Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 419 Views Dec 5, 2022

Entosis is a process where a living cell launches an invasion into another living cell’s cytoplasm. These inner cells can survive inside outer cells for a long period of time, can undergo cell division, or can be released. However, the fate of most inner cells is lysosomal degradation by entotic cell death. Entosis can be detected by imaging a combination of membrane, cytoplasmic, nuclear, and lysosomal staining in the cells. Here, we provide a protocol for detecting entosis events and measuring the kinetics of entotic cell death by time-lapse imaging using tetramethylrhodamine methyl ester (TMRM) staining.

1 Q&A 1663 Views Aug 20, 2022

Stable cell cloning is an essential aspect of biological research. All advanced genome editing tools rely heavily on stable, pure, single cell-derived clones of genetically engineered cells. For years, researchers have depended on single-cell dilutions seeded in 96- or 192-well plates, followed by microscopic exclusion of the wells seeded with more than or without a cell. This method is not just laborious, time-consuming, and uneconomical but also liable to unintentional error in identifying the wells seeded with a single cell. All these disadvantages may increase the time needed to generate a stable clone. Here, we report an easy-to-follow and straightforward method to conveniently create pure, stable clones in less than half the time traditionally required. Our approach utilizes cloning cylinders with non-toxic tissue-tek gel, commonly used for immobilizing tissues for sectioning, followed by trypsinization and screening of the genome-edited clones. Our approach uses minimal cell handling steps, thus decreasing the time invested in generating the pure clones effortlessly and economically.

Graphical abstract:

A schematic comparison showing the traditional dilution cloning and the method described here.

Here, a well-separated colony (in the green box) must be preferred over the colonies not well separated (in the red box).

0 Q&A 2064 Views Nov 20, 2021

In the bone marrow microenvironment, endothelial cells (ECs) play a pivotal role in regulating the production of both growth and inhibiting factors. They are held together by adherence molecules that interact with hematopoietic progenitor cells. The study of ECs in the hematopoietic stem cell niche is limited due to the lack of efficient protocols for isolation. In this protocol, we developed a two-step approach to extract bone marrow endothelial cells (BMECs) to unlock the challenges researchers face in understanding the function of the endothelial vascular niche in in-vitro studies.

0 Q&A 1922 Views Oct 5, 2021

Müller cells, the major glial cells of the retina, play vital roles in maintaining redox homeostasis and retinal metabolism. An immortalized human Müller cell line (MIO-M1) is widely used as an in vitro model to study Müller cells’ function, but they may not be exactly the same as primarily cultured human Müller cells. The use of human primary Müller cells (huPMCs) in culture has been limited by the requirement for complicated culture systems or particular age ranges of donors. We have successfully grown huPMCs using our established protocol. The cell type was pure, and cultured cells expressed Müller cell-specific markers strongly. The cultured huPMCs were used for morphologic, metabolic, transcriptomic, and functional studies.

Graphic abstract:

Timeline for human primary Müller cell (huPMC) culture

0 Q&A 3153 Views Aug 20, 2021

Maintenance of DNA integrity is of pivotal importance for cells to circumvent detrimental processes that can ultimately lead to the development of various diseases. In the face of a plethora of endogenous and exogenous DNA-damaging agents, cells have evolved a variety of DNA repair mechanisms that are responsible for safeguarding genetic integrity. Given the relevance of DNA damage and its repair in disease, measuring the amount of both aspects is of considerable interest. The comet assay is a widely used method that allows the measurement of both DNA damage and its repair in cells. For this, cells are treated with DNA-damaging agents and embedded into a thin layer of agarose on top of a microscope slide. Subsequent lysis removes all protein and lipid components to leave so-called ‘nucleoids’ consisting of naked DNA remaining in the agarose. These nucleoids are then subjected to electrophoresis, whereby the negatively charged DNA migrates toward the anode depending on its degree of fragmentation and creates shapes resembling comets, which can be subsequently visualized and analyzed by fluorescence microscopy. The comet assay can be adapted to assess a wide variety of genotoxins and repair kinetics, in addition to both DNA single-strand and double-strand breaks. In this protocol, we describe in detail how to perform the alkaline comet assay to assess single-strand breaks and their repair using cultured human cell lines. We describe the workflow for assessing the amount of DNA damage generated by agents such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and methyl-methanesulfonate (MMS) or present endogenously in cells, and how to assess the repair kinetics after such an insult. The procedure described herein is easy to follow and allows the cost-effective assessment of single-strand breaks and their repair kinetics in cultured cells.

