Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 2150 Views Jun 20, 2021

The function of neurons in afferent reception, integration, and generation of electrical activity relies on their strikingly polarized organization, characterized by distinct membrane domains. These domains have different compositions resulting from a combination of selective targeting and retention of membrane proteins. In neurons, most proteins are delivered from their site of synthesis in the soma to the axon via anterograde vesicular transport and undergo retrograde transport for redistribution and/or lysosomal degradation. A key question is whether proteins destined for the same domain are transported in separate vesicles for local assembly or whether these proteins are pre-assembled and co-transported in the same vesicles for delivery to their cognate domains. To assess the content of transport vesicles, one strategy relies on staining of sciatic nerves after ligation, which drives the accumulation of anterogradely and retrogradely transported vesicles on the proximal and distal side of the ligature, respectively. This approach may not permit confident assessment of the nature of the intracellular vesicles identified by staining, and analysis is limited to the availability of suitable antibodies. Here, we use dual color live imaging of proteins labeled with different fluorescent tags, visualizing anterograde and retrograde axonal transport of several proteins simultaneously. These proteins were expressed in rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons cultured alone or with Schwann cells under myelinating conditions to assess whether glial cells modify the patterns of axonal transport. Advantages of this protocol are the dynamic identification of transport vesicles and characterization of their content for various proteins that is not limited by available antibodies.

0 Q&A 2418 Views Mar 5, 2021

An endogenous circadian clock system enables organisms to adapt to time-of-day dependent environmental changes. In consequence, most physiological processes exhibit daily rhythms of, e.g., energy metabolism, immune function, sleep, or hormone production. Hypothalamic circadian clocks have been identified to play a particular role in coordinating many of these processes. Primary neuronal cultures are widely used as a physiologically relevant model to study molecular events within neurons. However, as circadian rhythms include dynamic molecular changes over longer timescales that vary between individual cells, longitudinal measurement methods are essential to investigate the regulation of circadian clocks of hypothalamic neurons. Here we provide a protocol for generating primary hypothalamic neuronal cultures expressing a circadian luciferase reporter. Such reporter cells can be used to longitudinally monitor cellular circadian rhythms at high temporal resolution by performing bioluminescence measurements.

0 Q&A 3727 Views Jan 5, 2021

The function of the hippocampus depends on the process of adult hippocampal neurogenesis which underpins the exceptional neural plasticity of this structure, and is also frequently affected in CNS pathologies. Thus, manipulation of this process represents an important therapeutic goal. To identify potential strategies, organotypic adult brain slices are emerging as a valuable tool. Over the recent years, this methodology has been refined and here we present a combined protocol that brings together these refinements to enable long-term culture of adult hippocampal slices. We employ a sectioning technique that retains essential afferent inputs onto the hippocampus as well as serum-free culture conditions, so allowing an extended culture period. To sustain the neurogenic potential in the slices, we utilize the gliogenesis-inhibitor Indomethacin. Using EdU retention analysis enables us to assess the effects of pharmacological intervention on neurogenesis. With these improvements, we have established an easy and reliable method to study the effects of small molecules/drugs on proliferation and neuron formation ex vivo which will facilitate future discovery driven drug screenings.

0 Q&A 3399 Views Aug 20, 2020
The deposition of misfolded, aggregated tau protein is a hallmark of several neurodegenerative diseases, collectively termed “tauopathies”. Tau pathology spreads throughout the brain along connected pathways in a prion-like manner. The process of tau pathology propagation across circuits is a focus of intense research and has been investigated in vivo in human post-mortem brain and in mouse models of the diseases, in vitro in diverse cellular systems including primary neurons, and in cell free assays using purified recombinant tau protein. Here we describe a protocol that takes advantage of a minimalistic neuronal circuit arrayed within a microfluidic device to follow the propagation of tau misfolding from a presynaptic to a postsynaptic neuron. This assay allows high-resolution imaging as well as individual manipulation of the releasing and receiving neuron, and is therefore beneficial for investigating the propagation of tau and other misfolded proteins in vitro.
1 Q&A 6339 Views Aug 5, 2020
Primary culture of mouse hippocampal neurons is a very useful in vitro model for studying neuronal development, axonal and dendritic morphology, synaptic functions, and many other neuronal features. Here we describe a step-by-step process of generating primary neurons from mouse embryonic hippocampi (E17.5/E18.5). Hippocampal neurons generated with this protocol can be plated in different tissue culture dishes according to different experimental aims and can produce a reliable source of pure and differentiated neurons in less than one week. This protocol covers all the steps necessary for the preparation, culture and characterization of the neuronal culture, including the illustration of dissection instruments, surgical procedure for embryos’ isolation, culturing conditions and assessment of culture’s purity and differentiation. Evaluation of neuronal activity was performed by analysis of calcium imaging dynamics at six days in culture.
0 Q&A 3629 Views Jan 20, 2020
Investigations into glial biology have contributed substantially in understanding the physiology and pathology of the nervous system. However, intricacies of the neuron-glial and glial-glial interactions in vivo present significant challenges while delineating the individual cell-type contributions, thus making the in vitro techniques exceedingly relevant to study glial biology. However, obtaining optimal yield along with high purity has been challenging for microglial cultures. Here we present a simple protocol to establish enriched astroglial as well as microglial cultures from the neonatal rat spinal cord. This method results in highly enriched astroglial and microglial cultures with maximal yield.
0 Q&A 5809 Views Dec 20, 2019
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the common demyelinating disease of human central nervous system. Among mouse models available to study MS, including the cuprizone application and lysolecithin-injection models, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model is widely used so that chronic EAE model of C57BL/6J can reflect the autoimmune pathogenesis of MS well. Here we introduce the EAE model based on C57BL/6J mice, which is generated by injection of myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein 35-55 (MOG 35-55) as an antigen. After immunization with complete Freund's adjuvant, clinical signs and changes in body weight are observed one or two weeks later. The EAE model will continue to be useful for development of therapeutics for MS.
0 Q&A 4159 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.
0 Q&A 13338 Views Mar 5, 2019
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) are pluripotent stem cells that can be generated from somatic cells, and provide a way to model the development of neural tissues in vitro. One particularly interesting application of iPSCs is the development of neurons analogous to those found in the human forebrain. Forebrain neurons play a central role in cognition and sensory processing, and deficits in forebrain neuronal activity contributes to a host of conditions, including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia. Here, we present our protocol for differentiating iPSCs into forebrain neural progenitor cells (NPCs) and neurons, whereby neural rosettes are generated from stem cells without dissociation and NPCs purified from rosettes based on their adhesion, resulting in a more rapid generation of pure NPC cultures. Neural progenitor cells can be maintained as long-term cultures, or differentiated into forebrain neurons. This protocol provides a simplified and fast methodology of generating forebrain NPCs and neurons, and enables researchers to generate effective in vitro models to study forebrain disease and neurodevelopment. This protocol can also be easily adapted to generate other neural lineages.
0 Q&A 9873 Views Nov 20, 2018
The brain endothelium is a highly specialized vascular structure that maintains the activity and integrity of the central nervous system (CNS). Previous studies have reported that the integrity of the brain endothelium is compromised in a plethora of neuropathologies. Therefore, it is of particular interest to establish a method that enables researchers to investigate and understand the molecular changes in CNS endothelial cells and underlying mechanisms in conjunction with murine models of disease. In the past, approaches to isolate endothelial cells have either involved the use of transgenic reporter mice or suffered from insufficiently pure cell populations and poor yield.

This protocol here is based on well-established protocols that were modified and combined to allow single cell isolation of highly pure brain endothelial cell populations using fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS). Briefly, after careful removal of the meninges and dissection of the cortex/hippocampus, the brain tissue is mechanically homogenized and enzymatically digested in two steps resulting in a single cell suspension. Cells are stained with a cocktail of fluorochrome-conjugated antibodies identifying not only brain endothelial cells, but also potentially contaminating cell types such as pericytes, astrocytes, and lineage cells. Using flow cytometry, cell populations are separated and sorted directly into either RNA lysis buffer for bulk RNA analyses (e.g., RNA microarray and RNA-Seq) or in pure fetal bovine serum to preserve viability for other downstream applications such as single cell RNA-Seq and Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin using sequencing (ATAC-Seq). The protocol does not require the expression of a transgene to label brain endothelial cells and thus, may be applied to any mouse model. In our hands, the protocol has been highly reproducible with an average yield of 3 x 105 cells from a pool of four adult mice.

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