Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 10572 Views Apr 20, 2018
Neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is the specialized chemical synapse that mediates the transmission of the electrical impulse running along motor neuron axons to skeletal muscle fibers. NMJ is the best characterized chemical synapse and its study along many years of research has provided most of the general knowledge of synapse development, structure and functionality.

Electrophysiology is the most accurate experimental procedure to study NMJ physiology and it largely contributed to the elucidation of synaptic transmission basic principles. Many electrophysiological techniques have been developed to study NMJ physiology and physiopathology. In this paper, we describe an ex vivo tissue preparation for electrophysiology that can be applied to investigate nerve-muscle transmission functionality in mice. It is routinely used in our laboratory to study presynaptic neurotoxins, antitoxins, and to monitor NMJ degeneration and regeneration. This is a broadly applicable technique which can also be adopted to investigate alterations of NMJ activity in mouse models of neuromuscular diseases, including peripheral neuropathies, motor neuron disorders and myasthenic syndromes.
0 Q&A 8560 Views Mar 5, 2018
The neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is the specialized synapse by which peripheral motor neurons innervate muscle fibers and control skeletal muscle contraction. The NMJ is the target of several xenobiotics, including chemicals, plant, animal and bacterial toxins, as well as of autoantibodies raised against NMJ antigens. Depending on their biochemical nature, the site they target (either the nerve or the muscle) and their mechanism of action, substances affecting NMJ produce very specific alterations of neuromuscular functionality.

Here we provide a detailed protocol to isolate the diaphragmatic muscle from mice and to set up two autonomously innervated hemidiaphragms. This preparation can be used to study bioactive substances like toxins, venoms and neuroactive molecules of various origin, or to measure the force of skeletal muscle contraction.

The ‘mouse phrenic nerve hemidiaphragm assay’ (MPN) is an established model of ex vivo NMJ and recapitulates the complexity of neuromuscular transmission in a system easy to control and to manipulate, thus representing a valuable tool to study both NMJ physiology and the mechanism of action of toxins and other molecules acting at this synapse.
1 Q&A 25949 Views May 20, 2017
Muscle function is determined by its structure and fiber type composition. Here we describe a protocol to examine muscle histology and myofiber types using hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) and immunofluorescence staining, respectively. H&E stain nucleus in blue and cytoplasm in red, therefore allowing for morphological analyses, such as myofiber diameter, the presence of degenerated and regenerated myofibers, and adipocytes and fibrotic cells. Muscle fibers in adult skeletal muscles of rodents are classified into 4 subtypes based on the expression of myosin heavy chain proteins: Myh7 (type I fiber), Myh2 (type IIA fiber), Myh1 (type IIX fiber), Myh4 (type IIB fiber). A panel of monoclonal antibodies can be used to specifically label these muscle fiber subtypes. These protocols are commonly used in the study of muscle development, growth and regeneration (for example: Wang et al., 2015; Nie et al., 2016; Yue et al., 2016; Wang et al., 2017).

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