Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 169 Views May 5, 2023

Sleep is a conserved biological process in the animal kingdom. Understanding the neural mechanisms underlying sleep state transitions is a fundamental goal of neurobiology, important for the development of new treatments for insomnia and other sleep-related disorders. Yet, brain circuits controlling this process remain poorly understood. A key technique in sleep research is to monitor in vivo neuronal activity in sleep-related brain regions across different sleep states. These sleep-related regions are usually located deeply in the brain. Here, we describe technical details and protocols for in vivo calcium imaging in the brainstem of sleeping mice. In this system, sleep-related neuronal activity in the ventrolateral medulla (VLM) is measured using simultaneous microendoscopic calcium imaging and electroencephalogram (EEG) recording. By aligning calcium and EEG signals, we demonstrate that VLM glutamatergic neurons display increased activity during the transition from wakefulness to non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. The protocol described here can be applied to study neuronal activity in other deep brain regions involved in REM or NREM sleep.

0 Q&A 242 Views Mar 5, 2023

Lipid droplets (LD), triglycerides and sterol esters among them, are well known for their capacity as lipid storage organelles. Recently, they have emerged as critical cytoplasmic structures involved in numerous biological functions. LD storage is generated de novo by the cell and provides an energy reserve, lipid precursors, and cell protection. Moreover, LD accumulation can be observed in some pathologies as obesity, atherosclerosis, or lung diseases. Fluorescence imaging techniques are the most widely used techniques to visualize cellular compartments in live cells, including LD. Nevertheless, presence of fluorophores can damage subcellular components and induce cytotoxicity, or even alter the dynamics of the organelles. As an alternative to fluorescence microscopy, label-free techniques such as stimulated Raman scattering and coherent anti-stokes Raman scattering microscopy offer a solution to avoid the undesirable effects caused by dyes and fluorescent proteins, but are expensive and complex. Here, we describe a label-free method using live-cell imaging by 3D holotomographic microscopy (Nanolive) to visualize LD accumulation in the MH-S alveolar macrophage cell line after treatment with oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that promotes lipid accumulation.

0 Q&A 417 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.

0 Q&A 1045 Views Oct 20, 2022

Depending on its local concentration, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) can serve as a cellular signaling molecule but can also cause damage to biomolecules. The levels of H2O2 are influenced by the activity of its generator sites, local antioxidative systems, and the metabolic state of the cell. To study and understand the role of H2O2 in cellular signaling, it is crucial to assess its dynamics with high spatiotemporal resolution. Measuring these subcellular H2O2 dynamics has been challenging. However, with the introduction of the super sensitive pH-independent genetically encoded fluorescent H2O2 sensor HyPer7, many limitations of previous measurement approaches could be overcome. Here, we describe a method to measure local H2O2 dynamics in intact human cells, utilizing the HyPer7 sensor in combination with a microscopic multi-mode microplate reader.

Graphical abstract:

Overview of HyPer7 sensor function and measurement results.

0 Q&A 700 Views Aug 5, 2022

Subcellular structures exhibit diverse behaviors in different cellular processes, including changes in morphology, abundance, and relative spatial distribution. Faithfully tracking and quantifying these changes are essential to understand their functions. However, most freely accessible methods lack integrated features for tracking multiple objects in different spectral channels simultaneously. To overcome these limitations, we have developed TRACES (Tracking of Active Cellular Structures), a customizable and open-source pipeline capable of detecting, tracking, and quantifying fluorescently labeled cellular structures in up to three spectral channels simultaneously at single-cell level. Here, we detail step-by-step instructions for performing the TRACES pipeline, including image acquisition and segmentation, object identification and tracking, and data quantification and visualization. We believe that TRACES will be a valuable tool for cell biologists, enabling them to track and measure the spatiotemporal dynamics of subcellular structures in a robust and semi-automated manner.

0 Q&A 1336 Views Apr 20, 2022

Single molecule tracking (SMT) is a powerful technique to study molecular dynamics, and is particularly adapted to monitor the motion and interactions of cell membrane components. Assessing interactions among two molecular populations is classically performed by several approaches, including dual-color videomicroscopy, which allows monitoring of interactions through colocalization events. Other techniques, such as fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP), Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), are also utilized to measure molecular dynamics.

