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Concept: Growth medium

7

Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) are used to study the early stages of human development in vitro and, increasingly due to somatic cell reprogramming, cellular and molecular mechanisms of disease. Cell culture medium is a critical factor for hPSC to maintain pluripotency and self-renewal. Numerous defined culture media have been empirically developed but never systematically optimized for culturing hPSC. We applied design of experiments (DOE), a powerful statistical tool, to improve the medium formulation for hPSC. Using pluripotency and cell growth as read-outs, we determined the optimal concentration of both basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and neuregulin-1 beta 1 (NRG1β1). The resulting formulation, named iDEAL, improved the maintenance and passage of hPSC in both normal and stressful conditions, and affected trimethylated histone 3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3) epigenetic status after genetic reprogramming. It also enhances efficient hPSC plating as single cells. Altogether, iDEAL potentially allows scalable and controllable hPSC culture routine in translational research. Our DOE strategy could also be applied to hPSC differentiation protocols, which often require numerous and complex cell culture media.

Concepts: DNA, Bacteria, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Cell biology, Yeast, Cell culture, Growth medium

4

Light is extensively used to study cells in real time (live cell imaging), separate cells using fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) and control cellular functions with light sensitive proteins (Optogenetics). However, photo-sensitive molecules inside cells and in standard cell culture media generate toxic by-products that interfere with cellular functions and cell viability when exposed to light. Here we show that primary cells from the rat central nervous system respond differently to photo-toxicity, in that astrocytes and microglia undergo morphological changes, while in developing neurons and oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) it induces cellular death. To prevent photo-toxicity and to allow for long-term photo-stimulation without causing cellular damage, we formulated new photo-inert media called MEMO and NEUMO, and an antioxidant rich and serum free supplement called SOS. These new media reduced the detrimental effects caused by light and allowed cells to endure up to twenty times more light exposure without adverse effects, thus bypassing the optical constraints previously limiting experiments.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Neuron, Brain, Bacteria, Cell biology, Cell culture, Growth medium

4

Microbiologists have been using agar growth medium for over 120 years. It revolutionized microbiology in the 1890’s when microbiologists were seeking effective methods to isolate microorganisms, which led to the successful cultivation of microorganisms as single clones. But there has been a disparity between total cell counts and cultivable cell counts on plates, often referred to as the “great plate count anomaly”, that has long been a phenomenon that still remains unsolved. Here we report that a common practice microbiologists have been employing to prepare agar medium has a hidden pitfall: when phosphate was autoclaved together with agar to prepare solid growth media (PT medium), total colony counts were remarkably lower when compared with those grown on agar plates in which phosphate and agar were separately autoclaved and mixed right before solidification (PS medium). We used a pure culture Gemmatimonas aurantiaca T-27(T) and three representative sources of environmental samples, soil, sediment and water, as inocula and compared colony counts between PT and PS agar plates. There were higher numbers of colony forming units (CFUs) on PS medium compared to PT medium using G. aurantiaca or any of the environmental samples. Chemical analysis of PT agar plates suggested that hydrogen peroxide was contributing to growth inhibition. Comparison of 454 pyrosequences of the environmental samples to the isolates revealed that taxa grown on PS medium were more reflective of the original community structure than those grown on PT medium. Moreover, more hitherto-uncultivated microbes grew on PS than on PT medium.

Concepts: Bacteria, Metabolism, Microbiology, Agar, Agar plate, XLD agar, Growth medium, Petri dish

3

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are involved in intercellular communication and affect processes including immune and antiviral responses. Blood serum, a common cell culture medium component, is replete with EVs and must be depleted prior to EV-related experiments. The extent to which depletion processes deplete non-EV particles is incompletely understood, but depleted serum is associated with reduced viability and growth in cell culture. Here, we examined whether serum depleted by two methods affected HIV-1 replication. In cell lines, including HIV-1 latency models, increased HIV-1 production was observed, along with changes in cell behavior and viability. Add-back of ultracentrifuge pellets (enriched in EVs but possibly other particles) rescued baseline HIV-1 production. Primary cells were less sensitive to serum depletion processes. Virus produced under processed serum conditions was more infectious. Finally, changes in cellular metabolism, surface markers, and gene expression, but not miRNA profiles, were associated with depleted serum culture. In conclusion, depleted serum conditions have a substantial effect on HIV-1 production and infectivity. Dependence of cell cultures on “whole serum” must be examined carefully along with other experimental variables, keeping in mind that the effects of EVs may be accompanied by or confused with those of closely associated or physically similar particles.

