Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 174 Views May 5, 2023

A basic function of the nervous system is to confer the ability to detect external stimuli and generate appropriate behavioral and physiological responses. These can be modulated when parallel streams of information are provided to the nervous system and neural activity is appropriately altered. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans utilizes a simple and well characterized neural circuit to mediate avoidance or attraction responses to stimuli, such as the volatile odorant octanol or diacetyl (DA), respectively. Aging and neurodegeneration constitute two important factors altering the ability to detect external signals and, therefore, changing behavior. Here, we present a modified protocol to assess avoidance or attraction responses to diverse stimuli in healthy and worm models associated with neurodegenerative diseases.

0 Q&A 483 Views Feb 20, 2023

The cell surfaceome is of vital importance across physiology, developmental biology, and disease states alike. The precise identification of proteins and their regulatory mechanisms at the cell membrane has been challenging and is typically determined using confocal microscopy, two-photon microscopy, or total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRFM). Of these, TIRFM is the most precise, as it harnesses the generation of a spatially delimited evanescent wave at the interface of two surfaces with distinct refractive indices. The limited penetration of the evanescent wave illuminates a narrow specimen field, which facilitates the localization of fluorescently tagged proteins at the cell membrane but not inside of the cell. In addition to constraining the depth of the image, TIRFM also significantly enhances the signal-to-noise ratio, which is particularly valuable in the study of live cells. Here, we detail a protocol for micromirror TIRFM analysis of optogenetically activated protein kinase C-ϵ in HEK293-T cells, as well as data analysis to demonstrate the translocation of this construct to the cell-surface following optogenetic activation.

Graphic abstract

0 Q&A 515 Views Feb 20, 2023

Cardiac fibroblasts are one of the major constituents of a healthy heart. Cultured cardiac fibroblasts are a crucial resource for conducting studies on cardiac fibrosis. The existing methods for culturing cardiac fibroblasts involve complicated steps and require special reagents and instruments. The major problems faced with primary cardiac fibroblast culture are the low yield and viability of the cultured cells and contamination with other heart cell types, including cardiomyocytes, endothelial cells, and immune cells. Numerous parameters, including the quality of the reagents used for the culture, conditions maintained during digestion of the cardiac tissue, composition of the digestion mixture used, and age of the pups used for culture determine the yield and purity of the cultured cardiac fibroblasts. The present study describes a detailed and simplified protocol to isolate and culture primary cardiac fibroblasts from neonatal murine pups. We demonstrate the transdifferentiation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts through transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 treatment, representing the changes in fibroblasts during cardiac fibrosis. These cells can be used to study the various aspects of cardiac fibrosis, inflammation, fibroblast proliferation, and growth.

0 Q&A 394 Views Feb 20, 2023

Far-western blotting, derived from the western blot, has been used to detect interactions between proteins in vitro, such as receptor–ligand interactions. The insulin signaling pathway plays a critical role in the regulation of both metabolism and cell growth. The binding of the insulin receptor substrate (IRS) to the insulin receptor is essential for the propagation of downstream signaling after the activation of the insulin receptor by insulin. Here, we describe a step-by-step far-western blotting protocol for determining the binding of IRS to the insulin receptor.

0 Q&A 253 Views Dec 20, 2022

Periodontal disease is a chronic multifactorial disease triggered by a complex of bacterial species. These interact with host tissues to cause the release of a broad array of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and tissue remodelers, such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which lead to the destruction of periodontal tissues. Patients with severe forms of periodontitis are left with a persistent pro-inflammatory transcriptional profile throughout the periodontium, even after clinical intervention, leading to the destruction of teeth-supporting tissues. The oral spirochete, Treponema denticola , is consistently found at significantly elevated levels at sites with advanced periodontal disease. Of all T. denticola virulence factors that have been described, its chymotrypsin-like protease complex, also called dentilisin, has demonstrated a multitude of cytopathic effects consistent with periodontal disease pathogenesis, including alterations in cellular adhesion activity, degradation of various endogenous extracellular matrix–substrates, degradation of host chemokines and cytokines, and ectopic activation of host MMPs. Thus, the following model of T. denticola –human periodontal ligament cell interactions may provide new knowledge about the mechanisms that drive the chronicity of periodontal disease at the protein, transcriptional, and epigenetic levels, which could afford new putative therapeutic targets.

