Developmental Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 2065 Views Jun 20, 2022

Chromatin accessibility is a key determinant of gene expression that can be altered under different physiological and disease conditions. Skeletal muscle is made up of myofibers that are highly plastic and adaptive. Therefore, assessing the genome-wide chromatin state of myofibers under various conditions is very important to gain insight into the epigenetic state of myonuclei. The rigid nature of myofibers, as well as the low number of myonuclei that they contain, have rendered genome-wide studies with myofibers challenging. In recent years, ATAC-Seq from whole muscle and single nucleus ATAC-Seq have been performed. However, these techniques cannot distinguish between different fiber and cell types present in the muscle. In addition, due to the limited depth capacity obtained from single nucleus ATAC-Seq, an extensive comparative analysis cannot be performed. Here, we introduce a protocol where we combine the isolation of a single myofiber with OMNI ATAC-Seq. This protocol allows for genome-wide analysis of accessible chromatin regions of a selected single myofiber at a sufficient depth for comparative analysis under various physiological and disease conditions. This protocol can also allow for a specific myofiber to be selected, such as a regenerating myofiber. In the future, this protocol can help identify global changes in chromatin state under various conditions, as well as between different types of myofibers.


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0 Q&A 1268 Views Jun 5, 2022

Our ability to move and breathe requires an efficient communication between nerve and muscle that mainly takes place at the neuromuscular junctions (NMJs), a highly specialized synapse that links the axon of a motor neuron to a muscle fiber. When NMJs or axons are disrupted, the control of muscle fiber contraction is lost and muscle are paralyzed. Understanding the adaptation of the neuromuscular system to permanent or transient denervation is a challenge to understand the pathophysiology of many neuromuscular diseases. There is still a lack of in vitro models that fully recapitulate the in vivo situation, and in vivo denervation, carried out by transiently or permanently severing the nerve afferent to a muscle, remains a method of choice to evaluate reinnervation and/or the consequences of the loss of innervation. We describe here a simple surgical intervention performed at the hip zone to expose the sciatic nerve in order to obtain either permanent denervation (nerve-cut) or transient and reversible denervation (nerve-crush). These two methods provide a convenient in vivo model to study adaptation to denervation.


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0 Q&A 1660 Views Jan 5, 2022

Muscle stem cells (satellite cells), located on the surface of myofibers, are rapidly activated from a quiescent state following skeletal muscle injury. Although satellite cell activation is an initial step in muscle regeneration, the stimulation of satellite cell activation by muscle injury remains to be elucidated. We recently established an in vitro mechanical damage model of myofibers, to analyze quiescent and activated satellite cells associated with myofibers isolated from the extensor digitorum longus muscle in mice. Here, we described a protocol for the mechanical damage of myofibers and co-culture of intact healthy myofibers with damaged myofibers in a floating condition. This in vitro myofiber damage model allowed us to investigate the mechanism of satellite cell activation without contamination by interstitial cells, such as blood vessel cells and fibroblasts, as well as understand how damaged myofiber-derived factors (DMDFs) activate satellite cells.


0 Q&A 1940 Views Nov 5, 2021

LncRNAs have been recently implicated in the epigenetic control of muscle differentiation and their functional characterization has traditionally relied upon in vitro models of myogenic differentiation. However, the use of experimental paradigms to specifically target lncRNAs expression in muscle stem cells (MuSCs), also known as satellite cells, represents an important requisite to interrogate their function in more physiological contexts. Since isolation and culture of single myofibers preserves satellite cells within their physiological niche underneath the surrounding basal lamina, this procedure represents the optimal approach to follow satellite cell dynamics ex-vivo, such as activation from quiescence, expansion of committed progenitors, differentiation, and self-renewal. Here, we detail an optimized protocol to isolate viable single myofibers from the extensor digitorum longus (EDL) skeletal muscle of adult mice and to manipulate the expression of lncRNAs by antisense LNA GapmeRs-mediated knock-down (KD). Furthermore, we describe a method of EdU incorporation that, coupled to lncRNA KD and subsequent immunofluorescence analysis of proliferating, differentiating, and satellite cell-specific markers, permits the inference of lncRNAs function on muscle stem cells dynamics.


Graphic abstract:



Graphical representation of the single myofiber isolation method. Experimental workflow showing the main steps of the protocol procedure: EDL muscle harvesting from the mouse hindlimb; EDL digestion into single myofibers; transfection with antisense oligos and culture for 96h; immunofluorescence protocol and image outcome.


0 Q&A 2726 Views Oct 5, 2021

Advances in C. elegans research have allowed scientists to recapitulate different human disorders, from neurodegenerative diseases to muscle dysfunction, in these nematodes. Concomitantly, the interest in visualizing organs affected by these conditions has grown, leading to the establishment of different antibody- and dye-based staining protocols to verify tissue morphology. In particular, the quality of muscle tissue has been largely used in nematodes as a readout for fitness and healthspan. Phalloidin derivatives, which are commonly used to stain actin filaments in cells and tissues, have been implemented in the context of C. elegans research for visualization of muscle fibers. However, the majority of the phalloidin-based protocols depend on fixation steps using harmful compounds, preparation of specific buffers, and large amounts of worms. Herein, we implemented a safer and more flexible experimental procedure to stain actin filaments in C. elegans using phalloidin-based dyes. Lyophilization of the worms followed by their acetone permeabilization allows bypassing the fixation process while also providing the opportunity to suspend the experiment at different steps. Moreover, by using conventional buffers throughout our protocol, we avoid the additional preparation of solutions. Finally, our protocol requires a limited number of worms, making it suitable for slow-growing C. elegans strains. Overall, this protocol provides an efficient, fast, and safer method to stain actin filaments and visualize muscle fibers in C. elegans.


