Cell-based therapies hold the potential to alleviate the growing burden of liver diseases. Such therapies require human hepatocytes, which, within the stromal context of the liver, are capable of many rounds of replication. However, this ability is lost ex vivo and human hepatocyte sourcing has been limiting many fields of research for decades. Here, we developed a high-throughput screening platform for primary human hepatocytes to identify small molecules in two different classes that can be used to generate renewable sources of functional human hepatocytes. One class induced functional proliferation of primary human hepatocytes in vitro. The second class enhanced hepatocyte functions and promoted differentiation of iPS-derived hepatocytes, toward a phenotype more mature than what was previously obtainable. The identification of these small molecules can help to address a major challenge impacting many facets of liver research and may lead to the development of novel therapeutics for liver diseases.
The Plasmodium liver stage is an attractive target for the development of anti-malarial drugs and vaccines, as it provides an opportunity to interrupt the life cycle of the parasite at a critical early stage. However, targeting the liver stage has been difficult. Undoubtedly, a major barrier has been the lack of robust, reliable and reproducible in vitro liver stage cultures. Here, we establish the liver stages for both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax in a microscale human liver platform composed of cryopreserved, micropatterned human primary hepatocytes surrounded by supportive stromal cells. Using this system, we have successfully recapitulated the full liver stage of P. falciparum including the release of infected merozoites and infection of overlaid erythrocytes, and also the establishment of small forms in late liver stages of P. vivax. Finally, we validate the potential of this platform as a tool for medium-throughput anti-malarial drug screening and vaccine development.
Summary: There is a strong and growing need in the biology research community for accurate, automated image analysis. Here, we describe CellProfiler 2.0, which has been engineered to meet the needs of its growing user base. It is more robust and user friendly, with new algorithms and features to facilitate high-throughput work. ImageJ plugins can now be run within a CellProfiler pipeline.
Availability and Implementation: CellProfiler 2.0 is free and open source, available at http://www.cellprofiler.org under the GPL v. 2 license. It is available as a packaged application for Macintosh OS X and Microsoft Windows and can be compiled for Linux.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
The cellular content of mitochondria changes dynamically during development and in response to external stimuli, but the underlying mechanisms remain obscure. To systematically identify molecular probes and pathways that control mitochondrial abundance, we developed a high-throughput imaging assay that tracks both the per cell mitochondrial content and the cell size in confluent human umbilical vein endothelial cells. We screened 28,786 small molecules and observed that hundreds of small molecules are capable of increasing or decreasing the cellular content of mitochondria in a manner proportionate to cell size, revealing stereotyped control of these parameters. However, only a handful of compounds dissociate this relationship. We focus on one such compound, BRD6897, and demonstrate through secondary assays that it increases the cellular content of mitochondria as evidenced by fluorescence microscopy, mitochondrial protein content, and respiration, even after rigorous correction for cell size, cell volume, or total protein content. BRD6897 increases uncoupled respiration 1.6-fold in two different, non-dividing cell types. Based on electron microscopy, BRD6897 does not alter the percent of cytoplasmic area occupied by mitochondria, but instead, induces a striking increase in the electron density of existing mitochondria. The mechanism is independent of known transcriptional programs and is likely to be related to a blockade in the turnover of mitochondrial proteins. At present the molecular target of BRD6897 remains to be elucidated, but if identified, could reveal an important additional mechanism that governs mitochondrial biogenesis and turnover.
An ensemble of genetic networks that describe how the model fungal system, Neurospora crassa, utilizes quinic acid (QA) as a sole carbon source has been identified previously. A genetic network for QA metabolism involves the genes, qa-1F and qa-1S, that encode a transcriptional activator and repressor, respectively and structural genes, qa-2, qa-3, qa-4, qa-x, and qa-y. By a series of 4 separate and independent, model-guided, microarray experiments a total of 50 genes are identified as QA-responsive and hypothesized to be under QA-1F control and/or the control of a second QA-responsive transcription factor (NCU03643) both in the fungal binuclear Zn(II)2Cys6 cluster family. QA-1F regulation is not sufficient to explain the quantitative variation in expression profiles of the 50 QA-responsive genes. QA-responsive genes include genes with products in 8 mutually connected metabolic pathways with 7 of them one step removed from the tricarboxylic (TCA) Cycle and with 7 of them one step removed from glycolysis: (1) starch and sucrose metabolism; (2) glycolysis/glucanogenesis; (3) TCA Cycle; (4) butanoate metabolism; (5) pyruvate metabolism; (6) aromatic amino acid and QA metabolism; (7) valine, leucine, and isoleucine degradation; and (8) transport of sugars and amino acids. Gene products both in aromatic amino acid and QA metabolism and transport show an immediate response to shift to QA, while genes with products in the remaining 7 metabolic modules generally show a delayed response to shift to QA. The additional QA-responsive cutinase transcription factor-1β (NCU03643) is found to have a delayed response to shift to QA. The series of microarray experiments are used to expand the previously identified genetic network describing the qa gene cluster to include all 50 QA-responsive genes including the second transcription factor (NCU03643). These studies illustrate new methodologies from systems biology to guide model-driven discoveries about a core metabolic network involving carbon and amino acid metabolism in N. crassa.
Previous studies have shown that plant mitochondrial movements are myosin-based along actin filaments, which undergo continuous turnover by the exchange of actin subunits from existing filaments. Although earlier studies revealed that actin filament dynamics are essential for many functions of the actin cytoskeleton, there are little data connecting actin dynamics and mitochondrial movements.
We addressed the role of actin filament dynamics in the control of mitochondrial movements by treating cells with various pharmaceuticals that affect actin filament assembly and disassembly. Confocal microscopy of Arabidopsis thaliana root hairs expressing GFP-FABD2 as an actin filament reporter showed that mitochondrial distribution was in agreement with the arrangement of actin filaments in root hairs at different developmental stages. Analyses of mitochondrial trajectories and instantaneous velocities immediately following pharmacological perturbation of the cytoskeleton using variable-angle evanescent wave microscopy and/or spinning disk confocal microscopy revealed that mitochondrial velocities were regulated by myosin activity and actin filament dynamics. Furthermore, simultaneous visualization of mitochondria and actin filaments suggested that mitochondrial positioning might involve depolymerization of actin filaments on the surface of mitochondria.
Base on these results we propose a mechanism for the regulation of mitochondrial speed of movements, positioning, and direction of movements that combines the coordinated activity of myosin and the rate of actin turnover, together with microtubule dynamics, which directs the positioning of actin polymerization events.
The mitochondrion has a central role during programmed cell death (PCD) in animals, acting as both a sensor of death signals, and as an initiator of the biochemical processes which lead to the controlled destruction of the cell. In contrast to our extensive knowledge of animal cell death, the part played by mitochondria in the death of plant cells has received relatively little attention. Using a combination of whole-organism and cell-based models, we recently demonstrated that changes in mitochondrial morphology are an early and crucial step in plant cell death. Here, we discuss these findings in the light of recent literature, and how they relate to our knowledge of plant cell death as a whole.
mitochondria; cell death; mitochondrial dynamics; morphology
Fuller's rose weevil, Naupactus cervinus (Boheman) (Curculionidae: Entiminae), is an important quarantine pest of New Zealand kiwifruit exported to Asian markets. Both adults and larvae are considered to be polyphagous. In this study, the survival of larval N. cervinus was estimated on common groundcover species of kiwifruit (Actinidia spp.) in the Bay of Plenty, the main region in New Zealand where kiwifruit is grown. The botanical composition of groundcover in commercial kiwifruit orchards, characterised by survey, was dominated by ryegrass (Lolium perenne), with white clover (Trifolium repens), creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens), wild strawberry (Duchesnea indica) and broadleaf dock (Rumex obtusifolius) in lower abundance. Survival to mature larvae or adult was relatively low (·11%) for N. cervinus introduced as neonates to field plots or potted ryegrass, white clover and broadleaf dock. White clover was a more favourable host for survival to adults than ryegrass. This study suggests that increased survival of N. cervinus larvae may occur where white clover and large dock plants are abundant, but that survival is likely to be highly variable because of the heterogeneous availability of preferred host plants and host plant quality. These data suggest that larval polyphagy is a strategy that enables N. cervinus to persist at low densities in kiwifruit orchards despite variation in the quality and diversity of groundcover.
Actinidia spp. Fuller rose beetle; larvae; polyphagy; Lolium perenne; Trifolium repens; Ranunculus repens; Duchesnea indica; Rumex obtusifolius
The products of five structural genes and two regulatory genes of the qa gene cluster of Neurospora crassa control the
metabolism of quinic acid (QA) as a carbon source. A detailed genetic network model of this metabolic process has been
reported. This investigation is designed to expand the current model of the QA reaction network. The ensemble method of
network identification was used to model RNA profiling data on the qa gene cluster. Through microarray and cluster analysis,
genome-wide identification of RNA transcripts associated with quinic acid metabolism in N. crassa is described and suggests a
connection to other metabolic circuits. More than 100 genes whose products include carbon metabolism, protein degradation
and modification, amino acid metabolism and ribosome synthesis appear to be connected to quinic acid metabolism. The core
of the qa gene cluster network is validated with respect to RNA profiling data obtained from microarrays.
genetic networks; quinic acid; qa gene cluster; genome; microarray
Candida albicans is a dimorphic fungus that can grow in yeast morphology or hyphal form depending on the surrounding environment. This ubiquitous fungus is present in skin and mucus membranes as a potential pathogen that under opportunistic conditions causes a series of systemic and superficial infections known as candidiasis, moniliasis or simply candidiasis. There has been a steady increase in the prevalence of candidiasis that is expressed in more virulent forms of infection. Although candidiasis is commonly manifested as mucocutaneous disease, life-threatening systemic invasion by this fungus can occur in every part of the body. The severity of candidal infections is associated with its morphological shift such that the hyphal morphology of the fungus is most invasive. Of importance, aberrant multiplication of Candida yeast is also associated with the pathogenesis of certain mucosal diseases. In this study, we assessed the anti-candidal activity of the volatile anesthetic isoflurane in liquid form in comparison with the anti-fungal agent amphotericin B in an in vitro culture system. Exposure of C. albicans to isoflurane (0.3% volume/volume and above) inhibited multiplication of yeast as well as formation of hyphae. These data suggest development of potential topical application of isoflurane for controlling a series of cutaneous and genital infections associated with this fungus. Elucidiation of the mechanism by which isoflurane effects fungal growth could offer therapeutic potential for certain systemic fungal infections.
The typical “design” approach to image-based assay development involves choosing measurements that are likely to correlate with the phenotype of interest, based on the researcher’s intuition and knowledge of image analysis. An alternate “screening” approach is to measure a large number of cellular features and systematically test each feature to identify those that are best able to distinguish positive and negative controls while taking precautions to avoid overfitting the available data. The cell measurement software the authors previously developed, CellProfiler, makes both approaches straightforward, easing the process of assay development. Here, they demonstrate the use of the screening approach to image assay development to select the best measures for scoring publicly available image sets of 2 cytoplasm-to-nucleus translocation assays and 2 Transfluor assays. The authors present the resulting assay quality measures as a baseline for future algorithm comparisons, and all software, methods, and images they present are freely available.
high-throughput screening; high-content screening; image-based screening; open-source software; assay development