Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 480 Views Dec 20, 2023

The inferior colliculus (IC) is an important processing center in the auditory system, which also receives non-auditory sensory input. The IC consists of several subnuclei whose functional role in (non-) auditory processing and plastic response properties are best approached by studying awake animals, preferably in a longitudinal fashion. The increasing use of mice in auditory research, the availability of genetic models, and the superficial location of the IC in the mouse have made it an attractive species for studying IC function. Here, we describe a protocol for exposing the mouse IC for up to a few weeks for in vivo imaging or electrophysiology in a stable manner. This method allows for a broader sampling of the IC while maintaining the brain surface in good quality and without reopening the craniotomy. Moreover, as it is adaptable for both electrophysiological recordings of the entire IC and imaging of the dorsal IC surface, it can be applied to answer a multitude of questions.

Key features

• A surgical protocol for long-term physiological recordings from the same or separate neuronal populations in the inferior colliculus.

• Optimized for awake in vivo experiments in the house mouse (Mus musculus).

0 Q&A 3292 Views Jul 20, 2022

Over the past years, research has made impressive breakthroughs towards the development and implementation of 3D cell models for a wide range of applications, such as drug development and testing, organogenesis, cancer biology, and personalized medicine. Opposed to 2D cell monolayer culture systems, advanced 3D cell models better represent the in vivo physiology. However, for these models to deliver scientific insights, appropriate investigation techniques are required. Despite the potential of fluorescence microscopy to visualize these models with high spatial resolution, sample preparation and imaging assays are not straightforward. Here, we provide different protocols of sample preparation for fluorescence imaging, for both matrix-embedded and matrix-free models (e.g., organoids and spheroids, respectively). Additionally, we provide detailed guidelines for imaging 3D cell models via confocal multi-photon fluorescence microscopy. We show that using these protocols, images of 3D cell culture systems can be obtained with sub-cellular resolution.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 1366 Views Apr 5, 2022

Changes in intracellular calcium drive exocrine cell activity. In the salivary gland, acetylcholine released from parasympathetic neurons mobilizes endoplasmic reticulum calcium stores in acinar cells, which consequently initiates saliva secretion. However, our understanding of the signaling cascade is mainly based on ex vivo studies performed in enzymatically isolated cells. The dissociation process likely disrupts the extracellular matrix, removes neurons as the source of signal input, and disturbs the integrity of tight and gap junctional acinar connections. These alterations may affect the spatiotemporal properties of calcium signaling events. In vivo observations of calcium signals, where tissue organization is intact, are therefore important to establish the characteristics of physiological calcium signals that are crucial for the stimulation of fluid secretion. Here, we present a detailed protocol for in vivo imaging of calcium signaling events, following nervous stimulation by multi-photon microscopy in mouse salivary gland acinar cells, expressing the genetically encoded calcium indicator GCamp6F.

0 Q&A 1076 Views Mar 20, 2022

Cytokinesis occurs at the final step of cell division and leads to the separation of daughter cells. It requires assembly and constriction of the actomyosin contractile ring. The phases of assembly and constriction of the contractile ring show an increase in tension in the actomyosin complex. The measurement of tension in the contractile ring is of interest to probe the mechanics of contractile ring formation. Drosophila cellularization is a powerful genetic model system to study the mechanisms regulating actomyosin contractility during contractile ring constriction. Cellularization occurs in the interphase of syncytial cycle 14, where the plasma membrane extends around individual nuclei and forms complete cells with the help of a contractile ring at the bottom. The contractile ring forms at the furrow tip during the extension around individual nuclei and its assembly requires the coordinated action of cytoskeletal and plasma membrane-associated proteins. Laser ablation of the contractile ring enables the measurement of the contractility of the actomyosin network during cytokinesis. This protocol outlines the method used for estimating the contractility at the actomyosin ring during cellularization by laser ablation, in both control and mutant embryos for a Rho guanosine triphosphatase activating protein (RhoGAP) containing protein called GRAF (GTPase regulator associated with focal adhesion kinase-1). Physical cutting of the contractile ring by a two-photon laser at 800 nm leads to the displacement of the actomyosin ring edges, at a rate dependent upon the tension. This can be carried out at distinct steps of the contractile ring assembly during furrow extension in cellularization. Quantification of the extent of displacement and recoil velocity of movement of the edges at different stages of cellularization provides a quantitative measure of contractility in the system. This protocol describes the experimental procedure containing the preparation of live embryos, optimization of laser power, acquisition settings, and post-acquisition analysis of actomyosin contractility during Drosophila cellularization.

0 Q&A 3816 Views Mar 20, 2020
T follicular helper (Tfh) cells regulate B cell selection for entry into the germinal center (GC) reaction or for differentiation into antibody forming cells. This process takes place at the border between the T and B zones in lymphoid organs and involves physical contacts between T and B cells. During these interactions, T cells endow the B cells with selection signals that promote GC seeding or plasmablast differentiation based on their B cell receptor affinity. In Peyer’s patches (PPs), T cells promote B cell colonization of the subepithelial dome (SED) without effective affinity-based clonal selection. To specifically characterize the T cell population that resides within the SED niche, we performed ex vivo photoactivation of the SED compartment followed by flow cytometry analysis of the labeled cells, as described in this protocol. This technique integrates both spatial and cellular information in studies of immunological niches and can be adapted to various experimental systems.
0 Q&A 8906 Views Jul 5, 2017
Photothrombosis of blood vessels refers to the activation of a circulating photosensitive dye with a green light to induce clotting in vivo (Watson et al., 1985). Previous studies have described how a focused green laser could be used to noninvasively occlude pial arterioles and venules at the brain surface (Schaffer et al., 2006; Nishimura et al., 2007; Shih et al., 2013). Here we show that small regions of the capillary bed can similarly be occluded to study the ischemic response within the capillary system of the mouse cerebral cortex. The advantage of this approach is that the ischemic zone is restricted to a diameter of approximately 150-250 μm. This permits higher quality two-photon imaging of degenerative processes that would be otherwise difficult to visualize with models of large-scale stroke, due to excessive photon scattering. A consequence of capillary occlusion is leakage of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Here, through the use of two-photon imaging data sets, we show how to quantify capillary leakage by determining the spatial extent and localization of intravenous dye extravasation.
1 Q&A 9938 Views Dec 20, 2016
The cortical actomyosin cytoskeleton is found in all non-muscle cells where a key function is to control mechanical force (Salbreux et al., 2012). When coupled to E-cadherin cell-cell adhesion, cortical actomyosin generates junctional tension that influences many aspects of tissue function, organization and morphogenesis (Lecuit and Yap, 2015). Uncovering the molecular mechanisms underlying the generation of junctional tension requires tools for measuring it in live cells with a high spatio-temporal resolution. For this, we have set up a technique of laser ablation, in which we use the high power output of a two-photon laser to physically cut the actin cortex at the sites of cell-cell adhesion labeled with E-cadherin-GFP. Tension, thus is visualized as the outwards recoil of the vertices that define a junction after this was ablated/cut. Analysis of recoil versus time allows extracting parameters related to the amount of contractile force that is applied to the junction before ablation (initial recoil) and the ratio between elasticity of the junction and viscosity of the media (cytoplasm) in which the junctional cortex is immersed. Using this approach we have discovered how Src protein-tyrosine kinase (Gomez et al., 2015); actin-binding proteins such as tropomyosins (Caldwell et al., 2014) and N-WASP (Wu et al., 2014); Myosin II (Priya et al., 2015) and coronin-1B (Michael et al., 2016) contribute to the molecular apparatus responsible for generating tension at the cell-cell junctions. This protocol describes the experimental procedure for setting up laser ablation experiments and how to optimize ablation and acquisition conditions for optimal measurements of junctional tension. It also provides a full description, step by step, of the post-acquisition analysis required to evaluate changes in contractile force as well as cell elasticity and/or cytoplasm viscosity.
0 Q&A 9523 Views Dec 5, 2015
The method consists of imaging developing pollen grains as they form within intact, immature Arabidopsis thaliana anthers. Using two-photon excitation in the infrared wavelength range, the intrinsic fluorescence (autofluorescence) of developing pollen grains and surrounding sporophytic tissues of the anther wall, including the tapetum, middle layer, endothecium and epidermis, can be visualized in the three-dimensional space of an intact anther. In contrast to conventional confocal microscopy, the application of red-shifted light by two-photon microscopy improves depth penetration into specimens, while the scattering of light and subsequent phototoxicity is minimized, making this a superior method for imaging the developing pollen grains and tapetal cells enclosed within anthers. The technique described was optimized for the detection of autofluorescent components of the pollen wall, including sporopollenin and the pollen coat, and provided spatial and developmental data on the autofluorescent metabolites in anthers of wild-type and pollen wall mutant plants (Quilichini et al., 2014). The use of two-photon imaging of live, intact anthers holds potential for future studies aimed at understanding the spatial relationship between gametophytic and sporophytic tissues during pollen development and the distribution of metabolites or fluorescently-tagged proteins within developing anthers.
0 Q&A 7690 Views Oct 20, 2015
Chromatin-binding proteins play a crucial role in chromatin structure and gene expression. Direct binding of chromatin proteins both maintains and regulates transcriptional states. It is therefore important to study the binding properties of these proteins in vivo within the natural environment of the nucleus. Photobleaching, photoactivation and photoconversion (photoswitching) can provide a non-invasive experimental approach to study dynamic properties of living cells and organisms. We used photoactivation to determine exchange dynamics of histone H2B in plant stem cells of the root (Rosa et al., 2014). The stem cells of the root are located in the middle of the tissue, which made it impossible to carry out photoactivation of sufficiently small and well-defined sub-cellular regions with conventional laser illumination in the confocal microscope, mainly because scattering and refraction effects within the root tissue dispersed the focal spot and caused photoactivation of too large a region. We therefore used 2-photon activation, which has much better inherent resolution of the illuminated region. This is because the activation depends on simultaneous absorption of two or more photons, which in turns depends on the square (or higher power) of the intensity-a much sharper peak. In this protocol we will describe the experimental procedure to perform two-photon photoactivation experiments and the corresponding image analysis. This protocol can be used for nuclear proteins tagged with photoactivable GFP (PA-GFP) expressed in root tissues.

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