Xenopus embryonic epithelia are an ideal model system to study cell behaviors such as polarity development and shape change during epithelial morphogenesis. Traditional histology of fixed samples is increasingly being complemented by live-cell confocal imaging. Here we demonstrate methods to isolate frog tissues and visualize live epithelial cells and their cytoskeleton using live-cell confocal microscopy.
Culturing neural explants from dissected Xenopus laevis embryos that express fluorescent fusion proteins allows for imaging of growth cone cytoskeletal dynamics.
Visualization of in vivo RNA transport is accomplished by microinjection of fluorescently labeled RNA transcripts into Xenopus oocytes, followed by confocal microscopy.
The fate of an individual embryonic cell can be influenced by inherited molecules and/or by signals from neighboring cells. Utilizing fate maps of the cleavage stage Xenopus embryo, single blastomeres can be identified for culture in isolation to assess the contributions of inherited molecules versus cell-cell interactions.
Xenopus laevis provides an ideal model system for studying cell fate specification and physiological function of individual retinal cells in primary cell culture. Here we present a technique for dissecting retinal tissues and generating primary cell cultures that are imaged for calcium activity and analyzed by in situ hybridization.
Direct Delivery of MIF Morpholinos Into the Zebrafish Otocyst by Injection and Electroporation Affects Inner Ear Development
1Department of Veterinary Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 3Present address: Department of Pulmonary Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 4Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
A method to deliver morpholinos directly into the zebrafish otocyst at 24hpf has been developed. Using microinjection of morpholinos into the lumen of otic vesicle and electroporation to effect penetration, we were able to bypass the effect of morpholinos on the brain and obtain effects specific to the inner ear.
The eggs of Xenopus laevis intact, lysed, and/or fractionated are useful for a wide variety of experiments. This protocol shows how to induce egg laying, collect and dejelly the eggs, and sort the eggs to remove any damaged eggs.
Production of Transgenic Xenopus laevis by Restriction Enzyme Mediated Integration and Nuclear Transplantation
This video protocol demonstrates a method for generating transgenic Xenopus laevis by introduction of transgenes into sperm nuclei followed by nuclear transplantation into unfertilized eggs.
Eggs and the extracellular coatings around eggs frequently release peptides, proteins and small molecules that communicate with sperm to guide them to the egg thereby promoting fertilization. Using frog sperm we describe and compare two classes of assays used to detect sperm chemoattraction – sperm accumulation assays and sperm tracking assays.
Single-cell electroporation (SCE) is a specialized technique allowing delivery of DNA or other macromolecules into individual cells within intact tissue, including in vivo preparations. Here we detail the procedure for SCE of a fluorescent dye or plasmid DNA into neurons within the intact brain of the Xenopus laevis tadpole.
Here we demonstrate cytoplasmic microinjection of Xenopus laevis oocytes with a nuclear import substrate, as well as preparation of the injected oocytes for visualization by thin-sectioning electron microscopy.
Procedure for fertilizing Xenopus oocytes by the host transfer method.
Measuring Cation Transport by Na,K- and H,K-ATPase in Xenopus Oocytes by Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry: An Alternative to Radioisotope Assays
We describe a method to quantify the activity of K+-countertransporting P-type ATPases by heterologous expression of the enzymes in Xenopus oocytes and measuring Rb+ or Li+ uptake into individual cells by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The method is a sensitive and safe alternative to radioisotope flux experiments facilitating complex kinetic studies.
The frog Xenopus laevis provides an attractive alternative non-mammalian model for exploring the ability of heat shock protein such as gp96 to promote antigen-specific CD8 T cell responses. We present methods to study in vivo facilitation of cross-presentation of skin and tumor antigens by gp96.
1Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, 2Department of Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, 3Department of Biomedical Engineering and Cardiac Bioelectricity and Arrhythmia Center, Washington University in St. Louis
Ionic current of BK channels is recorded using patch clamp techniques. BK channels are expressed in Xenopus oocytes by injecting messenger RNA. The intracellular solution during patch clamp recordings is controlled by a perfusion system.
Animal caps overexpressing gene product(s) are transplanted to the flank of developing Xenopus laevis embryos in order to establish whether tissue is determined.
This is intended as an introduction to patch clamp recording from Xenopus laevis oocytes. It covers vitelline membrane removal, formation of a gigaohm seal (gigaseal), and the optional conversion of the patch to the outside-out topology.
Xenopus egg extract is a useful model system to investigate the DNA damage checkpoint. This protocol is for the preparation of Xenopus egg extracts and DNA damage checkpoint inducing reagents. These techniques are adaptable to a variety of DNA damaging approaches in the study of the DNA damage checkpoint signaling.
Examining the Conformational Dynamics of Membrane Proteins in situ with Site-directed Fluorescence Labeling
We will describe a method which measures the kinetics of ion transport of membrane proteins alongside site-specific analysis of conformational changes using fluorescence on single cells. This technique is adaptable to ion channels, transporters and ion pumps and can be utilized to determine distance constraints between protein subunits.
Craniofacial cartilages develop in close contact with other tissues and are difficult to manipulate in live animals. We are using electroporation to deliver molecular tools during growth of the craniofacial skeleton while bypassing early embryonic effects. This approach will allow us to efficiently test candidate molecules in vivo.
Simultaneous Pre- and Post-synaptic Electrophysiological Recording from Xenopus Nerve-muscle Co-cultures
This video demonstrates the procedures used to grow primary cultures of embryonic Xenopus nerve and muscle cells and the usefulness of this preparation for making simultaneous pre- and post-synaptic patch clamp recordings.
This method describes high yield in vitro synthesis of both capped and uncapped mRNA from a linearized plasmid containing the Gaussia luciferase (GLuc) gene. The RNA is purified and a fraction of the uncapped RNA is enzymatically capped using the Vaccinia virus capping enzyme. In the final step, the mRNA is transfected into HeLa cells and cell culture supernatants are assayed for luciferase activity.
Crude and fractionated Xenopus egg extracts can be used to provide ingredients for reconstituting cellular processes for morphological and biochemical analysis. Egg lysis and differential centrifugation are used to prepare the crude extract which in turn in used to prepare fractionated extracts and light membrane preparations.
Plastic sections maintain true tissue morphology in thin sections of tissue that can be immunostained with fluorescent secondary antibodies, making this method more useful than paraffin-embedded or frozen sections for many types of tissue. The method for staining, plastic embedding, and sectioning is demonstrated in this video.
Here are some highlights from the November 2011 Issue of Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE).
In this paper, we describe a useful method to study ligand-gated ion channel function in neurons of acutely isolated brain slices. This method involves the use of a drug-filled micropipette for local application of drugs to neurons recorded using standard patch clamp techniques.
Dissection of Organizer and Animal Pole Explants from Xenopus laevis Embryos and Assembly of a Cell Adhesion Assay
This video demonstrates the technique used for preparation of organizer and animal pole explants from Xenopus laevis embryos, including the use of the eyebrow knife - a specialized dissection tool made of one's eyebrow. The protocol for assembling an adhesion assay is also given, which probes for the presence of key adhesion molecules present on the surface organizer or animal pole cells that are critical for proper development.
1Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC), Charité Medical Faculty and Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), 2Medical Department, Division of Cardiology, Campus Virchow-Klinikum, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, 3Medical Department, Division of Cardiology and Angiology, Campus Mitte, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Kv channel dysfunction is associated with cardiac arrhythmias. In order to study the molecular mechanisms that lead to such arrhythmias we utilize a systematic protocol for isolation of atrial and ventricular cardiomyocytes from Kv channel ancillary subunit knockout mice. Isolated cardiomyocytes can then immediately be used for cellular electrophysiological studies, biochemical or immunofluorescence (IF) assays.
Xenopus embryonic ectoderm has become an attractive model for studies of cell polarity. An assay is described, in which subcellular distribution of fluorescent proteins is assessed in ectoderm cells. This protocol will help address questions related to spatial control of signaling.
Nuclear membrane assembly is an essential step in the cell division cycle; this process can be replicated in the test tube by combining Xenopus sperm chromatin, cytosol, and light membrane fractions. Complete nuclei are formed, including nuclear membranes with pore complexes, and these reconstituted nuclei are capable of normal nuclear processes.
This is a guide to modifying the shape of glass micropipettes. Specifically, by using heat and air pressure the taper is widened without increasing the tip opening, leading to lower pipette resistance. This is critical to obtain low noise recordings of small cells but is useful in many applications.
This whole mount in situ hybridization protocol discusses critical steps that ensure reproducible high quality results for gene expression studies in E8.5-E11.5 day old mouse embryos.
The complete construction of a custom, real-time confocal scanning imaging system is described. This system, which can be readily used for video-rate microscopy and microendoscopy, allows for an array of imaging geometries and applications not accessible using standard commercial confocal systems, at a fraction of the cost.
Using fine tip micropipettes we inject plasmid DNA into subdomains of chicken somites or neural tubes. The concentration of the plasmid is adjusted to generate single transfected cells. We then allow the cells to develop into clonal populations.
This video shows how to use a programmable puller to make patch pipettes and sharp electrodes for electrophysiology. The same procedure can be used to make a variety of glass tools, including injection needles.
1Department of Biology, University of Iowa, 2Molecular Targeting Technologies, Inc.
A combination of different techniques to maximize data collection from mouse tissue is presented.
The manufacture, calibration and use of non-invasive vibrating probes to measure bioelectric current in various biological systems is described.
This protocol delineates a way to label and trace the fate of small groups of cells zebrafish embryos using UV-uncaging of caged fluorescein, followed by whole mount immunolabeling to amplify the signal from the uncaged fluorescein.
We developed a new protocol to improve efficiency of in vitro differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells into motor neurons. The differentiated ES cells acquired motor neurons features as evidenced by expression of neuronal and motor neuron markers using immunohistochemical techniques.
Here we describe a whole-mount fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) protocol for determining the expression and localization properties of RNAs expressed during embryogenesis in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster.
Understanding the function of the vertebrate central nervous system requires recordings from many neurons because cortical function arises on the level of populations of neurons. Here we describe an optical method to record suprathreshold neural activity with single-cell and single-spike resolution, dithered random-access scanning. This method records somatic fluorescence calcium signals from up to 100 neurons with high temporal resolution. A maximum-likelihood algorithm deconvolves the underlying suprathreshold neural activity from the somatic fluorescence calcium signals. This method reliably detects spikes with high detection efficiency and a low rate of false positives and can be used to study neural populations in vitro and in vivo.
The CompoZr Custom Zinc-Finger Nuclease (ZFN) Service enables precise genome editing in any organism or cell line at any locus defined by the user. This article describes the process for the design, manufacture, validation and implementation of the CompoZr Custom ZFN Service.
Studying Mitotic Checkpoint by Illustrating Dynamic Kinetochore Protein Behavior and Chromosome Motion in Living Drosophila Syncytial Embryos
The kinetochore is where the SAC initiates its signal monitoring the mitotic segregation of the sister chromatids. A method is described to visualize the recruitment and turnover of one of the kinetochore proteins and its coordination with the chromosome motion in Drosophila embryos using a Leica laser scanning confocal system.
Here we describe an assay that employs the power of microinjection coupled with fluorescent in situ hybridization in order to accurately measure the nuclear export kinetics of mRNA in mammalian somatic cells.
1Department of Biological Sciences, Center for Zebrafish Research, University of Notre Dame, 2Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University, 3Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology and Ophthalmology, Wayne State University School of Medicine
We describe a method to conditionally knockdown the expression of a target protein during adult zebrafish fin regeneration. This technique involves micro-injecting and electroporating antisense oligonucleotide morpholinos into fin tissue, which allows testing the protein’s role in various stages of fin regeneration, including wound healing, blastema formation, and regenerative outgrowth.
1Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology and Ophthalmology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 2Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, 3Center for Zebrafish Research, University of Notre Dame
A method to conditionally knockdown a target protein’s expression in the adult zebrafish retina is described, which involves intravitreally injecting antisense morpholinos and electroporating them into the retina. The resulting protein is knocked down for several days, which allows testing the protein’s role in the regenerating or intact retina.
Targeting Olfactory Bulb Neurons Using Combined In Vivo Electroporation and Gal4-Based Enhancer Trap Zebrafish Lines
1Department of Biology, Pace University, 2Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of California, San Diego, 3Division of Cell Biology and Cell Physiology, Zoological Institute, Braunschweig University of Technology
The temporal and spatial resolution of genetic manipulations determines the spectrum of biological phenomena that they can perturb. Here we use temporally and spatially discrete in vivo electroporation, combined with transgenic lines of zebrafish, to induce expression of a GFP transgene specifically in neurons of the developing olfactory bulb.
American chemist Peter Agre shared the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of aquaporins, the channel proteins that allow water to cross the cell membrane.
Biochemically-defined large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs) are a convenient model system to analyze BCL-2 family interactions with immediate implications in better understanding the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis. A method to produce LUVs, along with standard BCL-2 family protein combinations and controls to examine LUV permeabilization, are presented.
1Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, 2Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Eccles Institute of Human Genetics, University of Utah
Cilia-generated fluid flow in Kupffer’s Vesicle (KV) controls left-right patterning of the zebrafish embryo. Here, we describe a technique to modulate gene function specifically in KV cells. In addition, we show how to deliver fluorescent beads into KV to visualize fluid flow.