We developed MTT2col, a set of algorithmic tools extending multi-target tracing (MTT) to dual-color acquisition (https://github.com/arnauldserge1/MTT2col). In this protocol, we used MTT2col to monitor adhesion molecules at the contact between leukemic stem cells and stromal cells, a process involved in cancer resistance to chemotherapy and in relapse. Our dual-color single molecule protocol includes the following steps: (i) labeling molecules of interest with fluorescent probes, (ii) video-acquisition, (iii) analyses using our MTT2col in-house software, to obtain positions and trajectories, followed by (iv) detailed analyses of colocalization, distribution, and dynamic motion modes, according to the issues addressed. MTT2col is a robust and efficient SMT algorithm. Both MTT and MTT2col are open-source software that can be adapted and further developed for specific analyses.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 2232 Views Mar 5, 2022

Double-strand breaks (DSBs) are lesions in DNA that, if not properly repaired, can cause genomic instability, oncogenesis, and cell death. Multiple chromatin posttranslational modifications (PTMs) play a role in the DNA damage response to DSBs. Among these, RNF168-mediated ubiquitination of lysines 13 or 15 at the N-terminal tail of histone H2A (H2AK13/15Ub) is essential for the recruitment of effectors of both the non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) and the homologous recombination (HR) repair pathways. Thus, tools and techniques to track the spatiotemporal dynamics of H2AK13/15 ubiquitination at DNA DSBs are important to facilitate studies of DNA repair. Previous work from other groups used the minimal focus-forming region (FFR) of the NHEJ effector 53BP1 to detect H2AK15Ub generated upon damage induced by gamma or laser irradiation in live cells. However, 53BP1-FFR only binds nucleosomes modified with both H2AK15Ub and dimethylation of lysine 20 on histone H4 (H4K20me2); thus, 53BP1-FFR does not recognize H2AK13Ub–nucleosomes or nucleosomes that contain H2AK15Ub but lack methylation of H4K20 (H4K20me0). To overcome this limitation, we developed an avidity-based sensor that binds H2AK13/15Ub without dependence on the methylation status of histone H4K20. This sensor, called Reader1.0, detects DNA damage-associated H2AK13/15Ub in live cells with high sensitivity and selectivity. Here, we present a protocol to detect the formation of H2AK13/15Ub at laser-induced DSBs using Reader1.0 as a live-cell reporter for this histone PTM.

Graphic abstract:

0 Q&A 2040 Views Jan 5, 2022

Model organisms offer the opportunity to decipher the dynamic and complex behavior of stem cells in their native environment; however, imaging stem cells in situ remains technically challenging. C. elegans germline stem cells (GSCs) are distinctly accessible for in situ live imaging but relatively few studies have taken advantage of this potential. Here we provide our protocol for mounting and live imaging dividing C. elegans GSCs, as well as analysis tools to facilitate the processing of large datasets. While the present protocol was optimized for imaging and analyzing mitotic GSCs, it can easily be adapted to visualize dividing cells or other subcellular processes in C. elegans at multiple developmental stages. Our image analysis pipeline can also be used to analyze mitosis in other cell types and model organisms.

0 Q&A 2370 Views Nov 20, 2021

Eukaryotic cells use a diverse set of transporters to control the movement of lipids across their plasma membrane, which drastically affects membrane properties. Various tools and techniques to analyze the activity of these transporters have been developed. Among them, assays based on fluorescent phospholipid probes are particularly suitable, allowing for imaging and quantification of lipid internalization in living cells. Classically, these assays have been applied to yeast and animal cells. Here, we describe the adaptation of this powerful approach to characterize lipid internalization in plant roots and aerial tissues using confocal imaging.

Graphic abstract:

Fluorescent lipid uptake in Arabidopsis seedlings. Scale bars: seedling, 25 mm; leaf, 10 μm; root, 25 μm.

0 Q&A 2252 Views Nov 20, 2021

Apoptotic cell death eliminates unhealthy cells and maintains homeostatic cell numbers within tissues. Epithelia, which serve as fundamental tissue barriers for the body, depend on a physical expulsion of dying cells (apoptotic cell extrusion) to remain sealed and intact. Apoptotic cell extrusion has been widely studied over recent years, with researchers using various approaches to induce apoptotic cell death. Unfortunately, the majority of chemical-based approaches for cell death induction rely on sporadically occurring apoptosis and extrusion, making imagining lengthy, often unsuccessful, and difficult to capture in high-quality images because of the frequent frame sampling needed to visualise the key molecular processes that drive extrusion. Here, we present a protocol that describes steps needed for laser-mediated induction of apoptosis in a cell of choice, followed by imaging of apoptotic extrusion in confluent monolayers of epithelial cells. Moreover, we provide the description of a new approach involving the mixing of labelled and unlabelled cells. In particular, this protocol characterises how cells surrounding apoptotic cells behave, with high spatial and temporal resolution. This can be achieved without the optical interference that apoptotic cells cause as they are physically expelled from the monolayer and move out of focus for imaging. Finally, the protocol is accompanied by detailed procedures describing cell preparation for apoptotic extrusion experiments, as well as post-acquisition analysis required to evaluate rates of successful extrusion.

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