Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 419 Views Jul 5, 2023

In vitro models are essential for investigating the molecular, biochemical, and cell-biological aspects of skeletal muscle. Still, models that utilize cell lines or embryonic cells do not fully recapitulate mature muscle fibers in vivo. Protein function is best studied in mature differentiated tissue, where biological context is maintained, but this is often difficult when reliable detection reagents, such as antibodies, are not commercially available. Exogenous expression of tagged proteins in vivo solves some of these problems, but this approach can be technically challenging because either a mouse must be engineered for each protein of interest or viral vectors are required for adequate levels of expression. While viral vectors can infect target cells following local administration, they carry the risk of genome integration that may interfere with downstream analyses. Plasmids are another accessible expression system, but they require ancillary means of cell penetration; electroporation is a simple physical method for this purpose that requires minimal training or specialized equipment. Here, we describe a method for in vivo plasmid expression in a foot muscle following electroporation.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 798 Views Mar 5, 2023

In mammals, the skin comprises several distinct cell populations that are organized into the following layers: epidermis (stratum corneum, stratum granulosum, stratum spinosum, and basal layer), basement membrane, dermis, and hypodermal (subcutaneous fat) layers. It is vital to identify the exact location and function of proteins in different skin layers. Laser capture microdissection (LCM) is an effective technique for obtaining pure cell populations from complex tissue sections for disease-specific genomic and proteomic analysis. In this study, we used LCM to isolate different skin layers, constructed a stratified developmental lineage proteome map of human skin that incorporates spatial protein distribution, and obtained new insights into the role of extracellular matrix (ECM) on stem cell regulation.

0 Q&A 1069 Views Jul 20, 2022

The retina is a thin neuronal multilayer responsible for the detection of visual information. The first step in visual transduction occurs in the photoreceptor outer segment. The studies on photoreception and visual biochemistry have often utilized rod outer segments (OS) or OS disks purified from mammalian eyes. Literature reports several OS and disk purification procedures that rarely specify the procedure utilized to collect the retina from the eye. Some reports suggest the use of scissors, while others do not mention the issue as they declare to utilize frozen retinas. Because the OS are deeply embedded in the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE), the detachment of the retina by a harsh pull-out can cause the fracture of the photoreceptor cilium. Here, we present a protocol maximizing OS yield. Eye semi-cups, obtained by hemisecting the eyeball and discarding the anterior chamber structures and the vitreous, are filled with Mammalian Ringer. After 10–15 min of incubation, the retinas spontaneously detach with their wealth of OS almost intact. The impressive ability of the present protocol to minimize the number of OS stuck inside the RPE, and therefore lost, compared with the classic procedure, is shown by confocal laser scanning microscopy analysis of samples stained ex vivo with a dye (MitoTracker deep red) that stains both retinal mitochondria and OS. Total protein assay of OS disks purified by either procedure also shows a 300% total protein yield improvement. The advantage of the protocol presented is its higher yield of photoreceptor OS for subsequent purification procedures, while maintaining the physiological features of the retina.

0 Q&A 1674 Views May 20, 2022

The vestibular sensory apparatus contained in the inner ear is a marvelous evolutionary adaptation for sensing movement in 3 dimensions and is essential for an animal’s sense of orientation in space, head movement, and balance. Damage to these systems through injury or disease can lead to vertigo, Meniere’s disease, and other disorders that are profoundly debilitating. One challenge in studying vestibular organs is their location within the boney inner ear and their small size, especially in mice, which have become an advantageous mammalian model. This protocol describes the dissection procedure of the five vestibular organs from the inner ear of adult mice, followed by immunohistochemical labeling of a whole mount preparation using antibodies to label endogenous proteins such as calretinin to label Type I hair cells or to amplify genetically expressed fluorescent proteins for confocal microscopic imaging. Using typical lab equipment and reagents, a patient technician, student, or postdoc can learn to dissect and immunolabel mouse vestibular organs to investigate their structure in health and disease.

