Cell Biology

Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 1477 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.

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0 Q&A 1781 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 1879 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.

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0 Q&A 1273 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 3152 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 2151 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 3063 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.

0 Q&A 3773 Views Jun 5, 2021

Three-dimensional cell cultures (“organoids”) promise to better recapitulate native tissue physiology than traditional 2D cultures and are becoming increasingly interesting for disease modeling and compound screening efforts. While a number of protocols for the generation of neural organoids have been published, most protocols require extensive manual handling and result in heterogeneous aggregates with high sample-to-sample variation, which can hinder screening-based strategies. We have now developed a fast and efficient protocol for the generation and maintenance of highly homogeneous and reproducible midbrain organoids. The protocol is streamlined for use in fully automated workflows but can also be performed manually without the need for highly specialized equipment. It relies on the aggregation of small molecule neural precursor cells (smNPCs) in standard 96-well V-bottomed plates under static culture conditions without cumbersome matrix embedding. The result is ready-to-assay uniform 3D human midbrain organoids available in freely scalable quantities for downstream analyses in 3D cell culture

Graphic abstract:

Automated midbrain organoid generation workflow and timeline

0 Q&A 4817 Views Apr 20, 2021

The mammary gland is a highly dynamic tissue that changes throughout reproductive life, including growth during puberty and repetitive cycles of pregnancy and involution. Mammary gland tumors represent the most common cancer diagnosed in women worldwide. Studying the regulatory mechanisms of mammary gland development is essential for understanding how dysregulation can lead to breast cancer initiation and progression. Three-dimensional (3D) mammary organoids offer many exciting possibilities for the study of tissue development and breast cancer. In the present protocol derived from Sumbal et al., we describe a straightforward 3D organoid system for the study of lactation and involution ex vivo. We use primary and passaged mouse mammary organoids stimulated with fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) and prolactin to model the three cycles of mouse mammary gland lactation and involution processes. This 3D organoid model represents a valuable tool to study late postnatal mammary gland development and breast cancer, in particular postpartum-associated breast cancer.

Graphic abstract:

Mammary gland organoid isolation and culture procedures

0 Q&A 3273 Views Sep 20, 2020
This protocol describes a simple method to cryopreserve mammalian cells within filter papers as an alternative to conventional slow-freezing approach. The method involves treating paper fibers with fibronectin, using low concentrations of the cryoprotectant dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), and slow freezing cells to -80 °C at a 1 °C min-1 rate. In our method, the biocompatibility, large surface area, 3D porosity and fiber flexibility of the paper, in combination with the fibronectin treatment, yield recovery of cells comparable to conventional approaches, with no additional fine-tuning to freezing and thawing procedures. We expect that the paper-based cryopreservation method will bring several advantages to the field of preserving mammalian cells, including accommodation of a higher number of cells within a unit volume and no cell loss after release. The method requires a minimal storage space, where paper platforms with large areas can be rolled and/or folded and stored in stocks, and allows for efficient transportation/distribution of cells in an on-demand manner. Moreover, an additional feature of this method includes the formation and cryopreservation of cellular spheroids and 3D cell cultures.

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