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Concept: Cell culture


Proteins endogenously secreted by human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and those present in hESC culture medium are critical regulators of hESC self-renewal and differentiation. Current MS-based approaches for identifying secreted proteins rely predominantly on MS analysis of cell culture supernatants. Here we show that targeted proteomics of secretory pathway organelles is a powerful alternate approach for interrogating the cellular secretome. We have developed procedures to obtain subcellular fractions from mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) and hESCs that are enriched in secretory pathway organelles while ensuring retention of the secretory cargo. MS analysis of these fractions from hESCs cultured in MEF conditioned medium (MEF-CM) or MEFs exposed to hESC medium revealed 99 and 129 proteins putatively secreted by hESCs and MEFs, respectively. Of these, 53 and 62 proteins have been previously identified in cell culture supernatants of MEFs and hESCs, respectively, thus establishing the validity of our approach. Furthermore, 76 and 37 putatively secreted proteins identified in this study in MEFs and hESCs, respectively, have not been reported in previous MS analyses. The identification of low abundance secreted proteins via MS analysis of cell culture supernatants typically necessitates the use of altered culture conditions such as serum-free medium. However, an altered medium formulation might directly influence the cellular secretome. Indeed, we observed significant differences between the abundances of several secreted proteins in subcellular fractions isolated from hESCs cultured in MEF-CM and those exposed to unconditioned hESC medium for 24 h. In contrast, targeted proteomics of secretory pathway organelles does not require the use of customized media. We expect that our approach will be particularly valuable in two contexts highly relevant to hESC biology: obtaining a temporal snapshot of proteins secreted in response to a differentiation trigger, and identifying proteins secreted by cells that are isolated from a heterogeneous population.

Concepts: Cell, Golgi apparatus, Stem cell, Endoplasmic reticulum, Cell biology, Cellular differentiation, Cell culture, Embryonic stem cell


There is a growing demand for in vitro assays for toxicity screening in three-dimensional (3D) environments. In this study, 3D cell culture using magnetic levitation was used to create an assay in which cells were patterned into 3D rings that close over time. The rate of closure was determined from time-lapse images taken with a mobile device and related to drug concentration. Rings of human embryonic kidney cells (HEK293) and tracheal smooth muscle cells (SMCs) were tested with ibuprofen and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS). Ring closure correlated with the viability and migration of cells in two dimensions (2D). Images taken using a mobile device were similar in analysis to images taken with a microscope. Ring closure may serve as a promising label-free and quantitative assay for high-throughput in vivo toxicity in 3D cultures.

Concepts: Cardiac muscle, Cell culture, Urinary bladder, Actin, Computer graphics, Muscle contraction, Smooth muscle, HEK cell


Over the past two decades, it has become increasingly apparent that Alzheimer’s disease neuropathology is characterized by activated microglia (brain resident macrophages) as well as the classic features of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. The intricacy of microglial biology has also become apparent, leading to a heightened research interest in this particular cell type. Over the years a number of different microglial cell culturing techniques have been developed to study either primary mammalian microglia, or immortalized cell lines. Each microglial system has advantages and disadvantages and should be selected for its appropriateness in a particular research context. This review summarizes several of the most common microglial cell culture systems currently being employed in Alzheimer’s research including primary microglia; BV2 and N9 retroviral immortalized microglia; human immortalized microglia (HMO6); and spontaneously immortalized rodent microglial lines (EOC lines and HAPI cells). Particularities of cell culture requirements and characteristics of microglial behavior, especially in response to applied inflammogen stimuli, are compared and discussed across these cell types.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Cell, Cell biology, Cell culture, Neurology, Beta amyloid, Microglia, Neurofibrillary tangle


Small-diameter (<4 mm) vascular constructs are urgently needed for patients requiring replacement of their peripheral vessels. However, successful development of constructs remains a significant challenge. In this study, we successfully developed small-diameter vascular constructs with high patency using our integrally designed computer-controlled bioreactor system. This computer-controlled bioreactor system can confer physiological mechanical stimuli and fluid flow similar to physiological stimuli to the cultured grafts. The medium circulating system optimizes the culture conditions by maintaining fixed concentration of O(2) and CO(2) in the medium flow and constant delivery of nutrients and waste metabolites, as well as eliminates the complicated replacement of culture medium in traditional vascular tissue engineering. Biochemical and mechanical assay of newly developed grafts confirm the feasibility of the bioreactor system for small-diameter vascular engineering. Furthermore, the computer-controlled bioreactor is superior for cultured cell proliferation compared with the traditional non-computer-controlled bioreactor. Specifically, our novel bioreactor system may be a potential alternative for tissue engineering of large-scale small-diameter vascular vessels for clinical use.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Cell culture, Engineering, Fluid, Design, The Culture, Chemical engineering, Bioreactor


Mechanics is an important component in the regulation of cell shape, proliferation, migration and differentiation during normal homeostasis and disease states. Biomaterials that match the elastic modulus of soft tissues have been effective for studying this cell mechanobiology, but improvements are needed in order to investigate a wider range of physicochemical properties in a controlled manner. We hypothesized that polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) blends could be used as the basis of a tunable system where the elastic modulus could be adjusted to match most types of soft tissue. To test this we formulated blends of two commercially available PDMS types, Sylgard 527 and Sylgard 184, which enabled us to fabricate substrates with an elastic modulus anywhere from 5 kPa up to 1.72 MPa. This is a three order-of-magnitude range of tunability, exceeding what is possible with other hydrogel and PDMS systems. Uniquely, the elastic modulus can be controlled independently of other materials properties including surface roughness, surface energy and the ability to functionalize the surface by protein adsorption and microcontact printing. For biological validation, PC12 (neuronal inducible-pheochromocytoma cell line) and C2C12 (muscle cell line) were used to demonstrate that these PDMS formulations support cell attachment and growth and that these substrates can be used to probe the mechanosensitivity of various cellular processes including neurite extension and muscle differentiation.

Concepts: Muscle, Cellular differentiation, Cell culture, Tissues, Materials science, Tissue, Soft tissue, Young's modulus


BACKGROUND: The purple pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea L., is a widely distributed species in North America with a history of use as both a marketed pain therapy and a traditional medicine in many aboriginal communities. Among the Cree of Eeyou Istchee in northern Quebec, the plant is employed to treat symptoms of diabetes and the leaf extract demonstrates multiple anti-diabetic activities including cytoprotection in an in vitro model of diabetic neuropathy. The current study aimed to further investigate this activity by identifying the plant parts and secondary metabolites that contribute to these cytoprotective effects. METHODS: Ethanolic extracts of S. purpurea leaves and roots were separately administered to PC12 cells exposed to glucose toxicity with subsequent assessment by two cell viability assays. Assay-guided fractionation of the active extract and fractions was then conducted to identify active principles. Using high pressure liquid chromatography together with mass spectrometry, the presence of identified actives in both leaf and root extracts were determined. RESULTS: The leaf extract, but not that of the root, prevented glucose-mediated cell loss in a concentration-dependent manner. Several fractions elicited protective effects, indicative of multiple active metabolites, and, following subfractionation of the polar fraction, hyperoside (quercetin-3-O-galactoside) and morroniside were isolated as active constituents. Phytochemical analysis confirmed the presence of hyperoside in the leaf but not root extract and, although morroniside was detected in both organs, its concentration was seven times higher in the leaf. CONCLUSION: Our results not only support further study into the therapeutic potential and safety of S. purpurea as an alternative and complementary treatment for diabetic complications associated with glucose toxicity but also identify active principles that can be used for purposes of standardization and quality control.

