Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 216 Views Feb 5, 2023

In addition to cytosolic protein synthesis, mitochondria also utilize another translation system that is tailored for mRNAs encoded in the mitochondrial genome. The importance of mitochondrial protein synthesis has been exemplified by the diverse diseases associated with in organello translation deficiencies. Various methods have been developed to monitor mitochondrial translation, such as the classic method of labeling newly synthesized proteins with radioisotopes and the more recent ribosome profiling. However, since these methods always assess the average cell population, measuring the mitochondrial translation capacity in individual cells has been challenging. To overcome this issue, we recently developed mito-fluorescent noncanonical amino acid tagging (FUNCAT) fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), which labels nascent peptides generated by mitochondrial ribosomes with a methionine analog, L-homopropargylglycine (HPG), conjugates the peptides with fluorophores by an in situ click reaction, and detects the signal in individual cells by FACS equipment. With this methodology, the hidden heterogeneity of mitochondrial translation in cell populations can be addressed.

0 Q&A 300 Views Jan 20, 2023

Lysosomes play a central role in signaling, nutrient sensing, response to stress, and the degradation and recycling of cellular content. Defects in lysosomal digestive enzymes or structural components can impair lysosomal function with dire consequences to the cell, such as neurodegeneration. A number of methods exist to assess lysosomal stress in the model Drosophila, such as specific driver and reporter strains, transmission electron microscopy, and the investigation of gene expression. These methods, however, can be time consuming and, in some cases, costly. The procedure described here provides a quick, reliable, and low-cost approach to measure lysosomal stress in the Drosophila brain. Using fluorescence confocal microscopy and the LysoTracker staining, this protocol allows for the direct measurement of lysosome size and number. This method can be used to assess lysosomal stress under a number of different genetic and environmental scenarios in the Drosophila brain.

0 Q&A 528 Views Nov 20, 2022

Sphingolipids are important structural components of cellular membranes. They also function as prominent signaling molecules to control a variety of cellular events, such as cell growth, differentiation, and apoptosis. Impaired sphingolipid metabolism, particularly defects in sphingolipid degradation, has been associated with many human diseases. Fluorescence sphingolipid analogs have been widely used as efficient probes to study sphingolipid metabolism and intracellular trafficking in living mammalian cells. Compared with nitrobenzoxadiazole fluorophores (NBD FL), the boron dipyrromethene difluoride fluorophores (BODIPY FL) have much higher absorptivity and fluorescence quantum. These features allow more intensive labeling of cells for fluorescence microscopy imaging and flow cytometry analysis. Here, we describe a protocol employing BODIPY FL-labeled sphingolipid analogs to elucidate sphingolipid internalization, trafficking, and endocytosis in mouse embryonic stem cells.

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0 Q&A 1548 Views Jul 20, 2022

Employing a novel mouse model of immune related adverse events (irAEs) induced by combination of anti-PD1 and anti-CTLA-4 antibodies, we visualized immune infiltration into the liver, lung, pancreas, and colon. Here, we describe the avidin-biotin conjugate (ABC) method used to stain T cells (CD4 and CD8), B cells (CD19), macrophages (F4/80), and cells bound by the in vivo administered rat anti-mouse antibodies for chromogenic immunohistochemistry (IHC). Using a biotinylated goat anti-rat antibody, we detected the localization of cells bound to the in vivo antibodies for PD-1 and CTLA-4. IHC has advantages over other techniques, namely antibody availability, resistance to photobleaching, and greater sensitivity. Additionally, detection and localization of in vivo antibodies can be used in mice models to infer their therapeutic efficacy, stability, and function.

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0 Q&A 1135 Views Jun 5, 2022

Macrophages are important for host defense against intracellular pathogens like Salmonella and can be differentiated into two major subtypes. M1 macrophages, which are pro-inflammatory and induce antimicrobial immune effector mechanisms, including the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), and M2 macrophages, which exert anti-inflammatory functions and express arginase 1 (ARG1). Through the process of phagocytosis, macrophages contain, engulf, and eliminate bacteria. Therefore, they are one of the first lines of defense against Salmonella. Infection with Salmonella leads to gastrointestinal disorders and systemic infection, termed typhoid fever. For further characterization of infection pathways, we established an in vitro model where macrophages are infected with the mouse Salmonella typhi correlate Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S.tm), which additionally expresses red fluorescent protein (RFP). This allows us to clearly characterize macrophages that phagocytosed the bacteria, using multi-color flow cytometry.

In this protocol, we focus on the in vitro characterization of pro- and anti-inflammatory macrophages displaying red fluorescent protein-expressing Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, by multi-color flow cytometry.

0 Q&A 3705 Views Mar 5, 2022

The ability to stain lipid stores in vivo allows for the facile assessment of metabolic status in individuals of a population following genetic and environmental manipulation or pharmacological treatment. In the animal model Caenorhabditis elegans, lipids are stored in and mobilized from intracellular lipid droplets in the intestinal and hypodermal tissues. The abundance, size, and distribution of these lipids can be readily assessed by two staining methods for neutral lipids: Oil Red O (ORO) and Nile Red (NR). ORO and NR can be used to quantitatively measure lipid droplet abundance, while ORO can also define tissue distribution and lipid droplet size. C. elegans are a useful animal model in studying pathways relating to aging, fat storage, and metabolism, as their transparent nature allows for easy microscopic assessment of lipid droplets. This is done by fixation and permeabilization, staining with NR or ORO, image capture on a microscope, and computational identification and quantification of lipid droplets in individuals within a cohort. To ensure reproducibility in lipid measurements, we provide a detailed protocol to measure intracellular lipid dynamics in C. elegans.

