Herein we have explored two practical aspects of cryopreserving cultured mammalian cells during routine laboratory maintenance. First, we have examined the possibility of using a serum-free, hence more affordable, cryopreservative. Using five mammalian lines (Crandell Feline Kidney, MCF7, A72, WI 38 and NB324K), we found that the serum-free alternative preserves nearly as efficiently as the serum-containing preservatives. Second, we compared cryostorage of those cells in suspended versus a pellet form using both aforementioned cryopreservatives. Under our conditions, cells were in general recovered equally well in a suspended versus a pellet form.
Cryopreservation; Cells, Cultured; Culture Media, Serum-Free
Experimental modulation of capsule size is an important technique for the study of the virulence of the encapsulated pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. In this paper, we summarize the techniques available for experimental modulation of capsule size in this yeast and describe improved methods to induce capsule size changes. The response of the yeast to the various stimuli is highly dependent on the cryptococcal strain. A high CO2 atmosphere and a low iron concentration have been used classically to increase capsule size. Unfortunately, these stimuli are not reliable for inducing capsular enlargement in all strains. Recently we have identified new and simpler conditions for inducing capsule enlargement that consistently elicited this effect. Specifically, we noted that mammalian serum or diluted Sabouraud broth in MOPS buffer pH 7.3 efficiently induced capsule growth. Media that slowed the growth rate of the yeast correlated with an increase in capsule size. Finally, we summarize the most commonly used media that induce capsule growth in C. neoformans.
Cryptococcus neoformans; Infection; Virulence
The discovery of oncogenes and signal transduction
pathways important for mitogenesis has triggered the development of
target-specific small molecule anti-cancer compounds. As exemplified by
imatinib (Gleevec), a specific inhibitor of the Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
(CML)-associated Bcr-Abl kinase, these agents promise impressive activity in
clinical trials, with low levels of clinical toxicity. However, such therapy is
susceptible to the emergence of drug resistance due to amino acid substitutions
in the target protein. Defining the spectrum of such mutations is important for
patient monitoring and the design of next-generation inhibitors. Using imatinib
and BCR/ABL as a paradigm for a drug-target pair, we recently reported a
retroviral vector-based screening strategy to identify the spectrum of
resistance-conferring mutations. Here we provide a detailed methodology for the
screen, which can be generally applied to any drug-target pair.
Genes, ABL; Chronic myeloid leukemia; Drug resistance
It is widely understood that tumor cells express tumor-associated antigens (TAAs), of which many are usually in low immunogenicity; for example, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is specifically expressed on human colon cancer cells and is viewed as a low-immunogenic TAA. How to activate host immunity against specific TAAs and to suppress tumor growth therefore becomes important in cancer therapy development.
To enhance the immune efficiency of CEA in mice that received, we fused a partial CEA gene with exogenous SARS-CoV fragments. Oral vaccination of an attenuated Salmonella typhimurium strain transformed with plasmids encoding CEA-SARS-CoV fusion gene into BALB/c mice elicited significant increases in TNF-α and IL-10 in the serum. In addition, a smaller tumor volume was observed in CT26/CEA-bearing mice who received CEA-SARS-CoV gene therapy in comparison with those administered CEA alone.
The administration of fusing CEA-SARS-CoV fragments may provide a promising strategy for strengthening the anti-tumor efficacy against low-immunogenic endogenous tumor antigens.
immunotherapy; tumor-derived peptide; tumor vaccine; low-immunogenicity
The APCmin/+ mouse is commonly used in cancer research and is just one of many genetically altered models that is currently being developed. With high numbers of breeding programs, it is important to have a simple method that can be used to genotype the mice non-invasively. Here we report a reproducible method for genotyping mice with DNA extracted from fecal samples. Comparison of fecal results with those obtained from intestinal tissue DNA and clinical outcome (presence/absence of tumors) showed this technique to have 100% accuracy. This non-invasive method of genotyping may be applied to other transgenic mouse models.
APCmin/+; feces; genotyping; cancer; non-invasive
In the preparation of transgenic murine ES cells it is important to verify the construct has a single insertion, because an ectopic neomycin phosphortransferase positive selection cassette (NEO) may cause a position effect. During a recent work, where a knockin SCA28 mouse was prepared, we developed two assays based on Real-Time PCR using both SYBR Green and specific minor groove binder (MGB) probes to evaluate the copies of NEO using the comparative delta-delta Ct method versus the Rpp30 reference gene.
