Developmental Biology


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0 Q&A 776 Views May 5, 2023

Visualization of cell structure with fluorescent dye for characterizing cell size, shape, and arrangement is a common method to study tissue morphology and morphogenesis. In order to observe shoot apical meristem (SAM) in Arabidopsis thaliana by laser scanning confocal microscopy, we modified the pseudo-Schiff propidium iodide staining method by adding a series solution treatment to stain the deep cells. The advantage of this method is mainly reflected by the direct observation of the clearly bounded cell arrangement and the typical three-layer cells in SAM without the traditional tissue slicing.

0 Q&A 392 Views Mar 20, 2023

Successful advancement in the treatment of diabetes mellitus is not possible without well-established methodology for beta cell mass calculation. Here, we offer the protocol to assess beta cell mass during embryonic development in the mouse. The described protocol has detailed steps on how to process extremely small embryonic pancreatic tissue, cut it on the cryostat, and stain tissue slides for microscopic analysis. The method does not require usage of confocal microscopy and takes advantage of enhanced automated image analysis with proprietary as well as open-source software packages.

0 Q&A 1076 Views Mar 20, 2022

Cytokinesis occurs at the final step of cell division and leads to the separation of daughter cells. It requires assembly and constriction of the actomyosin contractile ring. The phases of assembly and constriction of the contractile ring show an increase in tension in the actomyosin complex. The measurement of tension in the contractile ring is of interest to probe the mechanics of contractile ring formation. Drosophila cellularization is a powerful genetic model system to study the mechanisms regulating actomyosin contractility during contractile ring constriction. Cellularization occurs in the interphase of syncytial cycle 14, where the plasma membrane extends around individual nuclei and forms complete cells with the help of a contractile ring at the bottom. The contractile ring forms at the furrow tip during the extension around individual nuclei and its assembly requires the coordinated action of cytoskeletal and plasma membrane-associated proteins. Laser ablation of the contractile ring enables the measurement of the contractility of the actomyosin network during cytokinesis. This protocol outlines the method used for estimating the contractility at the actomyosin ring during cellularization by laser ablation, in both control and mutant embryos for a Rho guanosine triphosphatase activating protein (RhoGAP) containing protein called GRAF (GTPase regulator associated with focal adhesion kinase-1). Physical cutting of the contractile ring by a two-photon laser at 800 nm leads to the displacement of the actomyosin ring edges, at a rate dependent upon the tension. This can be carried out at distinct steps of the contractile ring assembly during furrow extension in cellularization. Quantification of the extent of displacement and recoil velocity of movement of the edges at different stages of cellularization provides a quantitative measure of contractility in the system. This protocol describes the experimental procedure containing the preparation of live embryos, optimization of laser power, acquisition settings, and post-acquisition analysis of actomyosin contractility during Drosophila cellularization.

0 Q&A 2491 Views Mar 5, 2022

Mitochondria are relatively small, fragmented, and abundant in the large embryos of Drosophila, Xenopus and zebrafish. It is essential to study their distribution and dynamics in these embryos to understand the mechanistic role of mitochondrial function in early morphogenesis events. Photoactivation of mitochondrially tagged GFP (mito-PA-GFP) is an attractive method to highlight a specific population of mitochondria in living embryos and track their distribution during development. Drosophila embryos contain large numbers of maternally inherited mitochondria, which distribute differently at specific stages of early embryogenesis. They are enriched basally in the syncytial division cycles and move apically during cellularization. Here, we outline a method for highlighting a population of mitochondria in discrete locations using mito-PA-GFP in the Drosophila blastoderm embryo, to follow their distribution across syncytial division cycles and cellularization. Photoactivation uses fluorophores, such as PA-GFP, that can change their fluorescence state upon exposure to ultraviolet light. This enables marking a precise population of fluorescently tagged molecules of organelles at selected regions, to visualize and systematically follow their dynamics and movements. Photoactivation followed by live imaging provides an effective way to pulse label a population of mitochondria and follow them through the dynamic morphogenetic events during Drosophila embryogenesis.

