A better understanding of the way metabolism works may in the long run mean make it easier to find new medicines for diseases such as diabetes. By combining different methods taken from physics, the researcher Anna-Karin Gustavsson has been able to study metabolism in individual cells.
The objective of these research studies is to see what cells do when there are changes in their environment.
A completely new discovery
Anna-Karin Gustavsson has created a specially designed microfluidic chip containing channels through which different solutions are able to flow. With the aid of optical tweezers, a device that traps a laser beam, she captures individual cells for placing at the point where the channels intersect. This intersection between the channels is where the cells' immediate environment can change very rapidly.
“By using a microscope, I have been able to monitor what the cells do when there are changes in their environment. I discovered that the concentration of molecules in the metabolism of individual cells while these are breaking down sugars could, under specific conditions, be made to rock; i.e. oscillate.”
Up to this moment, it had never been possible to demonstrate the monitoring of oscillations in individual cells, despite there being many publications in high-ranking journals.
“The ability to confirm that this takes place in individual, isolated cells is something new,” says Anna-Karin Gustavsson, who together with her colleagues has also produced a mathematical model for the behaviour of the cells during glycolysis, the process whereby sugars are broken down in our cells to create energy.
May influence the designing of new medicines
In both human cells and yeast cells, which are the focus of Anna-Karin's studies, glucose is converted so as to create available energy. These studies may provide a deeper understanding of glycolysis, the way it works and the reason why oscillations occur.
In the past, these oscillations could only be seen in the form of millions of cells gathered in tight clusters and interacting with each other in order to coordinate their oscillations. Studying a population of millions of cells at the same time and on a collective basis produces only a mean value of the behaviour of all the cells, but looking at the cells one by one makes it possible to see that they behave very differently.
“Studying their heterogeneity is important for understanding the way the biological processes work, and provides the knowledge needed for producing new medicines. These glycolytic oscillations in particular are a most interesting area for further study since they may have a connection to the way in which the body secretes insulin, and also to diabetes in cases where this secretion no longer works the way it should.”
When Anna-Karin Gustavsson's discovery was published in the FEBS Journal, her article was judged to be the best in the Young Scientists category, and she was awarded the FEBS Journal Prize for Young Scientists. Since then, she has mapped the way in which the oscillations arise and under which conditions they do so, and the way in which the individual cells interact with each other so as to synchronise their oscillations.
This research has been conducted in Gothenburg and Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Title of thesis: Glycolytic oscillations in individual yeast cells
Supervisor: Dr. Mattias Goksör
Assistant supervisor: Dr. Caroline Beck Adiels
Link to thesis: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/37367
Anna-Karin Gustavsson, the Department of Physics, University of Gothenburg
email@example.com, (+46) 702-604488
Photo: Johan Wingborg
Henrik Axlid | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Tracking down pest control strategies
31.01.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden
Polymers and Fuels from Renewable Resources
29.01.2018 | DECHEMA Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e.V.
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
20.02.2018 | Life Sciences
20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering
20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy