A method to investigate radial glia cell behavior using two-photon time-lapse microscopy in an ex vivo model of spinal cord development

Janelle M. P. Pakan, Kieran W. McDermott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The mammalian central nervous system (CNS) develops from multipotent progenitor cells, which proliferate and differentiate into the various cell types of the brain and spinal cord. Despite the wealth of knowledge from progenitor cell culture studies, there is a significant lack of understanding regarding dynamic progenitor cell behavior over the course of development. This is in part due to shortcomings in the techniques available to study these processes in living tissues as they are occurring. In order to investigate cell behavior under physiologically relevant conditions we established an ex vivo model of the developing rat spinal cord. This method allows us to directly observe specific populations of cells ex vivo in real time and over extended developmental periods as they undergo proliferation, migration, and differentiation in the CNS. Previous investigations of progenitor cell behavior have been limited in either spatial or temporal resolution (or both) due to the necessity of preserving tissue viability and avoiding phototoxic effects of fluorescent imaging. The method described here overcomes these obstacles. Using two-photon and confocal microscopy and transfected organotypic spinal cord slice cultures we have undertaken detailed imaging of a unique population of neural progenitors, radial glial cells. This method uniquely enables analysis of large populations as well as individual cells; ultimately resulting in a 4D dataset of progenitor cell behavior for up to 7 days during embryonic development. This approach can be adapted to study a variety of cell populations at different stages of development using appropriate promoter driven fluorescent protein expression. The ability to control the tissue micro-environment makes this ex vivo method a powerful tool to elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms regulating cell behavior during embryonic development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in neuroanatomy
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2014

Keywords

  • progenitor cell
  • electroporation
  • organotypic slice culture
  • brain lipid binding protein (BLBP)
  • spinal cord
  • NEURAL STEM-CELLS
  • ORGANOTYPIC SLICE CULTURES
  • DEVELOPING CEREBRAL-CORTEX
  • IN-VIVO
  • NEURONAL MIGRATION
  • MAMMALIAN TELENCEPHALON
  • CORTICAL NEUROGENESIS
  • NERVOUS-SYSTEM
  • MOUSE
  • BRAIN

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