0 Q&A 5605 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 2296 Views Dec 5, 2020
Microdissection techniques are very important for anatomical and functional studies focused on neuroscience, where it is often necessary microdissect specific brain areas to perform molecular or anatomical analyses. The parafilm®-assisted microdissection (PAM) was previously described and involves the microdissection of tissue sections mounted on parafilm-covered glass slides. In this work, we describe the use of the PAM method to microdissect rodent nucleus accumbens (NAc). (1) We first describe the best way to perform the mouse euthanasia and how to remove the brain. (2) Next, we describe how to prepare the slides with parafilm® that will be used to receive the brain slices. (3) Following, we describe how to handle the brain in the cryostat, how to align the hemispheres and how to identify the NAc antero-posterior limits. (4) We also describe how to perform the staining and dehydration of the slices, a critical step to facilitate the microdissection and preserve macromolecules. (5) In the final step, we describe how to identify the dorso-ventral and latero-medial limits of the NAc and, finally, how to perform the manual microdissection of the area. This is a low-cost technique that allows the researcher to specifically microdissect any brain region, from which intact RNA and proteins can be extracted to perform several molecular analyses (e.g., real-time PCR, Western blot, and RNA-seq).
0 Q&A 4422 Views Feb 20, 2020
Single cell RNA sequencing is a very powerful means for cellular heterogeneous studies and so becoming wildly utilized nowadays. To guarantee the success of such analysis, it is very important, though sometimes difficult, to obtain single cells suspension with high quality, especially from the primary solid organs like mammary glands. Digestion of mouse or human mammary glands with enzymes was previously described. However, the yield, viability, especially the separation degree of the cells have rarely been noticed in these studies. Here we described a detailed protocol for the single epithelial cells suspension preparation from mouse mammary glands, which could be applied for single cell RNA sequencing on different platforms. This protocol could be well adapted for dissociation of other solid organs and tumors, and the single cell suspension could be also used for many other experiments.
0 Q&A 4928 Views Mar 5, 2019
Acute cerebellar slices are widely used among neuroscientists to study the properties of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission as well as intracellular signaling pathways involved in their regulation in cerebellum. The cerebellar cortex presents a well-organized circuitry, and several neuronal pathways can be stimulated and recorded reliably in acute cerebellar slices. A widely used acute cerebellar slice preparation technique was adapted from Edwards’ thin slice preparation method published in 1989 (Edwards et al., 1989). Most of the acute cerebellar slice preparation techniques use a vibrating microtome for slicing freshly dissected cerebellum from various animal species. Here we introduce a simpler method, which uses a tissue chopper to quickly prepare acute sagittal cerebellar slices from rodents. Cerebellum is dissected from the whole brain and sliced with a tissue chopper into 200-400 µm thick slices. Slices are allowed to recover in oxygenated aCSF at 37 °C for 1-2 h. Slices can then be used for electrophysiology or other types of experimentation. This method can be used to prepare cerebellar slices from mouse or rat aged from postnatal day 7 to 2 years. The preparation is faster and easier than other methods and provides a more versatile diversity of applications.
0 Q&A 8119 Views Aug 20, 2018
Inflammatory immune cells play direct pathological roles in cases of acute kidney injury (AKI) and chronic kidney disease (CKD). However, the identification and characterization of distinct populations of leukocytes in human kidney biopsies have been confounded by the limitations of immunohistochemical (IHC)-based techniques used to detect them. This methodology is not amenable to the combinations of multiple markers necessary to unequivocally define discrete immune cell populations. We have developed a multi-parameter, flow cytometric-based approach that addresses the need for panels of cell-specific markers in the identification of immune cell populations, allowing both the accurate detection and quantitation of leukocyte subpopulations from a single, clinical kidney biopsy specimen. In this approach, fresh human kidney tissue is dissociated into a single cell suspension followed by antibody-labeling and flow cytometric-based acquisition and analysis. This novel technique provides a major step forward in identifying and enumerating immune cell subpopulations in human kidney disease and is a powerful platform to complement traditional histopathological examinations of clinical kidney biopsies.
0 Q&A 6226 Views May 20, 2018
Early mouse lung development, including specification of primordia, patterning of early endoderm and determination of regional progenitor cell fates, is tightly regulated. The ability to culture explanted embryonic lung tissue provides a tractable model to study cellular interactions and paracrine factors that regulate these processes. We provide up-to-date protocols for the establishment of this culture model and its application to investigate hedgehog signaling in the developing lung.

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