We compared the results from Southern blot, routinely used to quantify NEO copies, with the two Real-Time PCR assays. Twenty-two clones containing the single NEO copy showed values of 0.98 ± 0.24 (mean ± 2 S.D.), and were clearly distinguishable from clones with two or more NEO copies.
This method was found to be useful, easy, sensitive and fast and could substitute for the widely used, but laborious Southern blot method.
A cell-counting algorithm, developed in Matlab®, was created to efficiently count migrated fluorescently-stained cells on membranes from migration assays. At each concentration of cells used (10,000, and 100,000 cells), images were acquired at 2.5 ×, 5 ×, and 10 × objective magnifications. Automated cell counts strongly correlated to manual counts (r2 = 0.99, P < 0.0001 for a total of 47 images), with no difference in the measurements between methods under all conditions. We conclude that our automated method is accurate, more efficient, and void of variability and potential observer bias normally associated with manual counting.
automated cell counting; threshold; migration assays; manual cell counting
We describe here a method to rapidly convert any desirable DNA fragment, as small as 100 bp, into long tandem DNA arrays up to 140 kb in size that are inserted into a microbe vector. This method includes rolling-circle phi29 amplification (RCA) of the sequence in vitro and assembly of the RCA products in vivo by homologous recombination in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The method was successfully used for a functional analysis of centromeric and pericentromeric repeats and construction of new vehicles for gene delivery to mammalian cells. The method may have general application in elucidating the role of tandem repeats in chromosome organization and dynamics. Each cycle of the protocol takes ~ two weeks to complete.
Although yeast two-hybrid experiments are commonly used to identify protein interactions, the frequent occurrence of false negatives and false positives hampers data interpretation. Using both yeast one-hybrid and two-hybrid experiments, we have identified potential sources of these problems: the media preparation protocol and the source of the yeast nitrogen base may not only impact signal range but also effect whether a result appears positive or negative. While altering media preparation may optimize signal differences for individual experiments, media preparation must be reported in detail to replicate studies and accurately compare results from different experiments.
Yeast one-hybrid; yeast two-hybrid; protein-protein interaction; accuracy; false positive; false negative
DNA isolation from C. neoformans is difficult due to a thick and resistant capsule. We have optimized a new and rapid DNA isolation method for Cryptococcus using a short urea treatment followed by a rapid method using a chelex resin suspension. This procedure is simpler than previously reported methods.
Rodent models have been used extensively to study mammary gland development and for studies of toxicology and carcinogenesis. Mammary gland gross morphology can visualized via the excision of intact mammary gland chains following fixation and staining with carmine using a tissue preparation referred to as a whole mount. Methods are described for the automated collection of digital images from an entire mammary gland whole mount and for the interrogation of digital data using a "masking" technique available with Image-Pro® plus image analysis software (Mediacybernetics. Silver Spring, MD).
Parallel to mammographic analysis in humans, measurements of rodent mammary gland density were derived from area-based or volume-based algorithms and included: total circumscribed mammary fat pad mass, mammary epithelial mass, and epithelium-free fat pad mass. These values permitted estimation of absolute mass of mammary epithelium as well as breast density. The biological plausibility of these measurements was evaluated in mammary whole mounts from rats and mice. During mammary gland development, absolute epithelial mass increased linearly without significant changes in mammographic density. Treatment of rodents with tamoxifen, 9-cis-retinoic acid, or ovariectomy, and occurrence of diet induced obesity decreased both absolute epithelial mass and mammographic density. The area and volumetric methods gave similar results.
Digital image analysis can be used for screening agents for potential impact on reproductive toxicity or carcinogenesis as well as for mechanistic studies, particularly for cumulative effects on mammary epithelial mass as well as translational studies of mechanisms that explain the relationship between epithelial mass and cancer risk.
We describe a simple and reproducible method to measure absolute telomere length (aTL) using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). This method is based on the Cawthon method for relative measurement of telomere length (TL) but modified by introducing an oligomer standard to measure aTL. The method describes the oligomer standards, the generation of the standard curve and the calculations required to calculate aTL from the qPCR data. The necessary controls and performance characteristics of the assay are described in detail and compared relative to other methods for measuring TL. Typical results for this assay for a variety of human tissue samples are provided as well as a troubleshooting schedule. This method allows high throughput measurement of aTL using small amounts of DNA making it amenable for molecular epidemiological studies. Compared to the traditional relative TL qPCR assays, the aTL method described in this protocol enables a more direct comparison of results between experiments within and between laboratories.
Real-time quantitative RT-PCR (RT-qPCR) is a "gold" standard for measuring steady state mRNA levels in RNA interference assays. The knockdown of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene with eight individual EGFR small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) was estimated by RT-qPCR using three different RT-qPCR primer sets.
Our results indicate that accurate measurement of siRNA efficacy by RT-qPCR requires careful attention for the selection of the primers used to amplify the target EGFR mRNA.
We conclude that when assessing siRNA efficacy with RT-qPCR, more than one primer set targeting different regions of the mRNA should be evaluated and at least one of these primer sets should amplify a region encompassing the siRNA recognition sequence.
NF-κB regulates several important expressions, such as cytokine release, anti-apoptosis, adhesion molecule expression, and cell cycle processing. Several NF-κB inhibitors have been discovered as an anti-tumor or anti-inflammatory drug. The activity of NF-κB transcription factor is negatively regulated by IκB binding. In this study, IκB assay system was established and IκB–EGFP fusion protein was used as an indicator to monitor the effects of substances on the IκB degradation. The results indicated that the chosen hydroquinone could inhibit the IκB degradation and cause the cell de-attachment from the bottom of culture plate. In addition, this system could also monitor the IκB degradation of microbial metabolite of natural mixtures of propolis. Thus, the IκB assay system may be a good system for drug discovery related to microbial metabolite.
Microbial metabolite; Antioxidant; IκB; EGFP; Hydroquinone; Propolis
The use of architectural and morphological characteristics of cells for establishing prognostic indicators by which individual pathologies are assigned grade and stage is a well-accepted practice. Advances in automated micro- and macroscopic image acquisition and digital image analysis have created new opportunities in the field of prognostic assessment; but, one area in experimental pathology, animal models for colon cancer, has not taken advantage of these opportunities. This situation is primarily due to the methods available to evaluate the colon of the rodent for the presence of premalignant and malignant pathologies. We report a new method for the excision and processing of the entire colon of the rat and illustrate how this procedure permitted the quantitative assessment of aberrant crypt foci (ACF), a premalignant colon pathology, for characteristics consistent with progression to malignancy. ACF were detected by methylene blue staining and subjected to quantitative morphometric analysis. Colons were then restained with high iron diamine–alcian blue for assessment of mucin depletion using an image overlay to associate morphometric data with mucin depletion. The subsequent evaluation of ACF for beta-catenin staining is also demonstrated. The methods described are particularly relevant to the screening of compounds for cancer chemopreventive activity.
colon carcinogenesis; aberrant crypt foci; mucin depletion; beta-catenin; image analysis; morphometry
There are several traditional and well-developed methods for analyzing the activity of transcription factors, such as EMSA, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and reporter gene activity assays. All of these methods have their own distinct disadvantages, but none can analyze the changes in transcription factors in the few cells that are cultured in the wells of 96-well titer plates. Thus, a new microsphere-based immunoassay to measure the activity of transcription factors (MIA-TF) was developed. In MIA-TF, NeutrAvidin-labeled microspheres were used as the solid phase to capture biotin-labeled double-strand DNA fragments which contain certain transcription factor binding elements. The activity of transcription factors was detected by immunoassay using a transcription factor-specific antibody to monitor the binding with the DNA probe. Next, analysis was performed by flow cytometry. The targets hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) were applied and detected in this MIA-TF method; the results that we obtained demonstrated that this method could be used to monitor the changes of NF-κB or HIF within 50 or 100 ng of nuclear extract. Furthermore, MIA-TF could detect the changes in NF-κB or HIF in cells that were cultured in wells of a 96-well plate without purification of the nuclear protein, an important consideration for applying this method to high-throughput assays in the future. The development of MIA-TF would support further progress in clinical analysis and drug screening systems. Overall, MIA-TF is a method with high potential to detect the activity of transcription factors.
transcription factor; microsphere-based immunoassay; NF-κB; HIF-1
Development of antimitotic binding to the colchicine-binding site for the treatment of cancer is rapidly expanding. Numerous antimicrotubule agents are prepared every year, and the determination of their binding affinity to tubulin requires the use of purified tubulins and radiolabeled ligands. Such a procedure is costly and time-consuming and therefore is limited to the most promising candidates. Here, we report a quick and inexpensive method that requires only usual laboratory resources to assess the binding of antimicrotubules to colchicine-binding site. The method is based on the ability of N,N'-ethylene-bis(iodoacetamide) (EBI) to crosslink in living cells the cysteine residues at position 239 and 354 of β-tubulin, residues which are involved in the colchicine-binding site. The β-tubulin adduct formed by EBI is easily detectable by Western blot as a second immunoreacting band of β-tubulin that migrates faster than β-tubulin. The occupancy of colchicine-binding site by pertinent antimitotics inhibits the formation of the EBI: β-tubulin adduct, resulting in an assay that allows the screening of new molecules targeting this binding site.
colchicine-binding site inhibitor; taxol-binding site inhibitor; N,N'-ethylene-bis(iodoacetamide); EBI; tubulin affinity assay; antimicrotubule agent
Indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase (IDO) is a potent immunomodulatory enzyme that has recently attracted significant attention for its potential application as an inducer of immunotolerance in transplantation. We have previously demonstrated that a collagen matrix populated with IDO-expressing fibroblasts can be applied successfully in suppressing islet allogeneic immune response. Meanwhile, a critical aspect of such immunological intervention relies largely on effective long-term expression of the IDO gene. Moreover, gene manipulation of primary cells is known to be challenging due to unsatisfactory expression of the exogenous gene. In this study, a lentiviral gene delivery system has been employed to transduce primary fibroblasts. We used polybrene to efficiently deliver the IDO gene into primary fibroblasts and showed a significant increase (about tenfold) in the rate of gene transfection. In addition, by the use of fluorescence-activated cell sorting, a 95% pure population of IDO-expressing fibroblasts was successfully obtained. The efficiency of the IDO expression and the activity of the enzyme have been confirmed by Western blotting, fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis, and Kynurenine assay, respectively. The findings of this study revealed simple and effective strategies through which an efficient and stable expression of IDO can be achieved for primary cells which, in turn, significantly improves its potential as a tool for achieving immunotolerance in different types of transplantation.
Lentiviral vector; Indoleamine 2; 3 dioxygenase; Primary fibroblast; Transplantation; Immunogenicity
Northern blot hybridization is a useful tool for analyzing transcript patterns. To get a picture of what really occurs in vivo, it is necessary to use a protocol allowing full protection of the RNA integrity and recovery and unbiased transfer of the entire transcripts population. Many protocols suffer from severe limitations including only partial protection of the RNA integrity and/or loss of small sized molecules. Moreover, some of them do not allow an efficient and even transfer in the entire sizes range. These difficulties become more prominent in streptomycetes, where an initial quick lysis step is difficult to obtain. We present here an optimized northern hybridization protocol to purify, fractionate, blot, and hybridize Streptomyces RNA. It is based on grinding by a high-performance laboratory ball mill, followed by prompt lysis with acid phenol-guanidinium, alkaline transfer, and hybridization to riboprobes. Use of this protocol resulted in sharp and intense hybridization signals relative to long mRNAs previously difficult to detect.
streptomycetes; total RNA purification; RNA processing; RNA degradation; RNA glyoxylation; alkaline blotting; northern hybridization
Laser capture microdissection (LCM) enables collection of cell populations highly enriched for specific cell types that have the potential of yielding critical information about physiological and pathophysiological processes. One use of cells collected by LCM is for gene expression profiling. Samples intended for transcript analyses should be of the highest quality possible. RNA degradation is an ever-present concern in molecular biological assays, and LCM is no exception. This paper identifies issues related to preparation, collection, and processing in a lipid-rich tissue, rodent mammary gland, in which the epithelial to stromal cell ratio is low and the stromal component is primarily adipocytes, a situation that presents numerous technical challenges for high-quality RNA isolation. Our goal was to improve the procedure so that a greater probe set present call rate would be obtained when isolated RNA was evaluated using Affymetrix microarrays. The results showed that the quality of RNA isolated from epithelial cells of both mammary gland and mammary adenocarcinomas was high with a probe set present call rate of 65% and a high signal-to-noise ratio.