Graphic abstract:

Flow chart depicting the preparation of C. elegans for fat staining protocols.

0 Q&A 2271 Views Oct 5, 2021

Although the advent of genetically-encoded fluorescent markers, such as the green fluorescent protein (GFP; Chalfie et al., 1994), has enabled convenient visualization of gene expression in vivo, this method is generally not effective for detecting post-translational modifications because they are not translated from DNA sequences. Genetically-encoded, fluorescently-tagged transgene products can also be misleading for observing expression patterns because transgenes may lack endogenous regulatory DNA elements needed for precise regulation of expression that could result in over or under expression. Fluorescently-tagged proteins created by CRISPR genome editing are less prone to defective expression patterns because the loci retain endogenous DNA elements that regulate their transcription (Nance and Frøkjær-Jensen, 2019). However, even CRISPR alleles encoding heritable fluorescently-tagged protein markers can result in defects in function or localization of the gene product if the fluorescent tag obstructs or otherwise interferes with important protein interaction domains or affects the protein structure.

Indirect immunofluorescence is a method for detecting endogenous gene expression or post-translational modifications without the need for transgenesis or genome editing. Here, we present a reliable protocol in which C. elegans nematodes are fixed, preserved, and permeabilized for staining with a primary antibody to bind proteins or post-translational modifications, which are then labeled with a secondary antibody conjugated to a fluorescent dye. Use of this method may be limited by the availability of (or ability to generate) a primary antibody that binds the epitope of interest in fixed animals. Thousands of animals are simultaneously subjected to a series of chemical treatments and washes in a single centrifuge tube, allowing large numbers of identically-treated stained animals to be examined. We have successfully used this protocol (O’Hagan et al., 2011 and 2017; Power et al., 2020) to preserve and detect post-translational modifications of tubulin in C. elegans ciliated sensory neurons and to detect non-modified endogenous protein (Topalidou and Chalfie, 2011).

0 Q&A 2617 Views Jul 20, 2021

Single-cell technologies have allowed high-resolution profiling of tissues and thus a deeper understanding of tissue homeostasis and disease heterogeneity. Understanding this heterogeneity can be especially important for tailoring treatments in a patient-specific manner. Here, we detail methods for preparing human cartilage tissue for profiling via cytometry by time-of-flight (cyTOF). We have previously utilized this method to characterize several rare cell populations in cartilage, including cartilage-progenitor cells, inflammation-amplifying cells (Inf-A), and inflammation-dampening cells (Inf-D). Previous bio-protocols have focused on cyTOF staining of PBMCs. Therefore, here we detail the steps unique to the processing of human cartilage and chondrocytes. Briefly, cartilage tissue is digested to release individual chondrocytes, which can be expanded and manipulated in culture. These cells are then collected and fixed in preparation for cyTOF, followed by standard staining and analysis protocols.

0 Q&A 5157 Views May 20, 2021

Surface proteins of Staphylococcus aureus and other Gram-positive bacteria play essential roles in bacterial colonization and host-microbe interactions. Surface protein precursors containing a YSIRK/GXXS signal peptide are translocated across the septal membrane at mid-cell, anchored to the cell wall peptidoglycan at the cross-wall compartment, and presented on the new hemispheres of the daughter cells following cell division. After several generations of cell division, these surface proteins will eventually cover the entire cell surface. To understand how these proteins travel from the bacterial cytoplasm to the cell surface, we describe a series of immunofluorescence microscopy protocols designed to detect the stepwise subcellular localization of the surface protein precursors: surface display (protocol A), cross-wall localization (protocol B), and cytoplasmic/septal membrane localization (protocol C). Staphylococcal protein A (SpA) is the model protein used in this work. The protocols described here are readily adapted to study the localization of other surface proteins as well as other cytoplasmic or membrane proteins in S. aureus in general. Furthermore, the protocols can be modified and adapted for use in other Gram-positive bacteria.

Graphic abstract:

Tracking the subcellular localization of surface proteins in S. aureus

0 Q&A 3564 Views Feb 20, 2021

Loss of function studies shed significant light on the involvement of a gene or gene product in different cellular processes. Short hairpin RNA (shRNA) mediated RNA interference (RNAi) is a classical yet straightforward technique frequently used to knock down a gene for assessing its function. Similar perturbations in gene expression can be achieved by siRNA, microRNA, or CRISPR-Cas9 methods also. In Drosophila genetics, the UAS-GAL4 system is utilized to express RNAi and make ubiquitous and tissue-specific knockdowns possible. The UAS-GAL4 system borrows genetic components of S. cerevisiae, hence rule out the possibility of accidental expression of the system. In particular, this technique uses a target-specific shRNA, and the expression of the same is governed by the upstream activating sequence (UAS). Controlled expression of GAL4, regulated by specific promoters, can drive the interfering RNA expression ubiquitously or in a tissue-specific manner. The knockdown efficiency is measured by RNA isolation and semiquantitative RT-PCR reaction followed by agarose gel electrophoresis. We have employed immunostaining procedure also to assess knockdown efficiency.

RNAi provides researchers with an option to decrease the gene product levels (equivalent to hypomorph condition) and study the outcomes. UAS-GAL4 based RNAi method provides spatio-temporal regulation of gene expression and helps deduce the function of a gene required during early developmental stages also.

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