0 Q&A 1150 Views Oct 20, 2022

The core planar cell polarity (PCP) protein Vang/Vangl, including Vangl1 and Vangl2 in vertebrates, is indispensable during development. Our previous studies showed that the activity of Vangl is tightly controlled by two important posttranslational modifications, ubiquitination and phosphorylation. Vangl is ubiquitinated through an endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation (ERAD) pathway and is phosphorylated by casein kinase 1 (CK1) in response to Wnt. Here, we present step-by-step procedures to analyze Vangl ubiquitination and phosphorylation, including cell culture, transfection, sample preparation, and signal detection, as well as the use of newly available phospho-specific antibodies to detect Wnt-induced Vangl2 phosphorylation. The protocol described here can be applicable to the analysis of posttranslational modifications of other membrane proteins.

0 Q&A 668 Views Sep 20, 2022

Weeds compete with crops for growth resources, causing tremendous yield losses. Paraquat is one of the three most common non-selective herbicides. To study the mechanisms of paraquat resistance, we need to trace the movement of paraquat in plants and within the cell. 14C is a radioactive carbon isotope widely used to trace substances of interest in various biological studies, especially in transport analyses. Here, we describe a detailed protocol using 14C-paraquat to demonstrate paraquat efflux in Arabidopsis protoplasts.

0 Q&A 1890 Views Jul 5, 2022

Understanding protein-protein interactions (PPIs) and interactome networks is essential to reveal molecular mechanisms mediating various cellular processes. The most common method to study PPIs in vivo is affinity purification combined with mass spectrometry (AP–MS). Although AP–MS is a powerful method, loss of weak and transient interactions is still a major limitation. Proximity labeling (PL) techniques have been developed as alternatives to overcome these limitations. Proximity-dependent biotin identification (BioID) is one such widely used PL method. The first-generation BioID enzyme BirA*, a promiscuous bacterial biotin ligase, has been effectively used in cultured mammalian cells; however, relatively slow enzyme kinetics make it less effective for temporal analysis of protein interactions. In addition, BirA* exhibits reduced activity at temperatures below 37°C, further restricting its use in intact organisms cultured at lower optimal growth temperatures (e.g., Drosophila melanogaster). TurboID, miniTurbo, and BirA*-G3 are next generation BirA* variants with improved catalytic activity, allowing investigators to use this powerful tool in model systems such as flies. Here, we describe a detailed experimental workflow to efficiently identify the proximal proteome (proximitome) of a protein of interest (POI) in the Drosophila brain using CRISPR/Cas9-induced homology-directed repair (HDR) strategies to endogenously tag the POI with next generation BioID enzymes.

0 Q&A 1962 Views May 20, 2022

Subcellular localization dynamics of proteins involved in signal transduction processes is crucial in determining the signaling outcome. However, there is very limited information about the localization of endogenous signaling proteins in living cells. For example, biochemical mechanisms underlying the signaling pathway from epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) to RAS-RAF and ERK1/2/MAPK are well understood, whereas the operational domains of this pathway in the cell remain poorly characterized. Tagging of endogenous components of signaling pathways with fluorescent proteins allows more accurate characterization of their intracellular dynamics at their native expression levels controlled by endogenous regulatory mechanisms, thus avoiding possible tainting effects of overexpression and mistargeting. In this study, we describe methodological approaches to label components of the EGFR-RAS-MAPK pathway, such as Grb2, KRAS, and NRAS, with the fluorescent protein mNeonGreen (mNG) using CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing, as well as generation of homozygous single-cell clones of the edited target protein.

0 Q&A 1868 Views Apr 20, 2022

Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) is a multi-functional cytokine that plays a significant role in multiple diseases, including fibrosis and tumor progression. Whilst the biologic effects of TGF-β are well characterized, it is unclear how TGF-β signaling is regulated to impart specific responses within certain cell types. One mechanism of regulation may be through TGF-β activation, since TGF-β is always expressed in a latent form (L-TGF-β). Campbell et al. recently presented a new structural model to demonstrate how the integrin αvβ8 might specifically control TGF-β activation and signaling. In this model, αvβ8 binds to cell surface L-TGF-β1 to induce a conformational change, which exposes mature TGF-β peptide to TGF-β receptors (TGF-βRs), allowing initiation of TGF-β signaling from within the latent complex. This model also predicts that TGF-β signaling would be directed specifically towards the TGF-β expressing cell surface. We sought to test the validity of the new structural model by creating a cell-based assay which utilizes luciferase TGF-β reporter cells (TMLC). TMLC cells express high levels of TGF-βRs, but do not express cell surface L-TGF-β. We modified TMLC reporter cells to express cell surface L-TGF-β1 in a mutant form, which prevents the release of mature TGF-β from the latent complex. The newly generated cell lines were then used in a novel functional assay to investigate whether integrin αvβ8 could potentiate cell intrinsic TGF-β signaling from within the latent complex in vitro.

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