Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 294 Views Dec 5, 2023

The hypothalamus is an evolutionarily ancient part of the vertebrate ventral forebrain that integrates the dialogue between environment, peripheral body, and brain to centrally govern an array of physiologies and behaviours. Characterizing the mechanisms that control hypothalamic development illuminates both hypothalamic organization and function. Critical to the ability to unravel such mechanisms is the skill to isolate hypothalamic tissue, enabling both its acute analysis and its analysis after explant and culture. Tissue explants, in which cells develop in a manner analogous to their in vivo counterparts, are a highly effective tool to investigate the extrinsic signals and tissue-intrinsic self-organising features that drive hypothalamic development. The hypothalamus, however, is induced and patterned at neural tube stages of development, when the tissue is difficult to isolate, and its resident cells complex to define. No single molecular marker distinguishes early hypothalamic progenitor subsets from other cell types in the neural tube, and so their accurate dissection requires the simultaneous analysis of multiple proteins or mRNAs, techniques that were previously limited by antibody availability or were arduous to perform. Here, we overcome these challenges. We describe methodologies to precisely isolate early hypothalamic tissue from the embryonic chick at three distinct patterning stages and to culture hypothalamic explants in three-dimensional gels. We then describe optimised protocols for the analysis of embryos, isolated embryonic tissue, or cultured hypothalamic explants by multiplex hybridisation chain reaction. These methods can be applied to other vertebrates, including mouse, and to other tissue types.

Key features

• Detailed protocols for enzymatic isolation of embryonic chick hypothalamus at three patterning stages; methods can be extended to other vertebrates and tissues.

• Brief methodologies for three-dimensional culture of hypothalamic tissue explants.

• Optimised protocols for multiplex hybridisation chain reaction for analysis of embryos, isolated embryonic tissues, or explants.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 796 Views Oct 20, 2023

During the onset of autoimmune diabetes, nerve–immune cell interactions seem to play an important role; however, there are currently no models to follow and interfere with these interactions over time in vivo or in vitro. Two-dimensional in vitro models provide insufficient information and microfluidics or organs on a chip are usually challenging to work with. We present here what we believe to be the first simple model that provides the opportunity to co-culture pancreatic islets with sympathetic nerves and immune cells. This model is based on our stamping device that can be 3D printed (STL file provided). Due to the imprint in the agarose gel, sympathetic neurons, pancreatic islets, and macrophages can be seeded in specific locations at a level that allows for confocal live-cell imaging. In this protocol, we provide the instructions to construct and perform live cell imaging experiments in our co-culture model, including: 1) design for the stamping device to make the imprint in the gel, 2) isolation of sympathetic neurons, pancreatic islets, and macrophages, 3) co-culture conditions, 4) how this can be used for live cell imaging, and 5) possibilities for wider use of the model. In summary, we developed an easy-to-use co-culture model that allows manipulation and imaging of interactions between sympathetic nerves, pancreatic islets, and macrophages. This new co-culture model is useful to study nerve– immune cell– islet interactions and will help to identify the functional relevance of neuro-immune interactions in the pancreas.

Key features

• A novel device that allows for 3D co-culture of sympathetic neurons, pancreatic islets, and immune cells

• The device allows the capture of live interactions between mouse sympatheticneurons, pancreatic islets, and immune cells in a controlled environment after six days of co-culturing.

• This protocol uses cultured sympathetic neurons isolated from the superior cervical ganglia using a previously established method (Jackson and Tourtellotte, 2014) in a 3D co-culture.

• This method requires 3D printing of our own designed gel-stamping device (STL print file provided on SciLifeLab FigShare DOI: 10.17044/scilifelab.24073062).

Graphical overview

Graphical overview of co-culture model. 1) Print the stamp with a 3D printer. 2) Isolate neurons, islets, and macrophages. 3) Use the stamp to make the imprint in the agarose gel. 4) Seed the macrophages and islets in the agarose gel on their seeding points. 5) Place the coverslip with neurons on top. 6) Incubate the culture for six days. 7) Image the co-culture. Images adapted from BioRender.

