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Concept: HEK 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


C.RF-Tshr(hyt/hyt) mice have a mutated thyroid stimulating hormone receptor (P556L-TSHR) and these mice develop severe hypothyroidism. We found that C.RF-Tshr(hyt/wild) heterozygous mice are also in a hypothyroid state. Thyroid glands from C.RF-Tshr(hyt/wild) mice are smaller than those from wild-type mice, and (125)I uptake activities of the former are significantly lower than those in the latter. When TSHR (TSHR(W)) and P556L-TSHR (TSHR(M)) cDNAs were cloned and co-transfected into HEK 293 cells, the cells retained (125)I-TSH binding activity, but cAMP response to TSH was decreased to about 20% of HEK 293 cells transfected with TSHR(W) cDNA. When TSHR(W) and TSHR(M) were tagged with eCFP or eYFP, we observed fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) in HEK 293 cells expressing TSHR(W)-eCFP and TSHR(W)-eYFP in the absence of TSH, but not in the presence of TSH. In contrast, we obtained FRET in HEK 293 cells expressing TSHR(W)-eCFP and TSHR (M)-eYFP, regardless of the presence or absence of TSH. These results suggest that P556L TSHR has a dominant negative effect on TSHR(W) by impairing polymer to monomer dissociation, which decreases TSH responsiveness and induces hypothyroidism in C.RF-Tshr(hyt/wild) mice.

Concepts: DNA, Thyroid-stimulating hormone, Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid hormone, Förster resonance energy transfer, HEK cell


Patch-clamp recording has enabled single-cell electrical, morphological and genetic studies at unparalleled resolution. Yet it remains a laborious and low-throughput technique, making it largely impractical for large-scale measurements such as cell type and connectivity characterization of neurons in the brain. Specifically, the technique is critically limited by the ubiquitous practice of manually replacing patch-clamp pipettes after each recording. To circumvent this limitation, we developed a simple, fast, and automated method for cleaning glass pipette electrodes that enables their reuse within one minute. By immersing pipette tips into Alconox, a commercially-available detergent, followed by rinsing, we were able to reuse pipettes 10 times with no degradation in signal fidelity, in experimental preparations ranging from human embryonic kidney cells to neurons in culture, slices, and in vivo. Undetectable trace amounts of Alconox remaining in the pipette after cleaning did not affect ion channel pharmacology. We demonstrate the utility of pipette cleaning by developing the first robot to perform sequential patch-clamp recordings in cell culture and in vivo without a human operator.

Concepts: Genetics, Cell, Brain, Action potential, Robot, HEK cell, Pasteur pipette, Pipette


Auto-antibodies against the paranodal proteins neurofascin-155 and contactin-1 have recently been described in patients with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy and are associated with a distinct clinical phenotype and response to treatment. Contactin-associated protein 1 (Caspr, encoded by CNTNAP1) is a paranodal protein that is attached to neurofascin-155 and contactin-1 (CNTN1) but has not yet been identified as a sole antigen in patients with inflammatory neuropathies. In the present study, we screened a cohort of 35 patients with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (age range 20-80, 10 female, 25 male) and 22 patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome (age range 17-86, eight female, 14 male) for autoantibodies against paranodal antigens. We identified two patients, one with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy and one with Guillain-Barré syndrome, with autoantibodies against Caspr by binding assays using Caspr transfected human embryonic kidney cells and murine teased fibres. IgG3 was the predominant autoantibody subclass in the patient with Guillain-Barré syndrome, IgG4 was predominant in the patient with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy. Accordingly, complement deposition after binding to HEK293 cells was detectable in the patient with IgG3 autoantibodies only, not in the patient with IgG4. Severe disruption of the paranodal and nodal architecture was detectable in teased fibres of the sural nerve biopsy and in dermal myelinated fibres, supporting the notion of the paranodes being the site of pathology. Deposition of IgG at the paranodes was detected in teased fibre preparations of the sural nerve, further supporting the pathogenicity of anti-Caspr autoantibodies. Pain was one of the predominant findings in both patients, possibly reflected by binding of patients' IgG to TRPV1 immunoreactive dorsal root ganglia neurons. Our results demonstrate that the paranodal protein Caspr constitutes a new antigen that leads to autoantibody generation as part of the novel entity of neuropathies associated with autoantibodies against paranodal proteins.

Concepts: Immune system, Nervous system, Protein, Antigen, Pain, Myelin, Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, HEK cell


Our previous studies using HeLa and HEK 293 cells demonstrated that selenomethionine, SeMet, exerts more of an antagonistic effect on arsenic than other selenium species. These studies attributed the antagonistic effect of SeMet to decreased levels of reactive oxygen species, ROS, changes in protein phosphorylation and possible incorporation of SeMet into proteins. The present study employs a metallomics approach to identify the selenium-containing proteins in HEK 293 cells raised with SeMet. The proteins were screened and separated using two dimensional high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS), size exclusion chromatography (SEC) and reversed-phase chromatography (RPC). The Se-containing proteins were identified by peptide mapping using nano-HPLC-Chip-electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESIMS).

Concepts: Protein, Mass spectrometry, Antioxidant, Cell culture, Peptide, Chromatography, High performance liquid chromatography, HEK cell


Here, we report on a novel protocol for determining the viability of individual cells in an adherent cell culture, without adversely affecting the remaining cells in the sample. This is facilitated using a freestanding microfluidic perfusion device, the Multifunctional Pipette (MFP), which generates a virtual flow cell around selected single cells. We investigated the utility on four different cell lines, NG108-15, HEK 293, PC12, and CHO, and combined the assay with a cell poration experiment, in which we apply the pore-forming agent digitonin, followed by fluorescein diphosphate, a pre-fluorescent substrate for alkaline phosphatase, in order to monitor intracellular enzyme activity. The cell viability was instantly assessed through simultaneous perfusion with fluorescein diacetate (FDA) and propidium iodide (PI), both being dispensed through the same superfusion device used to porate and deliver the enzyme substrate. In this fluorescence assay, viable and non-viable cells were distinguished by their green and red emission, respectively, within 10 s. In addition, the enzyme activity was monitored over time as a secondary test for cellular activity. Our findings demonstrate that this microfluidic technology-assisted approach is a facile, rapid, and reliable means to determine the viability in single-cell experiments and that viability studies can be performed routinely alongside typical substrate delivery protocols. This approach would remove the need for global cell viability testing and would enable viability studies of only the cells under experimental analysis.

Concepts: Cell, Enzyme, Cell biology, Cell culture, Flow cytometry, Cell lines, Experiment, HEK cell


Background: Cells release a mixture of extracellular vesicles, amongst these exosomes, that differ in size, density and composition. The standard isolation method for exosomes is centrifugation of fluid samples, typically at 100,000×g or above. Knowledge of the effect of discrete ultracentrifugation speeds on the purification from different cell types, however, is limited. Methods: We examined the effect of applying differential centrifugation g-forces ranging from 33,000×g to 200,000×g on exosome yield and purity, using 2 unrelated human cell lines, embryonic kidney HEK293 cells and bladder carcinoma FL3 cells. The fractions were evaluated by nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA), total protein quantification and immunoblotting for CD81, TSG101, syntenin, VDAC1 and calreticulin. Results: NTA revealed the lowest background particle count in Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle’s Medium media devoid of phenol red and cleared by 200,000×g overnight centrifugation. The centrifugation tube fill level impacted the sedimentation efficacy. Comparative analysis by NTA, protein quantification, and detection of exosomal and contamination markers identified differences in vesicle size, concentration and composition of the obtained fractions. In addition, HEK293 and FL3 vesicles displayed marked differences in sedimentation characteristics. Exosomes were pelleted already at 33,000×g, a g-force which also removed most contaminating microsomes. Optimal vesicle-to-protein yield was obtained at 67,000×g for HEK293 cells but 100,000×g for FL3 cells. Relative expression of exosomal markers (TSG101, CD81, syntenin) suggested presence of exosome subpopulations with variable sedimentation characteristics. Conclusions: Specific g-force/k factor usage during differential centrifugation greatly influences the purity and yield of exosomes. The vesicle sedimentation profile differed between the 2 cell lines.

Concepts: Cell, Endoplasmic reticulum, Cell biology, Cell culture, Cell type, Laboratory techniques, HEK cell, Differential centrifugation


Many animals can detect the taste of calcium but it is unclear how or whether humans have this ability. We show here that calcium activates hTAS1R3-transfected HEK293 cells and that this response is attenuated by lactisole, an inhibitor of hT1R3. Moreover, trained volunteers report that lactisole reduces the calcium intensity of calcium lactate. Thus, humans can detect calcium by taste, T1R3 is a receptor responsible for this, and lactisole can reduce the taste perception of calcium by acting on T1R3.

Concepts: Human, Chromosome, Cell culture, Taste, Human anatomy, HEK cell


We are concerned with the development of novel anti-infectives with dual antibacterial and antiretroviral activities for MRSA/HIV-1 co-infection. To achieve this goal, we exploited for the first time the mechanistic function similarity between the bacterial RNA polymerase (RNAP) “switch region” and the viral non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) binding site. Starting from our previously discovered RNAP inhibitors, we managed to develop potent RT inhibitors effective against several resistant HIV-1 strains with maintained or enhanced RNAP inhibitory properties following a structure-based design approach. A quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) analysis revealed distinct molecular features necessary for RT inhibition. Furthermore, mode of action (MoA) studies revealed that these compounds inhibit RT non-competitively, through a new mechanism via closing of the RT clamp. In addition, the novel RNAP/RT inhibitors are characterized by a potent antibacterial activity against S. aureus and in cellulo antiretroviral activity against NNRTI-resistant strains. Using HeLa and HEK 293 cells the compounds showed only marginal cytotoxicity.

Concepts: Reverse transcriptase inhibitor, DNA, Enzyme, Cell culture, Reverse transcriptase, RNA polymerase, Inhibitor, HEK cell


In humans, invading pathogens are recognized by Toll-like receptors (TLRs). Upon recognition of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) derived from the cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria, TLR4 dimerizes and can stimulate two different signaling pathways, the proinflammatory, MyD88-dependent pathway and the antiviral, MyD88-independent pathway. The balance between these two pathways is ligand-dependent, and ligand composition determines whether the invading pathogen activates or evades the host immune response. We investigated the dimerization behavior of TLR4 in intact cells in response to different LPS chemotypes through quantitative single-molecule localization microscopy. Quantitative superresolved data showed that TLR4 was monomeric in the absence of its co-receptors MD2 and CD14 in transfected HEK 293 cells. When TLR4 was present together with MD2 and CD14 but in the absence of LPS, 52% of the receptors were monomeric and 48% were dimeric. LPS from Escherichia coli or Salmonella minnesota caused the formation of dimeric TLR4 complexes, whereas the antagonistic LPS chemotype from Rhodobacter sphaeroides maintained TLR4 in monomeric form at the cell surface. Furthermore, we showed that LPS-dependent dimerization was required for the activation of NF-κB signaling. Together, these data demonstrate ligand-dependent dimerization of TLR4 in the cellular environment, which could pave the way for a molecular understanding of biased signaling downstream of the receptor.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Bacteria, Microbiology, Toll-like receptor, Escherichia coli, Monomer, HEK cell