Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 745 Views Sep 5, 2023

Neurons communicate via synapses—specialized structures that consist of a presynaptic terminal of one neuron and a postsynaptic terminal of another. As knowledge is emerging that mutations in molecules that regulate synaptic function underpin many neurological disorders, it is crucial to elucidate the molecular mechanisms regulating synaptic function to understand synaptic strength, plasticity, modulation, and pathology, which ultimately impact neuronal circuit output and behavior. The presynaptic calyx of Held is a large glutamatergic presynaptic terminal in the auditory brainstem, which due to its accessibility and the possibility to selectively perform molecular perturbations on it, is an ideal model to study the role of presynaptic proteins in regulating synaptic function. In this protocol, we describe the use of confocal imaging and three-dimensional reconstruction of the calyx of Held to assess alterations in gross morphology following molecular perturbation. Using viral-vector delivery to perform molecular perturbations at distinct developmental time points, we provide a fast and cost-effective method to investigate how presynaptic proteins regulate gross morphology such as surface area and synapse volume throughout the lifetime of a neuronal circuit.

Key features

• Confocal imaging and 3D reconstruction of presynaptic terminals.

• Used with a virus-mediated expression of mEGFP to achieve efficient, cell-type specific labeling of the presynaptic compartment.

• Protocol was developed with the calyx of Held but is suitable for pre- and postsynaptic compartments of various neurons across multiple mammalian and invertebrate species.

0 Q&A 4395 Views Feb 20, 2020
The choroid plexus consists of a network of secretory epithelial cells localized throughout the lateral, third and fourth ventricles of the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is generated by the choroid plexus and released into the ventricular environment. This biofluid contains an enriched source of proteins, ions, and other signaling molecules for extracellular support of neurons and glial cells within the central nervous system. Given that other cells in the brain also release factors into the CSF, in vitro investigations of choroid plexus function are necessary to isolate processes selectively occurring within and released from this tissue. Here, we describe a protocol to isolate choroid plexus tissue from each of the ventricular locations, and the cell culture conditions required to support growth and maintenance of these epithelial cells. This technique allows for investigations of the functional significance of the choroid plexus, such as for the examination of stimuli promoting the release of growth factors and extracellular vesicles (e.g., exosomes and microvesicles) from ventricle-specific choroid plexus epithelial cells.
0 Q&A 5847 Views Sep 5, 2019
Robust and efficient gene expression control enables the study of a gene’s function in the central nervous system. Advances in CRISPR-based technology provide new avenues not only for gene editing, but for complex transcriptional control. Here, we describe a protocol to generate high-titer lentiviruses with neuron-optimized CRISPR-activation constructs (dual lentiviruses consisting of a gene-specific single guide RNA and the CRISPR-activator) for use in primary neurons in vitro or in the adult brain in vivo. This protocol enables modular, scalable, and multiplexable gene regulation in the nervous system and does not require a transgenic model organism.
1 Q&A 5434 Views Mar 20, 2019
In the study of neurodegenerative diseases, it is imperative to study the cellular and molecular changes associated with pathogenesis in the relevant cell type, central nervous system neurons. The unique compartmentalized morphology and bioenergetic needs of primary neurons present complications for their study in culture. Recent microculture techniques utilizing microfluidic culture devices allows for environmental separation and analysis of neuronal cell bodies and neurites in culture. Here, we present our protocol for culture of primary neurons in microfluidic devices and their chronic treatment with the Parkinson’s disease (PD) relevant toxicant rotenone. In addition, we present a method for reuse of devices for culture. This culture methodology presents advantages for evaluating early pathogenic cellular and molecular changes in neurons in a compartment-specific manner.
0 Q&A 7931 Views Feb 20, 2019
For both stem cell research and treatment of the central nervous system disorders, neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) represent an important breakthrough tool. In the expanded stem cell-based therapy use, NSPCs not only provide a powerful cell source for neural cell replacement but a useful model for developmental biology research. Despite numerous approaches were described for isolation of NSPCs from either fetal or adult brain, the main issue remains in extending cell survival following isolation. Here we provide a simple and affordable protocol for making viable NSPCs from the fetal mouse hippocampi, which are capable of maintaining the high viability in a 2D monolayer cell culture or generating 3D neuro-spheroids of cell aggregates. Further, we describe the detailed method for engraftment of embryonic NSPCs onto a host hippocampal tissue for promoting multilinear cell differentiation and maturation within endogenous environment. Our experimental data demonstrate that embryonic NSPCs isolated using this approach show the high viability (above 88%). Within a host tissue, these cells were capable of differentiating to the main neural subpopulations (principal neurons, oligodendrocytes, astroglia). Finally, NSPC-derived neurons demonstrated matured functional properties (electrophysiological activity), becoming functionally integrated into the host hippocampal circuits within a couple of weeks after engraftment.
0 Q&A 6030 Views Jul 5, 2018
In circadian research, it is essential to be able to track a biological rhythm for several days with the minimum perturbation for the organisms or tissues. The use of transgenic mice lines, in which the luciferase reporter is coupled to a molecular clock protein (here PERIOD2), gives us the opportunity to follow the circadian activity in different tissues or even single clock cells for days without manipulation. This method creates sections using a mouse brain matrix, which allows us to obtain several brain samples quickly at a single time point.

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