Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Salk news: Understanding organ placement

09.01.2004


Salk study uncovers new information about organ placement



A Salk Institute team of biologists, mathematicians, and physicists has uncovered a novel paradigm for cell communication that provides new insights into the complex question of how the body determines where organs are placed.

The study focused on a fundamental question: how the body tells left from right. Although humans look fairly symmetric on the outside, their inner organs are placed quite asymmetrically; for example, the heart points to the left and the liver lies to the right side.


"We know that in the phase of development, there is a genetic cascade that leads to the proper placement of organs. If that cascade is disrupted, the results can lead to major problems or be fatal," said Salk Professor Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte, who published the findings in the January 8 issue of Nature. Still, scientists did not have a clear understanding of what triggers the genetic cascade that defines organ placement. Izpisúa Belmonte’s group focused on the activity of the Notch pathway, an important player during embryo development and also during tumorigenesis, and a key factor for proper left-right asymmetry, as the same group and others had learned earlier this year.

"We knew that Notch activity was necessary for the normal, left-sided expression, but we were clueless as to what was activating Notch preferentially on the left side," said Angel Raya, lead author of the paper. "We examined several factors known to participate early in the establishment of the left-right axis, but none was responsible for what we were seeing."

Izpisúa Belmonte and his team characterized a highly complex chain of events leading to Notch activation, and resorted to mathematics to model the dynamics of this process. The model allowed the team to perform thousands of experiments in the computer (simulations), and pinpoint the factors most likely to regulate Notch activity in the specific fashion seen in the embryo.

"The model pointed in the direction of extracellular calcium, and we were absolutely thrilled when we visualized that, indeed, extracellular calcium accumulated normally on the left side of the embryo. The mathematical model that we developed saved us years of bench work and led to new insights about a biological problem," said Izpisúa Belmonte. "We are very excited about this multidisciplinary approach to biology, and we believe that collaborative approaches between biologists, mathematicians, and physicists working together will lead to long-term breakthroughs in biological research."


The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, located in La Jolla, Calif., is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to fundamental discoveries in the life sciences, the improvement of human health and conditions, and the training of future generations of researchers. The Institute was founded in 1960 by Jonas Salk, M.D., with a gift of land from the City of San Diego and the financial support of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.

Robert Bradford | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.salk.edu/

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht New dental implant with built-in reservoir reduces risk of infections
18.01.2017 | KU Leuven

nachricht Many muons: Imaging the underground with help from the cosmos
19.12.2016 | DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>