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0 Q&A 314 Views Nov 5, 2023

The mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) is a multi-component pathway that mediates the transfer of electrons from metabolic reactions that occur in the mitochondrion to molecular oxygen (O2). The ETC contributes to numerous cellular processes, including the generation of cellular ATP through oxidative phosphorylation, serving as an electron sink for metabolic pathways such as de novo pyrimidine biosynthesis and for maintaining mitochondrial membrane potential. Proper functioning of the mitochondrial ETC is necessary for the growth and survival of apicomplexan parasites including Plasmodium falciparum, a causative agent of malaria. The mitochondrial ETC of P. falciparum is an attractive target for antimalarial drugs, due to its essentiality and its differences from the mammalian ETC. To identify novel P. falciparum ETC inhibitors, we have established a real-time assay to assess ETC function, which we describe here. This approach measures the O2 consumption rate (OCR) of permeabilized P. falciparum parasites using a Seahorse XFe96 flux analyzer and can be used to screen compound libraries for the identification of ETC inhibitors and, in part, to determine the targets of those inhibitors.


Key features

• With this protocol, the effects of candidate inhibitors on mitochondrial O2 consumption in permeabilized asexual P. falciparum parasites can be tested in real time.

• Through the sequential injection of inhibitors and substrates into the assay, the molecular targets of candidate inhibitors in the ETC can, in part, be determined.

• The assay is applicable for both drug discovery approaches and enquiries into a fundamental aspect of parasite mitochondrial biology.


Graphical overview



Seahorse assay experimental workflow. Prior to the assay, coat the cell culture microplate with Cell-Tak to help adhere the parasites to the wells; hydrate the cartridge wells to ensure proper sensor functionality and design the assay template using the Agilent Seahorse Wave Desktop software (Analyze Seahorse data files, Seahorse Wave desktop software|Agilent). On the day of the assay, prepare the inhibitors/substrates that are to be injected into the ports. Then, separate 3 × 108 trophozoite-stage parasites from the uninfected red blood cells (RBCs) and ring-stage parasites using a MACS® magnetic column. Check the purity of the parasites with Giemsa-stained smears. Determine the concentration of infected RBCs in the sample using a hemocytometer and dilute to approximately 5 × 107 parasites per milliliter. Treat infected RBCs with saponin to permeabilize the host cell membrane and seed approximately 5 × 106 parasites (100 μL) per well in mitochondria assay solution (MAS) buffer. Supplement MAS buffer with digitonin to permeabilize the parasite plasma membrane. Load the ports with the prepared inhibitors/substrates and run the assay using a Seahorse XFe96 analyzer. Once the assay is completed, analyze the data using the Wave desktop software. Further data processing can be done using statistical analysis software.

0 Q&A 2493 Views Feb 20, 2022
Three-dimensional (3D) cell culture models are widely used in tumor studies to more accurately reflect cell-cell interactions and tumor growth conditions in vivo. 3D anchorage-independent spheroids derived by culturing cells in ultra-low attachment (ULA) conditions is particularly relevant to ovarian cancer, as such cell clusters are often observed in malignant ascites of late-stage ovarian cancer patients. We and others have found that cells derived from anchorage-independent spheroids vary widely in gene expression profiles, proliferative state, and metabolism compared to cells maintained under attached culture conditions. This includes changes in mitochondrial function, which is most commonly assessed in cultured live cells by measuring oxygen consumption in extracellular flux assays. To measure mitochondrial function in anchorage-independent multicellular aggregates, we have adapted the Agilent Seahorse extracellular flux assay to optimize measurements of oxygen consumption and extracellular acidification of ovarian cancer cell spheroids generated by culture in ULA plates. This protocol includes: (i) Methods for culturing tumor cells as uniform anchorage-independent spheroids; (ii) Optimization for the transfer of spheroids to the Agilent Seahorse cell culture plates; (iii) Adaptations of the mitochondrial and glycolysis stress tests for spheroid extracellular flux analysis; and (iv) Suggestions for optimization of cell numbers, spheroid size, and normalization of oxygen consumption rate (OCR) and extracellular acidification rate (ECAR) values. Using this method, we have found that ovarian cancer cells cultured as anchorage-independent spheroids display altered mitochondrial function compared to monolayer cultures attached to plastic dishes. This method allows for the assessment of mitochondrial function in a more relevant patho/physiological culture condition and can be adapted to evaluate mitochondrial function of various cell types that are able to aggregate into multicellular clusters in anchorage-independence.