Concepts: Gene, Cell nucleus, Cell, Bacteria, Organism, Cell biology, Cell culture, Growth medium

3

Textured surfaces with periodic topographical features and long-range order are highly attractive for directing cell-material interactions. They mimic physiological environments more accurately than planar surfaces and can fundamentally alter cell alignment, shape, gene expression, and cellular assembly into superstructures or microtissues. Here we demonstrate for the first time that wrinkled graphene-based surfaces are suitable as textured cell attachment substrates, and that engineered wrinkling can dramatically alter cell alignment and morphology. The wrinkled surfaces are fabricated by graphene oxide wet deposition onto pre-stretched elastomers followed by relaxation and mild thermal treatment to stabilize the films in cell culture medium. Multilayer graphene oxide films form periodic, delaminated buckle textures whose wavelengths and amplitudes can be systematically tuned by variation in the wet deposition process. Human and murine fibroblasts attach to these textured films and remain viable, while developing pronounced alignment and elongation relative to those on planar graphene controls. Compared to lithographic patterning of nanogratings, this method has advantages in the simplicity and scalability of fabrication, as well as the opportunity to couple the use of topographic cues with the unique conductive, adsorptive, or barrier properties of graphene materials for functional biomedical devices.

Concepts: Gene, Gene expression, Cell, Bacteria, Cell culture, Topography, Growth medium, Topographic map

2

To examine the pathogenic role of α-synuclein (αS) in Parkinson’s Disease, we have generated induced Pluripotent Stem Cell lines from early onset Parkinson’s Disease patients with SNCA A53T and SNCA Triplication mutations, and in this study have differentiated them to PSC-macrophages (pMac), which recapitulate many features of their brain-resident cousins, microglia. We show that SNCA Triplication pMac, but not A53T pMac, have significantly increased intracellular αS versus controls and release significantly more αS to the medium. SNCA Triplication pMac, but not A53T pMac, show significantly reduced phagocytosis capability and this can be phenocopied by adding monomeric αS to the cell culture medium of control pMac. Fibrillar αS is taken up by pMac by actin-rearrangement-dependent pathways, and monomeric αS by actin-independent pathways. Finally, pMac degrade αS and this can be arrested by blocking lysosomal and proteasomal pathways. Together, these results show that macrophages are capable of clearing αS, but that high levels of exogenous or endogenous αS compromise this ability, likely a vicious cycle scenario faced by microglia in Parkinson’s disease.

Concepts: Cell, Bacteria, Stem cell, Stem cells, Cell biology, Cell culture, Induced pluripotent stem cell, Growth medium

2

The supplementation of culture medium with fetal bovine serum (FBS, also referred to as ‘fetal calf serum’) is still common practice in cell culture applications. Due to a number of disadvantages in terms of quality and reproducibility of in vitro data, animal welfare concerns, and in light of recent cases of fraudulent marketing, the search for alternatives and the development of serum-free medium formulations gained global attention. Here, we report on the 3rd Workshop on FBS, Serum Alternatives and Serum-free Media, where (a) regulatory aspects, (b) the serum dilemma, © alternatives to FBS, (d) case-studies of serum-free in vitro applications, and (e) the establishment of serum-free databases, were discussed. The whole process of obtaining blood from a living calf fetus to using the FBS produced from it for scientific purposes is de facto not yet legally regulated, despite the existing EU-Directive 2010/63/EU on the use of animals for scientific purposes. Together with above mentioned challenges, several strategies have been developed to reduce or replace FBS in cell culture media in terms of the 3Rs (Refinement, Reduction, Replacement). Most recently, releasates of activated human donor thrombocytes (human platelet lysates) have been shown to be one of the most promising serum alternatives when chemically defined media are not yet an option. Additionally, new developments in cell-based assay techniques, advanced organ-on-chip and microphysiological systems are covered in this report. Chemically-defined serum-free media are shown to be the ultimate goal for the majority of culture systems, and examples are discussed.

