Cell Biology


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0 Q&A 913 Views Nov 20, 2022

Sphingolipids are important structural components of cellular membranes. They also function as prominent signaling molecules to control a variety of cellular events, such as cell growth, differentiation, and apoptosis. Impaired sphingolipid metabolism, particularly defects in sphingolipid degradation, has been associated with many human diseases. Fluorescence sphingolipid analogs have been widely used as efficient probes to study sphingolipid metabolism and intracellular trafficking in living mammalian cells. Compared with nitrobenzoxadiazole fluorophores (NBD FL), the boron dipyrromethene difluoride fluorophores (BODIPY FL) have much higher absorptivity and fluorescence quantum. These features allow more intensive labeling of cells for fluorescence microscopy imaging and flow cytometry analysis. Here, we describe a protocol employing BODIPY FL-labeled sphingolipid analogs to elucidate sphingolipid internalization, trafficking, and endocytosis in mouse embryonic stem cells.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 5251 Views Mar 5, 2022

The ability to stain lipid stores in vivo allows for the facile assessment of metabolic status in individuals of a population following genetic and environmental manipulation or pharmacological treatment. In the animal model Caenorhabditis elegans, lipids are stored in and mobilized from intracellular lipid droplets in the intestinal and hypodermal tissues. The abundance, size, and distribution of these lipids can be readily assessed by two staining methods for neutral lipids: Oil Red O (ORO) and Nile Red (NR). ORO and NR can be used to quantitatively measure lipid droplet abundance, while ORO can also define tissue distribution and lipid droplet size. C. elegans are a useful animal model in studying pathways relating to aging, fat storage, and metabolism, as their transparent nature allows for easy microscopic assessment of lipid droplets. This is done by fixation and permeabilization, staining with NR or ORO, image capture on a microscope, and computational identification and quantification of lipid droplets in individuals within a cohort. To ensure reproducibility in lipid measurements, we provide a detailed protocol to measure intracellular lipid dynamics in C. elegans.

Graphic abstract:

Flow chart depicting the preparation of C. elegans for fat staining protocols.

0 Q&A 10915 Views Oct 20, 2018
Membrane fluidity is a key parameter of bacterial membranes that undergoes quick adaptation in response to environmental challenges and has recently emerged as an important factor in the antibacterial mechanism of membrane-targeting antibiotics. The specific level of membrane fluidity is not uniform across the bacterial cell membrane. Rather, specialized microdomains associated with different cellular functions can exhibit fluidity values that significantly deviate from the average. Assessing changes in the overall membrane fluidity and formation of membrane microdomains is therefore pivotal to understand both the functional organization of the bacterial cell membrane as well as antibiotic mechanisms. Here we describe how two fluorescent membrane dyes, laurdan and DiIC12, can be employed to assess membrane fluidity in living bacteria. We focus on Bacillus subtilis, since this organism has been relatively well-studied with respect to membrane domains. However, we also describe how these assays can be adapted for other bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae.
0 Q&A 58667 Views Sep 5, 2016
Lipid droplets (LDs) are ubiquitous, dynamic organelles and function as a storage depot for neutral lipids, including triglycerides and cholesterol esters (Walther and Farese, 2012). The movement of lipid species into and out of LDs impacts a variety of cellular processes, such as energy homeostasis, lipid-based signaling, and membrane homeostasis (Greenberg et al., 2011). For example, neutral lipid storage is enhanced upon increased synthesis or uptake of lipid species. On the other hand, extracellular signals can enhance the release of lipid species packaged within neutral LDs. Thus, the investigation of topics involving lipid metabolism may require the assessment of cellular neutral lipid content. In this protocol, we describe the use of the fluorescent neutral lipid dye 4,4-difluoro-1,3,5,7,8-pentamethyl-4-bora-3a,4a-diaza-s-indacene (BODIPY 493/503) to facilitate quantification of neutral lipid content by flow cytometry and observation of LDs by microscopy.
0 Q&A 7786 Views Aug 20, 2016
The lipid Phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate [PtdIns3P or PI(3)P] plays many membrane trafficking roles and is primarily produced by the Class III PI3K, VPS34. Determining the level of cellular PI(3)P however can be complex. Extraction of cellular lipids by methanol/chloroform can struggle to separate and identify distinct phospholipid species. Alternately mass spectrometry may be utilised but this requires significant set up of specialised equipment and time to utilise.

Use of a PI(3)P-binding-specific recombinant protein domain is a quick method for ascertaining cellular PI(3)P levels and can also allow visualisation of sub-cellular localisation. The PX domain of p40phox (herein referred to as PX) is very specific for PI(3)P over other phospholipid species (Kanai et al., 2001). However, expressing PX directly in cells can be problematic, as it will act in a dominant negative manner to bind and sequester PI(3)P with greater affinity than endogenous proteins, thus disturbing cellular pathways and the normal balance of PI(3)P levels. Using fluorescently labelled PX following cell fixation is therefore more suitable, as it is able to highlight PI(3)P rich structures without risk of perturbing the system.
1 Q&A 14639 Views Jun 20, 2015
Lipid droplets (LDs) are ubiquitous intracellular structures whose formation, growth, and maintenance are highly regulated (Wang et al., 2013; Ranall et al., 2011; Goodman, 2009). Lipid metabolism and droplet dynamics are of considerable interest to agriculture, biofuel production, viral pathology, nutrition, and cancer biology (Walther and Farese, 2009; Liu et al., 2010). Accumulation of fatty acids and neutral lipids in nonadipose tissues is cytotoxic (Kourtidis et al., 2009). BODIPY 493/503 (4,4-Difluoro-1,3,5,7,8-Pentamethyl-4-Bora-3a,4a-Diaza-s-Indacene) is the standard dye to study LDs within adipocytes. BODIPY 493/503 contains a nonpolar structure that, upon binding to neutral lipid, emits a green fluorescence signal with a narrow wavelength range, making it an ideal fluorophore for multi-labeling experiments. The hydrophobic nature of the dye molecules promotes rapid entry into the nonpolar environment of LDs (Listenberge and Brown, 2007). Gocze and Freeman showed that the lipid fluorescent variability is significantly lower when using BODIPY493/503 compared to Nile Red, suggesting that it may be more specific for the LD (Gocze and Freeman, 1994). Here, we describe a BODIPY 493/503 assay for the detection of neural fat stores in cultured cells (Figure 1) (Wang et al., 2013).

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