The reliability of estimating muscle fiber cross-sectional area (measure of muscle fiber size) and fiber number from only a subset of fibers in rat hindlimb muscle cross-sections has not been systematically evaluated. This study examined the variability in mean estimates of fiber cross-sectional area as a function of the number of fibers measured, and tested whether counting a subset of fibers in a cross-section could predict total fiber number in middle-aged rats.
Soleus and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscle cross-sections from 23-month-old, male Fisher 344 x Brown Norway rats were stained for myofibrillar ATPase activity to identify muscle fiber type (either type I [slow-twitch] or II [fast-twitch]) and laminin to facilitate fiber cross-sectional measurements. We outlined the circumference of 1000 to 1600 single muscle fibers for measurement of fiber cross-sectional area within muscle sections. Mean type I fiber cross-sectional area was based on soleus muscle sections which were predominantly composed of type I muscle fibers. Mean type II fiber cross-sectional area was based on EDL muscle sections which were predominantly composed of type II muscle fibers. A bootstrapping resampling technique demonstrated that variability in sampling distribution of mean type I and II fiber cross-sectional areas decreased and gradually stabilized as the number of fibers measured increased with large declines in variability occurring at numbers below 150 fibers. Coefficients of variation for bootstrapped mean type I fiber cross-sectional areas were lower than for type II. In the same muscle sections, total fiber number was compared to fiber numbers within 1, 2, 3, and 4 fixed field areas (10x magnification; 1000 x 1500 pixels in size/field) on the cross-section. Fiber numbers from 3 to 4 fields (approximating 15 to 20% of the cross-section) provided a reasonably predictive value of total fiber number (r=0.57-0.59, P=0.003).
These data describe a pattern of improved precision in estimating mean fiber cross-sectional area as sample size of fibers measured increases to at least 150 in this rat model. Counting 15-20% of the fibers in cross-sections provides a reasonably reliable estimate of the total fiber number.
Skeletal muscle; Muscle fiber cross-sectional area; Fiber number; Myofibrillar ATPase activity
Specific applications and modern technologies, like non-invasive prenatal testing, non-invasive cancer diagnostic and next generation sequencing, are currently in the focus of researchers worldwide. These have common characteristics in use of highly fragmented DNA molecules for analysis. Hence, for the performance of molecular methods, DNA concentration is a crucial parameter; we compared the influence of different levels of DNA fragmentation on the accuracy of DNA concentration measurements.
In our comparison, the performance of the currently most commonly used methods for DNA concentration measurement (spectrophotometric, fluorometric and qPCR based) were tested on artificially fragmented DNA samples. In our comparison, unfragmented and three specifically fragmented DNA samples were used.
According to our results, the level of fragmentation did not influence the accuracy of spectrophotometric measurements of DNA concentration, while other methods, fluorometric as well as qPCR-based, were significantly influenced and a decrease in measured concentration was observed with more intensive DNA fragmentation.
Our study has confirmed that the level of fragmentation of DNA has significant impact on accuracy of DNA concentration measurement with two of three mostly used methods (PicoGreen and qPCR). Only spectrophotometric measurement was not influenced by the level of fragmentation, but sensitivity of this method was lowest among the three tested. Therefore if it is possible the DNA quantification should be performed with use of equally fragmented control DNA.
DNA fragmentation; DNA quantitation; Spectrophotometry; PicoGreen; qPCR
The wide application of next-generation sequencing (NGS), mainly through whole genome, exome and transcriptome sequencing, provides a high-resolution and global view of the cancer genome. Coupled with powerful bioinformatics tools, NGS promises to revolutionize cancer research, diagnosis and therapy. In this paper, we review the recent advances in NGS-based cancer genomic research as well as clinical application, summarize the current integrative oncogenomic projects, resources and computational algorithms, and discuss the challenge and future directions in the research and clinical application of cancer genomic sequencing.
Next generation sequencing; Cancer research; Clinical application
TALEs (transcription activator-like effectors) are powerful molecules that have broad applications in genetic and epigenetic manipulations. The simple design of TALEs, coupled with high binding predictability and specificity, is bringing genome engineering power to the standard molecular laboratory. Currently, however, custom TALE assembly is either costly or limited to few research centers, due to complicated assembly protocols, long set-up time and specific training requirements.
We streamlined a Golden Gate-based method for custom TALE assembly. First, by providing ready-made, quality-controlled monomers, we eliminated the procedures for error-prone and time-consuming set-up. Second, we optimized the protocol toward a fast, two-day assembly of custom TALEs, based on four thermocycling reactions. Third, we increased the versatility for diverse downstream applications by providing series of vector sets to generate both TALENs (TALE nucleases) and TALE-TFs (TALE-transcription factors) under the control of different promoters. Finally, we validated our system by assembling a number of TALENs and TALE-TFs with DNA sequencing confirmation. We further demonstrated that an assembled TALE-TF was able to transactivate a luciferase reporter gene and a TALEN pair was able to cut its target.
We established and validated a do-it-yourself system that enables individual researchers to assemble TALENs and TALE-TFs within 2 days. The simplified TALE assembly combined with multiple choices of vectors will facilitate the broad use of TALE technology.
TALEN; TALE-TF; Golden Gate; Transcription-activator-like effector
With the prompt developments of regenerative medicine, the potential clinical applications of human embryonic stem cells have attracted intense attention. However, the labor-intensive and complex manual cell selection processes required during embryonic stem cell culturing have seriously limited large-scale production and broad applications. Thus, availability of a label-free, non-invasive platform to replace the current cumbersome manual selection has become a critical need.
A non-invasive, label-free, and time-efficient optical platform for determining the quality of human embryonic stem cell colonies was developed by analyzing the scattering signals from those stem cell colonies. Additionally, confocal microscopy revealed that the cell colony morphology and surface structures were correlated with the resulting characteristic light scattering patterns. Standard immunostaining assay (Oct-4) was also utilized to validate the quality-determination from this light scattering protocol. The platform developed here can therefore provide identification accuracy of up to 87% for colony determination.
Our study here demonstrated that light scattering patterns can serve as a feasible alternative approach to replace conventional manual selection for human embryonic stem cell cultures.
Light-scattering; Human embryonic stem cell; Pluripotency; Label-free detection
To explore a new method of kidney biopsy with coaxial trocar and bard biopsy gun under low dose computed tomography (CT)-guidance and evaluate its accuracy, safety, and efficacy.
Sixty patients underwent renal biopsy under CT-guidance. They were randomly divided into two groups: group I, low dose CT-guided (120 kV and 25 or 50 mAs) and group II, standard dose CT-guided (120 kV and 250 mAs). For group I, the coaxial trocar was accurately placed adjacent to the renal capsule of the lower pole, the needle core was removed, and samples were obtained with a bard biopsy gun. For group II, the coaxial trocar was not used. Total number of passes, mean biopsy diameter, mean glomeruli per specimen, mean operation time, mean scanning time, and mean radiation dose were noted. Dose-length product (DLP) was used to calculate the radiation doses. After 24 hours of the biopsy, ultrasound was repeated to identify any subcapsular hematoma.
Success rate of biopsy in group I was 100% while using low dose CT-guidance along with coaxial trocar renal. There was no statistic differences bewteen group I and II in the total number of passes, mean biopsy diameter, mean glomeruli per specimen and mean time of operation and CT scanning. The average DLP of group I was lower as compared to the value of group II (p <0.05).
Kidney biopsy using coaxial trocar and bard biopsy gun under low dose CT was an accurate, simple and safe method for diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. It can be used for repeat and multiple biopsies, particularly suitable for obese and renal atrophy patients in whom the kidneys are difficult to image.
Kidney biopsy; Low dose CT scanning; Bard biopsy gun; Coaxial trocar
Ageing male DBA/1 mice spontaneously develop arthritis in the hind paws. We and others have demonstrated that this model shares striking features with human spondyloarthritis, in particular entheseal involvement, progressive ankylosis but also dactylitis. Here, we report on our recent experience with this model highlighting how changes in the animal facility affect the development of the disease.
Ageing male DBA/1 mice from different litters were caged together (6 mice per cage) at the age of 10 weeks. The mice were checked twice a week for clinical signs of arthritis. Disease severity was assessed in further detail post-mortem by scoring for histomorphological characteristics. DBA/1 mice spontaneously develop macroscopically detectable arthritis, presenting as joint swelling or toe stiffness. Standard settings with open cages lead to an almost 100% incidence by the age of 26 weeks. The introduction of larger cages and filter tops reducing exposure to other cages dramatically affected incidence. Other negative factors include excess bedding material reducing the impact of walking and running. Switching back to the original conditions resulted again in a high incidence, further optimized by sensory exposure to female mice. We also showed that the related DBA/2 strain is sensitive to the disease.