0 Q&A 2651 Views Jul 20, 2021

Single-cell technologies have allowed high-resolution profiling of tissues and thus a deeper understanding of tissue homeostasis and disease heterogeneity. Understanding this heterogeneity can be especially important for tailoring treatments in a patient-specific manner. Here, we detail methods for preparing human cartilage tissue for profiling via cytometry by time-of-flight (cyTOF). We have previously utilized this method to characterize several rare cell populations in cartilage, including cartilage-progenitor cells, inflammation-amplifying cells (Inf-A), and inflammation-dampening cells (Inf-D). Previous bio-protocols have focused on cyTOF staining of PBMCs. Therefore, here we detail the steps unique to the processing of human cartilage and chondrocytes. Briefly, cartilage tissue is digested to release individual chondrocytes, which can be expanded and manipulated in culture. These cells are then collected and fixed in preparation for cyTOF, followed by standard staining and analysis protocols.

1 Q&A 4780 Views Feb 5, 2021

Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) have been cultured for decades to study the role of these cells in cardiovascular disorders. The most common source of VSMCs is the rat aorta. Here we show the adaptation of this method to isolate and culture mouse aortic VSMCs. The advantage of this method is that there are many more transgenic mouse lines available compared to rats. The protocol consists of the isolation of the aorta, the liberation of vascular cells by the action of collagenase, culturing of VSCMs, and analyzing filamentous actin and alpha smooth muscle actin by fluorescence microscopy. VSCMs can be further used to study mechanisms underlying cardiovascular diseases.

Graphic abstract

Figure 1. Working steps

0 Q&A 3451 Views Aug 20, 2020
Human liver is the primary and obligatory site for malaria infection where sporozoites invade host hepatocytes. Malaria hepatic stages are asymptomatic and represent an attractive target for development of anti-malarial interventions and vaccines. However, owing to lack of robust and reproducible in vitro culture system, it is difficult to target and study this imperative malaria liver stage. Here, we describe a procedure that allow cultivation and visualization of malaria hepatic stages including dormant hypnozoites using primary simian hepatocytes. This method enables sensitive and quantitative assessment of different hepatic stages in vitro.
0 Q&A 3683 Views Aug 20, 2020
Electric Cell-substrate Impedance Sensing (ECIS) is an automated method that can be used to quantify processes such as cell attachment, growth, migration and barrier functions (i.e., the properties of tight junctions). The method provides simultaneous information on cell number and tight junction function by detecting electric parameters of cells grown on electrodes. Samples are probed with small alternating current (AC) over a range of frequencies, and changes in capacitance and impedance are measured over time. Capacitance reflects the degree of electrode coverage by cells, that correlates with cell number, and can be used to assess cell proliferation or migration. Impedance values inform about barrier function. Obtaining real-time simultaneous information on these parameters is unique to this system and is of great value for addressing fundamental questions such as the role of tight junction proteins in cell growth and migration. This protocol describes the use of ECIS to follow cell growth and tight junction-dependent barrier generation in tubular epithelial cells. We used this method to explore how depleting claudin-2, a tight junction protein affects tubular cell growth and barrier function. During the process, cells are transfected with control or claudin-2-specific siRNA, and 24h later plated on electrodes. ECIS automatically collects information on cell growth and barrier as the monolayer develops. The data are initially analyzed using the ECIS software and exported into a graph software for further processing.
0 Q&A 6916 Views Jul 20, 2020
The skeletal muscle is key for body mobility and motor performance, but aging and diseases often lead to progressive loss of muscle mass due to wasting or degeneration of muscle cells. Muscle satellite cells (MuSCs) represent a population of tissue stem cells residing in the skeletal muscles and are responsible for homeostatic maintenance and regeneration of skeletal muscles. Growth, injury, and degenerative signals activate MuSCs, which then proliferate (proliferating MuSCs are called myoblasts), differentiate and fuse with existing multinuclear muscle cells (myofibers) to mediate muscle growth and repair. Here, we describe a protocol for isolating MuSCs from skeletal muscles of mice for in vitro analysis. In addition, we provide a detailed protocol on how to culture and differentiate primary myoblasts into myotubes and an immunofluorescent staining procedure to characterize the cells. These methods are essential for modeling regenerative myogenesis in vitro to understand the dynamics, function and molecular regulation of MuSCs.

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