Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 772 Views Jul 20, 2023

Immotile cilia of crown cells at the node of mouse embryos are required for sensing leftward fluid flow that gives rise to the breaking of left-right (L-R) symmetry. The flow-sensing mechanism has long remained elusive, mainly because of difficulties inherent in manipulating and precisely analyzing the cilium. Recent progress in optical microscopy and biophysical analysis has allowed us to study the mechanical signals involving primary cilia. In this study, we used high-resolution imaging with mechanical modeling to assess the membrane tension in a single cilium. Optical tweezers, a technique used to trap sub-micron-sized particles with a highly focused laser beam, allowed us to manipulate individual cilia. Super-resolution microscopy allowed us to discern the precise localization of ciliary proteins. Using this protocol, we provide a method for applying these techniques to cilia in mouse embryonic nodes. This method is widely applicable to the determination of mechanical signals in other cilia.

1 Q&A 477 Views May 20, 2023

Here, we present an in vivo drug screening protocol using a zebrafish model of metastasis for the identification of anti-metastatic drugs. A tamoxifen-controllable Twist1a-ERT2 transgenic zebrafish line was established to serve as a platform for the identification. By crossing Twist1a-ERT2 with xmrk (a homolog of hyperactive form of the epidermal growth factor receptor) transgenic zebrafish, which develop hepatocellular carcinoma, approximately 80% of the double transgenic zebrafish show spontaneous cell dissemination of mCherry-labeled hepatocytes from the liver to the entire abdomen and tail regions in five days, through induction of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). This rapid and high-frequency induction of cell dissemination makes it possible to perform an in vivo drug screen for the identification of anti-metastatic drugs targeting metastatic dissemination of cancer cells. The protocol evaluates the suppressor effect of a test drug on metastasis in five days, by comparing the frequencies of the fish showing abdominal and distant dissemination patterns in the test drug–treated group with those in the vehicle-treated group. Our study previously identified that adrenosterone, an inhibitor for hydroxysteroid (11-beta) dehydrogenase 1 (HSD11β1), has a suppressor effect on cell dissemination in the model. Furthermore, we validated that a pharmacologic and genetic inhibition of HSD11β1 suppressed metastatic dissemination of highly metastatic human cell lines in a zebrafish xenotransplantation model. Taken together, this protocol opens new routes for the identification of anti-metastatic drugs.

Graphical overview


Day 0: Zebrafish spawning

Day 8: Primary tumor induction

Day 11: Chemical treatment

Day 11.5: Metastatic dissemination induction in the presence of a test chemical

Day 16: Data analysis

0 Q&A 2157 Views Mar 5, 2022

Dozens of Mycoplasma species belonging to the class Mollicutes bind to solid surfaces through the organelle formed at a cell pole and glide in its direction by a unique mechanism. In Mycoplasma mobile, the fastest gliding species in Mycoplasma, the force for gliding is generated by ATP hydrolysis on an internal structure. However, the spatial and temporal behaviors of the internal structures in living cells were unclear. High-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) is a powerful method to monitor the dynamic behaviors of biomolecules and cells that can be captured while maintaining their active state in aqueous solution. In this protocol, we describe a method to detect their movements using HS-AFM. This protocol should be useful for the studies of many kinds of microorganisms.

Graphic abstract:

Scannnig Mycoplasma cell

0 Q&A 1784 Views Feb 5, 2022

Cell migration is a vital process in the development of multicellular organisms. When deregulated, it is involved in many diseases such as inflammation and cancer metastisation. Some cancer cells could be stimulated using chemoattractant molecules, such as growth factor Heregulin β1. They respond to the attractant or repellent gradients through a process known as chemotaxis. Indeed, chemotactic cell motility is crucial in tumour cell dissemination and invasion of distant organs. Due to the complexity of this phenomenon, the majority of available in vitro methods to study the chemotactic motility process have limitations and are mainly based on endpoint assays, such as the Boyden chamber assay. Nevertheless, in vitro time-lapse microscopy represents an interesting opportunity to study cell motility in a chemoattracting gradient, since it generates large volume image-based information, allowing the analysis of cancer cell behaviours. Here, we describe a detailed time-lapse imaging protocol, designed for tracking T47D human breast cancer cell line motility, toward a gradient of Heregulin β1 in a Dunn chemotaxis chamber assay. The protocol described here is readily adapted to study the motility of any adherent cell line, under various conditions of chemoattractant gradients and of pharmacological drug treatments. Moreover, this protocol could be suitable to study changes in cell morphology, and in cell polarity.