Concepts: Nutrition, Diabetes mellitus, Cell culture, Pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea, Sarracenia, Sarraceniaceae, Sarracenia rosea


We developed a three-dimensional (3D) cellular microarray platform for the high-throughput (HT) analysis of human neural stem cell (hNSC) growth and differentiation. The growth of an immortalized hNSC line, ReNcell VM, was evaluated on a miniaturized cell culture chip consisting of 60nl spots of cells encapsulated in alginate, and compared to standard 2D well plate culture conditions. Using a live/dead cell viability assay, we demonstrated that the hNSCs are able to expand on-chip, albeit with lower proliferation rates and viabilities than in conventional 2D culture platforms. Using an in-cell, on-chip immunofluorescence assay, which provides quantitative information on cellular levels of proteins involved in neural fate, we demonstrated that ReNcell VM can preserve its multipotent state during on-chip expansion. Moreover, differentiation of the hNSCs into glial progeny was achieved both off- and on-chip six days after growth factor removal, accompanied by a decrease in the neural progenitor markers. The versatility of the platform was further demonstrated by complementing the cell culture chip with a chamber system that allowed us to screen for differential toxicity of small molecules to hNSCs. Using this approach, we showed differential toxicity when evaluating three neurotoxic compounds and one antiproliferative compound, and the null effect of a non-toxic compound at relevant concentrations. Thus, our 3D high-throughput microarray platform may help predict, in vitro, which compounds pose an increased threat to neural development and should therefore be prioritized for further screening and evaluation.

Concepts: DNA, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Bone marrow, Cellular differentiation, Cell culture


Quinomycin G (1), a new analogue of echinomycin, together with a new cyclic dipeptide, cyclo-(l-Pro-4-OH-l-Leu) (2), as well as three known antibiotic compounds tirandamycin A (3), tirandamycin B (4) and staurosporine (5), were isolated from Streptomyces sp. LS298 obtained from a marine sponge Gelliodes carnosa. The planar and absolute configurations of compounds 1 and 2 were established by MS, NMR spectral data analysis and Marfey’s method. Furthermore, the differences in NMR data of keto-enol tautomers in tirandamycins were discussed for the first time. Antibacterial and anti-tumor activities of compound 1 were measured against 15 drug-sensitive/resistant strains and 12 tumor cell lines. Compound 1 exhibited moderate antibacterial activities against Staphylococcuse pidermidis, S. aureus, Enterococcus faecium, and E. faecalis with the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values ranged from 16 to 64 μg/mL. Moreover, it displayed remarkable anti-tumor activities; the highest activity was observed against the Jurkat cell line (human T-cell leukemia) with an IC50 value of 0.414 μM.

Concepts: Cell, Cancer, Bacteria, Antibiotic resistance, NMR spectroscopy, Cell culture, Enterococcus, Enterococcus faecium


Gap junctions facilitate exchange of small molecules between adjacent cells, serving a crucial function for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis. Mutations in connexins, the basic unit of gap junctions, are associated with several human hereditary disorders. For example, mutations in connexin26 (Cx26) cause both non-syndromic deafness and syndromic deafness associated with skin abnormalities such as keratitis-ichthyosis-deafness (KID) syndrome. These mutations can alter the formation and function of gap junction channels through different mechanisms, and in turn interfere with various cellular processes leading to distinct disorders. The KID associated Cx26 mutations were mostly shown to result in elevated hemichannel activities. However, the effects of these aberrant hemichannels on cellular processes are recently being deciphered. Here, we assessed the effect of two Cx26 mutations associated with KID syndrome, Cx26I30N and D50Y, on protein biosynthesis and channel function in N2A and HeLa cells.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Metabolism, Cell culture, Cell signaling, Gap junction, Connexin, Pannexin


Mammalian cell lines are characterized by a complex and flexible metabolism. A single model that could describe the variations in metabolic behavior triggered by variations in the culture conditions would be a precious tool in bioprocess development. In this paper, we introduce an approach to generate a poly-pathway model and use it to simulate diverse metabolic states triggered in response to removal, reduction or doubling of amino acids in the culture medium of an antibody-producing CHO cell line. Macro-reactions were obtained from a metabolic network via elementary flux mode enumeration and the fluxes were modeled by kinetic equations with saturation and inhibition effects from external medium components. Importantly, one set of kinetic parameters was estimated using experimental data of the multiple metabolic states. A good fit between the model and the data was obtained for the majority of the metabolites and the experimentally observed flux variations. We find that the poly-pathway modeling approach is promising for the simulation of multiple metabolic states.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Acid, Ammonia, Metabolism, Cell culture, Chinese hamster ovary cell, Cell lines