Professor David Garrod, in the Faculty of Life Sciences, has found that the glue molecules bind only to similar glue molecules on other cells, making a very tough, resilient structure. Further investigation on why the molecules bind so specifically could lead to the development of clinical applications.
Professor Garrod, whose Medical Research Council-funded work is paper of the week in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) tomorrow (Friday), said: "Our skin is made up of three different layers, the outermost of which is the epidermis. This layer is only about 1/10th of a millimetre thick yet it is tough enough to protect us from the outside environment and withstand the wear and tear of everyday life.
"One reason our epidermis can do this is because its cells are very strongly bound together by tiny structures called desmosomes, sometimes likened to rivets. We know that people who have defects in their desmosomes have problems with their epidermis and get extremely unpleasant skin diseases. Understanding how desmosomes function is essential for developing better treatments for these and other types of skin disease and for non-healing wounds.
"Desmosomes are also extremely important in locking together the muscle cells of the heart, and hearts where desmosomes are defective can fail catastrophically, causing sudden death in young people.
Hence our findings may also be relevant in the heart and in developing new treatments for heart disease."
ProfessorGarrod and his team, Zhuxiang Nie, Anita Merritt, Mansour Rouhi and Lydia Tabernero, used chemical cross-linking to study cells of the epidermis and found what they believe to be the principal mechanism by which the glue molecules of desmosomes of skin cells bind to each other.
"For reasons that we do not fully understand there are several different but closely-related glue molecules within each desmosome," he explained.
"Our results show that each glue molecule on one cell binds primarily to another of the same type on the neighbouring cell, meaning the binding is highly specific. This was very surprising because previous studies using different techniques had not been able to give such a clear answer on the specificity of binding."
He added: "Our result suggests that this type of specific binding is of fundamental importance in locking together cells of the epidermis into a tough, resilient structure. It is an important step forward in our research, which aims to develop better treatments for non-healing wounds, other skin diseases and heart problems. We could do this if we understood how to make medicines that would lock or unlock the desmosomes as required."
Aeron Haworth | EurekAlert!
Bolstering fat cells offers potential new leukemia treatment
17.10.2017 | McMaster University
Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes
17.10.2017 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences