Immunofluorescence Analysis of Stress Granule Formation After Bacterial Challenge of Mammalian Cells

J Vis Exp. 2017 Jul 3:(125):55536. doi: 10.3791/55536.


Fluorescent imaging of cellular components is an effective tool to investigate host-pathogen interactions. Pathogens can affect many different features of infected cells, including organelle ultrastructure, cytoskeletal network organization, as well as cellular processes such as Stress Granule (SG) formation. The characterization of how pathogens subvert host processes is an important and integral part of the field of pathogenesis. While variable phenotypes may be readily visible, the precise analysis of the qualitative and quantitative differences in the cellular structures induced by pathogen challenge is essential for defining statistically significant differences between experimental and control samples. SG formation is an evolutionarily conserved stress response that leads to antiviral responses and has long been investigated using viral infections1. SG formation also affects signaling cascades and may have other still unknown consequences2. The characterization of this stress response to pathogens other than viruses, such as bacterial pathogens, is currently an emerging area of research3. For now, quantitative and qualitative analysis of SG formation is not yet routinely used, even in the viral systems. Here we describe a simple method for inducing and characterizing SG formation in uninfected cells and in cells infected with a cytosolic bacterial pathogen, which affects the formation of SGs in response to various exogenous stresses. Analysis of SG formation and composition is achieved by using a number of different SG markers and the spot detector plug-in of ICY, an open source image analysis tool.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique / methods*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans