Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 164 Views Jun 5, 2024

Many studies on mosquito biology rely on laboratory-reared colonies, emphasizing the need for standardized protocols to investigate critical aspects such as disease biology, mosquito behavior, and vector control methods. While much knowledge is derived from anthropophilic species from genera like Anopheles, Aedes, and Culex, there is a growing interest in studying mosquitoes that feed on non-human hosts. This interest stems from the desire to gain a deeper understanding of the evolution of diverse host range use and host specificity. However, there is currently a limited number of comprehensive protocols for studying such species. Considering this gap, we present a protocol for rearing Uranotaenia lowii, a mosquito species specialized in feeding on anuran amphibians by eavesdropping on host-emitted sound cues. Additionally, we provide instructions for successfully shipping live specimens to promote research on this species and similar ones. This protocol helps fill the current gap in comprehensive guidelines for rearing and maintaining colonies of anuran host–biting mosquitoes. It serves as a valuable resource for researchers seeking to establish colonies of mosquito species from the Uranotaeniini tribe. Ultimately, this protocol may facilitate research on the evolutionary ecology of Culicidae, as this family has recently been proposed to have originated from a frog-feeding ancestor.

0 Q&A 708 Views Apr 20, 2024

In vivo brain imaging, using a combination of genetically encoded Ca2+ indicators and gradient refractive index (GRIN) lens, is a transformative technology that has become an increasingly potent research tool over the last decade. It allows direct visualisation of the dynamic cellular activity of deep brain neurons and glia in conscious animals and avoids the effect of anaesthesia on the network. This technique provides a step change in brain imaging where fibre photometry combines the whole ensemble of cellular activity, and multiphoton microscopy is limited to imaging superficial brain structures either under anaesthesia or in head-restrained conditions. We have refined the intravital imaging technique to image deep brain nuclei in the ventral medulla oblongata, one of the most difficult brain structures to image due to the movement of brainstem structures outside the cranial cavity during free behaviour (head and neck movement), whose targeting requires GRIN lens insertion through the cerebellum—a key structure for balance and movement. Our protocol refines the implantation method of GRIN lenses, giving the best possible approach to image deep extracranial brainstem structures in awake rodents with improved cell rejection/acceptance criteria during analysis. We have recently reported this method for imaging the activity of retrotrapezoid nucleus and raphe neurons to outline their chemosensitive characteristics. This revised method paves the way to image challenging brainstem structures to investigate their role in complex behaviours such as breathing, circulation, sleep, digestion, and swallowing, and could be extended to image and study the role of cerebellum in balance, movement, motor learning, and beyond.

Key features

• We developed a protocol that allows imaging from brainstem neurons and glia in freely behaving rodents.

• Our refined method of GRIN lenses implantation and cell sorting approach gives the highest number of cells with the least postoperative complications.

• The revised deep brainstem imaging method paves way to understand complex behaviours such as cardiorespiratory regulation, sleep, swallowing, and digestion.

• Our protocol can be implemented to image cerebellar structures to understand their role in key functions such as balance, movement, motor learning, and more.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 10704 Views Apr 5, 2018
Animal models are an important tool for studying neuropsychiatric disorders. However, a major challenge for researchers working with laboratory rodents is trying to reproduce ‘core’ symptoms of complex human disorders such as schizophrenia. Despite this challenge, however, it is still conceivable to use animal models designed to reproduce some of the disease’s ‘endo-phenotypes’. One example is the prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the startle reflex. PPI is a form of startle plasticity and is characterized by a normal reduction in startle magnitude that occurs when an intense startling stimulus (or pulse) is preceded by a weaker pre-stimulus (or prepulse). The PPI paradigm is commonly used to evaluate sensorimotor gating and it has been described in numerous species including humans and rodents. Deficits in PPI have been observed in subjects with schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric diseases, as well as in established animal models of these disorders. The PPI paradigm is therefore largely used to explore genetic and neurobiological mechanisms underlying the sensorimotor gating phenotypes found in these disorders. Thus, it is necessary to set up reliable and reproducible protocols to study PPI in mice.
0 Q&A 6999 Views Feb 20, 2018
Thermo-nociception, the detection and behavioral response to noxious temperatures, is a highly conserved action to avoid injury and ensure survival. Basic molecular mechanisms of thermal responses have been elucidated in several model organisms and are of clinical relevance as thermal hypersensitivity (thermos-allodynia) is common in neuropathic pain syndromes. Drosophila larvae show stereotyped escape behavior upon noxious heat stimulation, which can be easily quantified and coupled with molecular genetic approaches. It has been successfully used to elucidate key molecular components and circuits involved in thermo-nociceptive responses. We provide a detailed and updated protocol of this previously described method (Tracey et al., 2003) to apply a defined local heat stimulus to larvae using a fast-regulating hot probe.
0 Q&A 8627 Views Feb 20, 2018
Drosophila melanogaster larvae have been extensively used as a model to study the molecular and cellular basis of nociception. The larval nociceptors, class IV dendritic arborization (C4da) neurons, line the body wall of the animal and respond to various stimuli including noxious heat and touch. Activation of C4da neurons results in a stereotyped escape behavior, characterized by a 360° rolling response along the body axis followed by locomotion speedup. The genetic accessibility of Drosophila has allowed the identification of mechanosensory channels and circuit elements required for nociceptive responses, making it a useful and straightforward readout to understand the cellular and molecular basis of nociceptive function and behavior. We have optimized the protocol to assay mechanonociceptive behavior in Drosophila larvae.
0 Q&A 6053 Views Jan 5, 2018
Animals use behavioral strategies to seek optimal environments. Population behavioral assays provide a robust means to determine the effect of genetic perturbations on the ability of animals to sense and respond to changes in the environment. Here, we describe a C. elegans population behavioral assay used to measure locomotory responses to changes in environmental oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations. These behavioral assays are high-throughput and enable examination of genetic, neuronal and circuit function.
1 Q&A 9079 Views Sep 20, 2017
The proof of concept for bioluminescence monitoring of neural activity in zebrafish with the genetically encoded calcium indicator GFP-aequorin has been previously described (Naumann et al., 2010) but challenges remain. First, bioluminescence signals originating from a single muscle fiber can constitute a major pitfall. Second, bioluminescence signals emanating from neurons only are very small. To improve signals while verifying specificity, we provide an optimized 4 steps protocol achieving: 1) selective expression of a zebrafish codon-optimized GFP-aequorin, 2) efficient soaking of larvae in GFP-aequorin substrate coelenterazine, 3) bioluminescence monitoring of neural activity from motor neurons in free-tailed moving animals performing acoustic escapes and 4) verification of the absence of muscle expression using immunohistochemistry.

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