Changing environmental factors in the housing conditions of DBA/1 mice severely affects the spontaneous development of arthritis. This points out that the model is very sensitive to external stress and sensory factors that are likely affecting the behavior of the male mice and that the model needs to be optimized in different situations.
Spondyloarthritis; Spontaneous arthritis; Behavioral factors; Ankylosis
This protocol outlines and evaluates a modified scanning procedure for a customized spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) imaging apparatus within the wild-type C57Bl/6 mouse posterior segment. This modified protocol allows for the capture of a 50 degree field of view spanning 3 mm by 3 mm perimeter with the optic disc as the central point. By utilizing this scanning protocol a more reliable measurement of retinal thickness can be achieved outside the fluctuating region of the optic disc. This protocol, when applied to this high resolution device, enables non-invasive in vivo histological imaging and biometric assessment of the various layers of the rodent posterior segment within a 20 – 30 min procedural time-frame. This protocol could establish a standardized method for evaluating morphological changes, with this commercial SDOCT device, when assessing longitudinal disease pathophysiology and treatment response in mouse models for future vision science research.
Spectral domain optical coherence tomography; Customized; Retinal imaging; Mouse
Transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs) are a class of naturally occurring transcription effectors that recognize specific DNA sequences and modulate gene expression. The modularity of TALEs DNA binding domain enables sequence-specific perturbation and offers broad applications in genetic and epigenetic studies. Although the efficient construction of TALEs has been established, robust functional tools to assess their functions remain lacking.
We established a dual reporter system that was specifically designed for real-time monitoring and quantifying gene expression mediated by TALEs. We validated both sensitivity and specificity of this dual-reporter system in mammalian cells, and demonstrated that this dual reporter system is robust and potentially amenable to high throughput (HTP) applications.
We have designed, constructed and validated a novel dual reporter system for assessing TALE mediated gene regulations. This system offers a robust and easy-to- use tool for real-time monitoring and quantifying gene expression in mammalian cells.
Dual reporter; Gene editing; Transcription activator-like effector; Green fluorescent protein; Firefly luciferase
Adipose stem cells have a strong potential for use in cell-based therapy, but the current nucleofection technique, which relies on unknown buffers, prevents their use.
We developed an optimal nucleofection formulation for human adipose stem cells by using a three-step method that we had developed previously. This method was designed to determine the optimal formulation for nucleofection that was capable of meeting or surpassing the established commercial buffer (Amaxa), in particular for murine adipose stem cells. By using this same buffer, we determined that the same formulation yields optimal transfection efficiency in human mesenchymal stem cells.
Our findings suggest that transfection efficiency in human stem cells can be boosted with proper formulation.
Electroporation; Formulation; Stem cells; Transfection; Cell therapy
Tumor cell lines that can be tracked in vivo during tumorigenesis and metastasis provide vital tools for studying the specific cellular mechanisms that mediate these processes as well as investigating therapeutic targets to inhibit them. The goal of this study was to engineer imageable mouse mammary tumor cell lines with discrete propensities to metastasize to bone in vivo. Two novel luciferase expressing cell lines were developed and characterized for use in the study of breast cancer metastasis to bone in a syngeneic mouse model.
The 4 T1.2 luc3 and 66c14 luc2 cell lines were shown to have high levels of bioluminescence intensity in vitro and in vivo after orthotopic injection into mouse mammary fat pads. The 4 T1.2 luc3 cell line was found to closely model the sites of metastases seen in human patients including lung, liver, and bone. Specifically, 4 T1.2 luc3 cells demonstrated a high incidence of metastasis to spine, with an ex-vivo BLI intensity three orders of magnitude above the commercially available 4 T1 luc2 cells. 66c14 luc2 cells also demonstrated metastasis to spine, which was lower than that of 4 T1.2 luc3 cells but higher than 4 T1 luc2 cells, in addition to previously unreported metastases in the liver. High osteolytic activity of the 4 T1.2 luc3 cells in vivo in the bone microenvironment was also detected.
