0 Q&A 110 Views Nov 5, 2023

Measuring the action potential (AP) propagation velocity in axons is critical for understanding neuronal computation. This protocol describes the measurement of propagation velocity using a combination of somatic whole cell and axonal loose patch recordings in brain slice preparations. The axons of neurons filled with fluorescent dye via somatic whole-cell pipette can be targeted under direct optical control using the fluorophore-filled pipette. The propagation delays between the soma and 5–7 axonal locations can be obtained by analyzing the ensemble averages of 500–600 sweeps of somatic APs aligned at times of maximal rate-of-rise (dV/dtmax) and axonal action currents from these locations. By plotting the propagation delays against the distance, the location of the AP initiation zone becomes evident as the site exhibiting the greatest delay relative to the soma. Performing linear fitting of the delays obtained from sites both proximal and distal from the trigger zone allows the determination of the velocities of AP backward and forward propagation, respectively.

Key features

• Ultra-thin axons in cortical slices are targeted under direct optical control using the SBFI-filled pipette.

• Dual somatic whole cell and axonal loose patch recordings from 5–7 axonal locations.

• Ensemble averaging of 500–600 sweeps of somatic APs and axonal action currents.

• Plotting the propagation delays against the distance enables the determination of the trigger zone's position and velocities of AP backward and forward propagation.

0 Q&A 248 Views Oct 5, 2023

Disruptions and perturbations of the cellular plasma membrane by peptides have garnered significant interest in the elucidation of biological phenomena. Typically, these complex processes are studied using liposomes as model membranes—either by encapsulating a fluorescent dye or by other spectroscopic approaches, such as nuclear magnetic resonance. Despite incorporating physiologically relevant lipids, no synthetic model truly recapitulates the full complexity and molecular diversity of the plasma membrane. Here, biologically representative membrane models, giant plasma membrane vesicles (GPMVs), are prepared from eukaryotic cells by inducing a budding event with a chemical stressor. The GPMVs are then isolated, and bilayers are labelled with fluorescent lipophilic tracers and incubated in a microplate with a membrane-active peptide. As the membranes become damaged and/or aggregate, the resulting fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between the two tracers increases and is measured periodically in a microplate. This approach offers a particularly useful way to detect perturbations when the membrane complexity is an important variable to consider. Additionally, it provides a way to kinetically detect damage to the plasma membrane, which can be correlated with the kinetics of peptide self-assembly or structural rearrangements.

Key features

• Allows testing of various peptide–membrane interaction conditions (peptide:phospholipid ratio, ionic strength, buffer, etc.) at once.

• Uses intact plasma membrane vesicles that can be prepared from a variety of cell lines.

• Can offer comparable throughput as with traditional synthetic lipid models (e.g., dye-encapsulated liposomes).

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 358 Views Oct 5, 2023

Tracking macrophages by non-invasive molecular imaging can provide useful insights into the immunobiology of inflammatory disorders in preclinical disease models. Perfluorocarbon nanoemulsions (PFC-NEs) have been well documented in their ability to be taken up by macrophages through phagocytosis and serve as 19F magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tracers of inflammation in vivo and ex vivo. Incorporation of near-infrared fluorescent (NIRF) dyes in PFC-NEs can help monitor the spatiotemporal distribution of macrophages in vivo during inflammatory processes, using NIRF imaging as a complementary methodology to MRI. Here, we discuss in depth how both colloidal and fluorescence stabilities of the PFC-NEs are essential for successful and reliable macrophage tracking in vivo and for their detection in excised tissues ex vivo by NIRF imaging. Furthermore, PFC-NE quality assures NIRF imaging reproducibility and reliability across preclinical studies, providing insights into inflammation progression and therapeutic response. Previous studies focused on assessments of colloidal property changes in response to stress and during storage as a means of quality control. We recently focused on the joint evaluation of both colloidal and fluorescence properties and their relationship to NIRF imaging outcomes. In this protocol, we summarize the key assessments of the fluorescent dye–labeled nanoemulsions, which include long-term particle size distribution monitoring as the measure of colloidal stability and monitoring of the fluorescence signal. Due to its simplicity and reproducibility, our protocols are easy to adopt for researchers to assess the quality of PFC-NEs for in vivo NIRF imaging applications.

0 Q&A 368 Views Sep 20, 2023

Device-induced thrombosis remains a major complication of extracorporeal life support (ECLS). To more thoroughly understand how blood components interact with the artificial surfaces of ECLS circuit components, assessment of clot deposition on these surfaces following clinical use is urgently needed. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), which produces high-resolution images at nanoscale level, allows visualization and characterization of thrombotic deposits on ECLS circuitry. However, methodologies to increase the quantifiability of SEM analysis of ECLS circuit components have yet to be applied clinically. To address these issues, we developed a protocol to quantify clot deposition on ECLS membrane oxygenator gas transfer fiber sheets through digital and SEM imaging techniques. In this study, ECLS membrane oxygenator fiber sheets were obtained, fixed, and imaged after use. Following a standardized process, the percentage of clot deposition on both digital images and SEM images was quantified using ImageJ through blind reviews. The interrater reliability of quantitative analysis among reviewers was evaluated. Although this protocol focused on the analysis of ECLS membrane oxygenators, it is also adaptable to other components of the ECLS circuits such as catheters and tubing.

Key features

• Quantitative analysis of clot deposition using digital and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) techniques

• High-resolution images at nanoscale level

• Extracorporeal life support (ECLS) devices

• Membrane oxygenators

• Blood-contacting surfaces

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 425 Views Mar 5, 2023

Lipid droplets (LD), triglycerides and sterol esters among them, are well known for their capacity as lipid storage organelles. Recently, they have emerged as critical cytoplasmic structures involved in numerous biological functions. LD storage is generated de novo by the cell and provides an energy reserve, lipid precursors, and cell protection. Moreover, LD accumulation can be observed in some pathologies as obesity, atherosclerosis, or lung diseases. Fluorescence imaging techniques are the most widely used techniques to visualize cellular compartments in live cells, including LD. Nevertheless, presence of fluorophores can damage subcellular components and induce cytotoxicity, or even alter the dynamics of the organelles. As an alternative to fluorescence microscopy, label-free techniques such as stimulated Raman scattering and coherent anti-stokes Raman scattering microscopy offer a solution to avoid the undesirable effects caused by dyes and fluorescent proteins, but are expensive and complex. Here, we describe a label-free method using live-cell imaging by 3D holotomographic microscopy (Nanolive) to visualize LD accumulation in the MH-S alveolar macrophage cell line after treatment with oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that promotes lipid accumulation.

0 Q&A 588 Views Feb 20, 2023

The cell surfaceome is of vital importance across physiology, developmental biology, and disease states alike. The precise identification of proteins and their regulatory mechanisms at the cell membrane has been challenging and is typically determined using confocal microscopy, two-photon microscopy, or total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRFM). Of these, TIRFM is the most precise, as it harnesses the generation of a spatially delimited evanescent wave at the interface of two surfaces with distinct refractive indices. The limited penetration of the evanescent wave illuminates a narrow specimen field, which facilitates the localization of fluorescently tagged proteins at the cell membrane but not inside of the cell. In addition to constraining the depth of the image, TIRFM also significantly enhances the signal-to-noise ratio, which is particularly valuable in the study of live cells. Here, we detail a protocol for micromirror TIRFM analysis of optogenetically activated protein kinase C-ϵ in HEK293-T cells, as well as data analysis to demonstrate the translocation of this construct to the cell-surface following optogenetic activation.

Graphic abstract

0 Q&A 779 Views Dec 5, 2022

Cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) is a formidable technique to observe the inner workings of vitrified cells at a nanometric resolution in near-native conditions and in three-dimensions. One consequent drawback of this technique is the sample thickness, for two reasons: i) achieving proper vitrification of the sample gets increasingly difficult with sample thickness, and ii) cryo-ET relies on transmission electron microscopy (TEM), requiring thin samples for proper electron transmittance (<500 nm). For samples exceeding this thickness limit, thinning methods can be used to render the sample amenable for cryo-ET. Cryo-focused ion beam (cryo-FIB) milling is one of them and despite having hugely benefitted the fields of animal cell biology, virology, microbiology, and even crystallography, plant cells are still virtually unexplored by cryo-ET, in particular because they are generally orders of magnitude bigger than bacteria, viruses, or animal cells (at least 10 μm thick) and difficult to process by cryo-FIB milling. Here, we detail a preparation method where abaxial epidermal onion cell wall peels are separated from the epidermal cells and subsequently plunge frozen, cryo-FIB milled, and screened by cryo-ET in order to acquire high resolution tomographic data for analyzing the organization of the cell wall.

