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Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2015 Jan;35(1):123-35. doi: 10.1007/s10571-014-0103-4. Epub 2014 Sep 3.

Live-cell imaging of post-golgi transport vesicles in cultured hippocampal neurons.

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Department of Neural and Pain Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, 21201, USA.


The subcellular localization of neuronal membrane signaling molecules such as receptors and ion channels depends on intracellular trafficking mechanisms. Essentially, vesicular trafficking mechanisms ensure that a large number of membrane proteins are correctly targeted to different subcellular compartments of neurons. In the past two decades, the establishment and advancement of fluorescent protein technology have provided us with opportunities to study how proteins are trafficked in living cells. However, live imaging of trafficking processes in neurons necessitate imaging tools to distinguish the several different routes that neurons use for protein trafficking. Here we provide a novel protocol to selectively visualize post-Golgi transport vesicles carrying fluorescent-labeled ion channel proteins in living neurons. Further, we provide a number of analytical tools we developed to quantify characteristics of different types of transport vesicles. We demonstrate the application of our protocol to investigate whether ion channels are sorted into distinct vesicular populations at the Golgi apparatus. We also demonstrate how these techniques are suitable for pharmacological dissection of the transport mechanisms by which post-Golgi vesicles are trafficked in neurons. Our protocol uniquely combines the classic temperature-block with close monitoring of the transient expression of transfected protein tagged with fluorescent proteins, and provides a quick and easy way to study protein trafficking in living neurons. We believe that the procedures described here are useful for researchers who are interested in studying molecular mechanisms of protein trafficking in neurons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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