Cancer Biology


Categories

Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 642 Views Jan 20, 2024

The blood–brain barrier (BBB) is a major obstacle to the diagnostics and treatment of many central nervous system (CNS) diseases. A prime example of this challenge is seen in glioblastoma (GBM), the most aggressive and malignant primary brain tumor. The BBB in brain tumors, or the blood–brain–tumor barrier (BBTB), prevents the efficient delivery of most therapeutics to brain tumors. Current strategies to overcome the BBB for therapeutic delivery, such as using hyperosmotic agents (mannitol), have impeded progress in clinical translation limited by the lack of spatial resolution, high incidences of complications, and potential for toxicity. Focused ultrasound combined with intravenously administered microbubbles enables the transient disruption of the BBB and has progressed to early-phase clinical trials. However, the poor survival with currently approved treatments for GBM highlights the compelling need to develop and validate treatment strategies as well as the screening for more potent anticancer drugs. In this protocol, we introduce an optical method to open the BBTB (OptoBBTB) for therapeutic delivery via ultrashort pulse laser stimulation of vascular targeting plasmonic gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). Specifically, the protocol includes the synthesis and characterization of vascular-targeting AuNPs and a detailed procedure of optoBBTB. We also report the downstream characterization of the drug delivery and tumor treatment efficacy after BBB modulation. Compared with other barrier modulation methods, our optical approach has advantages in high spatial resolution and minimally invasive access to tissues. Overall, optoBBTB allows for the delivery of a variety of therapeutics into the brain and will accelerate drug delivery and screening for CNS disease treatment.


Key features

• Pulsed laser excitation of vascular-targeting gold nanoparticles non-invasively and reversibly modulates the blood–brain barrier permeability.

• OptoBBTB enhances drug delivery in clinically relevant glioblastoma models.

• OptoBBTB has the potential for drug screening and evaluation for superficial brain tumor treatment.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 930 Views Oct 20, 2023

An efficient and precise genome-editing approach is in high demand in any molecular biology or cell biology laboratory worldwide. However, despite a recent rapid progress in the toolbox tailored for precise genome-editing, including the base editors and prime editors, there is still a need for a cost-effective knock-in (KI) approach amenable for long donor DNA cargos with high efficiency. By harnessing the high-efficient double-strand break (DSB) repair pathway of microhomology-mediated end joining, we previously showed that a specially designed 3′-overhang double-strand DNA (odsDNA) donor harboring 50-nt homology arm (HA) allows high-efficient exogenous DNA KI when combined with CRISPR-Cas9 technology. The lengths of the 3′-overhangs of odsDNA donors could be manipulated by the five consecutive phosphorothioate (PT) modifications. In this protocol, we detail the stepwise procedures to conduct the LOCK (Long dsDNA with 3′-Overhangs mediated CRISPR Knock-in) method for gene-sized (~1–3 kb) KI in mammalian cells.


Graphical overview



Improvement of large DNA fragment knock-in rates by attaching odsDNA donors to Cas9-PCV2 fusion protein

0 Q&A 911 Views Aug 5, 2023

Resistance of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells to chemotherapy, whether present at diagnosis or acquired during treatment, is a major cause of treatment failure. Primary ALL cells are accessible for drug sensitivity testing at the time of new diagnosis or at relapse, but there are major limitations with current methods for determining drug sensitivity ex vivo. Here, we describe a functional precision medicine method using a fluorescence imaging platform to test drug sensitivity profiles of primary ALL cells. Leukemia cells are co-cultured with mesenchymal stromal cells and tested with a panel of 40 anti-leukemia drugs to determine individual patterns of drug resistance and sensitivity (“pharmacotype”). This imaging-based pharmacotyping assay addresses the limitations of prior ex vivo drug sensitivity methods by automating data analysis to produce high-throughput data while requiring fewer cells and significantly decreasing the labor-intensive time required to conduct the assay. The integration of drug sensitivity data with genomic profiling provides a basis for rational genomics-guided precision medicine.


Key features

• Analysis of primary acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) blasts obtained at diagnosis from bone marrow aspirate or peripheral blood.

• Experiments are performed ex vivo with mesenchymal stromal cell co-culture and require four days to complete.

• This fluorescence imaging–based protocol enhances previous ex vivo drug sensitivity assays and improves efficiency by requiring fewer primary cells while increasing the number of drugs tested to 40.

• It takes approximately 2–3 h for sample preparation and processing and a 1.5-hour imaging time.


Graphical overview




BM: bone marrow; PB: peripheral blood; ALL: acute lymphoblastic leukemia; MNCs: mononuclear cells, which include leukemia cells when present; MSCs: mesenchymal stromal cells; LC50: drug concentration that kills 50% of the leukemia cells

0 Q&A 783 Views Jul 20, 2023

Many protein families consist of multiple highly homologous proteins, whether they are encoded by different genes or originating from the same genomic location. Predominance of certain isoforms has been linked to various pathological conditions, such as cancer. Detection and relative quantification of protein isoforms in research are commonly done via immunoblotting, immunohistochemistry, or immunofluorescence, where antibodies against an isoform-specific epitope of particular family members are used. However, isoform-specific antibodies are not always available, making it impossible to decipher isoform-specific protein expression patterns. Here, we describe the insertion of the versatile 11 amino acid HiBiT tag into the genomic location of the protein of interest. This tag was developed and is distributed by Promega (Fitchburg, WI, USA). This protocol describes precise and specific protein expression analysis of highly homologous proteins through expression of the HiBiT tag, enabling protein expression quantification when specific antibodies are missing. Protein expression can be analyzed through traditional methods such as western blotting or immunofluorescence, and also in a luciferase binary reporter system, allowing for reliable and fast relative expression quantification using a plate reader.


Graphical overview



0 Q&A 412 Views Mar 20, 2023

Over the past decades, the main techniques used to visualize bacteria in tissue have improved but are still mainly based on indirect recognition of bacteria. Both microscopy and molecular recognition are being improved, but most procedures for bacteria detection in tissue involve extensive damage. Here, we describe a method to visualize bacteria in tissue slices from an in vivo model of breast cancer. This method allows examining trafficking and colonization of fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate (FITC)-stained bacteria in various tissues. The protocol provides direct visualization of fusobacterial colonization in breast cancer tissue. Rather than processing the tissue or confirming bacterial colonization by PCR or culture, the tissue is directly imaged using multiphoton microscopy. This direct visualization protocol causes no damage to the tissue; therefore, all structures can be identified. This method can be combined with others to co-visualize bacteria, types of cells, or protein expression in cells.

0 Q&A 1486 Views Dec 20, 2022

CRISPR/Cas9 screening has revolutionized functional genomics in biomedical research and is a widely used approach for the identification of genetic dependencies in cancer cells. Here, we present an efficient and versatile protocol for the cloning of guide RNAs (gRNA) into lentiviral vectors, the production of lentiviral supernatants, and the transduction of target cells in a 96-well format. To assess the effect of gene knockouts on cellular fitness, we describe a competition-based cell proliferation assay using flow cytometry, enabling the screening of many genes at the same time in a fast and reproducible manner. This readout can be extended to any parameter that is accessible to flow-based measurements, such as protein expression and stability, differentiation, cell death, and others. In summary, this protocol allows to functionally assess the effect of a set of 50–300 gene knockouts on various cellular parameters within eight weeks.


Graphical abstract


0 Q&A 1745 Views Dec 5, 2022

N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is the most prevalent internal modification of eukaryotic messenger RNAs (mRNAs), affecting their fold, stability, degradation, and cellular interaction(s) and implicating them in processes such as splicing, translation, export, and decay. The m6A modification is also extensively present in non-coding RNAs, including microRNAs (miRNAs), ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs), and transfer RNAs (tRNAs). Common m6A methylation detection techniques play an important role in understanding the biological function and potential mechanism of m6A, mainly including the quantification and specific localization of m6A modification sites. Here, we describe in detail the dot blotting method for detecting m6A levels in RNA (mRNA as an example), including total RNA extraction, mRNA purification, dot blotting, and data analysis. This protocol can also be used to enrich specific RNAs (such as tRNA, rRNA, or miRNA) by isolation technology to detect the m6A level of single RNA species, so as to facilitate further studies of the role of m6A in biological processes.

0 Q&A 1688 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 1042 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.


Graphical abstract:



0 Q&A 1271 Views Sep 5, 2022

In the human cell cycle, complete replication of DNA is a fundamental process for the maintenance of genome integrity. Replication stress interfering with the progression of replication forks causes difficult-to-replicate regions to remain under-replicated until the onset of mitosis. In early mitosis, a homology-directed repair DNA synthesis, called mitotic DNA synthesis (MiDAS), is triggered to complete DNA replication. Here, we present a method to detect MiDAS in human U2OS 40-2-6 cells, in which repetitive lacO sequences integrated into the human chromosome evoke replication stress and concomitant incomplete replication of the lacO array. Immunostaining of BrdU and LacI proteins is applied for visualization of DNA synthesis in early mitosis and the lacO array, respectively. This protocol has been established to easily detect MiDAS at specific loci using only common immunostaining methods and may be optimized for the investigation of other difficult-to-replicate regions marked with site-specific binding proteins.




We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By using our website, you are agreeing to allow the storage of cookies on your computer.