0 Q&A 2751 Views May 5, 2021

Swarming – swift movement across a surface via flagella propulsion – is a unique property of many bacteria. The role of swarming, particularly among bacterial populations of the human gut microbiome, is not yet fully understood; although, it is becoming an area of increased scientific and clinical inquiry. To further characterize bacterial swarming in human health, an effective assay for swarming that utilizes complex material, such as fecal matter, is necessary. Until now, the vast majority of swarming assays have only been able to accommodate bacteria grown in culture, most often Pseudomonas. These assays tend to use a standard lysogenic broth (LB) agar medium; however, the reagents involved have not been tailored to the inoculation of complex material. In this paper, we offer a specialized protocol for eliciting the swarming of bacteria from frozen human fecal samples. We describe the simple, yet reproducible steps required to perform the assay, identifying an ideal volume of 7.5 μl for inoculation of material, as well as an ideal agar concentration of 0.4%. This protocol typically allows researchers to identify swarming within 24 h after incubation in a standard incubator.

0 Q&A 4194 Views Nov 20, 2019
Surface-associate motility on biotic and abiotic environments is a key mechanism used by the model bacterium Bacillus subtilis and its closest relatives (i.e., B. amyloliquefaciens, B. thuringiensis, B. cereus, B. pumilus) for surface colonization and spreading across surfaces. The study of this mechanism in a research, industrial or clinic laboratory is essential; however, precautions should be taken for the reproducibility of the results, for example, the procedure to inoculate the bacteria on the testing plate, the humidity of the plate and the agar concentration. In this protocol, we describe, using Bacillus subtilis, how to perform these assays and, in addition, we show how by varying the agar concentration in the plate, you can make a first approximation of what type of motility has other bacterial species.
0 Q&A 6350 Views Mar 5, 2019
Vigorous sperm flagellar motility is essential for fertilization, and so the quantitative measurement of motility is a useful tool to assess the intrinsic fertility potential of sperm cells and explore how various factors can alter sperm’s ability to reach the egg and penetrate its protective layers. Human sperm beat their flagella many times each second, and so recording and accurately quantifying this movement requires a high-speed camera. The aim of this protocol is to provide a detailed description of the tools required for quantitative beat frequency measurement of tethered human sperm at the single-cell level and to describe methods for investigating the effects of intracellular or extracellular factors on flagellar motion. This assay complements bulk measurements of sperm parameters using commercially-available systems for computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA).
0 Q&A 6408 Views Apr 20, 2018
A method was developed to allow the quantification and mapping of relative bacterial twitching motility in dense samples, where tracking of individual bacteria was not feasible. In this approach, movies of bacterial films were acquired using differential interference contrast microscopy (DIC), and bacterial motility was then indirectly quantified by the degree to which the bacteria modulated the intensity of light in the field-of-view over time. This allowed the mapping of areas of relatively high and low motility within a single field-of-view, and comparison of the total distribution of motility between samples.
0 Q&A 7847 Views Jan 5, 2018
Lipopeptides is an important class of biosurfactants having antimicrobial and anti-adhesive activity against pathogenic bacteria. These include surfactin, fengycin, iturin, bacillomycin, mycosubtilin, lichenysin, and pumilacidin (Arima et al., 1968; Naruse et al., 1990; Yakimov et al., 1995; Steller and Vater, 2000; Roongsawang et al., 2002; Vater et al., 2002). To date, none of these lipopeptides have been reported to possess any anti-motility activity. We isolated, purified and characterized two novel cyclic lipopeptides (CLPs) from Bacillus sp. 176 using high performance liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. CLPs dramatically suppress the motility of pathogenic bacterium Vibrio alginolyticus 178, and promote cellular aggregation without inducing cell death. Cell aggregation assay was performed with the modification according to methods described by Dalili for anti-biofilm assay (Dalili et al., 2015). In future, this assay can be adapted to test both the cell aggregation and anti-biofilm activity of lipopeptide-like active substances derived from bacteria.
0 Q&A 8411 Views Oct 5, 2017
Motile male gametes (spermatozoids) of land plants are coiled and contain a modified and precisely organized complement of organelles that includes a locomotory apparatus with two to thousands of flagella. Each flagellum is generated from a basal body that originates de novo as a centriole in spermatogenous cell lineages. Much of what is known about the diversity of plant male gametes was derived from detailed transmission electron microscopic studies. Because the process of spermatogenesis results in complete transformation of the shape and organization of these cells, TEM studies have yielded a wealth of information on cellular differentiation. Because green algal progenitor groups contain centrioles and a variety of motile cells, land plant spermatozoids also provide a plethora of opportunities to examine the evolution and eventual loss of centrioles and locomotory apparatus during land colonization.

Here we provide a brief overview of the studies and methodologies we have conducted over the past 20 years that have elucidated not only the structural diversity of these cells but also the development of microtubule organizing centers, the de novo origin of centrioles and the ontogeny of structurally complex motile cells.

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