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1.  Spontaneous arthritis and ankylosis in male DBA/1 mice: further evidence for a role of behavioral factors in “stress-induced arthritis” 
Background
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.
Findings
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1480-9222-14-10
PMCID: PMC3537550  PMID: 23253472
Spondyloarthritis; Spontaneous arthritis; Behavioral factors; Ankylosis
2.  Modified protocol for in vivo imaging of wild-type mouse retina with customized miniature spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) device 
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.
doi:10.1186/1480-9222-14-9
PMCID: PMC3520836  PMID: 23057840
Spectral domain optical coherence tomography; Customized; Retinal imaging; Mouse
3.  A robust dual reporter system to visualize and quantify gene expression mediated by transcription activator-like effectors 
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1480-9222-14-8
PMCID: PMC3509018  PMID: 22871120
Dual reporter; Gene editing; Transcription activator-like effector; Green fluorescent protein; Firefly luciferase
4.  Competitive DNA transfection formulation via electroporation for human adipose stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells 
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
Our findings suggest that transfection efficiency in human stem cells can be boosted with proper formulation.
doi:10.1186/1480-9222-14-7
PMCID: PMC3388581  PMID: 22512891
Electroporation; Formulation; Stem cells; Transfection; Cell therapy
5.  Novel mouse mammary cell lines for in vivo bioluminescence imaging (BLI) of bone metastasis 
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1480-9222-14-6
PMCID: PMC3473320  PMID: 22510147
Breast cancer; Mammary cancer; Bone metastasis; in vivo imaging; 4 T1 cells; 4 T1.2 cells; Osteolysis; Syngeneic Balb/c model
6.  A reinvestigation of somatic hypermethylation at the PTEN CpG island in cancer cell lines 
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1480-9222-14-5
PMCID: PMC3342897  PMID: 22490388
DNA methylation; Epigenetic; PTEN; KILLIN; PTENP1; Pseudogene; Cowden syndrome
7.  A microplate technique to simultaneously assay calcium accumulation in endoplasmic reticulum and SERCA release of inorganic phosphate 
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.
doi:10.1186/1480-9222-14-4
PMCID: PMC3388579  PMID: 22472432
Calcium; SERCA activity; Microsomes; Inorganic phosphate; Malachite green
8.  An improved competitive inhibition enzymatic immunoassay method for tetrodotoxin quantification 
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.
doi:10.1186/1480-9222-14-3
PMCID: PMC3337821  PMID: 22410273
Tetrodotoxin; CIEIA; HPLC
9.  Enhancement of anti-murine colon cancer immunity by fusion of a SARS fragment to a low-immunogenic carcinoembryonic antigen 
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1480-9222-14-2
PMCID: PMC3298716  PMID: 22304896
immunotherapy; tumor-derived peptide; tumor vaccine; low-immunogenicity
10.  A method for non-invasive genotyping of APCmin/+ mice using fecal samples 
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.
doi:10.1186/1480-9222-14-1
PMCID: PMC3293049  PMID: 22284906
APCmin/+; feces; genotyping; cancer; non-invasive

Results 1-10 (10)