respiration parameters.

• This protocol requires a Seahorse XF24 Flux Analyzer with Islet Capture Microplates and the Seahorse Capture Screen Insert Tool.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 178 Views Aug 5, 2023

Presentation of the variant antigen Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (EMP1) at the surface of infected red blood cells (RBCs) underpins the malaria parasite’s pathogenicity. The transport of EMP1 to the RBC surface is facilitated by a parasite-derived trafficking system, in which over 500 parasite proteins are exported into the host cell cytoplasm. To understand how genetic ablation of selected exported proteins affects EMP1 transport, several EMP1 surface presentation assays have been developed, including: 1) trypsinization of surface-exposed EMP1 and analysis by SDS-PAGE and immunoblotting; and 2) infected RBC binding assays, to determine binding efficiency to immobilized ligand under physiological flow conditions. Here, we describe a third EMP1 surface presentation assay, where antibodies to the ectodomain of EMP1 and flow cytometry are used to quantify surface-exposed EMP1 in live cells. The advantages of this assay include higher throughput capacity and data better suited for robust quantitative analysis. This protocol can also be applied to other cellular contexts where an antibody can be developed for the ectodomain of the protein of interest.

0 Q&A 190 Views Jul 20, 2023

An efficient cell culture system for hepatitis B virus (HBV) is indispensable for research on viral characteristics and antiviral agents. Currently, for HBV infection assays in cell culture, HBV genome-integrated cell line–derived viruses are commonly used. However, these viruses are not suitable for the evaluation of polymorphism-dependent viral characteristics or resistant mutations against anti-viral agents. To detect the infection of cell culture–generated HBV (HBVcc) by the transient transfection of the HBV molecular clone, a large amount of purified viruses is needed, because such viruses exhibit limited infection efficiencies in cell culture. Here, we describe how to generate and purify HBVcc by the transient transfection of HBV molecular clones. This system provides a powerful tool for studying the infection and propagation of HBV and for developing anti-viral agents against HBV.

0 Q&A 631 Views Apr 20, 2023

RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) transcribes DNA into mRNA and thereby plays a critical role in cellular protein production. In addition, RNAPII plays a central role in DNA damage responses. Measurements of RNAPII on chromatin may thus give insight into several essential processes in eukaryotic cells. During transcription, the C-terminal domain of RNAPII becomes post-translationally modified, and phosphorylation on serine 5 and serine 2 can be used as markers for the promoter proximal and productively elongating forms of RNAPII, respectively. Here, we provide a detailed protocol for the detection of chromatin-bound RNAPII and its serine 5– and serine 2–phosphorylated forms in individual human cells through the cell cycle. We have recently shown that this method can be used to study the effects of ultraviolet DNA damage on RNAPII chromatin binding and that it can even be used to reveal new knowledge about the transcription cycle itself. Other commonly used methods to study RNAPII chromatin binding include chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing or chromatin fractionation followed by western blotting. However, such methods are frequently based on lysates made from a large number of cells, which may mask population heterogeneity, e.g., due to cell cycle phase. With strengths such as single-cell analysis, speed of use, and accurate quantitative readouts, we envision that our flow cytometry method can be widely used as a complementary approach to sequencing-based methods to study effects of different stimuli and inhibitors on RNAPII-mediated transcription.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 462 Views Feb 5, 2023

Secreted reporters have been demonstrated to be simple and useful tools for analyzing transcriptional regulation in mammalian cells. The distinctive feature of these assays is the ability to detect reporter gene expression in the culture supernatant without affecting the cell physiology or leading to cell lysis, which allows repeated experimentation and sampling of the culture medium using the same cell cultures. Secreted embryonic alkaline phosphatase (SEAP) is one of the most widely used reporter, which can be easily detected using colorimetry following incubation with a substrate, such as p-nitrophenol phosphate. In this report, we present detailed procedures for detection and quantification of the SEAP reporter. We believe that this step-by-step protocol can be easily used by researchers to monitor and measure molecular genetic events in a variety of mammalian cells due to its simplicity and ease of handling.