Graphic abstract:



Workflow of the Extracellular Flux Assay to Measure Respiration of Anchorage-independent Tumor Cell Spheroids.

3 Q&A 6126 Views Mar 5, 2021

The high attrition rate in drug development processes calls for additional human-based model systems. However, in the context of brain disorders, sampling live neuronal cells for compound testing is not applicable. The use of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has revolutionized the field of neuronal disease modeling and drug discovery. Thanks to the development of iPSC-based neuronal differentiation protocols, including tridimensional cerebral organoids, it is now possible to molecularly dissect human neuronal development and human brain disease pathogenesis in a dish. These approaches may allow dissecting patient-specific treatment efficacy in a disease-relevant cellular context. For drug discovery approaches, however, a highly reproducible and cost-effective cell model is desirable. Here, we describe a step-by-step process for generating robust and expandable neural progenitor cells (NPCs) from human iPSCs. NPCs generated with this protocol are homogeneous and highly proliferative. These features make NPCs suitable for the development of high-throughput compound screenings for drug discovery. Human iPSC-derived NPCs show a metabolism dependent on mitochondrial activity and can therefore be used also to investigate neurological disorders in which mitochondrial function is affected. The protocol covers all steps necessary for the preparation, culture, and characterization of human iPSC-derived NPCs.


Graphic abstract:



Schematic of the protocol for the generation of human iPSC-derived NPCs


0 Q&A 3409 Views May 20, 2020
Mitochondrial dysfunction is a principal feature of acute pancreatitis (AP) although the underlying mechanisms are still unclear. AP precipitants induce Ca2+-dependent formation of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP) in pancreatic acinar cells (PACs), leading to ATP depletion and necrosis. Evaluations of mitochondrial bioenergetics have mainly been performed in isolated PACs using confocal microscopy, with assessment of mitochondrial membrane potential, NADH/FAD+ and ATP levels, coupled with patch-clamp electrophysiology. These studies are technically demanding and time-consuming. Application of Seahorse flux analysis now allows detailed investigations of bioenergetics changes to be performed in cell populations using a multi-well plate-reader format; rates of oxygen consumption (OCR) and extracellular acidification (ECAR) provide important information about cellular respiration and glycolysis, respectively. Parameters such as maximal respiration, ATP-linked capacity and proton leak can be derived from application of a respiratory function “stress” test that involves pharmacological manipulation of the electron transport chain. The use of Seahorse Flux analysis therefore provides a quick, and convenient means to measure detailed cellular bioenergetics and allows results to be coupled with other plate-reader based assays, providing a fuller understanding of the pathophysiological consequences of mitochondrial bioenergetics alterations.
0 Q&A 3586 Views Sep 5, 2019
Many Candida species, such as the opportunistic human pathogen Candida albicans, are Crabtree-Negative yeasts and are therefore highly dependent on the energy generated through oxidative phosphorylation. Respiration control is linked to a range of aspects of C. albicans cell physiology that appear to be important for virulence, most notably its ability to switch from yeast to hyphal forms and the maintenance of the cell wall. The following protocol allows for the measurement and characterization of respiration in C. albicans using high resolution respirometry. We outline how addition of respiration inhibitors can be used to assay the “mode” of respiration, mitochondrial health and the level of electron transport that is coupled to ATP synthase activity in living cell cultures. These data provide useful insight into the effects of external factors, such as exposure to anti-fungal compounds, or internal changes such as genetic alterations on respiratory performance.



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