Cell Biology


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0 Q&A 307 Views Apr 20, 2024

Precision-cut lung slices (PCLS), ex vivo 3D lung tissue models, have been widely used for various applications in lung research. PCLS serve as an excellent intermediary between in vitro and in vivo models because they retain all resident cell types within their natural niche while preserving the extracellular matrix environment. This protocol describes the TReATS (TAT-Cre recombinase-mediated floxed allele modification in tissue slices) method that enables rapid and efficient gene modification in PCLS derived from adult floxed animals. Here, we present detailed protocols for the TReATS method, consisting of two simple steps: PCLS generation and incubation in a TAT-Cre recombinase solution. Subsequent validation of gene modification involves live staining and imaging of PCLS, quantitative real-time PCR, and cell viability assessment. This four-day protocol eliminates the need for complex Cre-breeding, circumvents issues with premature lethality related to gene mutation, and significantly reduces the use of animals. The TReATS method offers a simple and reproducible solution for gene modification in complex ex vivo tissue-based models, accelerating the study of gene function, disease mechanisms, and the discovery of drug targets.

0 Q&A 335 Views Mar 20, 2024

Understanding protein–protein interactions is crucial for unravelling subcellular protein distribution, contributing to our understanding of cellular organisation. Moreover, interaction studies can reveal insights into the mechanisms that cover protein trafficking within cells. Although various techniques such as Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), co-immunoprecipitation, and fluorescence microscopy are commonly employed to detect protein interactions, their limitations have led to more advanced techniques such as the in situ proximity ligation assay (PLA) for spatial co-localisation analysis. The PLA technique, specifically employed in fixed cells and tissues, utilises species-specific secondary PLA probes linked to DNA oligonucleotides. When proteins are within 40 nm of each other, the DNA oligonucleotides on the probes interact, facilitating circular DNA formation through ligation. Rolling-circle amplification then produces DNA circles linked to the PLA probe. Fluorescently labelled oligonucleotides hybridise to the circles, generating detectable signals for precise co-localisation analysis. We employed PLA to examine the co-localisation of dynein with the Kv7.4 channel protein in isolated vascular smooth muscle cells from rat mesenteric arteries. This method enabled us to investigate whether Kv7.4 channels interact with dynein, thereby providing evidence of their retrograde transport by the microtubule network. Our findings illustrate that PLA is a valuable tool for studying potential novel protein interactions with dynein, and the quantifiable approach offers insights into whether these interactions are changed in disease.

0 Q&A 323 Views Mar 5, 2024

The Plasmodium parasites that cause malaria undergo an obligate, asymptomatic developmental stage in the host liver before initiating the symptomatic blood-stage infection. The parasite liver stage is a key intervention point for antimalarial chemoprophylaxis: successful targeting of liver-stage parasites prevents disease development in individuals and can help to reduce parasite transmission in populations, as the gametocyte forms that transmit infection to mosquitos are exclusively found in the blood stage. Antimalarial drugs that can target multiple parasite stages are thus highly desirable, and one emerging cellular target for such multistage active compounds is the process of protein synthesis or translation. Quantitative study of liver stage translation, and thus mechanistic evaluation of translation inhibitors against liver stage parasites, is not amenable to the methods allowing quantification of asexual blood stage translation, such as radiolabeled amino acid incorporation or lysate-based translation of reporter transcripts. Here, we present a method using o-propargyl puromycin (OPP) labeling of host and parasite nascent proteomes in the P. berghei-HepG2 infection model, followed by automated confocal image acquisition and computational separation of P. berghei vs. H. sapiens nascent proteome signals to allow simultaneous readout of the effects of translation inhibitors on both host and parasite. This protocol details our HepG2 cell culture and infected monolayer handling optimized for microscopy, our OPP labeling workflow, and our approach to automated confocal imaging, image processing, and data analysis.

Key features

• Uses the o-propargyl puromycin labeling technique developed by Liu et al. to quantitatively analyze protein synthesis in Plasmodium berghei liver-stage parasites in actively translating hepatoma cells.

• This quantitative approach should be adaptable for other puromycin-sensitive intracellular pathogens residing in actively translating host cells.

• The P. berghei–infected HepG2 recovery and reseeding protocol presented here is of use in applications beyond nascent proteome labeling and quantification.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 546 Views Feb 20, 2024

Dopaminergic (DAergic) neurodegeneration in the substantia nigra pars compacta of the human brain is the pathological feature associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Drosophila also exhibits mobility defects and diminished levels of brain dopamine on exposure to neurotoxicants mimicking PD. Our laboratory demonstrated in a Drosophila model of sporadic PD that there is no decrease in DAergic neuronal number; instead, there is a significant reduction in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) fluorescence intensity (FI). Here, we present a sensitive assay based on the quantification of FI of the secondary antibody (ab). As the FI is directly proportional to the amount of TH synthesis, its reduction under PD conditions denotes the decrease in the TH synthesis, suggesting DAergic neuronal dysfunction. Therefore, FI quantification is a refined and sensitive method to understand the early stages of DAergic neurodegeneration. FI quantification is performed using the ZEN 2012 SP2 single-user software; a license must be acquired to utilize the imaging system to interactively control image acquisition, image processing, and analysis. This method will be of good use to biologists, as it can also be used with little modification to characterize the extent of degeneration and changes in the level of degeneration in response to drugs in different cell types. Unlike the expensive and cumbersome confocal microscopy, the present method will be an affordable option for fund-constrained neurobiology laboratories.

Key features

• Allows characterizing the incipient DAergic and other catecholaminergic neurodegeneration, even in the absence of loss of neuronal cell body.

• Great alternative for the fund-constrained neurobiology laboratories in developing countries to utilize this method in different cell types and their response to drugs/nutraceuticals.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 318 Views Jan 20, 2024

Capillary density in skeletal muscles is key to estimate exercise capacity in healthy individuals, athletes, and those with muscle-related pathologies. Here, we present a step-by-step, high-throughput semi-automated method for quantifying capillary density from whole human skeletal muscle cross-sections, in areas of the muscle occupied by myofibers. We provide a detailed protocol for immunofluorescence staining, image acquisition, processing, and quantification. Image processing is performed in ImageJ, and data analysis is conducted in R. The provided protocol allows high-throughput quantification of capillary density.

Key features

• This protocol builds upon the method and results described in Abbassi-Daloii et al. (2023b).

• It includes step-by-step details on image acquisition and image processing of the entire muscle section.

• It enables high-throughput and semi-automated image quantification of capillary density.

• It provides a robust analysis for determining capillary density over the entire muscle cross section.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 632 Views Jan 5, 2024

In vitro differentiation of human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) model systems has furthered our understanding of human development. Techniques used to elucidate gene function during early development have encountered technical challenges, especially when targeting embryonic lethal genes. The introduction of CRISPRoff by Nuñez and collaborators provides an opportunity to heritably silence genes during long-term differentiation. We modified CRISPRoff and sgRNA Sleeping Beauty transposon vectors that depend on tetracycline-controlled transcriptional activation to silence the expression of embryonic lethal genes at different stages of differentiation in a stable manner. We provide instructions on how to generate sgRNA transposon vectors that can be used in combination with our CRISPRoff transposon vector and a stable hPSC line. We validate the use of this tool by silencing MCL-1, an anti-apoptotic protein, which results in pre-implantation embryonic lethality in mice; this protein is necessary for oligodendrocyte and hematopoietic stem cell development and is required for the in vitro survival of hPSCs. In this protocol, we use an adapted version of the differentiation protocol published by Douvaras and Fossati (2015) to generate oligodendrocyte lineage cells from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). After introduction of the CRISPRoff and sgRNAs transposon vectors in hESCs, we silence MCL-1 in committed oligodendrocyte neural precursor cells and describe methods to measure its expression. With the methods described here, users can design sgRNA transposon vectors targeting MCL-1 or other essential genes of interest to study human oligodendrocyte development or other differentiation protocols that use hPSC model systems.

Key features

• Generation of an inducible CRISPRoff Sleeping Beauty transposon system.

• Experiments performed in vitro for generation of inducible CRISPRoff pluripotent stem cell line amenable to oligodendrocyte differentiation.

• Strategy to downregulate an essential gene at different stages of oligodendrocyte development.

