Cell Biology

Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 1899 Views Feb 20, 2022

When the body mounts an immune response against a foreign pathogen, the adaptive arm of the immune system relies upon clonal expansion of antigen-specific T cell populations to exercise acquired effector and cytotoxic functions to clear it. However, T cell expansion must be modulated to effectively combat the perceived threat without inducing excessive collateral damage to host tissues. Restimulation-induced cell death (RICD) is an apoptotic program triggered in activated T cells when an abundance of antigen and IL-2 are present, imposing a negative feedback mechanism that constrains the growing T cell population. This autoregulatory process can be detected via increases in caspase activation, Annexin V binding, and loss of mitochondrial membrane potential. However, simple changes in T cell viability through flow cytometric analysis can reliably measure RICD sensitivity in response to T-cell receptor (TCR) restimulation. This protocol describes the in vitro polyclonal activation, expansion, and restimulation of human primary T cells isolated from donor peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). This simple procedure allows for accurate quantification of RICD via flow cytometry. We also describe strategies for interrogating the role of specific proteins and pathways that may alter RICD sensitivity. This straightforward protocol provides a quick and dependable tool to track RICD sensitivity in culture over time while probing critical factors that control the magnitude and longevity of an adaptive immune response.

Graphic abstract:

In-vitro simulation of restimulation-induced cell death in activated human T cells.

0 Q&A 2223 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.

0 Q&A 2698 Views Jul 20, 2021

The crucial role of hexokinase 2 (HK2) in the metabolic rewiring of tumors is now well established, which makes it a suitable target for the design of novel therapies. However, hexokinase activity is central to glucose utilization in all tissues; thus, enzymatic inhibition of HK2 can induce severe adverse effects. In an effort to find a selective anti-neoplastic strategy, we exploited an alternative approach based on HK2 detachment from its location on the outer mitochondrial membrane. We designed a HK2-targeting peptide named HK2pep, corresponding to the N-terminal hydrophobic domain of HK2 and armed with a metalloprotease cleavage sequence and a polycation stretch shielded by a polyanion sequence. In the tumor microenvironment, metalloproteases unleash polycations to allow selective plasma membrane permeation in neoplastic cells. HK2pep delivery induces the detachment of HK2 from mitochondria-associated membranes (MAMs) and mitochondrial Ca2+ overload caused by the opening of inositol-3-phosphate receptors on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and Ca2+ entry through the plasma membrane leading to Ca2+-mediated calpain activation and mitochondrial depolarization. As a result, HK2pep rapidly elicits death of diverse tumor cell types and dramatically reduces in vivo tumor mass. HK2pep does not affect hexokinase enzymatic activity, avoiding any noxious effect on non-transformed cells. Here, we make available a detailed protocol for the use of HK2pep and to investigate its biological effects, providing a comprehensive panel of assays to quantitate both HK2 enzymatic activity and changes in mitochondrial functions, Ca2+ flux, and cell viability elicited by HK2pep treatment of tumor cells.

Graphical abstract:

Flowchart for the analysis of the effects of HK2 detachment from MAMs.

0 Q&A 4636 Views Jan 20, 2021

The in vivo toxicity of new metallodrugs either as Small Bioactive Molecules (SBAMs) or Conjugates of Metals with Drugs (CoMeDs) or their hydrogels such as with hydroxyethyl-methacrylate (HEMA) (pHEMA@SBAMs or pHEMA@CoMeDs) are evaluated by the brine shrimp assay. Thus individuals of Artemia salina larvae are incubated in saline solutions with SBAMs, CoMeDs, pHEMA@SBAMs or pHEMA@CoMeDs or without for 24 h. The toxicity is then determined in terms of the mortality rate of brine shrimp larvae. Brine shrimp assay is a low cost, safe, no required feeding during the assay, while it requiring only a small amount of the tested agent.

0 Q&A 4134 Views Aug 5, 2019
Photodynamic therapy (PDT), is a clinically-approved light-based anti-cancer treatment modality in which a photoactivatable photosensitizer is irradiated with an appropriate wavelength of light to generate cytotoxic molecules to kill cancer cells. In this article, we describe an in vitro PDT protocol using a 3-dimensional (3D) model of ovarian cancer that was established on beds of Matrigel. PDT was performed using a liposomal formulation of verteporfin photosensitizer (Visudyne®). The cancer cells were genetically-labeled with the fluorescent protein mCherry to facilitate the evaluation of the treatment response. This protocol is advantageous because the mCherry fluorescence is an indicator of cell viability, eliminating the need for external dyes, which often exhibit limited penetration and diffusion into 3D organoids. Additionally, Visudyne PDT achieves significant tumor-killing efficacy in a 3D model for ovarian cancer.
0 Q&A 4515 Views Jul 5, 2019
Shigella flexneri invades the epithelial cells lining the gut lumen and replicates intracellularly. The specialized Type III Secretion System (T3SS) and its effector proteins, encoded on a large virulence plasmid, assist the bacterium to gain access to the cytosol. Thereafter Shigella disseminates to neighboring cells in an epithelial layer without further extracellular steps. Host cell lysis occurs when these bacteria have extensively replicated in the target cell cytosol. Here we describe a simple method to qualitatively as well as quantitatively study the capacity of Shigella to invade and disseminate within an epithelium by assessing the number and size of plaques representing the dead cells in a monolayer of TC7 cells. This classical protocol follows a simple approach of infecting the monolayers of epithelial cell lines with Shigella and visualizing the dead cells as plaques formed against a stained background.
0 Q&A 7511 Views Feb 20, 2019
For both stem cell research and treatment of the central nervous system disorders, neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) represent an important breakthrough tool. In the expanded stem cell-based therapy use, NSPCs not only provide a powerful cell source for neural cell replacement but a useful model for developmental biology research. Despite numerous approaches were described for isolation of NSPCs from either fetal or adult brain, the main issue remains in extending cell survival following isolation. Here we provide a simple and affordable protocol for making viable NSPCs from the fetal mouse hippocampi, which are capable of maintaining the high viability in a 2D monolayer cell culture or generating 3D neuro-spheroids of cell aggregates. Further, we describe the detailed method for engraftment of embryonic NSPCs onto a host hippocampal tissue for promoting multilinear cell differentiation and maturation within endogenous environment. Our experimental data demonstrate that embryonic NSPCs isolated using this approach show the high viability (above 88%). Within a host tissue, these cells were capable of differentiating to the main neural subpopulations (principal neurons, oligodendrocytes, astroglia). Finally, NSPC-derived neurons demonstrated matured functional properties (electrophysiological activity), becoming functionally integrated into the host hippocampal circuits within a couple of weeks after engraftment.
0 Q&A 4772 Views Feb 20, 2019
Cryopreservation is commonly used for the storage of cells, tissues, organs or 3D cell-based products using ultra-low temperatures, which involves the immersion in liquid nitrogen for their long-term preservation. The cryopreservation of several microencapsulated cells is usually performed by the slow freezing with the dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) as a cryoprotectant agent (CPA). In this study, we cryopreserved several microencapsulated cells with the natural, non-toxic low molecular-weight hyaluronan (LMW-HA) at 5% and DMSO 10% solution assessing cell viability and metabolic activity after thawing. The cryopreservation of microencapsulated D1 mesenchymal stem cells (D1MSC) and murine myoblast cells (C2C12) with the LMW-HA 5% presented similar outcomes after thawing compared to the DMSO solution, showing the low molecular weight hyaluronan as a natural, non-toxic CPA that can be used preventing the DMSO related adverse effects after the implantation of the cryopreserved cell-based products.
0 Q&A 11797 Views Jan 5, 2019
Silver nanoparticles have been widely studied to possess antimicrobial as well as anticancer activity, and have found its applications in various fields including pharmaceutical industry, diagnostics, drug delivery, food industry, and others. For this purpose, several cell proliferation assays are widely used for the evaluation of anticancer activity of synthetic compounds as well as natural plant extracts. In general, a compound is said to possess an anticancer activity if it prevents the cancer cells to grow and divide actively, and indirectly activates the generic program of cell death. In this protocol, Alamar blue and MTT assay are described for the analysis of metabolic function and health of the cell. These procedures are generally used for the endpoint analysis. A549 cells are seeded in a 96-well plate, and after the adherence of the cells, they are treated with different concentrations of silver nanoparticles. Followed by 24 h of incubation, colorimetric dyes are added to the wells, and the absorbance is recorded to quantify the percentage cytotoxicity in the sample wells.
0 Q&A 5062 Views Dec 20, 2018
Natural killer (NK) cells are the major effectors of the innate immune system when activated resulting in modulation of immune response of the host defense through target cell lysis and secretion of cytokines. Precise functions of NK cells are essential for the treatment outcome of different virus infections and malignant diseases. NK cells impart cytotoxic effect to the target cells lacking MHC class I molecules and thus the final readout of the activity is death of target cells. The NK cell function is evaluated by the 51Cr-release and/or flow cytometry-based assays. In the present protocol, we have determined the activation of NK cells by the liberation of IL-10 and IFNγ, and subsequently its function by enumerating the number of dead tumor cells originally isolated from the ascitic fluid of ovarian cancer patients. The entire assay is based on cells of the healthy donors and patients. Besides determining function, this method is able to demarcate between NK-cell sensitive and insensitive tumor cells. This technique enables researchers to study NK cell functions in healthy donors or in patients to reveal their impact on different malignancies and to further discover new therapeutic strategies.

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