Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 653 Views Jun 20, 2024

Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are synthetic fusion proteins that can reprogram immune cells to target specific antigens. CAR-expressing T cells have emerged as an effective treatment method for hematological cancers; despite this success, the mechanisms and structural properties that govern CAR responses are not fully understood. Here, we provide a simple assay to assess cellular avidity using a standard flow cytometer. This assay measures the interaction kinetics of CAR-expressing T cells and targets antigen-expressing target cells. By co-culturing stably transfected CAR Jurkat cells with target positive and negative cells for short periods of time in a varying effector–target gradient, we were able to observe the formation of CAR-target cell doublets, providing a readout of actively bound cells. When using the optimized protocol reported here, we observed unique cellular binding curves that varied between CAR constructs with differing antigen binding domains. The cellular binding kinetics of unique CARs remained consistent, were dependent on specific target antigen expression, and required active biological signaling. While existing literature is not clear at this time whether higher or lower CAR cell binding is beneficial to CAR therapeutic activity, the application of this simplified protocol for assessing CAR binding could lead to a better understanding of the proximal signaling events that regulate CAR functionality.

0 Q&A 1201 Views May 20, 2024

The cell–cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin has been intensively studied due to its prevalence in tissue function and its spatiotemporal regulation during epithelial-to-mesenchymal cell transition. Nonetheless, regulating and studying the dynamics of it has proven challenging. We developed a photoswitchable version of E-cadherin, named opto-E-cadherin, which can be toggled OFF with blue light illumination and back ON in the dark. Herein, we describe easy-to-use methods to test and characterise opto-E-cadherin cell clones for downstream experiments.

0 Q&A 3565 Views Aug 20, 2021

Studies characterizing how cells respond to the mechanical properties of their environment have been enabled by the use of soft elastomers and hydrogels as substrates for cell culture. A limitation of most such substrates is that, although their elastic properties can be accurately controlled, their viscous properties cannot, and cells respond to both elasticity and viscosity in the extracellular material to which they bind. Some approaches to endow soft substrates with viscosity as well as elasticity are based on coupling static and dynamic crosslinks in series within polymer networks or forming gels with a combination of sparse chemical crosslinks and steric entanglements. These materials form viscoelastic fluids that have revealed significant effects of viscous dissipation on cell function; however, they do not completely capture the mechanical features of soft solid tissues. In this report, we describe a method to make viscoelastic solids that more closely mimic some soft tissues using a combination of crosslinked networks and entrapped linear polymers. Both the elastic and viscous moduli of these substrates can be altered separately, and methods to attach cells to either the elastic or the viscous part of the network are described.

Graphic abstract:

Polyacrylamide gels with independently controlled elasticity and viscosity.

0 Q&A 5377 Views Jan 5, 2021

The in vitro cell adhesion assay is a quantitative method for measuring selective cell adhesion to specific proteins. Traditionally, cell adhesion assays employ purified protein immobilized on a solid glass or plastic surface. Here, we describe a transient 293T cell transfection-based cell adhesion assay to study selective cell adhesion of a specific cell type to a protein of interest. In this protocol, 293T cells are transfected with a mammalian expression plasmid containing mSiglec1 cDNA or an empty plasmid as a mock control and are then cultured to form a monolayer. Subsequently, these Siglec1-expressing and mock-transfected 293T cell monolayers are used for cell adhesion assays with GFP-expressing B16F10 cells. The number of GFP+ cancer cells adhering to each 293T monolayer is a quantitative mean to compare the selective adhesiveness of cancer cells to Siglec1. This method eliminates the need to express and purify the protein of interest to perform in vitro cell adhesion assays and can easily be performed with difficult-to-purify proteins while maintaining their native in situ structure.

0 Q&A 3732 Views Sep 5, 2020
Motility of eukaryotic cells or pathogens within tissues is mediated by the turnover of specific interactions with other cells or with the extracellular matrix. Biophysical characterization of these ligand-receptor adhesions helps to unravel the molecular mechanisms driving migration. Traction force microscopy or optical tweezers are typically used to measure the cellular forces exerted by cells on a substrate. However, the spatial resolution of traction force microscopy is limited to ~2 µm and performing experiments with optical traps is very time-consuming.

Here we present the production of biomimetic surfaces that enable specific cell adhesion via synthetic ligands and at the same time monitor the transmitted forces by using molecular tension sensors. The ligands were coupled to double-stranded DNA probes with defined force thresholds for DNA unzipping. Receptor-mediated forces in the pN range are thereby semi-quantitatively converted into fluorescence signals, which can be detected by standard fluorescence microscopy at the resolution limit (~0.2 µm).

The modular design of the assay allows to vary the presented ligands and the mechanical strength of the DNA probes, which provides a number of possibilities to probe the adhesion of different eukaryotic cell types and pathogens and is exemplified here with osteosarcoma cells and Plasmodium berghei Sporozoites.
0 Q&A 5684 Views Apr 20, 2018
Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) is a recognized cause of acute diarrhea among both children and adults worldwide. EAEC strains are characterized by the presence of aggregative adherence fimbriae (AAF), which play a key role in pathogenesis by mediating attachment to the intestinal mucosa and by triggering host inflammatory responses. The aggregative adherence fimbria II (AAF/II) is the most important adherence factor of EAEC prototype strain 042 (EAEC042) to intestinal cells. Multiple receptors for AAF/II on epithelial cells have been identified including the transmembrane signaling mucin Muc1. This protocol describes a method to measure adherence of EAEC strains to HEK293 cells expressing the Muc1 glycoprotein.
1 Q&A 6820 Views Mar 20, 2018
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have shown profound therapeutic potential in tissue repair and regeneration. However, recent studies indicate that MSCs are largely entrapped in lungs after intravenous delivery and die shortly. The underlying mechanisms have been poorly understood. We have provided evidence to show that excess expression and activation of integrins in culture-expanded MSCs is a critical cause of MSCs adhesion to endothelial cells of the lung microarteries resulting in the entrapment of the cells (Wang et al., 2015). Therefore, it may be meaningful to test the adhesive ability of MSCs to endothelial cells in vitro before intravenous administration to avoid their lung vascular obstructions. Here we report a simple method to measure MSCs attachment to endothelial cells.
0 Q&A 7595 Views Feb 5, 2018
To cause an infection, the human specific pathogen Neisseria meningitides must first colonize the nasopharynx. Upon tight interaction with the mucosal epithelium, N. meningitidis may cross the epithelial cellular barrier, reach the bloodstream and cause sepsis and/or meningitis. Since N. meningitidis niche is restricted to humans the availability of relevant animal models to study host-pathogen interactions are limiting. Therefore, most findings that involve N. meningitidis colonization derive from studies using cultured human cell lines. Human epithelial cells have been successfully used to examine and identify molecular effectors involved in initial adherence of the pathogen. Here, we describe a standard protocol to quantify the adherence of N. meningitidis to epithelial pharyngeal FaDu cells. Colony counts of cell lysates collected after infection are used to quantify adherence to the epithelial cells.
0 Q&A 13482 Views Dec 20, 2017
Cell adhesion to neighbouring cells and to the underlying extracellular matrix (ECM) is a fundamental requirement for the existence of multicellular organisms. As such, the formation, stability and dissociation of cell adhesions are subject to tight control in space and time and perturbations within the sophisticated adhesion machinery are associated with a variety of human pathologies. Here, we outline a simple protocol to monitor alterations in cell adhesion to the ECM, for example, following genetic manipulations or overexpression of a protein of interest or in response to drug treatment, using the xCELLigence real-time cell analysis (RTCA) system.
0 Q&A 14910 Views May 5, 2017
Listeria monocytogenes is an important Gram-positive foodborne pathogen that is a particular problem in ready-to-eat food. It has an ability to survive in harsh conditions like refrigeration temperatures and high salt concentrations and is known to cross intestinal, placental and blood-brain barriers. Several cancerous cell lines like cervical, liver, dendritic, intestinal and macrophages have been used to study in vitro propagation and survival of listeria in human cells. Human intestinal epithelial cells have been used to study how listeria crosses the intestinal barrier and cause infection. The protocol in this articles describes the procedures to grow Caco-2 cells, maintain cells and use them for adhesion and invasion assays. During adhesion assay the cells are incubated with listeria for 30 min but in invasion assay the cell growth is arrested at several time points after infection to monitor the growth and survival rate of listeria in cells.

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