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Evaluation of ciliary-GPCR dynamics using a validated organotypic brain slice culture method

Kobayashi, Y;Saito, Y;

The primary cilium is a structural organelle present in most mammalian cells. Primary cilia are enriched with a unique protein repertoire distinct from that of the cytosol and the plasma membrane. Such a highly organized microenvironment creates effective machinery for translating extracellular cues into intracellular signals. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are key receptors in sensing environmental stimuli transmitted via a second messenger into a cellular response. Recent data has demonstrated that a limited number of non-olfactory GPCRs, including melanin-concentrating hormone receptor 1 (MCHR1), are preferentially localized to ciliary membranes of several mammalian cell types, including neuronal cells. Evidence was accumulated to support the functional importance of ciliary-GPCR signaling accompanying ciliary structural changes using cilia-specific cell and molecular biology techniques. Thus, cilia are now considered to function as a unique sensory platform for the integration of GPCR signaling and various cytoplasmic domains. Dissociated neurons expressing ciliary-GPCRs can be a useful tool for examining ciliary dynamics. However, losing preexisting neuronal connectivity may alter neuronal ciliary morphology, such as abnormal elongation. Brain slices prepared under ex vitro conditions are a powerful approach that maintains the cytoarchitecture, enabling researchers to have accurate control over experimental conditions and to study individual cells from subregions of the brain. Here, we present a detailed description of our novel modified method for organotypic culture of rat brain slice and a validated immunostaining protocol to characterize ciliary-GPCR dynamics in coupling with neuropeptides or aminergic activation.