Concepts: Bacteria, Cell culture, Growth medium

2

The trematode Schistosoma mansoni Sm14 antigen was expressed in the yeast Pichia pastoris and secreted into the culture medium at yields of approximately 250 mg L(-1). Sm14 belongs to a family of fatty-acid binding proteins and appears to play an important role in uptake, transport, and compartmentalization of lipids in S. mansoni and it is a potential vaccine candidate in both humans and domesticated animals. The Sm14 gene was codon-optimized for expression in P. pastoris, and placed under transcription of the strong methanol inducible AOX1 promoter. Mut(+) transformants were selected and used in fed-batch cultivation using a 2.5L fermenter equipped with an on-line methanol control system in order to maintain constant methanol levels during induction. Optimal conditions for the expression of Sm14 by P. pastoris were found to be: dissolved oxygen at 40%, temperature of 25 °C, pH 5.0, and a constant methanol concentration of 1 gL(-1). Our results show that a correctly processed Sm14 was secreted into the culture medium at levels of approximately 250  mg L(-1). Sm14 from clarified culture medium was purified using a two-step procedure: anion-exchange chromatography followed by hydrophobic interaction chromatography, resulting in >95% purity with a final yield of 40% from the starting cell culture medium. This product has been tested in preliminary clinical trials and shown to elicit an antibody response with no adverse reactions.

Concepts: Protein, Gene, Gene expression, Cell, Bacteria, Schistosoma, Digenea, Growth medium

2

The practice of counting bacterial colony forming units on agar plates has long been used as a method to estimate the concentration of live bacteria in culture. However, due to the laborious and potentially error prone nature of this measurement technique, an alternative method is desirable. Recent technologic advancements have facilitated the development of automated colony counting systems, which reduce errors introduced during the manual counting process and recording of information. An additional benefit is the significant reduction in time taken to analyse colony counting data. Whilst automated counting procedures have been validated for a number of microorganisms, the process has not been successful for all bacteria due to the requirement for a relatively high contrast between bacterial colonies and growth medium. The purpose of this study was to validate an automated counting system for use with group A Streptococcus (GAS).

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Bacteria, Microbiology, Streptococcus, Validation, Number, Natural number, Growth medium

2

Over a third of oral bacteria are as-yet-uncultivated in-vitro. Siderophores have been previously shown to enable in-vitro growth of previously uncultivated bacteria. The objective of this study was to cultivate novel oral bacteria in siderophore-supplemented culture media. Various compounds with siderophore activity, including pyoverdines-Fe-complex, desferricoprogen and salicylic acid, were found to stimulate the growth of difficult-to-culture strains Prevotella sp. HOT-376 and Fretibacterium fastidiosum. Furthermore, pyrosequencing analysis demonstrated increased proportions of the as-yet-uncultivated phylotypes Dialister sp. HOT-119 and Megasphaera sp. HOT-123 on mixed culture plates supplemented with siderophores. Therefore a culture model was developed, which incorporated 15 μg siderophore (pyoverdines-Fe-complex or desferricoprogen) or 150 μl neat subgingival-plaque suspension into a central well on agar plates that were inoculated with heavily-diluted subgingival-plaque samples from subjects with periodontitis. Colonies showing satellitism were passaged onto fresh plates in co-culture with selected helper strains. Five novel strains, representatives of three previously-uncultivated taxa (Anaerolineae bacterium HOT-439, the first oral taxon from the Chloroflexi phylum to have been cultivated; Bacteroidetes bacterium HOT-365; and Peptostreptococcaceae bacterium HOT-091) were successfully isolated. All novel isolates required helper strains for growth, implying dependence on a biofilm lifestyle. Their characterisation will further our understanding of the human oral microbiome.

Concepts: Bacteria, Agriculture, Microbiology, Fungus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, In vitro, Agar plate, Growth medium