The engineered 4 T1.2 luc3 and 66c14 luc2 cell lines described in this study are valuable tools for studying the cellular events moderating the metastasis of breast tumor cells to bone.
Breast cancer; Mammary cancer; Bone metastasis; in vivo imaging; 4 T1 cells; 4 T1.2 cells; Osteolysis; Syngeneic Balb/c model
PTEN is an important tumour suppressor gene that is mutated in Cowden syndrome as well as various sporadic cancers. CpG island hypermethylation is another route to tumour suppressor gene inactivation, however, the literature regarding PTEN hypermethylation in cancer is controversial. Furthermore, investigation of the methylation status of the PTEN CpG island is challenging due to sequence homology with the PTEN pseudogene, PTENP1. PTEN shares a CpG island promoter with another gene known as KLLN. Here we present a thorough reinvestigation of the methylation status of the PTEN CpG island in DNA from colorectal, breast, ovarian, glioma, lung and haematological cancer cell lines.
Using a range of bisulphite-based PCR assays we investigated 6 regions across the PTEN CpG island. We found that regions 1-4 were not methylated in cancer cell lines (0/36). By allelic bisulphite sequencing and pyrosequencing methylation was detected in regions 5 and 6 in colorectal, breast and haematological cancer cell lines. However, methylation detected in this region was associated with the PTENP1 promoter and not the PTEN CpG island.
We show that methylation of the PTEN CpG island is a rare event in cancer cell lines and that apparent methylation most likely originates from homologous regions of the PTENP1 pseudogene promoter. Future studies should utilize assays that reliably discriminate between PTEN and PTENP1 to avoid data misinterpretation.
DNA methylation; Epigenetic; PTEN; KILLIN; PTENP1; Pseudogene; Cowden syndrome
Traditional analyses of calcium homeostasis have separately quantified either calcium accumulation or release mechanisms. To define the system as a whole, however, requires multiple experimental techniques to examine both accumulation and release. Here we describe a technique that couples the simultaneous quantification of radio-labeled calcium accumulation in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) microsomes with the release of inorganic phosphate (Pi) by the hydrolytic activity of sarco-endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase (SERCA) all in the convenience of a 96-well format.
Calcium; SERCA activity; Microsomes; Inorganic phosphate; Malachite green
Quantifying tetrodotoxin (TTX) has been a challenge in both ecological and medical research due to the cost, time and training required of most quantification techniques. Here we present a modified Competitive Inhibition Enzymatic Immunoassay for the quantification of TTX, and to aid researchers in the optimization of this technique for widespread use with a high degree of accuracy and repeatability.
Tetrodotoxin; CIEIA; HPLC
Auscultation is an approach for diagnosing many cardiovascular problems. Automatic analysis of heartbeat sounds and extraction of its audio features can assist physicians towards diagnosing diseases. Textual transcription allows recording a continuous heart sound stream using a text format which can be stored in very small memory in comparison with other audio formats. In addition, a text-based data allows applying indexing and searching techniques to access to the critical events. Hence, the transcribed heartbeat sounds provides useful information to monitor the behavior of a patient for the long duration of time. This paper proposes a frequency shifting method in order to improve the performance of the transcription. The main objective of this study is to transfer the heartbeat sounds to the music domain. The proposed technique is tested with 100 samples which were recorded from different heart diseases categories. The observed results show that, the proposed shifting method significantly improves the performance of the transcription.
Dynamic chromatin structure is a fundamental property of gene transcriptional regulation, and has emerged as a critical modulator of physiological processes during cellular differentiation and development. Analysis of chromatin structure using molecular biology and biochemical assays in rare somatic stem and progenitor cells is key for understanding these processes but poses a great challenge because of their reliance on millions of cells. Through the development of a miniaturized genome-scale chromatin immunoprecipitation method (miniChIP–chip), we have documented the genome-wide chromatin states of low abundant populations that comprise hematopoietic stem cells and immediate progeny residing in murine bone marrow. In this report, we describe the miniChIP methodology that can be used for increasing an understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms underlying hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell function. Application of this method will reveal the contribution of dynamic chromatin structure in regulating the function of other somatic stem cell populations, and how this process becomes perturbed in pathological conditions.
Miniaturized chromatin immunoprecipitation assays; Microarray technology; Histone modifications; Stem and progenitor cells; Epigenetic regulation; Lineage commitment
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.