The study, published in Current Biology, focuses on cilia, the cellular structures that by sensing chemicals and mechanical forces allow for smelling, hearing, and many other essential functions
The group led by ICREA Research Professor Cayetano Gonzalez at IRB Barcelona, in collaboration with the group of Professor Giuliano Callaini from the University of Siena in Italy, has published a new study in Current Biology that contributes to understanding how cilia are assembled.
Many cells in our bodies present a small structure that looks like, and as a matter of fact works as an antenna, conveying to the cell information on the extracellular environment. They are called cilia (plural) or cilium (singular). Ciliated cells play essential functions in the human body.
Thus, for instance, the monitoring of fluid flow in the kidney, the detection of hormones in the brain, or the senses of hearing and smell depend on specialised neurons equipped with chemo-sensory or mechano-sensory cilia. Moreover, besides sensing, beating cilia keep fluids in motion in many parts of our bodies and are critical for human health.
A cilium can be regarded as a long and thin protrusion of the cell membrane that contains microtubules. Ciliary microtubules are arranged in a typical radial symmetry that is conserved through evolution and is templated by a small organelle that sits at the base of the cilium, known as basal body. Most animal cells contain two basal body-like structures (centrioles), but only one of them can actually work as basal body. In human cells, this is always the centriole that is said to be the "mother" because it was assembled earlier than the other, called the "daughter" centriole.
One laboratory animal model used to investigate how cilia are assembled is the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster. The article by the Gonzalez's group shows that in Drosophila, as in humans, basal body fate is also reserved to the mother centriole. Moreover, through genetic manipulations that are easily performed in flies, they have been able to get a glimpse into the molecular mechanism that governs this fundamental process.
They have found that removal of the daughter-centriole specific protein Centrobin (CNB) allows daughter centrioles to serve as basal bodies. Thus CNB-depleted neurons present two cilia, the standard, which is templated by the mother centriole and a second one templated by the daughter centriole from which CNB has been removed. Conversely, mother centrioles engineered to carry CNB cannot function as basal bodies and, therefore, neurons modified this way cannot assemble cilia.
In humans, the lack of cilia, or cilia that do not work well, are the cause of a long list of disorders, known as ciliopathies, which include polydactyly, obesity, respiratory dysfunction, hearing impairment, and many others. Basic research in model organisms like the vinegar fly is helping to understand the molecular details of cilium assembly, thus paving the way to applied research in this field.
IRB Barcelona | EurekAlert!
When fat cells change their colour
28.10.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences