Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Control by the matrix: RUB researchers decipher the role of proteins in the cell environment

12.12.2011
Control by the matrix
Development: how specific cells are generated in the spinal cord
RUB researchers decipher the role of proteins in the cell environment

How astrocytes, certain cells of the nervous system, are generated was largely unknown up to now. Bochum’s researchers have now investigated what influence the cell environment, known as the extracellular matrix, has on this process.


Under suitable conditions, precursor cells in the nervous system (red) transform into other cell types, e.g. astrocytes (green). A fluorescence microscope image of a precursor cell culture is shown in which all cell nuclei are stained blue
Illustration: Dr. Michael Karus


The researchers from Bochum cultivated precursor cells of the nervous system as free-floating colonies called neurospheres. In the fluorescence microscope image, precursor cells are stained green, cell nuclei blue. In the neurosphere, there are also large amounts of a sugar residue (red), which is considered the classical marker for stem cells. Illustration: Dr. Michael Karus

They found out that the matrix protein tenascin C has to be present in order for astrocytes to multiply and distribute in a controlled fashion in the spinal cord of mice. Together with colleagues from the RWTH Aachen, the scientists from RUB Department of Cell Morphology and Molecular Neurobiology report their findings in the journal Development.

Tenascin C regulates astrocyte development

Immature astrocytes produce tenascin C and secrete it into the extracellular matrix. From there, it controls the development of the cells. To characterise the role of the protein more precisely, the Bochum team lead by Prof. Dr. Andreas Faissner, Prof. Dr. Stefan Wiese and Dr. Michael Karus analysed astrocytes that were genetically manipulated so that they did not produce tenascin C. The scientists observed that the astrocytes without the protein divided for a longer period of time, and migrated later to their destination in the spinal cord. “As a consequence of the longer cell division phase, we found an increased number of mature astrocytes” explained Karus.

Gene activity altered

Also at the molecular level, the tenascin C manipulation leaves its mark. With colleagues at the RWTH Aachen, Bochum’s researchers compared the gene activity in the spinal cord with and without tenascin C production. The absence of the protein not only affected genes that are typical of astrocytes. The scientists also documented expression level changes of genes that play a role for specific growth factors. These have an influence, for example, on the survival and division activity of different cell types.

Results also interesting for medical applications

Astrocytes take on a variety of tasks in the nervous system. They regulate the ion balance and the concentration of neurotransmitters, are part of the blood-brain barrier, and influence the activity of the nerve cells. In case of injuries to the central nervous system, or brain tumours, they form what are known as reactive astrocytes, which behave similarly to immature astrocytes. “So far, the function of tenascin C under such pathological conditions is largely unknown” said Karus. “However, if we find out more about the role of tenascin C during development, we will probably be able to better understand what affect it has, for example in spinal cord injuries.”

Bibliographic record

M. Karus, B. Denecke, C. ffrench-Constant, S. Wiese, A. Faissner (2011): The extracellular matrix molecule tenascin C modulates expression levels and territories of key patterning genes during spinal cord astrocyte specification, Development, doi: 10.1242/dev.067413

Further information

Dr. Michael Karus, Department of Cell Morphology and Molecular Neurobiology, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology at the Ruhr-Universität, 44780 Bochum, Tel.: +49/234/32-24312

Michael.Karus@ruhr-uni-bochum.de

Click for more

Department of Cell Morphology and Molecular Neurobiology
http://dbs-lin.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/cellmorphology/index.php?&language=en
Editor
Dr. Julia Weiler

Dr. Josef König | idw
Further information:
http://www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>