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0 Q&A 809 Views Dec 20, 2022

The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a non-cellular network of macromolecules, which provides cells and tissues with structural support and biomechanical feedback to regulate cellular function, tissue tension, and homeostasis. Even subtle changes to ECM abundance, architecture, and organization can affect downstream biological pathways, thereby influencing normal cell and tissue function and also driving disease conditions. For example, in cancer, the ECM is well known to provide both biophysical and biochemical cues that influence cancer initiation, progression, and metastasis, highlighting the need to better understand cell–ECM interactions in cancer and other ECM-enriched diseases. Initial cell-derived matrix (CDM) models were used as an in vitro system to mimic and assess the physiologically relevant three-dimensional (3D) cell–ECM interactions. Here, we describe an expansion to these initial CDM models generated by fibroblasts to assess the effect of genetic or pharmacological intervention on fibroblast-mediated matrix production and organization. Additionally, we highlight current methodologies to quantify changes in the ultrastructure and isotropy of the resulting ECM and also provide protocols for assessing cancer cell interaction with CDMs. Understanding the nature and influence of these complex and heterogeneous processes can offer insights into the biomechanical and biochemical mechanisms, which drive cancer development and metastasis, and how we can target them to improve cancer outcomes.


0 Q&A 2755 Views Feb 20, 2022
The invasion of tumor cells into the neighboring blood vessels and lymph nodes is a vital step for distant metastasis. Traditionally, the invasive activity of growth factors (or the anti-invasive activity of drugs) is measured with the Boyden chamber assay. However, this assay has a few disadvantages like poor physiological relevance of transwell inserts and an inability to control chemokine gradients. The Boyden chamber assay is one of the most prevalent methods to measure the invasion of cancer cells. It would be advantageous to develop another assay that could validate the results of the Boyden chamber assay. With this in mind, our laboratory developed the spherical invasion assay (SIA) to measure the pro-invasive activity of human cancer cells. The SIA also circumvents some of the drawbacks of the Boyden chamber assay. The present manuscript measures the anti-invasive activity of the Src kinase inhibitor PP2 in A549 human non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) cells using the SIA. The SIA protocol is comprised of two steps. In the first step, A549 human NSCLC cells (treated or not with PP2) were mixed with Matrigel and seeded in the middle of an eight-well chamber slide. After 24 h, a second layer of Matrigel was overlaid over the first layer. Over the course of the next 24 h, the A549 cells invade from the primary to the secondary Matrigel layers. Subsequently, the cells are visualized by phase-contrast microscopy and the images obtained are quantified using ImageJ to calculate the anti-invasive activity of PP2 in A549 cells. The results of the SIA correlate well with Boyden chamber assays. The SIA may be adapted for multiple experimental designs, such as drug screening (to combat invasion and metastasis), measuring the pro-invasive activity of growth factors, and elucidating the signaling pathways underlying the pro-invasive/anti-invasive activity of biological modifiers.

Graphic abstract:



Diagrammatic illustration of the spherical invasion assay (Hurley et al., 2017).
A. The first layer is comprised of human cancer cells mixed in a 1:1 suspension with Phenol Red containing Matrigel (represented as LAYER 1 in the figure). After 24 h, the cancer cells grow and extend up to the boundary of this first layer. B. A second layer of 1:1 solution Phenol Red-free Matrigel, in Phenol Red-free RPMI (represented as LAYER 2 in the figure) is added on top of the first Matrigel spot. The cells are incubated for 24 h at 37°C. C. Over these 24 h, the cancer cells invade from the primary layer into the secondary Matrigel layer. The chamber slides are observed by phase-contrast microscopy. D. A representative photograph of the images obtained by the SIA is shown. The black arrow indicates the cancer cells invading into the second layer of Matrigel. The dotted line represents the interface between the two layers. The distance to which the cells have traveled (into the secondary Matrigel layer) is measured at ten sites (for each photograph) in a randomized double-blind fashion by three independent observers, using NIH ImageJ Version 1.47. This process is repeated for three separate photographic fields per sample.

0 Q&A 1384 Views Feb 5, 2022

To identify causative substances for allergies to drugs or foods, the lymphocyte transformation test (LTT) is currently widely used as in vitro test, but its accuracy is not satisfactory. We have developed a novel method designated high-sensitivity allergy test (HiSAT) for determining allergy expression by measuring cell kinetics, using the chemotactic cells from non-allergic volunteers against a gradient field of cytokines released from immune cells when allergy develops. HiSAT requires a very small sample of 5 µL or less, and is applicable to three types of tests, depending on the situation in clinical practice: (i) diagnosis of the allergic expression, (ii) identification of the causative drug, and, in principle, (iii) pre-inspection.


Graphic abstract:




Schematic diagram of HiSAT. Serum from patients/subjects is used for rapid diagnosis in HiSAT. To identify the causative drug, the lymphocytes of interest are incubated with the candidate drug solution for 48 h to 72 h and then the culture supernatant is used in HiSAT. Before drug administration, it may possible to avoid the risk of allergies by performing pre-inspection, as well as the determination of the causative drug in HiSAT. A granulocyte-rich cell layer isolated from a non-allergic volunteer is used in HiSAT. Chemotactic cells migrate toward chemotactic factors in the test sample according to the concentration gradient. Cell kinetics (e.g., velocity or distance) are analyzed using sequential images of the test samples, and compared to the PHA-positive control.>


0 Q&A 4241 Views Mar 20, 2021

In this protocol, we describe a method to monitor cell migration by live-cell imaging of adherent cells. Scratching assay is a common method to investigate cell migration or wound healing capacity. However, achieving homogenous scratching, finding the optimal time window for end-point analysis and performing an objective image analysis imply, even for practiced and adept experimenters, a high chance for variability and limited reproducibility. Therefore, our protocol implemented the assessment for cell mobility by using homogenous wound making, sequential imaging and automated image analysis. Cells were cultured in 96-well plates, and after attachment, homogeneous linear scratches were made using the IncuCyte® WoundMaker. The treatments were added directly to wells and images were captured every 2 hours automatically. Thereafter, the images were processed by defining a scratching mask and a cell confluence mask using a software algorithm. Data analysis was performed using the IncuCyte® Cell Migration Analysis Software. Thus, our protocol allows a time-lapse analysis of treatment effects on cell migration in a highly reliable, reproducible and re-analyzable manner.

0 Q&A 5305 Views Apr 20, 2020
Cell migration is a fundamental cellular process that plays a crucial role in many physioglogical and pathological processes such as wound healing or cancer metastasis. Many assays have been developed to examine cell migration, such as the wound healing or scratch assay, Boyden Chamber or transwell assay, and the method we will describe here, single cell migration assay. In this assay, cells are plated sparsely on a collagen coated plate and live cell imaging is performed over a period of 2 h at 1 frame per minute. After imaging is completed, cells are tracked manually using ImageJ by tracking movement of the centroid of the cell. These data points are then exported and overall distance travelled from frame to frame is determined and divided by total time imaged to determine speed of the cell. This method provides a quick way to examine effect of cellular manipulation on cell migration before proceeding to perform more complex assays.
1 Q&A 4844 Views Jan 5, 2020
The ability of cancer cells to migrate through a complex three-dimensional (3D) environment is a hallmark event of cancer metastasis. Therefore, an in vitro migration assay to evaluate cancer cell migration in a 3D setting is valuable to examine cancer progression. Here, we describe such a simple migration assay in a 3D collagen-fibronectin gel for observing cell morphology and comparing the migration abilities of cancer cells. We describe below how to prepare the collagen-fibronectin gel castings, how to set up time-lapse recording, how to draw single-cell trajectories from movies and extract key parameters that characterize cell motility, such as cell speed, directionality, mean square displacement, and directional persistence. In our set-up, cells are sandwiched in a single plane between two collagen-fibronectin gels. This trick facilitates the analysis of cell tracks, which are for the most part 2D, at least in the beginning, but in a 3D environment. This protocol has been previously published in Visweshwaran et al. (2018) and is described here in more detail.
0 Q&A 4717 Views Sep 20, 2019
Developing axons change responsiveness to guidance cues during the journey to synapse with target cells. Axon crossing at the ventral midline serves as a model for studying how axons accomplish such a switch in their response. Although primary neuron culture has been a versatile technique for elucidating various developmental mechanisms, many in vivo characteristics of neurons, such as long axon-extending abilities and axonal compartments, are not thoroughly preserved. In explant cultures, such properties of differentiated neurons and tissue architecture are maintained. To examine how the midline repellent Slit regulated the distribution of the Robo receptor in spinal cord commissural axons upon midline crossing and whether Robo trafficking machinery was a determinant of midline crossing, novel explant culture systems were developed. We have combined an “open-book” spinal cord explant method with that devised for flat-mount retinae. Here we present our protocol for explant culture of embryonic mouse spinal cords, which allows flexible manipulation of experimental conditions, immunostaining of extending axons and quantitative analysis of individual axons. In addition, we present a modified method that combines ex vivo electroporation and “closed-book” spinal cord explant culture. These culture systems provide new platforms for detailed analysis of axon guidance, by adapting gene knockdown, knockout and genome editing.
0 Q&A 4644 Views Aug 20, 2019
Pulmonary fibrosis is characterized by pathological scaring of the lung. Similar to other fibrotic diseases, scar formation is driven by excessive extracellular matrix deposition by activated, proliferative, and migratory fibroblasts.

Currently, the two most widely used chemotaxis and cell migration assays are the scratch assay and the transmembrane invasion assay. Here we present a gap closure assay that employs commercially available cell lines, equipment and reagents and is time efficient as well as straightforward. The protocol uses an Oris pro cell migration assay 96-well plate with a dissolvable plug in the center of each well to create a cell free area at the time of seeding. Cell repopulation of the empty zone is captured via light microscopy at different time points and quantified with free image analysis software. The clear advantages of this assay in comparison to similar protocols are the use of uncomplicated cell culture methods and the ability to image the experiment throughout.
0 Q&A 4156 Views Jun 20, 2019
Cell motility has been extensively studied in in vitro models using fibroblasts and keratocytes, but the cell type-specific mechanisms underlying migration of lineage- or disease-specific cells, such as neural and glial progenitor cells, remain an active field for investigation. The migrating neural and glial progenitor cells contribute to the development, tissue repair and tumor invasion in the central nervous system (CNS). Cell migration is a highly dynamic process which relies on membranous protrusions to assemble, extend, disassemble and retract. In the CNS, the motility of neural and glial progenitor cells is affected by various cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous mechanisms such as signaling molecules, actin and microtubule interactions, and environmental cues. Here, we described a live-cell migration assay for use in the assessment of neural and glial progenitor cell migration. We first will demonstrate the procedures for isolating and culturing neural and glial progenitor cells. Next, we will demonstrate the acquisition of time-lapse images using phase contrast microscopy, the methods for quantification and the analyses of various motility parameters including speed, velocity, straightness and leading-edge dynamics. This method allows researchers to dissect the mechanisms of cell motility in response to different environmental cues, such as chemoattractive and repulsive signals, matrix adhesiveness and stiffness. This assay also allows researchers to study migration of pharmacologically and genetically manipulated cells.
1 Q&A 16729 Views Sep 5, 2018
Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones plays an important role during organ development, regeneration and tumor progression. The spheroid-based sprouting assay is a well-established and robust method to study the influence of genetic alterations or pharmacological compounds on capillary-like tube formation of primary cultured endothelial cells. A major advantage of this assay is the possibility to study angiogenesis in a 3D environment. Endothelial cells are cultured as hanging drops to form spheroids. Those spheroids are embedded into a collagen matrix and tube formation is analyzed 24 h later. By analyzing sprout number and sprout length the effects of genetic manipulation or drug treatment on angiogenesis can be investigated.



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