Graphical overview

Workflow for generating inducible CRISPRoff stem cell line and assessing knockdown phenotype in stem cell–derived committed oligodendrocyte neural precursor cells

0 Q&A 743 Views Oct 5, 2023

Biological processes are dependent on protein concentration and there is an inherent variability among cells even in environment-controlled conditions. Determining the amount of protein of interest in a cell is relevant to quantitatively relate it with the cells (patho)physiology. Previous studies used either western blot to determine the average amount of protein per cell in a population or fluorescence intensity to provide a relative amount of protein. This method combines both techniques. First, the protein of interest is purified, and its concentration determined. Next, cells containing the protein of interest with a fluorescent tag are sorted into different levels of intensity using fluorescence-activated cell sorting, and the amount of protein for each intensity category is calculated using the purified protein as calibration. Lastly, a calibration curve allows the direct relation of the amount of protein to the intensity levels determined with any instrument able to measure intensity levels. Once a fluorescence-based instrument is calibrated, it is possible to determine protein concentrations based on intensity.

Key features

• This method allows the evaluation and comparison of protein concentration in cells based on fluorescence intensity.

• Requires protein purification and fluorescence-activated cell sorting.

• Once calibrated for one protein, it allows determination of the levels of this protein using any fluorescence-based instrument.

• Allows to determine subcellular local protein concentration based on combining volumetric and intensity measurements.

Graphical overview

Protein level quantification across fluorescence-based platforms

0 Q&A 617 Views Sep 5, 2023

Store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) is a ubiquitous Ca2+ signaling modality mediated by Orai Ca2+ channels at the plasma membrane (PM) and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca2+ sensors STIM1/2. At steady state, Orai1 constitutively cycles between an intracellular compartment and the PM. Orai1 PM residency is modulated by its endocytosis and exocytosis rates. Therefore, Orai1 trafficking represents an important regulatory mechanism to define the levels of Ca2+ influx. Here, we present a protocol using the dually tagged YFP-HA-Orai1 with a cytosolic YFP and extracellular hemagglutinin (HA) tag to quantify Orai1 cycling rates. For measuring Orai1 endocytosis, cells expressing YFP-HA-Orai1 are incubated with mouse anti-HA antibody for various periods of time before being fixed and stained for surface Orai1 with Cy5-labeled anti-mouse IgG. The cells are fixed again, permeabilized, and stained with Cy3-labeled anti-mouse IgG to reveal anti-HA that has been internalized. To quantify Orai1 exocytosis rate, cells are incubated with anti-HA antibody for various incubation periods before being fixed, permeabilized, and then stained with Cy5-labeled anti-mouse IgG. The Cy5/YFP ratio is plotted over time and fitted with a mono-exponential growth curve to determine exocytosis rate. Although the described assays were developed to measure Orai1 trafficking, they are readily adaptable to other PM channels.

Key features

• Detailed protocols to quantify endocytosis and exocytosis rates of Orai1 at the plasma membrane that can be used in various cell lines.

• The endocytosis and exocytosis assays are readily adaptable to study the trafficking of other plasma membrane channels.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 445 Views Sep 5, 2023

In this article, we provide a method to isolate embryonic melanoblasts from reporter mouse strains. The mice from which these cells are isolated are bred into the ROSA26mT/mG reporter background, which results in green fluorescent protein (GFP) expression in the targeted melanoblast population. These cells are isolated and purified by fluorescence-activated cell sorting using GFP fluorescence. We also provide a method to culture the purified melanoblasts for further analysis. This method yields > 99% purity melanoblasts specifically targeted, and can be used for a variety of studies, including gene expression, clonogenic experiments, and biological assays, such as viability, capacity for directional migration, or differentiation into melanin-producing melanocytic cells.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 973 Views Aug 20, 2023

This protocol describes a method for detecting and quantifying calcium ions in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and cytoplasm of cultured cells using fluorescent reporter proteins and ImageJ software. Genetically engineered fluorescent reporter proteins, such as G-CEPIA1er and GCaMP6f, localize to intracellular regions of interest (i.e., ER and cytoplasm) and emit green fluorescence upon binding to calcium ions. In this way, the fluorescence brightness of cells transfected with expression vectors for these reporters reflects the calcium ion concentration in each intracellular region. Here, we describe procedures for observing cultured cells expressing these fluorescent reporters under a fluorescence microscope, analyzing the obtained image using the free image analysis software ImageJ (https://imagej.net/ij/index.html), and determining the average fluorescence brightness of multiple cells present in the image. The current method allows us to quickly and easily quantify calcium ions on an image containing multiple cells and to determine whether there are relative differences in intracellular calcium ion concentration among experiments with different conditions.

Key features

• Detection and quantification of calcium ions in the ER and cytoplasm using fluorescent reporter proteins

• Quick and easy verification of measurement results using ImageJ

• Simultaneous comparison between various experimental conditions (drug treatment, mutants, etc.)

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