Developmental Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 178 Views May 5, 2023

X-ray computed microtomography (µCT) is a powerful tool to reveal the 3D structure of tissues and organs. Compared with the traditional sectioning, staining, and microscopy image acquisition, it allows a better understanding of the morphology and a precise morphometric analysis. Here, we describe a method for 3D visualization and morphometric analysis by µCT scanning of the embryonic heart of iodine-stained E15.5 mouse embryos.

0 Q&A 146 Views Mar 20, 2023

Adult stem cells not only maintain tissue homeostasis but are also critical for tissue regeneration during injury. Skeletal stem cells are multipotent stem cells that can even generate bones and cartilage upon transplantation to an ectopic site. This tissue generation process requires essential stem cell characteristics including self-renewal, engraftment, proliferation, and differentiation in the microenvironment. Our research team has successfully characterized and isolated skeletal stem cells (SSCs) from the cranial suture called suture stem cells (SuSCs), which are responsible for craniofacial bone development, homeostasis, and injury-induced repair. To assess their stemness features, we have demonstrated the use of kidney capsule transplantation for an in vivo clonal expansion study. The results show bone formation at a single-cell level, thus permitting a faithful assessment of stem cell numbers at the ectopic site. The sensitivity in assessing stem cell presence permits using kidney capsule transplantation to determine stem cell frequency by limiting dilution assay. Here, we described detailed protocols for kidney capsule transplantation and limiting dilution assay. These methods are extremely valuable both for the evaluation of skeletogenic ability and the determination of stem cell frequency.

0 Q&A 1733 Views Aug 20, 2022

Currently, there are several in vitro protocols that focus on directing human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) differentiation into either the cardiac or pulmonary lineage. However, these systemsprotocols are unable to recapitulate the critical exchange of signals and cells between the heart and lungs during early development. To address this gap, here we describe a protocol to co-differentiate cardiac and pulmonary progenitors within a single hiPSC culture by temporal specific modulation of Wnt and Nodal signaling. Subsequently, human cardio-pulmonary micro-tissues (μTs) can be generated by culturing the co-induced cardiac and pulmonary progenitors in 3D suspension culture. Anticipated results include expedited alveolarization in the presence of cardiac cells, and segregation of the cardiac and pulmonary μTs in the absence of exogenous Wnt signaling. This protocol can be used to model cardiac and pulmonary co-development, with potential applications in drug testing, and as a platform for expediting the maturation of pulmonary cells for lung tissue engineering.

0 Q&A 1780 Views Jun 20, 2022

In this study, we present a detailed protocol for live imaging and quantitative analysis of floral meristem development in Aquilegia coerulea, a member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). Using confocal microscopy and the image analysis software MorphoGraphX, we were able to examine the cellular growth dynamics during floral organ primordia initiation, and the transition from floral meristem proliferation to termination. This protocol provides a powerful tool to study the development of the meristem and floral organ primordia, and should be easily adaptable to many plant lineages, including other emerging model systems. It will allow researchers to explore questions outside the scope of common model systems.

0 Q&A 2610 Views Jan 5, 2022

RNA sequencing allows for the quantification of the transcriptome of embryos to investigate transcriptional responses to various perturbations (e.g., mutations, infections, drug treatments). Previous protocols either lack the option to genotype individual samples, or are laborious and therefore difficult to do at a large scale. We have developed a protocol to extract total nucleic acid from individual zebrafish embryos. Individual embryos are lysed in 96-well plates and nucleic acid is extracted using SPRI beads. The total nucleic acid can be genotyped and then DNase I treated to produce RNA samples for sequencing. This protocol allows for processing large numbers of individual samples, with the ability to genotype each sample, which makes it possible to undertake transcriptomic analysis on mutants at timepoints before the phenotype is visible.

Graphic abstract:

Extraction of total nucleic acid from individual zebrafish embryos for genotyping and RNA-seq.

0 Q&A 1508 Views Oct 20, 2021

Lymphatic vessels are abundant in the skin where they regulate interstitial fluid uptake and immune surveillance. Defects in dermal lymphatic vessels, such as fewer vessels and abnormal lymphatic vessel coverage with mural cells, are frequently associated with lymphedema and other lymphatic disorders. Whole-mount immunohistochemistry allows the visualization of dermal lymphatic vessels and identifies morphogenetic defects. Most dermal lymphatic vessels start growing during embryogenesis from lymph sacs that are located close to the axilla towards the dorsal and ventral midlines. Here, we present an approach that we have developed to permeabilize, immunolabel, clear, and visualize the lymphatic vessels. These simple and inexpensive techniques reproducibly generate images of dermal lymphatic vessels with great clarity.

0 Q&A 1899 Views Sep 20, 2021

Transplantation of blastocysts from a donor to a host blastula constitutes a powerful experimental tool to tackle major developmental biology questions. The technique is widely implemented in diverse biological models including teleost fish, where it is typically used for intra-species blastula transplantations – i.e., labeled blastocysts into a non-labeled host to follow lineages, or mutant blastocysts into a wild-type host to address autonomous vs. non-autonomous roles of a gene of interest. We have recently implemented a protocol to transplant blastocysts between zebrafish (D. rerio) and medaka (O. latipes), two species in which blastocysts show different developmental dynamics and sizes (Fuhrmann et al., 2020). We present here a detailed protocol on how to overcome the early differences in chorion structure, blastula size, and speed of development to achieve trans-species blastocyst transplantation.

0 Q&A 3465 Views Jun 5, 2021

Cryo-scanning electron microscopy (cryo-SEM) was first introduced for scientific use in the 1980s. Since then, cryo-SEM has become a routine technique for studying the surfaces and internal structures of biological samples with a high water content. In contrast to traditional SEM, cryo-SEM requires no sample pretreatment processes; thus, we can obtain the most authentic images of the sample shape and structure. Cryo-SEM has two main steps: cryoprocessing of samples and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) observation. The cryoprocessing step includes preparation of the cooled slushing station, cooling of the preparation chamber, sample preparation, and sputtering. The sample is then transferred to an SEM cold stage for observation. We used cryo-SEM to study rice root hair tissues, but the methods and protocols can be applied to other root systems. This protocol optimizes the two key operation steps of reducing the humidity in the growth chamber and previewing the samples before sputtering and can more quickly obtain high-quality images.

0 Q&A 2528 Views Jun 5, 2021

Maturation of secretory granules is a crucial process that ensures the bioactivity of cargo proteins undergoing regulated secretion. In Drosophila melanogaster, the larval salivary glands produce secretory granules that are up to four-fold larger in cross-sectional area after maturation. Therefore, we developed a live imaging microscopy approach to quantitate the size of secretory granules with a view to identifying genes involved in their maturation. Here, we describe the procedures of larval salivary gland dissection and sample preparation for live imaging with a fluorescence confocal microscope. Furthermore, we describe the workflow for measuring the size of secretory granules by cross-sectional surface area and statistical analysis. Our live imaging microscopy method provides a reliable read-out for the status of secretory granule maturation in Drosophila larval salivary glands.

0 Q&A 3443 Views Jun 5, 2021

Post-implantation mammalian embryogenesis involves profound molecular, cellular, and morphogenetic changes. The study of these highly dynamic processes is complicated by the limited accessibility of in utero development. In recent years, several complementary in vitro systems comprising self-organized assemblies of mouse embryonic stem cells, such as gastruloids, have been reported. We recently demonstrated that the morphogenetic potential of gastruloids can be further unlocked by the addition of a low percentage of Matrigel as an extracellular matrix surrogate. This resulted in the formation of highly organized trunk-like structures (TLSs) with a neural tube that is frequently flanked by bilateral somites. Notably, development at the molecular and morphogenetic levels is highly reminiscent of the natural embryo. To facilitate access to this powerful model, here we provide a detailed step-by-step protocol that should allow any lab with access to standard cell culture techniques to implement the culture system. This will provide the user with a means to investigate early mid-gestational mouse embryogenesis at an unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution.

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