Cells are not static. They can transform themselves over time — but change can have dangerous implications. Benign cells, for example, can suddenly change into cancerous ones.
That’s one reason why scientists are trying to figure out why and how cells can shed their old identity and take on a new one. If they can figure out how this happens, researchers may better understand why many different cells — such as stem cells or cells that become cancerous — transform. That, in turn, could someday allow scientists to control the transformative process in a way that might help treat a wide range of diseases.
Jeffrey Laney, assistant professor of biology at Brown University, has identified one way this change takes place by looking at Saccharomyces cerevisae, a common yeast used to make beer and bread. Laney found that a cellular “machine” removes a regulatory “lid” from genes in the cell, so the cell can change its state. Details are published online in Nature Cell Biology, with a print version to come.
“We have known that cells shed their old identity. What we didn’t know is how that mechanism occurred,” said Laney, the paper’s lead author and a resaearcher in the Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry.
The finding could shed new light on many different biological transitions, Laney said, where cells change or evolve as part of their normal functioning.
To conduct the study, Laney and his lab tracked the cellular change that takes place in baker’s yeast. Specifically, they looked at the organism as its “a” cells switched to “alpha” cells in order to self-fertilize. (The process would be analogous to an egg becoming a sperm).
Laney’s team found that a regulatory protein “sits” on genes inside the cell, capping those genes — turning them off — and managing the cell’s identify as a result. Another regulatory molecule can pull that protein off the genes, allowing the genes to be switched on and to transform the cell from the “a” type into the “alpha” type.
Although the genes Laney’s lab studied do not exist in humans, the idea of cellular change by changing a gene expression state from on to off, or off to on, is considered universal in all cells.
Understanding how this process happens normally will allow scientists to gain insight into pathological situations when the cell transformation process goes wrong, Laney said.
Alexander Wilcox, a postdoctoral research associate, is a co-author of the paper.
Laney received funding for the study from the National Institutes of Health and from a March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award.
Mark Hollmer | EurekAlert!
Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich
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...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences