Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 221 Views Mar 5, 2023

In the peripheral nervous system, Schwann cells are the primary type of glia; their in vitro differentiation and dedifferentiation system has not been described in detail in the literature. Thus, an in vitro differentiation and dedifferentiation system of rat Schwann cells is described in this protocol. These cultures and systems may be used to investigate the morphological and biochemical effects of drug interventions or lentivirus-mediated gene transfer on Schwann cells during differentiation or dedifferentiation.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 594 Views Feb 20, 2023

Skeletal muscle disorders commonly affect the function and integrity of muscles. Novel interventions bring new potential to rescue or alleviate the symptoms associated with these disorders. In vivo and in vitro testing in mouse models allows quantitative evaluation of the degree of muscle dysfunction, and therefore, the level of potential rescue/restoration by the target intervention. Several resources and methods are available to assess muscle function and lean and muscle mass, as well as myofiber typing as separate concepts; however, a technical resource unifying these methods is missing. Here, we provide detailed procedures for analyzing muscle function, lean and muscle mass, and myofiber typing in a comprehensive technical resource paper.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 1640 Views May 5, 2022

Polarized actin cables in S. cerevisiae are linear bundles of crosslinked actin filaments that are assembled by two formins, Bnr1 (localized to the bud neck), and Bni1 (localized to the bud tip). Actin is polymerized at these two sites, which results in cables extending along the cell cortex toward the back of the mother cell. These cables serve as polarized tracks for myosin-based transport of secretory vesicles and other cargo, from the mother cell to the growing daughter cell. Until recently, descriptions of actin cable morphology and architecture have largely been qualitative or descriptive in nature. Here, we introduce a new quantitative method that enables more precise characterization of actin cable length. This technological advance generates quantitative datasets that can be used to determine the contributions of different actin regulatory proteins to the maintenance of cable architecture, and to assess how different pharmacological agents affect cable arrays. Additionally, these datasets can be used to test theoretical models, and be compared to results from computational simulations of actin assembly.

Graphical abstract:

Illustration of actin cable length and morphology analysis.
(A) Representative maximum intensity projection image of S. cerevisiae fixed and stained with fluorescently-conjugated phalloidin to label F-actin (displayed in color), and fluorescently-conjugated Concanavalin A to label the cell wall (displayed in grey scale). Lengths of actin cables traced from the bud neck to their ends are indicated (dashed lines). (B) Inverted grey scale image of F-actin labelled with fluorescently-conjugated phalloidin and the cell wall traced in black. The length (purple) and end-to-end distance (green) of a single actin cable is indicated. Scale bar, 2 µm. (C–E) Actin cable length (C), end-to-end distance (D), and tortuosity (E) from hypothetical datasets, where each data point represents an individual cable and larger symbols represent the mean from each hypothetical experiment. Error bars, 95% confidence intervals.

0 Q&A 1543 Views Apr 20, 2022

Targeting receptor-mediated transcytosis (RMT) is a successful strategy for drug delivery of biologic agents across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The recent development of human BBB organoid models is a major advancement to help characterize the mechanisms of RMT and thus accelerate the design of brain delivery technologies. BBB organoids exhibit self-organization, which resembles the architecture of the neurovascular unit, and low paracellular permeability, due to the formation of tight junctions between endothelial cells. However, current methods of organoid generation have low throughput, exhibit substantial heterogeneity across experiments, and require extensive manual handling. These limitations prevent the use of BBB organoids as a screening tool for discovery and optimization of therapeutic molecules. In this protocol, we use hydrogel-based arrays to generate human BBB organoids, with a 35-fold increase in organoid yield as compared to previous protocols using 96-well plates. We incubate BBB organoid arrays with monoclonal antibody-based constructs and use a custom semi-automated imaging assay to assess RMT within the organoid core. The experimental and analytical tools described in this protocol provide a scalable platform that can be incorporated in the early stages of drug discovery to accelerate the development and optimization of brain delivery technologies to cross the BBB.

0 Q&A 1710 Views Nov 20, 2021

Gamete fusion, which is the final event of fertilization, is a crucial physiological event in the creation of a new fetus. In mammals, sperm IZUMO1 and oocyte IZUMO1R (JUNO) recognition play a role in triggering this process. Gamete fusion occurs through a complex but steady and unfailing intermolecular reaction because fertilization must ensure species specificity, in which fusion takes place between gametes of the same species only. Although many factors involved in this process have recently been identified, their specific contributions remain largely unknown. The current article describes detailed methods for assessment of gamete fusion in mice, visualized by fluorescent dye transfer, from unfertilized oocyte to spermatozoa. These methods are applicable not only for fixed cells but also live imaging of gametes.