Graphical abstract

Schematic overview of the workflow described in this protocol

0 Q&A 817 Views Jan 20, 2023

Targeted protein degradation (TPD) facilitates the selective elimination of unwanted and pathological cellular cargoes via the proteasome or the lysosome, ranging from proteins to organelles and pathogens, both within and outside the cell. Currently, there are several in vitro and in vivo protocols that assess the degradative potency of a given degrader towards a myriad of targets, most notably soluble, monomeric oncoproteins. However, there is a clear deficiency of methodologies to assess the degradative potency of heterobifunctional chimeric degraders, especially those in the autophagy space, against pathological, mutant tau species, such as detergent-insoluble oligomers and high-molecular aggregates. The protocol below describes both in vitro and in vivo biochemical assays to induce tau aggregation, as well as to qualitatively and quantitatively measure the degradative potency of a given degrader towards said aggregates, with specific applications of the AUTOTAC (AUTOphagy-TArgeting Chimera) platform provided as an example. A well-defined set of methodologies to assess TPD-mediated degradation of pathological tau species will help expand the scope of the TPD technology to neurodegeneration and other proteinopathies, in both the lab and the clinic.

Graphical abstract

Overview of assays observing elimination of tauP301L aggregates with AUTOTAC. (A) Description of the biological working mechanism of heterobifunctional chimeric AUTOTAC degraders. (B) Schematic illustration of assays described in this paper.

0 Q&A 839 Views Jan 5, 2023

Traditional drug safety assessments often fail to predict complications in humans, especially when the drug targets the immune system. Rodent-based preclinical animal models are often ill-suited for predicting immunotherapy-mediated adverse events in humans, in part because of the fundamental differences in immunological responses between species and the human relevant expression profile of the target antigen, if it is expected to be present in normal, healthy tissue. While human-relevant cell-based models of tissues and organs promise to bridge this gap, conventional in vitro two-dimensional models fail to provide the complexity required to model the biological mechanisms of immunotherapeutic effects. Also, like animal models, they fail to recapitulate physiologically relevant levels and patterns of organ-specific proteins, crucial for capturing pharmacology and safety liabilities. Organ-on-Chip models aim to overcome these limitations by combining micro-engineering with cultured primary human cells to recreate the complex multifactorial microenvironment and functions of native tissues and organs. In this protocol, we show the unprecedented capability of two human Organs-on-Chip models to evaluate the safety profile of T cell–bispecific antibodies (TCBs) targeting tumor antigens. These novel tools broaden the research options available for a mechanistic understanding of engineered therapeutic antibodies and for assessing safety in tissues susceptible to adverse events.

Graphical abstract

Figure 1. Graphical representation of the major steps in target-dependent T cell–bispecific antibodies engagement and immunomodulation, as performed in the Colon Intestine-Chip

0 Q&A 771 Views Jan 5, 2023

Molecular characterization of different cell types in rodent brains is a widely used and important approach in neuroscience. Fluorescent detection of transcripts using RNAscope (ACDBio) has quickly became a standard in situ hybridization (ISH) approach. Its sensitivity and specificity allow for the simultaneous detection of between three and forty-eight low abundance mRNAs in single cells (i.e., multiplexing or hiplexing), and, in contrast to other ISH techniques, it is performed in a shorter amount of time. Manual quantification of transcripts is a laborious and time-consuming task even for small portions of a larger tissue section. Herein, we present a protocol for creating high-quality images for quantification of RNAscope-labeled neurons in the rat brain. This protocol uses custom-made scripts within the open-source software QuPath to create an automated workflow for the careful optimization and validation of cell detection parameters. Moreover, we describe a method to derive mRNA signal thresholds using negative controls. This protocol and automated workflow may help scientists to reliably and reproducibly prepare and analyze rodent brain tissue for cell type characterization using RNAscope.

Graphical abstract

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