Laser capture microdissection; Mammary epithelial cells; RNA quality
The aim of this study was to compare different cell sources and culture conditions to obtain endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) with predictable antigen pattern, proliferation potential and in vitro vasculogenesis. Pig mononuclear cells were isolated from blood (PBMCs) and bone marrow (BMMCs). Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were also derived from pig bone marrow. Cells were cultured on fibronectin in the presence of a high concentration of VEGF and low IGF-1 and FGF-2 levels, or on gelatin with a lower amount of VEGF and higher IGF-1 and FGF-2 concentrations. Endothelial commitment was relieved in almost all PBMCs and BMMCs irrespective of the protocol used, whilst MSCs did not express a reliable pattern of EPC markers under these conditions. BMMCs were more prone to expand on gelatin and showed a better viability than PBMCs. Moreover, about 90% of the BMMCs pre-cultured on gelatin could adhere to a hyaluronan-based scaffold and proliferate on it up to 3 days. Pre-treatment of BMMCs on fibronectin generated well-shaped tubular structures on Matrigel, whilst BMMCs exposed to the gelatin culture condition were less prone to form vessel-like structures. MSCs formed rough tubule-like structures, irrespective of the differentiating condition used. In a relative short time, pig BMMCs could be expanded on gelatin better than PBMCs, in the presence of a low amount of VEGF. BMMCs could better specialize for capillary formation in the presence of fibronectin and an elevated concentration of VEGF, whilst pig MSCs anyway showed a limited capability to differentiate into the endothelial cell lineage.
Blood Cells; Bone Marrow Cells; Cell Proliferation; Cell Survival; Mesenchymal Stem Cells; Physiologic Neovascularization
The intention of this review is to provide an overview of current methodologies employed in the rapidly developing field of ocular proteomics with emphasis on sample preparation, two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2D-PAGE) and mass spectrometry (MS). Appropriate sample preparation for the diverse range of cells and tissues of the eye is essential to ensure reliable results. Current methods of protein staining for 2D-PAGE, protein labelling for two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis, gel-based expression analysis and protein identification by MS are summarised. The uses of gel-free MS-based strategies (MuDPIT, iTRAQ, ICAT and SILAC) are also discussed. Proteomic technologies promise to shed new light onto ocular disease processes that could lead to the discovery of strong novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets useful in many ophthalmic conditions.
ocular proteomics; sample preparation; 2D-PAGE; 2D-DIGE; mass spectrometry
Subtraction technique has been broadly applied for target gene discovery. However, most current protocols apply relative differential subtraction and result in great amount clone mixtures of unique and differentially expressed genes. This makes it more difficult to identify unique or target-orientated expressed genes. In this study, we developed a novel method for subtraction at mRNA level by integrating magnetic particle technology into driver preparation and tester–driver hybridization to facilitate uniquely expressed gene discovery between peanut immature pod and leaf through a single round subtraction. The resulting target clones were further validated through polymerase chain reaction screening using peanut immature pod and leaf cDNA libraries as templates. This study has resulted in identifying several genes expressed uniquely in immature peanut pod. These target genes can be used for future peanut functional genome and genetic engineering research.
Peanut; subtraction; gene discovery; cDNA library; hybridization; mRNA
Analgesic and anesthetic drugs may have an impact on the results achieved from animal experiments. In the study presented here, we try to enlighten whether anesthesia with fentanyl/fluniasone and midazolam (Hypnorm and Dormicum) has an influence on measurements of hemoglobin in mice. In a cross-over study, we have compared hemoglobin levels in two groups of mice: anesthetized versus non-anesthetized and found significant decrease in hemoglobin levels in the anesthetized group (p < 0.05) unrelated to which group received the anesthesia. The mean hemoglobin levels after intraperitoneal administration of Hypnorm and Dormicum was 8.7 mmol/L compared to mean hemoglobin 9.9 mmol/L before anesthesia (p < 0.001), and the decrease lasted for more than 30 min. These results show that anesthesia can be an important confounder in studies involving measurements of hemoglobin, and this should be taken into account when planning studies and analyzing data.
anesthesia; hemoglobin; in vivo; fentanyl; midazolam