0 Q&A 4531 Views Oct 20, 2019
Protein phosphorylation is one of the most important post-translational modifications, which acts as a reversible on or off switch for the activity of a large number of proteins. Analyzing the phosphorylation status of different proteins can reveal the alterations in the state of the cells in response to cellular damage, cancer and pharmaceutical drugs. Techniques such as mass spectrometry, radiolabeling, 2D-gel electrophoresis and western blotting are used to quantify protein phosphorylation. These assays can quantify phosphorylation in the bulk population of cells, however, flow cytometry can couple cell surface marker expression data with phosphorylation data to understand differential signaling in a sub-population within a heterogeneous population of cells. Our protocol describes the use of flow-cytometry for rapid and single cell-based quantification of intracellular phospho-protein with the help of anti-phospho protein specific antibody.
0 Q&A 3943 Views Aug 20, 2019
The discoidin domain receptors, DDR1 and DDR2, are key signaling receptors for the extracellular matrix protein collagen. The interactions of cells with collagen are difficult to study because of the difficulty to obtain native collagen fibers for in vitro studies. Thus, in vitro studies often use acid-soluble collagens in the form of single triple helices, which are not representative of the densely packed insoluble collagen fibers found in tissues. In this protocol, we describe a method that allows stimulating DDR1 locally with collagen-coated beads. Latex beads are first coated with acid-soluble collagen, then added to cells expressing DDR1. Recruitment of DDR1 to the beads and collagen-induced DDR1 phosphorylation is visualized by immunofluorescence microscopy on a widefield microscope. In this method, densely packed collagen is presented to cells in an insoluble form. Bead coating is easy to perform, and this method thus presents a straightforward protocol with which to study local recruitment of collagen receptors to insoluble collagen.
0 Q&A 5449 Views Jul 5, 2018
Immunocytochemistry of cultured cells is a common and effective technique for determining compositions and localizations of proteins within cellular structures. However, traditional cultured cell fixation and staining protocols are not effective in preserving cultured cell cytonemes, long specialized filopodia that are dedicated to morphogen transport. As a result, limited mechanistic interrogation has been performed to assess their regulation. We developed a fixation protocol for cultured cells that preserves cytonemes, which allows for immunofluorescent analysis of endogenous and over-expressed proteins localizing to the delicate cellular structures.
0 Q&A 7884 Views Feb 5, 2018
The uptake and trafficking of cell surface receptors can be monitored by a technique called ‘antibody-feeding’ which uses an externally applied antibody to label the receptor on the surface of cultured, live cells. Here, we adapt the traditional antibody-feeding experiment to polarized epithelial cells (Madin-Darby Canine Kidney) grown on permeable Transwell supports. By adding two tandem extracellular Myc epitope tags to the C-terminus of the SNARE protein syntaxin 3 (Stx3), we provided a site where an antibody could bind, allowing us to perform antibody-feeding experiments on cells with distinct apical and basolateral membranes. With this procedure, we observed the endocytosis and intracellular trafficking of Stx3. Specifically, we assessed the internalization rate of Stx3 from the basolateral membrane and observed the ensuing endocytic route in both time and space using immunofluorescence microscopy on cells fixed at different time points. For cell lines that form a polarized monolayer containing distinct apical and basolateral membranes when cultured on permeable supports, e.g., MDCK or Caco-2, this protocol can measure the rate of endocytosis and follow the subsequent trafficking of a target protein from either limiting membrane.
0 Q&A 11446 Views Jan 5, 2018
While isotopic labeling of amino acids remains the reference method in the field for quantifying translation rate, it does not provide any information on spatial localization of translation sites. The rationale behind developing the ribopuromycylation method (RPM) was primarily to map translation sites at the sub-cellular level while avoiding detection of newly synthesized proteins released from ribosomes. RPM visualizes actively translating ribosomes in cells via standard immunofluorescence microscopy in fixed and permeabilized cells using a puromycin-specific monoclonal antibody to detect puromycylated nascent chains trapped on ribosomes treated with a chain elongation inhibitor.

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