Developmental Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 311 Views Feb 5, 2023

Adult muscle stem cells (MuSCs) show remarkable capability in repairing injured tissues. Studying MuSCs in suitable model organisms, which show strong homology with vertebrate counterparts, helps in dissecting the mechanisms regulating their behavior. Additionally, ease of handling and access to technological tools make model organisms well suited for studying biological processes that are conserved across species. MuSCs quiescence, proliferation, and migration are regulated by various input of signals from the surrounding tissues that constitute the MuSCs niche. Observing MuSCs along with their niche in vivo through live imaging provides key information on how MuSCs behave in quiescent and activated states. Drosophila melanogaster is well known for its genetic tool arsenal and the similarity of its different biological processes with vertebrates. Hence, it is widely used to study different types of stem cells. Gained knowledge could then be extrapolated to the vertebrate/mammalian homologous systems to enhance our knowledge in stem cell fields. In this protocol, we discuss how to perform live cell imaging of Drosophila MuSCs, called adult muscle precursors (AMPs) at embryonic stages, using dual-color labelling to visualize both AMPs and the surrounding tissues. This dual-color fluorescent labelling enables the observation of in vivo behavior of two types of cells simultaneously and provides key information on their interactions. The originality of this protocol resides in its biological application to MuSCs and their niche.

0 Q&A 456 Views Jan 20, 2023

Drosophila melanogaster is a classic model organism to study gene function as well as toxicological effects. To study gene function, the expression of a particular gene of interest is disrupted by using the widely explorable Drosophila genetic toolkit, whereas to study toxicological effects the flies are exposed to a particular toxicant through diet. These experiments often require the quantification of lethality from embryonic to adult stages, as well as the assessment of the life span in order to check the role of the gene/toxicant of interest in Drosophila. Here, we propose an experimental protocol that enables a consistent and rigorous assessment of lethality and life span of cadmium chloride (CdCl2)–exposed or genetically perturbed flies [downregulation and overexpression of the cytosolic Cu, Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) gene], consecutively. The protocol insists upon the requirement of one single experimental setup that is unique, distinctive, and cost-effective as it engages minimal laboratory equipment and resources. The described methods lead to the smooth observation of the embryos, their successive stagewise transition, and life span of the adult flies post eclosion. Additionally, these methods also facilitate the assessment of crawling and climbing behavioral parameters of the larvae and adults, respectively, and allow the calculation of lethal concentration (LC50) for the mentioned toxicant as well as median survival of the flies, which can be a determining factor in proceeding with further stages of experiments.

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0 Q&A 1124 Views Sep 5, 2022

Skeletal muscle stem cells differentiated from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) serve as a uniquely promising model system for investigating human myogenesis and disease pathogenesis, and for the development of gene editing and regenerative stem cell therapies. Here, we present an effective and reproducible transgene-free protocol for derivation of human skeletal muscle stem cells, iMyoblasts, from hiPSCs. Our two-step protocol consists of 1) small molecule-based differentiation of hiPSCs into myocytes, and 2) stimulation of differentiated myocytes with growth factor-rich medium to activate the proliferation of undifferentiated reserve cells, for expansion and cell line establishment. iMyoblasts are PAX3+/MyoD1+ myogenic stem cells with dual potential to undergo muscle differentiation and to self-renew as a regenerative cell population for muscle regeneration both ex vivo and in vivo. The simplicity and robustness of iMyoblast generation and expansion have enabled their application to model the molecular pathogenesis of Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy and Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophies, to both ex vivo and in vivo muscle xenografts, and to respond efficiently to gene editing, enabling the co-development of gene correction and stem cell regenerative therapeutic technologies for the treatment of muscular dystrophies and muscle injury.

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0 Q&A 2479 Views Jul 20, 2022

Over the past years, research has made impressive breakthroughs towards the development and implementation of 3D cell models for a wide range of applications, such as drug development and testing, organogenesis, cancer biology, and personalized medicine. Opposed to 2D cell monolayer culture systems, advanced 3D cell models better represent the in vivo physiology. However, for these models to deliver scientific insights, appropriate investigation techniques are required. Despite the potential of fluorescence microscopy to visualize these models with high spatial resolution, sample preparation and imaging assays are not straightforward. Here, we provide different protocols of sample preparation for fluorescence imaging, for both matrix-embedded and matrix-free models (e.g., organoids and spheroids, respectively). Additionally, we provide detailed guidelines for imaging 3D cell models via confocal multi-photon fluorescence microscopy. We show that using these protocols, images of 3D cell culture systems can be obtained with sub-cellular resolution.

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0 Q&A 2333 Views Jun 20, 2022

Chromatin accessibility is a key determinant of gene expression that can be altered under different physiological and disease conditions. Skeletal muscle is made up of myofibers that are highly plastic and adaptive. Therefore, assessing the genome-wide chromatin state of myofibers under various conditions is very important to gain insight into the epigenetic state of myonuclei. The rigid nature of myofibers, as well as the low number of myonuclei that they contain, have rendered genome-wide studies with myofibers challenging. In recent years, ATAC-Seq from whole muscle and single nucleus ATAC-Seq have been performed. However, these techniques cannot distinguish between different fiber and cell types present in the muscle. In addition, due to the limited depth capacity obtained from single nucleus ATAC-Seq, an extensive comparative analysis cannot be performed. Here, we introduce a protocol where we combine the isolation of a single myofiber with OMNI ATAC-Seq. This protocol allows for genome-wide analysis of accessible chromatin regions of a selected single myofiber at a sufficient depth for comparative analysis under various physiological and disease conditions. This protocol can also allow for a specific myofiber to be selected, such as a regenerating myofiber. In the future, this protocol can help identify global changes in chromatin state under various conditions, as well as between different types of myofibers.

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0 Q&A 1099 Views Jun 5, 2022

Live labelling of active transcription sites is critical to our understanding of transcriptional dynamics. In the most widely used method, RNA sequence MS2 repeats are added to the transcript of interest, on which fluorescently tagged Major Coat Protein binds, and labels transcription sites and transcripts. Here we describe another strategy, using the Argonaute protein NRDE-3, repurposed as an RNA-programmable RNA binding protein. We label active transcription sites in C. elegans embryos and larvae, without editing the gene of interest. NRDE-3 is programmed by feeding nematodes with double-stranded RNA matching the target gene. This method does not require genome editing and is inexpensive and fast to apply to many different genes.

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0 Q&A 1496 Views Jun 5, 2022

Our ability to move and breathe requires an efficient communication between nerve and muscle that mainly takes place at the neuromuscular junctions (NMJs), a highly specialized synapse that links the axon of a motor neuron to a muscle fiber. When NMJs or axons are disrupted, the control of muscle fiber contraction is lost and muscle are paralyzed. Understanding the adaptation of the neuromuscular system to permanent or transient denervation is a challenge to understand the pathophysiology of many neuromuscular diseases. There is still a lack of in vitro models that fully recapitulate the in vivo situation, and in vivo denervation, carried out by transiently or permanently severing the nerve afferent to a muscle, remains a method of choice to evaluate reinnervation and/or the consequences of the loss of innervation. We describe here a simple surgical intervention performed at the hip zone to expose the sciatic nerve in order to obtain either permanent denervation (nerve-cut) or transient and reversible denervation (nerve-crush). These two methods provide a convenient in vivo model to study adaptation to denervation.

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0 Q&A 1877 Views Apr 20, 2022

The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin. It is made up of mostly keratinocytes along with a small number of melanocytes and Langerhans cells. Melanocytes produce a pigment called melanin, which is transferred to the keratinocytes, and protects these cells from damage from UV radiation, as well as generating hair and skin colours. In this important relationship, keratinocytes exert control over melanocytes. Many questions regarding keratinocyte-melanocyte interactions have yet to be answered, and would benefit from study in model systems, to address diseases such as vitiligo and cutaneous melanoma. Most of the mouse is covered in fur and these areas lack the skin pigmenting inter-follicular epidermal (IFE) melanocytes. However, the mouse tail is pigmented analogously to human skin. Here, we present a method for isolating IFE melanocytes or keratinocytes expressing the tdTomato marker from the mouse tail, using fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). The method involves firstly separating the tail skin epidermis from the dermis, and then digesting the epidermis to produce dissociated cells, which can then be sorted. These isolated cell populations can be studied using RNAseq or cultured in vitro. This protocol isolates IFE melanocytes or keratinocytes and immediately provides reasonable yields of cells, without the need to stain the cells for cell specific markers.

1 Q&A 1375 Views Apr 5, 2022

Craniofacial anomalies (CFA) are a diverse group of deformities, which affect the growth of the head and face. Dysregulation of cranial neural crest cell (NCC) migration, proliferation, differentiation, and/or cell fate specification have been reported to contribute to CFA. Understanding of the mechanisms through which cranial NCCs contribute for craniofacial development may lead to identifying meaningful clinical targets for the prevention and treatment of CFA. Isolation and culture of cranial NCCs in vitro facilitates screening and analyses of molecular cellular mechanisms of cranial NCCs implicated in craniofacial development. Here, we present a method for the isolation and culture of cranial NCCs harvested from the first branchial arch at early embryonic stages. Morphology of isolated cranial NCCs was similar to O9-1 cells, a cell line for neural crest stem cells. Moreover, cranial NCCs isolated from a transgenic mouse line with enhanced bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling in NCCs showed an increase in their chondrogenic differentiation capacity, suggesting maintenance of their in vivo differentiation potentials observed in vitro. Taken together, our established method is useful to visualize cellular behaviors of cranial NCCs.

0 Q&A 1602 Views Mar 20, 2022

The centrosome is the main microtubule-organizing center of animal cells, and is composed of two barrel-shaped microtubule-based centrioles embedded in protein dense pericentriolar material. Compositional and architectural re-organization of the centrosome drives its duplication, and enables its microtubule-organizing activity and capability to form the primary cilium, which extends from the mature (mother) centriole, as the cell exits the cell cycle. Centrosomes and primary cilia are essential to human health, signified by the causal role of centrosome- and cilia-aberrations in numerous congenic disorders, as well as in the etiology and progression of cancer. The list of disease-associated centrosomal proteins and their proximitomes is steadily expanding, emphasizing the need for high resolution mapping of such proteins to specific substructures of the organelle. Here, we provide a detailed 3D-structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM) protocol for comparative localization analysis of fluorescently labeled proteins at the centrosome in fixed human cell lines, at approximately 120 nm lateral and 300 nm axial resolution. The procedure was optimized to work with primary antibodies previously known to depend on more disruptive fixation reagents, yet largely preserves centriole and centrosome architecture, as shown by transposing acquired images of landmark proteins on previously published transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images of centrosomes. Even more advantageously, it is compatible with fluorescent protein tags. Finally, we introduce an internal reference to ensure correct 3D channel alignment. This protocol hence enables flexible, swift, and information-rich localization and interdependence analyses of centrosomal proteins, as well as their disorder-associated mutations.

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