We present a method to visualize cuticle in live C. elegans using the red fluorescent lipophilic dye DiI (1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate), which is commonly used in C. elegans to visualize environmentally exposed neurons. With this optimized protocol, alae and annular cuticular structures are stained by DiI and observed using compound microscopy.
The easiness of maintaining and propagating the nematode C. elegans make it a nice model organism to work with. The possibility of synchronizing worms allows the work with a significant amount of subjects at the same developmental stage, what facilitates the study of one particular process in many animals.
We describe a sensitized method to identify postembryonic regulators of protein expression and localization in C. elegans using an RNAi-based genomic screen and an integrated transgene that expresses a functional, fluorescently tagged protein.
In this article we present a general protocol for measuring life span of nematodes maintained on solid media with UV-killed bacterial food.
The C. elegans embryo is a powerful system for studying cell biology and development. We present a protocol for live imaging of C. elegans embryos utilizing DIC optics or fluorescence using readily available epifluorescent microscopes and open-source software.
Here we describe methods to test C. elegans associative learning and short- and long-term associative memory. These population assays employ the worms abilities to chemotax toward volatile odorants, and form positive associations upon pairing food with the chemoattractant butanone. Increasing the number of conditioning periods induces long-term memory.
Microfluidic-based Electrotaxis for On-demand Quantitative Analysis of Caenorhabditis elegans' Locomotion
A semi-automated micro-electro-fluidic method to induce on-demand locomotion in Caenorhabditis elegans is described. This method is based on the neurophysiologic phenomenon of worms responding to mild electric fields (“electrotaxis”) inside microfluidic channels. Microfluidic electrotaxis serves as a rapid, sensitive, low-cost, and scalable technique to screen for factors affecting neuronal health.
Here we present a protocol for performing solid plate-based dietary restriction in C. elegans with killed bacteria.
We have developed a video-rate tracking microscope system that can record and quantify C. elegans behavior at high resolution and high speeds. We have also developed computational methods to reduce the dimensionality of the worm images to a fundamental set of measurements that completely describe the shape of the worm.
The model organism C. elegans uses pseudocoelomic fluid as a passive circulatory system. Direct assay of this fluid has not been previously possible. Here we present a novel technique to directly assay the extracellular space, and use systemic silencing signals during an RNAi response as a proof of principle example.
A protocol for isolating and activating spermatids from male C. elegans is described here. Cutting the posterior end of male releases spermatids. The spermatids can be activated by addition of protease.
A procedure for liquid-based culturing and dispensing of C. elegans strains expressing fluorescent reporter proteins is described that does not require expensive sorting equipment. This approach can be applied to numerous inducible C. elegans genes for drug discovery or biosensing of contaminants.
The intensely studied nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans can be transgenically engineered to express the human β-amyloid peptide (Aβ). Induced expression of Aβ in C. elegans muscle leads to a rapid, reproducible paralysis phenotype that can be used to monitor treatments that modulate Aβ toxicity.
In this protocol we present a method to measure Caenorhabditis elegans lifespan in 96 well microtiter plates.
Transgenic worms are commonly used in C. elegans research. Described is a simple, yet effective, protocol to introduce transgenes into worms using biolistic bombardment with DNA-coated gold particles. The effort involved and results of bombardment compare favorably with microinjection for the generation of transgenic animals.
Described here is an in vivo technique to image sub-cellular structures in animals exposed to anoxia using a gas flow through microincubation chamber in conjunction with a spinning disc confocal microscope. This method is straightforward and flexible enough to suit a variety of experimental parameters and model systems.
A method of quantitatively evaluating the chemotactic response of Caenorhabditis elegans is described. A chemotactic index (CI) was employed as a way to precisely evaluate the response of worms to certain targets, and serve as a platform of comparison between strains and compounds of interest.
1Center for Human Genetic Research and Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 2Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
We present robust biochemical and microscopic methods for studying Caenorhabditis elegans lipid stores. A rapid, simple, fixing-staining procedure for fluorescent lipid droplet imaging leverages the spectral properties of the lipophilic dye Nile red. We then present biochemical measurement of triglycerides and phospholipids using solid phase extraction and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
1Department of Radiation Oncology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, 2Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Pittsburgh
The ability to produce transgenes for Caenorhabditis elegans using genomic DNA carried by fosmids is particularly attractive as all of the native regulatory elements are retained. Described is a simple and robust procedure for the production of transgenes via recombineering with the galK selectable marker.
We describe a protocol using C. elegans and RNAi feeding libraries that allows automated measurement of multiple parameters such as fluorescence, size and opacity of individual worms in a population. We give one example of a screen to identify genes involved in anti-fungal innate immunity in C. elegans.
A protocol to cut neurons in C. elegans with a MicroPoint pulsed laser is presented. We describe setting up the system, immobilizing worms, and severing labeled neurons. Advantages include a relatively low-cost system and the ability to sever neuronal processes or ablate cells in vivo.
With its small transparent body, well-documented neuroanatomy and a host of amenable genetic techniques and reagents, C. elegans makes an ideal model organism for in vivo neuronal imaging using relatively simple, low-cost techniques. Here we describe single neuron imaging within intact adult animals using genetically encoded fluorescent calcium indicators.
1Department of Biological Sciences and Institute for Neuroscience, George Washington University, 2Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 3Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, University of California San Francisco
Here we describe a molecular readout of long-term olfactory adaptation in Caenorhabditis elegans. The Protein Kinase G, EGL-4, is necessary for stable adaptation responses in the primary sensory neuron pair called AWC. During prolonged odor exposure EGL-4 translocates from the cytosol to nucleus of the AWC.
The abundance of neurotransmitter receptors clustered at synapses strongly influences synaptic strength. This method quantifies fluorescently-labeled neurotransmitter receptors in three dimensions with single-synapse resolution in C. elegans, allowing hundreds of synapses to be rapidly characterized within a single sample without distortions introduced by z-plane projection.
Using RNA-mediated Interference Feeding Strategy to Screen for Genes Involved in Body Size Regulation in the Nematode C. elegans
1Department of Science, Borough of Manhattan Community College, City Universtiy of New York (CUNY), 2Department of Biology, Queens College, The City University of New York (CUNY), 3Biochemistry Program, The Graduate Center, Queens College, The City University of New York (CUNY)
We demonstrate how to use the RNAi feeding technique to knock down target genes and score body size phenotype in C. elegans. This method could be used for a large scale screen to identify potential genetic components of interest, such as those involved in body size regulation by DBL-1/TGF-β signaling.
Stable Isotopic Profiling of Intermediary Metabolic Flux in Developing and Adult Stage Caenorhabditis elegans
Stable isotopic profiling by gas chromatography mass spectrometric analysis of intermediary metabolic flux is described in the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans. Methods are detailed for assessing isotopic enrichment in carbon dioxide, organic acids, and amino acids following isotope exposure either during development on agar plates or during adulthood in liquid culture.
This video demonstrates the technique of microinjection into the gonad of C. elegans to create transgenic animals.
This paper details how to use continuous-flow hypoxia chambers to generate atmospheres with defined concentrations of O2 to understand biological responses to decreased O2. This system is easy to setup and maintain, and flexible enough to suit a wide range of O2 concentrations and model systems
This video demonstrates how to employ two neural stimulants, aldicarb and pentylenetetrazole (PTZ), in complementary ways to study synaptic function in the nematode, C. elegans. This complementary approach may also be used to shed light on evolutionarily conserved mechanisms for modulating neuronal synchrony and has implications for epilepsy and seizures.
Application of a C. elegans Dopamine Neuron Degeneration Assay for the Validation of Potential Parkinson's Disease Genes
This video demonstrates how to use C. elegans to assess dopaminergic neuron neurodegeneration as a model for Parkinson's disease. Furthermore, genetic screens are used to identify factors that either enhance degeneration or are neuroprotective.
Microscopic organisms like the free-swimming nematode C. elegans, live and behave in a complex three-dimensional environment. We report on a novel approach that provides analysis of C. elegans using diffraction patterns. This approach consists of tracking the temporal periodicity of diffraction patterns generated by directing laser light through a cuvette.
A simple microfluidic device has been developed to perform anesthetic free in vivo imaging of C. elegans, intact Drosophila larvae and zebrafish larvae. The device utilizes a deformable PDMS membrane to immobilize these model organisms in order to perform time lapse imaging of numerous processes such as heart beat, cell division and sub-cellular neuronal transport. We demonstrate the use of this device and show examples of different types of data collected from different model systems.
Here are some highlights from the August 2011 Issue of Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE).
Laser axotomy followed by time-lapse imaging is a sensitive way to assay the effects of mutations in C. elegans on axon regeneration. A high quality, but inexpensive, laser ablation system can be easily added to most microscopes. Time lapse imaging over 15 hours requires careful immobilization of the worm.
This article describes a technique for the visualization of the early events of embryogenesis in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.
Here are some highlights from the January 2012 Issue of Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE).
Microarray analysis was conducted to determine genetic expression profiles in C. elegans, and real-time PCR was used to validate and quantify microarray data.
We describe methods to study aspects of amylopathies in the worm C. elegans. We show how to construct worms expressing human Aβ42 in neurons and how to test their function in behavioral assays. We further show how to obtain primary neuronal cultures that can be used for pharmacological testing.