Graphic abstract:


Schematic overview of phalloidin staining in C. elegans for assessing muscle fiber morphology.


0 Q&A 3985 Views Sep 5, 2021

Skeletal muscles generate force throughout life and require maintenance and repair to ensure efficiency. The population of resident muscle stem cells (MuSCs), termed satellite cells, dwells beneath the basal lamina of adult myofibres and contributes to both muscle growth and regeneration. Upon exposure to activating signals, MuSCs proliferate to generate myoblasts that differentiate and fuse to grow or regenerate myofibres. This myogenic progression resembles aspects of muscle formation and development during embryogenesis. Therefore, the study of MuSCs and their associated myofibres permits the exploration of muscle stem cell biology, including the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying muscle formation, maintenance and repair. As most aspects of MuSC biology have been described in rodents, their relevance to other species, including humans, is unclear and would benefit from comparison to an alternative vertebrate system. Here, we describe a procedure for the isolation and immunolabelling or culture of adult zebrafish myofibres that allows examination of both myofibre characteristics and MuSC biology ex vivo. Isolated myofibres can be analysed for morphometric characteristics such as the myofibre volume and myonuclear domain to assess the dynamics of muscle growth. Immunolabelling for canonical stemness markers or reporter transgenes identifies MuSCs on isolated myofibres for cellular/molecular studies. Furthermore, viable myofibres can be plated, allowing MuSC myogenesis and analysis of proliferative and differentiative dynamics in primary progenitor cells. In conclusion, we provide a comparative system to amniote models for the study of vertebrate myogenesis, which will reveal fundamental genetic and cellular mechanisms of MuSC biology and inform aquaculture.


Graphic abstract:


Schematic of Myofibre Isolation and Culture of Muscle Stem Cells from Adult Zebrafish.


0 Q&A 3469 Views Mar 5, 2020
Lipid mixing (redistribution of lipid probes between fusing membranes) has been widely used to study early stages of relatively fast viral and intracellular fusion processes that take seconds to minutes. Lipid mixing assays are especially important for identification of hemifusion intermediates operationally defined as lipid mixing without content mixing. Due to unsynchronized character and the slow rate of the differentiation processes that prime the cells for cell-cell fusion processes in myogenesis, osteoclastogenesis and placentogenesis, these fusions take days. Application of lipid mixing assays to detect early fusion intermediates in these very slow fusion processes must consider the continuous turnover of plasma membrane components and potential fusion-unrelated exchange of the lipid probes between the membranes. Here we describe the application of lipid mixing assay in our work on myoblast fusion stage in development and regeneration of skeletal muscle cells. Our approach utilizes conventional in vitro model of myogenic differentiation and fusion based on murine C2C12 cells. When we observe the appearance of first multinucleated cells, we lift the cells and label them with either fluorescent lipid DiI as a membrane probe or CellTrackerTM Green as a content probe. Redistribution of the probes between the cells is scored by fluorescence microscopy. Hemifused cells are identified as mononucleated cells labeled with both content- and membrane probes. The interpretation must be supported by a system of negative controls with fusion-incompetent cells to account for and minimize contributions of fusion-unrelated exchange of the lipid probes. This approach with minor modifications has been used for investigating fusion of primary murine myoblasts, osteoclast precursors and fusion mediated by a gamete fusogen HAP2, and likely can be adopted for other slow cell-cell fusion processes.
0 Q&A 5150 Views Feb 20, 2020
Whole transcriptome analysis is a key method in biology that allows researchers to determine the effect a condition has on gene regulation. One difficulty in RNA sequencing of muscle is that traditional methods are performed on the whole muscle, but this captures non-myogenic cells that are part of the muscle. In order to analyze only the transcriptome of myofibers we combine single myofiber isolation with SMART-Seq to provide high resolution genome wide expression of a single myofiber.
0 Q&A 4967 Views Oct 20, 2019
Mammalian skeletal muscle is a metabolically active tissue that is made up of different types of muscle fibers. These myofibers are made up of important contractile proteins that provide force during contraction of the muscle like actin and myosin. Murine myofibers have been classified into 4 types: Type I, Type IIa, Type IIb and Type IIX. Each muscle fiber has been identified with specific type of MyHC expressed, which in turn gives differential contractility to the muscle.

There have been well-known methodologies to identify different myofibers: histochemical myosin ATPase staining which uses the differential ATPase activity between slow and fast fibers, quantification of metabolic enzymes like malate dehydrogenase and lactate dehydrogenase on specific fragments of muscle fibers. The drawback of these techniques is that they cannot differentiate the subtypes of myofibers, for example, Type IIa and Type IIb. They should be used in conjunction with other known histochemical staining techniques. Here, we devise a direct and robust immunohistochemical staining methodology that utilizes the differential expression of MyHC isoforms in different myofibers types, thus efficiently distinguishing the heterogeneity of the muscle fibers. We use antibodies that specifically recognize Type I, Type IIa and Type IIb fibers on serially cut frozen mouse tibialis anterior sections that can be quantified by ImageJ software.
0 Q&A 5805 Views Jul 20, 2018
Here we describe a simple method to measure larval muscle contraction and locomotion behavior. The method enables the user to acquire data, without the necessity of using expensive equipment (Rotstein et al., 2018). To measure contraction and locomotion behaviour, single larvae are positioned at the center of a humidified Petri dish. Larval movement is recorded over time using the movie function of a consumer digital camera. Subsequently, videos are analyzed using ImageJ (Rueden et al., 2017) for distance measurements and counting of contractions. Data are represented as box or scatter plots using GraphPad Prism (©GraphPad Software).



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