0 Q&A 476 Views Sep 5, 2023

Tissue culture plastic has been used for routine cell culture and in vitro experiments for over 50 years. However, cells are mechanically responsive and behave differently on hard surfaces than they do on softer substrates. Polyacrylamide gels have become a popular hydrogel of choice for controlling surface stiffness and ligand density for cell adhesion. Many synthesis methods use coverslips and small gel surface areas for cell culture, which are amenable to microscopy-based experiments. However, none of the currently published methods can be scaled up to increase the surface area to accommodate conditioned media production, high volume analyte collection, or cell line expansion. To overcome this size limitation, we developed a protocol for synthesizing polyacrylamide in glass dishes using commercially available materials. This enables routine cell culture on soft surfaces and facilitates experiments that require large amounts of analyte, especially studies involving extracellular vesicles and secreted factors.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 1917 Views Apr 20, 2022

The absence of long term, primary untransformed in vitro models that support hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and replication have hampered HBV pre-clinical research, which was reflected in the absence of a curative therapy until recently. One of the limitations for in vitro HBV research has been the absence of high titer and pure recombinant HBV stocks, which, as we describe here, can be generated using simple, and reproducible protocols. In addition to infection of more conventional in vitro and in vivo liver model systems, recombinant high titer purified HBV stocks can also be used to efficiently infect differentiated human liver organoids, whose generation, maintenance, and infection is discussed in detail in a companion organoid protocol. Here, we also describe the protocols for the detection of specific viral read-outs, including HBV DNA in the supernatant of the cultures, covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) from intracellular DNA preparations, and HBV viral proteins and viral RNA, which can be detected within the cells, demonstrating the presence of a complete viral replication cycle in infected liver organoids. Although an evolving platform, the human liver organoid model system presents great potential as an exciting new tool to study HBV infection and progression to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in primary cells, when combined with the use of high-titer and pure recombinant HBV stock for infection.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 2303 Views Apr 20, 2022

Three-dimensional culture of human normal colorectal epithelium and cancer tissue as organoids and tumoroids has transformed the study of diseases of the large intestine. A widely used strategy for generating patient-derived colorectal organoids and tumoroids involves embedding cells in domes of extracellular matrix (ECM). Despite its success, dome culture is not ideal for scalable expansion, experimentation, and high-throughput screening applications. Our group has developed a protocol for growing patient-derived colorectal organoids and tumoroids in low-viscosity matrix (LVM) suspension culture. Instead of embedding colonic crypts or tumor fragments in solid ECM, these are grown suspended in medium containing only a low percentage of ECM. Compared with dome cultures, LVM suspension culture reduces the labor and cost of establishing and passaging organoids and tumoroids, enables rapid expansion, and is readily adaptable for high-throughput screening.

Graphical abstract:

Generation of organoids and tumoroids from human large intestine using LVM suspension culture (Created with BioRender.com).

0 Q&A 2376 Views Mar 20, 2022

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection represents a major public health problem infecting approximately 400 million people worldwide. Despite the availability of a preventive vaccine and anti-viral therapies, chronic HBV infection remains a major health issue because it increases the risk of developing liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The lack of a relevant in vitro model for the study of the molecular mechanisms that drive HBV replication and latency, as well as HBV-related carcinogenesis, has been one of the major obstacles to the development of curative strategies. Here, we propose the use of human liver organoids as a platform for modeling HBV infection and related tumorigenesis. Human liver organoids can be seeded from both healthy and cirrhotic liver biopsies. They can be expanded in vitro when culturing in a medium containing a specific set of growth factors. When the culture medium is changed into a new medium containing growth factors that promote differentiation, organoids differentiate into functional hepatocytes, which makes them susceptible to infection with recombinant HBV. The novel in vitro primary model system described in this protocol can be utilized as a platform to study HBV pathogenesis and drug screening. Organoids generated from cirrhotic liver biopsies can be a potential tool for personalized medicine, and for modeling HCC and other liver diseases.

Graphic abstract:

0 Q&A 1635 Views Mar 20, 2022

The ubiquitous and cancer-associated Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is associated with nearly all cases of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Nasopharyngeal tissue is comprised of both pseudostratified and stratified epithelium, which are modeled in three-dimensional (3-D) cell culture. The cellular origin of EBV-associated NPC is as yet unknown, but both latent and lytic infections are likely important for preneoplastic mechanisms and replenishing the compartmentalized viral reservoir. Conventional 2-D cultures of nasopharyngeal epithelial cells (as primary cells or immortalized cell lines) are difficult to infect with EBV and cannot mimic the tissue-specific biology of the airway epithelium, which can only be captured in 3-D models. We have shown that EBV can infect the pseudostratified epithelium in air-liquid interface (ALI) culture using primary conditionally reprogrammed cells (CRCs) derived from the nasopharynx. In this protocol, we provide a step-by-step guide for the (i) conditional reprogramming of primary nasopharyngeal cells, (ii) differentiation of CRCs into pseudostratified epithelium in ALI culture (known as pseudo-ALI), and (iii) EBV infection of pseudo-ALI cultures. Additionally, we show that nasopharyngeal CRCs can be grown as organotypic rafts and subjected to EBV infection. These nasopharyngeal-derived 3-D cell cultures can be used to study EBV latent and lytic infection in relation to cell type and donor variation, by immunostaining and single-cell RNA-sequencing methods (Ziegler et al., 2021). These methods are useful for studies of EBV molecular pathogenesis, and can overcome many of the limitations associated with conventional 2-D cell cultures.

Graphic abstract:

Workflow of nasopharyngeal-derived conditionally reprogrammed cells grown into pseudostratified-ALI and organotypic rafts in 3-D cell culture. Created with Biorender.com.

0 Q&A 4091 Views Jan 20, 2022

Organoids are complex three-dimensional structures, which contain different cell types and help to overcome many limitations of conventional 2D cell culture techniques. Here, we present a protocol for the cultivation of murine matched-pairs of small intestinal and colonic epithelial organoids, and colonic tumor organoids derived from the chemical colorectal cancer (CRC) AOM/DSS mouse model. Therefore, intestinal crypts or tumor tissue containing stem cells are isolated from the same donor mouse and cultivated in Matrigel®. The culture medium is supplemented with different growth factors to model the intestinal stem cell niche, allowing their self-renewal and differentiation. Matched-pair organoids enable the analysis of pharmacological effects and the tumor selectivity of drugs.

Graphic abstract:

Schematic overview of colonic matched pair organoid preparation, generated from the chemical AOM/DSS colorectal cancer mouse model.

Please note that normal colon-derived organoids (green) differ in their morphology from tumor-derived organoids (red). Normal colonic-derived organoids display a thicker and crypt-like epithelial layer, whereas tumor-derived organoids are round with a thin epithelial layer.

0 Q&A 2925 Views Jan 20, 2022

In the expanding field of intestinal organoid research, various protocols for three- and two-dimensional organoid-derived cell cultures exist. Two-dimensional organoid-derived monolayers are used to overcome some limitations of three-dimensional organoid cultures. They are increasingly used also in infection research, to study physiological processes and tissue barrier functions, where easy experimental access of pathogens to the luminal and/or basolateral cell surface is required. This has resulted in an increasing number of publications reporting different protocols and media compositions for organoid manipulation, precluding direct comparisons of research outcomes in some cases. With this in mind, here we describe a protocol aimed at the harmonization of seeding conditions for three-dimensional intestinal organoids of four commonly used research species onto cell culture inserts, to create organoid-derived monolayers that form electrophysiologically tight epithelial barriers. We give an in-depth description of media compositions and culture conditions for creating these monolayers, enabling also the less experienced researchers to obtain reproducible results within a short period of time, and which should simplify the comparison of future studies between labs, but also encourage others to consider these systems as alternative cell culture models in their research.

Graphic abstract:

Schematic workflow of organoid-derived monolayer generation from intestinal spheroid cultures. ECM, extracellular matrix; ODM, organoid-derived monolayer.

0 Q&A 3186 Views Jul 5, 2021

The endothelial cells from the microvasculature are key drivers and targets of inflammatory and thrombotic processes in microvascular diseases. The study of bioactive lipids in inflammatory processes has been largely based on two-dimensional endothelial cell cultures. Three-dimensional microvessels-on-a-chip provides an opportunity to monitor the inflammatory phenotype of human microvessels in a more physiological-relevant environment. This protocol describes the culture of endothelial cells as three-dimensional microvessels in the OrganoPlate. The microvessels are treated with tumor necrosis factor alpha to induce inflammation. The collection of samples from the microvessels is optimized for measuring bioactive lipids with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, providing a more informative metabolic readout as compared with functional assays.

We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By using our website, you are agreeing to allow the storage of cookies on your computer.