This procedure uses a blue light-activated algal channel and cell-specific genetic expression tools to evoke synaptic potentials with light pulses at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) in Drosophila larvae. This technique is an inexpensive and easy-to-use alternative to suction electrode stimulation for synaptic physiology studies in research and teaching laboratories.
RNAi Mediated Gene Knockdown and Transgenesis by Microinjection in the Necromenic Nematode Pristionchus pacificus
In model organisms, transgenesis can manipulate gene functions while RNAi can knockdown specific mRNA transcripts 1-2. This protocol aims to illustrate the techniques needed to introduce stably transmitted DNA and transient double stranded RNA into the necromenic nematode Pristionchus pacificus for studies in evolutionary, developmental, and behavioral biology.
FM dyes have been of invaluable help in the understanding of synaptic dynamics. FMs are normally followed under the fluorescent microscope during different stimulation conditions. However, photoconversion of FM dyes combined with electron microscopy allows the visualization of distinct synaptic vesicle pools, among other ultrastructure components, in synaptic boutons.
Osmotic Avoidance in Caenorhabditis elegans: Synaptic Function of Two Genes, Orthologues of Human NRXN1 and NLGN1, as Candidates for Autism
Neurexins and neuroligins are membrane-neuron adhesion proteins which perform essential roles in synaptic differentiation and transmission. Neuroligin deficient mutants of C. elegans are defective in detecting osmotic strength, but when they also contain a mutation in the gene coding neurexin, they recover the wild type phenotype.
A lensless on-chip fluorescent microscopy platform is demonstrated that can image fluorescent objects over an ultra-wide field-of-view of e.g., >0.6-8 cm2 with <4μm resolution using a compressive sampling based decoding algorithm. Such a compact and wide-field fluorescent on-chip imaging modality could be valuable for high-throughput cytometry, rare-cell research and microarray-analysis.
RNA interference has been proven very effective to analyze gene function in Drosophila tracheal development. A detailed protocol used by Jiang lab to inject dsRNA into fly embryos to knockdown gene expression is illustrated. This technique has the potential for screening genes required for tissue and organ development in Drosophila.
Identification of Protein Complexes in Escherichia coli using Sequential Peptide Affinity Purification in Combination with Tandem Mass Spectrometry
1Banting and Best Department of Medical Research, Donnelly Centre, University of Toronto, 2Deparment of Biochemistry, Research and Innovation Centre, University of Regina, 3Department of Medical Genetics and Microbiology, University of Toronto
Affinity purification of tagged proteins in combination with mass spectrometry (APMS) is a powerful method for the systematic mapping of protein interaction networks and for investigating the mechanistic basis of biological processes. Here, we describe an optimized sequential peptide affinity (SPA) APMS procedure developed for the bacterium Escherichia coli that can be used to isolate and characterize stable multi-protein complexes to near homogeneity even starting from low copy numbers per cell.
Application of electrophysiology to accessible synapses provides a quantifiable measure of synaptic activity, useful in analyzing synaptic mutants. This article describes a dissection method used to expose the neuromuscular junctions (NMJ) of Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) and briefly discusses some of the uses to which this preparation can be applied.
When working with media and reagents used to culture microorganisms, aseptic technique must be practiced to ensure contamination is minimized. A variety of plating methods are routinely used to isolate, propagate, or enumerate bacteria and phage, all of which incorporate procedures that maintain the sterility of experimental materials.
Detection of Protein Interactions in Plant using a Gateway Compatible Bimolecular Fluorescence Complementation (BiFC) System
We have developed a technique to test protein-protein interactions in plant. A yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) is split into two non-overlapping fragments. Each fragment is cloned in-frame to a gene of interest via Gateway system, enabling expression of fusion proteins. Reconstitution of YFP signal only occurs when the inquest proteins interact.
Protein Membrane Overlay Assay: A Protocol to Test Interaction Between Soluble and Insoluble Proteins in vitro
Testing protein-protein interaction is indispensable for dissection of protein functionality. Here, we introduce an in vitro protein-protein binding assay to probe a membrane-immobilized protein with a soluble protein. This assay provides a reliable method to test interaction between an insoluble protein and a protein in solution.
1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Laboratory of RNA Molecular Biology, Rockefeller University, 2Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology, Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine, 3Biozentrum der Universität Basel and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB), 4Biozentrum der Universität Basel and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB), 5Genomics Resource Center, Rockefeller University
RNA transcripts are subject to extensive posttranscriptional regulation that is mediated by a multitude of trans-acting RNA-binding proteins (RBPs). Here we present a generalizable method to identify precisely and on a transcriptome-wide scale the RNA binding sites of RBPs.