Developmental Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 665 Views Sep 5, 2023

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is often associated with myogenic defects. During heart development, cardiomyocyte growth requires essential cues from extrinsic factors such as insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF-2). To determine whether and how growth factors account for embryonic cardiomyocyte proliferation, isolation followed by culturing of embryonic cardiomyocytes can be utilized as a useful tool for heart developmental studies. Current protocols for isolating cardiomyocytes from the heart do not include a cardiomyocyte-specific reporter to distinguish cardiomyocytes from other cell types. To optimize visualization of cardiomyocyte proliferation, our protocol utilizes a Tnnt2-promoter-driven H2B-GFP knock-in mouse model (TNNT2H2B-GFP/+) for in vitro visualization of nuclear-tagged cardiomyocyte-specific fluorescence. A cardiomyocyte-specific genetic reporter paired with an effective proliferation assay improves the reproducibility of mechanistic studies by increasing the accuracy of cell identification, proliferated cell counting, and cardiomyocyte tracking.

Key features

• This protocol refines previous methods of cardiomyocyte isolation to specifically target embryonic cardiomyocytes.

• UsesH2B-GFP/+cardiomyocyte reporters as identified by Yan et al. (2016).

• Traces cell proliferation with Phospho-Histone 3 (p-H3) assay.

• Has applications in assessing the role of growth factors in cardiomyocyte proliferation.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 1961 Views Dec 5, 2021

Regulation of microtubule stability is crucial for diverse biological processes, including cell division, morphogenesis, and signaling. Various in vitro assays for microtubule stability have been developed to identify and characterize proteins involved in controlling microtubule stability. Here, we introduce a simple ex-vivo assay for identifying potential microtubule regulators in the wing imaginal disc of Drosophila melanogaster. This assay utilizes silicon rhodamine-tubulin (SiR-Tub) as a cell-permeable fluorogenic dye for labeling microtubules. In an attempt to increase the sensitivity of the screen, we designed an assay using a sensitized microtubule condition. Wing discs are treated with SiR-Tub followed by demecolcine, a microtubule inhibitor, to partially label impaired microtubules. Under this sensitized condition, we can test whether overexpression or downregulation of a gene can enhance or suppress the weakened SiR-Tub labeling. This assay allows highly sensitive detection of microtubules in developing larval tissues. Hence, it provides a useful tool for identifying new microtubule regulators in both unfixed and fixed imaginal discs in Drosophila. This strategy may also be applied to characterize microtubule regulators in tissues from other model organisms.

Graphic abstract:

Graphical summary of Ex-vivo microtubule stability assay using Drosophila wing disc.

0 Q&A 3386 Views Jun 5, 2021

The placenta is the crucial organ that regulates the health of both mother and fetus during pregnancy. The human placenta is composed of villous tree-like structures that embed into the maternal decidua. Within the stroma of the villi resides a population of fetally-derived macrophages, the Hofbauer cells (HBC). HBC are the only fetal immune cells found within the placenta in the steady-state and are thought to play a crucial role in placental function. From the 10th week of gestation, maternal blood flow into the intervillous space begins, resulting in the placental villi becoming bathed in maternal blood. To study HBC it is necessary to develop techniques that allow for their specific isolation and distinction from maternal blood monocytes and decidual macrophages. Here, we describe a protocol that explains step-by-step the strategy we have developed that allows the specific isolation of HBC.

0 Q&A 4101 Views Mar 5, 2020
Autophagy is the main catabolic process in eukaryotes and plays a key role in cell homeostasis. In vivo measurement of autophagic activity (flux) is a powerful tool for investigating the role of the pathway in organism development and stress responses. Here we describe a significant optimization of the tandem tag assay for detection of autophagic flux in planta in epidermal root cells of Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings. The tandem tag consists of TagRFP and mWasabi fluorescent proteins fused to ATG8a, and is expressed in wildtype or autophagy-deficient backgrounds to obtain reporter and control lines, respectively. Upon autophagy activation, the TagRFP-mWasabi-ATG8a fusion protein is incorporated into autophagosomes and delivered to the lytic vacuole. Ratiometric quantification of the low pH-tolerant TagRFP and low pH-sensitive mWasabi fluorescence in the vacuoles of control and reporter lines allows for a reliable estimation of autophagic activity. We provide a step by step protocol for plant growth, imaging and semi-automated data analysis. The protocol presents a rapid and robust method that can be applied for any studies requiring in planta quantification of autophagic flux.
0 Q&A 4404 Views Dec 5, 2019
Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with a number of human diseases. As an example, we recently established in vivo Drosophila models of IBMPFD (Inclusion body myopathy, Paget disease, and frontotemporal dementia), and uncovered that human disease mutations of the p97/VCP (Valosin Containing Protein) gene behave as hyperactive alleles associated with mitochondrial defects. Pharmacologic inhibition of VCP strongly suppressed disease and mitochondrial pathology in these animal models. In this protocol, we describe a method to evaluate mitochondrial respiratory function in IBMPFD patient-derived fibroblasts, as well as investigate the role of pharmacologic treatments. These experiments complement work done in animal models by investigating mitochondrial biology and the pharmacologic response in a human cell-based model of the disease. In principle, this technique can be used to investigate mitochondrial respiratory function for any disease in which patient-derived fibroblasts are available.
0 Q&A 3014 Views Nov 20, 2019
The positioning and the cleavage plane orientation of mitotic cells in pseudostratified epithelia (PSE) must be tightly regulated since failures in any of these processes might have fatal consequences during development. Here we present a simple method to determine the spindle orientation as well as the positioning of neuroepithelial mitotic cells within the Outer Proliferation Center (OPC) of Drosophila larval brains.
0 Q&A 5930 Views Nov 5, 2018
Endothelial cells (ECs) sustain the self-renewal and regeneration of adult hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) via deployment of EC-derived paracrine factors, termed as angiocrine factors. Generation of durable ex vivo vascular niche that maintains EC identity and preserves the angiocrine profile of organ of origin offers platforms for in vitro dissection of the mechanism by which angiocrine factors execute their instructive function for stem cell maintenance and tissue regeneration. This protocol describes detailed methods to isolate primary bone marrow ECs (BMECs), to subsequently transduce lentiviral vector carrying myristoylated-Akt1 into primary BMECs, and to use the Akt1-BMECs to expand engraftable murine HSPCs. The BMEC-HSPC co-culture system serves as bioreactor prototype to generate scalable populations of the blood and immune systems.
0 Q&A 5741 Views Oct 5, 2018
Planarians are freshwater flatworms, well known for their ability to regenerate a complete organism from any piece of their body. Furthermore, planarians are constantly growing and degrowing throughout their lives, maintaining a functional and proportioned body. These properties rely on the presence of a population of adult stem cells and on the tight control of their cell renewal, which is based on the balance between the proliferation of new cells and their differentiation, and the death of unnecessary cells. Due to the importance of these two processes in planarian biology, over the years, researchers have optimized molecular techniques to detect both cell proliferation and cell death in planarians. Here, we present the two main protocols currently used for cell death detection and quantification in the planarian field: Caspase-3 activity quantification and TUNEL assay.
0 Q&A 9288 Views Mar 20, 2018
The primary cilium is a non-motile sensory organelle whose assembly and disassembly are closely associated with cell cycle progression. The primary cilium is elongated from the basal body in quiescent cells and is resorbed as the cells re-enter the cell cycle. Dysregulation of ciliary dynamics has been linked with ciliopathies and other human diseases. The in vitro serum-stimulated ciliary assembly/disassembly assay has gained popularity in addressing the functions of the protein-of-interest in ciliary dynamics. Here, we describe a well-tested protocol for transfecting human retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE-1) and performing ciliary assembly/disassembly assays on the transfected cells.

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