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J Vis Exp. 2012 Apr 1;(62). pii: 3840. doi: 10.3791/3840.

Measurement of cellular chemotaxis with ECIS/Taxis.

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  • 1Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut, CT, USA.

Abstract

Cellular movement in response to external stimuli is fundamental to many cellular processes including wound healing, inflammation and the response to infection. A common method to measure chemotaxis is the Boyden chamber assay, in which cells and chemoattractant are separated by a porous membrane. As cells migrate through the membrane toward the chemoattractant, they adhere to the underside of the membrane, or fall into the underlying media, and are subsequently stained and visually counted (1). In this method, cells are exposed to a steep and transient chemoattractant gradient, which is thought to be a poor representation of gradients found in tissues (2). Another assay system, the under-agarose chemotaxis assay, (3, 4) measures cell movement across a solid substrate in a thin aqueous film that forms under the agarose layer. The gradient that develops in the agarose is shallow and is thought to be an appropriate representation of naturally occurring gradients. Chemotaxis can be evaluated by microscopic imaging of the distance traveled. Both the Boyden chamber assay and the under-agarose assay are usually configured as endpoint assays. The automated ECIS/Taxis system combines the under-agarose approach with Electric Cell-substrate Impedance Sensing (ECIS) (5, 6). In this assay, target electrodes are located in each of 8 chambers. A large counter-electrode runs through each of the 8 chambers (Figure 2). Each chamber is filled with agarose and two small wells are the cut in the agarose on either side of the target electrode. One well is filled with the test cell population, while the other holds the sources of diffusing chemoattractant (Figure 3). Current passed through the system can be used to determine the change in resistance that occurs as cells pass over the target electrode. Cells on the target electrode increase the resistance of the system (6). In addition, rapid fluctuations in the resistance represent changes in the interactions of cells with the electrode surface and are indicative of ongoing cellular shape changes. The ECIS/Taxis system can measure movement of the cell population in real-time over extended periods of time, but is also sensitive enough to detect the arrival of a single cell at the target electrode. Dictyostelium discoidium is known to migrate in the presence of a folate gradient (7, 8) and its chemotactic response can be accurately measured by ECIS/Taxis (9). Leukocyte chemotaxis, in response to SDF1α and to chemotaxis antagonists has also been measured with ECIS/Taxis (10, 11). An example of the leukocyte response to SDF1α is shown in Figure 1.

PMID:
22491349
PMCID:
PMC3460541
DOI:
10.3791/3840
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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