scientificprotocols authored almost 8 years ago

Authors: Shigeaki Hida & Shinsuke Taki


Basophils are one of effector cells in type 2 immune responses that critically are associated with allergic inflammation and infections with helminth parasites. Recent findings that basophils produce a large amount of Th2 cytokines (IL-4 and IL-6) has provided new insights into the possible role of basophils in the initiation phase, in addition to the effector phase, of type 2 immune responses. However, basophils occupy only 1% or less in blood, bone marrow and spleen, making it difficult to analyze their function. Here we establish a method for expressing exogenous proteins and their mutants in cultured basophils through retroviral infection. In combination with cultured basophils from gene-manipulated mice, this method, overcoming the paucity of basophils, allows us to examine the requirement of various signal transducers in interleukin 3-induced production of Th2 cytokines.


  1. RMPI 1640
  2. Fetal bovine serum (FBS)
  3. Recombinant mouse interleukin-3
  4. Biotin-conjugated anti-c-kit antibody (e-Bioscience)
  5. Biotin-conjugated anti-rat CD2 (rCD2) antibody (Cedarlane)
  6. PE-Cy7-streptavidin (BD Biosciences)
  7. RetroNectin (TakaraBio)
  8. FuGene-6 reagent (Roche Diagnostics)
  9. pMX-IRES-rCD2 (The GFP portion in the original pMX-IRES-GFP vector was replaced with the extracellular-transmembrane domain of rCD2; see ref. 1)


  1. Flowcytometer (FC500, Beckman-Coulter)
  2. BD IMagTM Cell Separation System (BD Bioscience)
  3. AutoMACS (Myltenyi Biotech)


Preparation of retrovirus-containing supernatant

  • 1. Transfect retroviral constructs (based on the bicistronic vector, pMX-IRES-rCD2, see ref. 1) into the packaging cell line Phoenix using FuGene-6 reagent as instructed by supplier.
  • 2. Collect retrovirus-containing supernatants 48 hours after transfection, and concentrate 10-fold by centrifugation (8000 g, 12 hours, 4°C).
  • 3. Filtrate virus supernatants through 0.22μm pore PVDF membrane. The filtrated supernatants can be stored for up to one week at 4°C.

Infection of BM-derived basophils with retroviruses

  • 4. Isolate bone marrow (BM) cells from femurs and tibias of 8-12 week old mice.
  • 5. Culture whole BM cells at 2 to 2.5 × 106 cells/ml in 10 ml of penicillin and streptomycin, 2mM L-glutamine, 50 μM β-mercaptoethanol, 10% fetal bovine serum-containing RPMI 1640 medium supplemented with recombinant mouse IL-3 (5 ng/ml) for 9 days with medium changed every 3 days.
  • 6. Enrich BM-derived basophils by depleting mast (c-kit+) cells using IMag system or autoMACS as instructed by the supplier.
  • 7. Treat 12-well plates with RetroNectin solution (50 µg/ml in PBS) for 2 hours at room temperature, followed by 2% bovine serum albumin in PBS for 30 minutes.
  • 8. Incubate the treated plates with the virus supernatants for 4 hours at 30°C. Add enriched BM-derived basophils (0.5 to 1 × 106 cells/ml) and culture for 2 days for infection.
  • 9. Recover infected cells and wash with RPMI 1640 containing 2% FBS.
  • 10. For stimulating with IL-3, infected BM-derived basophils are ‘starved’ by culturing in culture media without IL-3 for 12 to 18 hours before enrich rat CD2+ cells with IMag system and/or AutoMACS.

Anticipated Results

See Figure 1.


  1. Yamasaki, S. et al. Mechanistic basis of pre-T cell receptor-mediated autonomous signaling critical for thymocyte development. Nat. Immunol. 7, 67-85 (2006).


Figure 1: Retroviral reconstitution of FcRγ allows surface expression of FcεRI on BM-derived basophils.

Fig 1

BM-derived basophils from FcRγ-deficient mice were infected with either control or FcRγ-expressing retrovirus. Infected cell, deleted of c-kit+ cells, were stained with anti-FcεRIα (MAR-1, e-Bioscience) and anti-rat CD2 (OX34, Cedarlane) and analyzed on the FC500 flowcytometer.

Associated Publications

Fc receptor gamma-chain, a constitutive component of the IL-3 receptor, is required for IL-3-induced IL-4 production in basophils, Shigeaki Hida, Sho Yamasaki, Yuzuru Sakamoto, Masaya Takamoto, Kazushige Obata, Toshiyuki Takai, Hajime Karasuyama, Kazuo Sugane, Takashi Saito, and Shinsuke Taki, Nature Immunology 10 (2) 214 - 222 21/12/2008 doi:10.1038/ni.1686

Author information

Shigeaki Hida & Shinsuke Taki, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan

Source: Protocol Exchange (2008) doi:10.1038/nprot.2008.252. Originally published online 30 December 2008.

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