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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


The γ-secretase complex comprises presenilin (PS), nicastrin (NCT), anterior pharynx-defective 1 (Aph1), and presenilin enhancer 2 (Pen2). PS has two homologues, PS1 and PS2. Aph1 has two isoforms, Aph1a and Aph1b, with the former existing as two splice variants Aph1aL and Aph1aS. Each complex consists of one subunit each, resulting in six different γ-secretases. To better understand the functional differences among the γ-secretases, we reconstituted them using a yeast system and compared Notch1-cleavage and amyloid precursor protein (APP)-cleavage activities. Intriguingly, PS2/Aph1b had a clear substrate specificity: APP-Gal4, but not Notch-Gal4, was cleaved. In HEK cell lines expressing defined γ-secretase subunits, we showed that PS1/Aph1b, PS2/Aph1aL, PS2/Aph1aS and PS2/Aph1b γ-secretase produced amyloid β peptide (Aβ) with a higher Aβ42+Aβ43-to-Aβ40 (Aβ42(43)/Aβ40) ratio than the other γ-secretases. In addition, PS2/Aph1aS γ-secretase produced less Notch intracellular domain (NICD) than did the other 5 γ-secretases. Considering that the Aβ42(43)/Aβ40 ratio is relevant in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and that inhibition of Notch cleavage causes severe side effect, these results suggest that the PS2/Aph1aS γ-secretase complex is a potential therapeutic target in AD.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Enzyme, Cell culture, Peptide, Cell lines, Amyloid precursor protein, HEK cell, Presenilin


Upregulation of the persistent sodium current (INaP) in motoneurons contributes to the development of spasticity after spinal cord injury (SCI). We investigated the mechanisms that regulate INaP and observed elevated expression of voltage-gated sodium (Nav) 1.6 channels in spinal lumbar motoneurons of adult rats with SCI. Furthermore, immunoblots revealed a proteolysis of Nav channels, and biochemical assays identified calpain as the main proteolytic factor. Calpain-dependent cleavage of Nav channels after neonatal SCI was associated with an upregulation of INaP in motoneurons. Similarly, the calpain-dependent cleavage of Nav1.6 channels expressed in human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells caused the upregulation of INaP. The pharmacological inhibition of calpain activity by MDL28170 reduced the cleavage of Nav channels, INaP in motoneurons and spasticity in rats with SCI. Similarly, the blockade of INaP by riluzole alleviated spasticity. This study demonstrates that Nav channel expression in lumbar motoneurons is altered after SCI, and it shows a tight relationship between the calpain-dependent proteolysis of Nav1.6 channels, the upregulation of INaP and spasticity.

Concepts: Neuron, Spinal cord, Gene expression, Cell culture, Proteasome, Expression, Proteolysis, HEK cell