0 Q&A 1246 Views Nov 20, 2022

The study and use of decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM) in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and pathophysiology have become more prevalent in recent years. To obtain dECM, numerous decellularization procedures have been developed for the entire organ or tissue blocks, employing either perfusion of decellularizing agents through the tissue’s vessels or submersion of large sections in decellularizing solutions. However, none of these protocols are suitable for thin tissue slices (less than 100 µm) or allow side-by-side analysis of native and dECM consecutive tissue slices. Here, we present a detailed protocol to decellularize tissue sections while maintaining the sample attached to a glass slide. This protocol consists of consecutive washes and incubations of simple decellularizing agents: ultrapure water, sodium deoxycholate (SD) 2%, and deoxyribonuclease I solution 0.3 mg/mL (DNase I). This novel method has been optimized for a faster decellularization time (2–3 h) and a better correlation between dECM properties and native tissue-specific biomarkers, and has been tested in different types of tissues and species, obtaining similar results. Furthermore, this method can be used for scarce and valuable samples such as clinical biopsies.

0 Q&A 2213 Views Nov 5, 2022

Cryo-focused ion beam (FIB) milling of vitrified specimens is emerging as a powerful method for in situ specimen preparation. It allows for the preservation of native and near-native conditions in cells, and can reveal the molecular structure of protein complexes when combined with cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) and sub-tomogram averaging. Cryo-FIB milling is often performed on plunge-frozen specimens of limited thickness. However, this approach may have several disadvantages, including low throughput for cells that are small, or at low concentration, or poorly distributed across accessible areas of the grid, as well as for samples that may adopt a preferred orientation. Here, we present a detailed description of the “Waffle Method” protocol for vitrifying thick specimens followed by a semi-automated milling procedure using the Thermo Fisher Scientific (TFS) Aquilos 2 cryo-FIB/scanning electron microscope (SEM) instrument and AutoTEM Cryo software to produce cryo-lamellae. With this protocol, cryo-lamellae may be generated from specimens, such as microsporidia spores, yeast, bacteria, and mammalian cells, as well as purified proteins and protein complexes. An experienced lab can perform the entire protocol presented here within an 8-hour working day, resulting in two to three cryo-lamellae with target thicknesses of 100–200 nm and dimensions of approximately 12 μm width and 15–20 μm length. For cryo-FIB/SEMs with particularly low-contamination chambers, the protocol can be extended to overnight milling, resulting in up to 16 cryo-lamellae in 24 h.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 1007 Views Nov 5, 2022

Aptamers have been selected with strong affinity and high selectivity for a wide range of targets, as recently highlighted by the development of aptamer-based sensors that can differentiate infectious from non-infectious viruses, including human adenovirus and SARS-CoV-2. Accurate determination of the binding affinity between the DNA aptamers and their viral targets is the first step to understanding the molecular recognition of viral particles and the potential uses of aptamers in various diagnostics and therapeutic applications. Here, we describe protocols to obtain the binding curve of the DNA aptamers to SARS-CoV-2 using Enzyme-Linked Oligonucleotide Assay (ELONA) and MicroScale Thermophoresis (MST). These methods allow for the determination of the binding affinity of the aptamer to the infectious SARS-CoV-2 and the selectivity of this aptamer against the same SARS-CoV-2 that has been rendered non-infectious by UV inactivation, and other viruses. Compared to other techniques like Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay (EMSA), Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR), and Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC), these methods have advantages for working with larger particles like viruses and with samples that require biosafety level 2 facilities.

0 Q&A 728 Views Nov 5, 2022

Reconstitution of membrane proteins into large unilamellar vesicles is an essential approach for their functional analysis under chemically defined conditions. The orientation of the protein in the liposomal membrane after reconstitution depends on many parameters, and its assessment is important prior to functional measurements. Common approaches for determining the orientation of a membrane-inserted protein are based on limited proteolytic digest, impermeable labeling reagents for specific amino acids, or membrane-impermeable quenchers for fluorescent proteins. Here, we describe a simple site-specific fluorescent assay based on self-labeling enzyme tags to determine the orientation of membrane proteins after reconstitution, exemplified on a reconstituted SNAP-tag plant H+-ATPase. This versatile method should benefit the optimization of reconstitution conditions and the analysis of many types of membrane proteins.

Graphical abstract: