Cell Biology

Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 246 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.

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Schematic overview of the workflow described in this protocol

0 Q&A 519 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 559 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 478 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.

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0 Q&A 485 Views Dec 20, 2022

Mitochondria are cellular organelles essential for the function and survival of eukaryotic cells. Nearly all mitochondrial proteins are nuclear-encoded and require mitochondrial import upon their synthesis in the cytosol. Various approaches have been described to study mitochondrial protein import, such as monitoring the entry of radiolabeled proteins into purified mitochondria or quantifying newly synthesized proteins within mitochondria by proteomics. Here, we provide a detailed protocol for a commonly used and straightforward assay that quantitatively examines mitochondrial protein import by monitoring the co-localization of mitochondrially targeted enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) with the mitochondrial fluorescence dye MitoTracker TM Deep Red FM by live cell imaging. We describe the preparation and use of a stable mammalian cell line inducibly expressing a mitochondrial targeting sequence (MTS)-eGFP, followed by quantitative image analysis using an open-source ImageJ-based plugin. This inducible expression system avoids the need for transient transfection while enabling titration of MTS-eGFP expression and thereby avoiding protein folding stress. Overall, the assay provides a simple and robust approach to assess mitochondrial import capacity of cells in various disease-related settings.

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0 Q&A 1101 Views Oct 5, 2022

The sirtuin 6 has emerged as a regulator of acute and chronic immune responses. Recent findings show that SIRT6 is necessary for mounting an active inflammatory response in macrophages. In vitro studies revealed that SIRT6 is stabilized in the cytoplasm to promote tumor necrosis factor (TNFα) secretion. Notably, SIRT6 also promotes TNFα secretion by resident peritoneal macrophages upon lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation in vivo. Although many studies have investigated SIRT6 function in the immune response through different genetic and pharmacological approaches, direct measurements of in vivo SIRT6 expression in immune cells by flow cytometry have not yet been performed. Here, we describe a step-by-step protocol for peritoneal fluid extraction, isolation, and preparation of peritoneal cavity cells, intracellular SIRT6 staining, and flow cytometry analysis to measure SIRT6 levels in mice peritoneal macrophages. By providing a robust method to quantify SIRT6 levels in different populations of macrophages, this method will contribute to deepening our understanding of the role of SIRT6 in immunity, as well as in other cellular processes regulated by SIRT6.

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0 Q&A 721 Views Oct 5, 2022

RNA binding proteins (RBPs) are critical regulators of cellular phenotypes, and dysregulated RBP expression is implicated in various diseases including cancer. A single RBP can bind to and regulate the expression of many RNA molecules via a variety of mechanisms, including translational suppression, prevention of RNA degradation, and alteration in subcellular localization. To elucidate the role of a specific RBP within a given cellular context, it is essential to first identify the group of RNA molecules to which it binds. This has traditionally been achieved using cross-linking-based assays in which cells are first exposed to agents that cross-link RBPs to nucleic acids and then lysed to extract and purify the RBP-nucleic acid complexes. The nucleic acids within the mixture are then released and analyzed via conventional means (e.g., microarray analysis, qRT-PCR, RNA sequencing, or Northern blot). While cross-linking-based ribonucleoprotein immunoprecipitation (RIP) has proven its utility within some contexts, it is technically challenging, inefficient, and suboptimal given the amount of time and resources (e.g., cells and antibodies) required. Additionally, these types of studies often require the use of over-expressed versions of proteins, which can introduce artifacts. Here, we describe a streamlined version of RIP that utilizes exclusion-based purification technologies. This approach requires significantly less starting material and resources compared to traditional RIP approaches, takes less time, which is tantamount given the labile nature of RNA, and can be used with endogenously expressed proteins. The method described here can be used to study RNA-protein interactions in a variety of cellular contexts.

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0 Q&A 1467 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 1415 Views May 20, 2022

Cyanobacteria are Gram-negative oxygen-producing photosynthetic bacteria that are useful in the pharmaceutical and biofuel industries. Monitoring of oxidative stress under fluctuating environmental conditions is important for determining the fitness, survival, and growth of cyanobacteria in the laboratory as well as in large scale cultivation systems. Here, we provide a protocol developed using unicellular Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 and filamentous Fremyella diplosiphon BK14 cyanobacteria for high-throughput oxidative stress measurement by 2′,7′-dichlorodihydrofluorescein-diacetate (DCFH-DA) and flow cytometry (FCM). We also provide details for the optimization of cell number, dye concentration, and FCM parameters for each organism before it can be utilized to quantify reactive oxygen species (ROS). FCM-based method can be used to measure ROS in a large population of cyanobacterial cells in a high-throughput manner.

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1 Q&A 1873 Views Apr 20, 2022

Due to overlapping sequences with linear cognates, identifying internal sequences of circular RNA (circRNA) remains a challenge. Recently, we have developed a full-length circRNA sequencing method (circFL-seq) and computational pipeline, to profile ordinary and fusion circRNA at the isoform level. Compared to short-read RNA-seq, rolling circular reverse transcription and nanopore long-read sequencing of circFL-seq make circRNA reads more than tenfold enriched, and show advantages for identification of both short (<100 nt) and long (>2,000 nt) circRNA transcripts. circFL-seq allows identification of differential alternative splicing suggested wide application prospects for functional studies of internal sequences in circRNAs. In addition, the experimental protocol and computational pipeline of circFL-seq shows better sensitivity and precision for identification of back-splicing junctions than current long-read sequencing methods. Together, the accurate identification and quantification of full-length circRNAs makes circFL-seq a potential tool for large-scale screening of functional circRNAs.

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