XB-ART-46529J Vis Exp October 5, 2012; (68): e4232.
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Neural Explant Cultures from Xenopus laevis.
The complex process of axon guidance is largely driven by the growth cone, which is the dynamic motile structure at the tip of the growing axon. During axon outgrowth, the growth cone must integrate multiple sources of guidance cue information to modulate its cytoskeleton in order to propel the growth cone forward and accurately navigate to find its specific targets(1). How this integration occurs at the cytoskeletal level is still emerging, and examination of cytoskeletal protein and effector dynamics within the growth cone can allow the elucidation of these mechanisms. Xenopus laevis growth cones are large enough (10-30 microns in diameter) to perform high-resolution live imaging of cytoskeletal dynamics (e.g.(2-4) ) and are easy to isolate and manipulate in a lab setting compared to other vertebrates. The frog is a classic model system for developmental neurobiology studies, and important early insights into growth cone microtubule dynamics were initially found using this system(5-7) . In this method(8), eggs are collected and fertilized in vitro, injected with RNA encoding fluorescently tagged cytoskeletal fusion proteins or other constructs to manipulate gene expression, and then allowed to develop to the neural tube stage. Neural tubes are isolated by dissection and then are cultured, and growth cones on outgrowing neurites are imaged. In this article, we describe how to perform this method, the goal of which is to culture Xenopus laevis growth cones for subsequent high-resolution image analysis. While we provide the example of +TIP fusion protein EB1-GFP, this method can be applied to any number of proteins to elucidate their behaviors within the growth cone.
PubMed ID: 23295240
PMC ID: PMC3490324
Article link: J Vis Exp
Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: mapre1
References [+] :
Buck, Growth cone turning induced by direct local modification of microtubule dynamics. 2002, Pubmed, Xenbase