0 Q&A 3384 Views Oct 5, 2021

Advances in C. elegans research have allowed scientists to recapitulate different human disorders, from neurodegenerative diseases to muscle dysfunction, in these nematodes. Concomitantly, the interest in visualizing organs affected by these conditions has grown, leading to the establishment of different antibody- and dye-based staining protocols to verify tissue morphology. In particular, the quality of muscle tissue has been largely used in nematodes as a readout for fitness and healthspan. Phalloidin derivatives, which are commonly used to stain actin filaments in cells and tissues, have been implemented in the context of C. elegans research for visualization of muscle fibers. However, the majority of the phalloidin-based protocols depend on fixation steps using harmful compounds, preparation of specific buffers, and large amounts of worms. Herein, we implemented a safer and more flexible experimental procedure to stain actin filaments in C. elegans using phalloidin-based dyes. Lyophilization of the worms followed by their acetone permeabilization allows bypassing the fixation process while also providing the opportunity to suspend the experiment at different steps. Moreover, by using conventional buffers throughout our protocol, we avoid the additional preparation of solutions. Finally, our protocol requires a limited number of worms, making it suitable for slow-growing C. elegans strains. Overall, this protocol provides an efficient, fast, and safer method to stain actin filaments and visualize muscle fibers in C. elegans.


Graphic abstract:



Schematic overview of phalloidin staining in C. elegans for assessing muscle fiber morphology.


0 Q&A 2936 Views Jun 5, 2021

Secretory Wnt trafficking can be studied in the polarized epithelial monolayer of Drosophila wing imaginal discs (WID). In this tissue, Wg (Drosophila Wnt-I) is presented on the apical surface of its source cells before being internalized into the endosomal pathway. Long-range Wg secretion and spread depend on secondary secretion from endosomal compartments, but the exact post-endocytic fate of Wg is poorly understood. Here, we summarize and present three protocols for the immunofluorescence-based visualization and quantitation of different pools of intracellular and extracellular Wg in WID: (1) steady-state extracellular Wg; (2) dynamic Wg trafficking inside endosomal compartments; and (3) dynamic Wg release to the cell surface. Using a genetic driver system for gene manipulation specifically at the posterior part of the WID (EnGal4) provides a robust internal control that allows for direct comparison of signal intensities of control and manipulated compartments of the same WID. Therefore, it also circumvents the high degree of staining variability usually associated with whole-tissue samples. In combination with the genetic manipulation of Wg pathway components that is easily feasible in Drosophila, these methods provide a tool-set for the dissection of secretory Wg trafficking and can help us to understand how Wnt proteins travel along endosomal compartments for short- and long-range signal secretion.


Graphic abstract:



Figure 1. Visualization of extracellular and intracellular Wg trafficking in Drosophila wing imaginal discs. While staining of extracellular Wg without permeabilization exclusively visualizes Wg bound to the extracellular surface (left), Wg uptake and endosomal trafficking can be visualized using an antibody uptake assay (middle). Dynamic Wg release can be visualized by performing a non-permeabilizing staining at a permissive temperature that sustains secretory Wg transport (right).

0 Q&A 4045 Views Jan 5, 2021

The mammalian neocortex, the outer layer of the cerebrum and most recently evolved brain region, is characterized by its unique areal and laminar organization. Distinct cortical layers and areas can be identified by the protein expression of graded transcription factors and molecular determinants that define the identity of different projection neurons. Thus, specific detection and visualization of protein expression is crucial for assessing the identity of neocortical neurons and, more broadly, for understanding early and late developmental mechanisms and function of this complex system. Several immunostaining/immunofluorescence methods exist to detect protein expression. Published protocols vary with regard to subtle details, which may impact the final outcome of the immunofluorescence. Here, we provide a detailed protocol, suitable for both thin cryostat sections and thick vibratome sections, which has successfully worked for a wide range of antibodies directed against key molecular players of neocortical development. Ranging from early technical steps of brains collection down to image analysis and statistics, we include every detail concerning sample inclusion and sectioning, slide storage and optimal antibody dilutions aimed at reducing non-specific background. Routinely used in the lab, our background-optimized immunostaining protocol allows efficient detection of area- and layer- specific molecular determinants of distinct neocortical projection neurons.



Graphic abstract


Workflow chart for the optimized immunostaining protocol of mouse brain sections. A. A flow chart for different steps of the optimized immunostaining protocol on both thin cryostat and thick vibratome sections. B. Example for immunostaining against Satb2 and Ctip2 on a thin coronal section (20 μm) at the level of the somatosensory cortex. The first column to the left shows the binning system where 6 bins can be overlaid on the image. On the bottom, an example of counting analysis showing the percentage of marker-positive cells normalized to the total number of DAPI or Hoechst-positive cells. C. Example for immunostaining against Satb2 and Ctip2 on a GFP+ thick vibratome section (200 μm). Images are taken at low magnification (10x, left) and high magnification (40x, right). The graph shows a counting of the percentage of Ctip2-positive neurons normalized to the total number of GFP-electroporated neurons on high-magnification images. Images on B and C are modified from Harb et al. (2016).

0 Q&A 5007 Views Oct 5, 2020
The plant cell wall (PCW) is a pecto-cellulosic extracellular matrix that envelopes the plant cell. By integrating extra-and intra-cellular cues, PCW mediates a plethora of essential physiological functions. Notably, it permits controlled and oriented tissue growth by tuning its local mechano-chemical properties. To refine our knowledge of these essential properties of PCW, we need an appropriate tool for the accurate observation of the native (in muro) structure of the cell wall components. The label-free techniques, such as AFM, EM, FTIR, and Raman microscopy, are used; however, they either do not have the chemical or spatial resolution. Immunolabeling with electron microscopy allows observation of the cell wall nanostructure, however, it is mostly limited to single and, less frequently, multiple labeling. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) is a versatile tool to analyze the distribution and localization of multiple biomolecules in the tissue. The subcellular resolution of chemical changes in the cell wall component can be observed with standard diffraction-limited optical microscopy. Furthermore, novel chemical imaging tools such as multicolor 3D dSTORM (Three-dimensional, direct Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy) nanoscopy makes it possible to resolve the native structure of the cell wall polymers with nanometer precision and in three dimensions.

Here we present a protocol for preparing multi-target immunostaining of the PCW components taking as example Arabidopsis thaliana, Star fruit (Averrhoa carambola), and Maize thin tissue sections. This protocol is compatible with the standard confocal microscope, dSTORM nanoscope, and can also be implemented for other optical nanoscopy such as STED (Stimulated Emission Depletion Microscopy). The protocol can be adapted for any other subcellular compartments, plasma membrane, cytoplasmic, and intracellular organelles.
0 Q&A 3182 Views May 5, 2020
Cells generate mechanical forces to shape tissues during morphogenesis. These forces can activate several biochemical pathways and trigger diverse cellular responses by mechano-sensation, such as differentiation, division, migration and apoptosis. Assessing the mechano-responses of cells in living organisms requires tools to apply controlled local forces within biological tissues. For this, we have set up a method to generate controlled forces on a magnetic particle embedded within a chosen tissue of Drosophila embryos. We designed a protocol to inject an individual particle in early embryos and to position it, using a permanent magnet, within the tissue of our choice. Controlled forces in the range of pico to nanonewtons can be applied on the particle with the use of an electromagnet that has been previously calibrated. The bead displacement and the epithelial deformation upon force application can be followed with live imaging and further analyzed using simple analysis tools. This method has been successfully used to identify changes in mechanics in the blastoderm before gastrulation. This protocol provides the details, (i) for injecting a magnetic particle in Drosophila embryos, (ii) for calibrating an electromagnet and (iii) to apply controlled forces in living tissues.
0 Q&A 5146 Views May 5, 2020
Live cell imaging has tremendously promoted our understanding of cellular and subcellular processes such as cell division. Here, we present a step-by-step protocol for a robust and easy-to-use live cell imaging approach to study male meiosis in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana as recently established. Our method relies on the concomitant analysis of two reporter genes that highlight chromosome configurations and microtubule dynamics. In combination, these reporter genes allowed the discrimination of five cellular parameters: cell shape, microtubule array, nucleus position, nucleolus position, and chromatin condensation. These parameters can adopt different states, e.g., the nucleus position can be central or lateral. Analyzing how tightly these states are associated gives rise to landmark stages that in turn allow a quantitative and qualitative dissection of meiotic progression. We envision that such an approach can also provide valuable criteria for the analysis of cell differentiation processes outside of meiosis.



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