Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 1185 Views Feb 20, 2024

Signaling pathways are involved in key cellular functions from embryonic development to pathological conditions, with a pivotal role in tissue homeostasis and transformation. Although most signaling pathways have been intensively examined, most studies have been carried out in murine models or simple cell culture. We describe the dissection of the TGF-β signaling pathway in human tissue using CRISPR-Cas9 genetically engineered human keratinocytes (N/TERT-1) in a 3D organotypic skin model combined with quantitative proteomics and phosphoproteomics mass spectrometry. The use of human 3D organotypic cultures and genetic engineering combined with quantitative proteomics and phosphoproteomics is a powerful tool providing insight into signaling pathways in a human setting. The methods are applicable to other gene targets and 3D cell and tissue models.

Key features

• 3D organotypic models with genetically engineered human cells.

• In-depth quantitative proteomics and phosphoproteomics in 2D cell culture.

• Careful handling of cell cultures is critical for the successful formation of theorganotypic cultures.

• For complete details on the use of this protocol, please refer to Ye et al. 2022.

0 Q&A 300 Views Nov 5, 2023

Cell migration is an essential biological process for organisms, in processes including embryonic development, immune response, and cancer metastasis. To elucidate the regulatory machinery of this vital process, methods that mimic in vivo migration, including in vitro wound healing assay and random migration assay, are widely used for cell behavior investigation. However, several concerns are raised with traditional cell migration experiment analysis. First, a manually scratched wound often presents irregular edges, causing the speed analysis difficult. Second, only the migration speed of leading cells is considered in the wound healing assay. Here, we provide a reliable analysis method to trace each cell in the time-lapse images, eliminating the concern about wound shape and creating a more comprehensive understanding of cell migration—not only of collective migration speed but also single-cell directionality and coordination between cells.

0 Q&A 601 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 557 Views Jul 20, 2023

Synapses provide the main route of signal transduction within neuronal networks. Many factors regulate critical synaptic functions. These include presynaptic calcium channels, triggering neurotransmitter release, and postsynaptic ionotropic receptors, mediating excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials. The key features of synaptic transmission and plasticity can be studied in primary cultured hippocampal neurons. Here, we describe a protocol for the preparation and electrophysiological analysis of paired hippocampal neurons. This model system allows the selective genetic manipulation of one neuron in a simple neuronal network formed by only two hippocampal neurons. Bi-directionally analyzing synaptic transmission and short-term synaptic plasticity allows the analysis of both pre- and postsynaptic effects on synaptic transmission. For example, with one single paired network synaptic responses induced by both, a wild-type neuron and a genetically modified neuron can be directly compared. Ultimately, this protocol allows experimental modulation and hence investigation of synaptic mechanisms and thereby improves previously developed methods of studying synaptic transmission and plasticity in ex vivo cultured neurons.

Key features

• Preparation of ex vivo paired cultured hippocampal neurons.

• Bi-directional electrophysiological recordings of synaptic transmission and plasticity.

• Genetic modulation of synaptic network formation (demonstrated by presynaptic viral overexpression of the auxiliary calcium channel α2δ-2 subunit).

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 967 Views Jul 20, 2023

Regulated cell death plays a key role in immunity, development, and homeostasis, but is also associated with a number of pathologies such as autoinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. However, despite the extensive mechanistic research of different cell death modalities, the direct comparison of different forms of cell death and their consequences on the cellular and tissue level remain poorly characterized. Comparative studies are hindered by the mechanistic and kinetic differences between cell death modalities, as well as the inability to selectively induce different cell death programs in an individual cell within cell populations or tissues. In this method, we present a protocol for rapid and specific optogenetic activation of three major types of programmed cell death: apoptosis, necroptosis, and pyroptosis, using light-induced forced oligomerization of their major effector proteins (caspases or kinases).

0 Q&A 359 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 individuals and Caenorhabditis elegans models associated with neurodegenerative diseases.

0 Q&A 648 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 1236 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 861 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 418 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.

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