Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

High-speed images show how cells mobilize for immune response

17.04.2003


New high-speed imaging techniques are allowing scientists to show how a single cell mobilizes its resources to activate its immune response, a news research study shows.



Howard R. Petty, Ph.D., professor and biophysicist at the University of Michigan Health System’s Kellogg Eye Center, has dazzled his colleagues with movies of fluorescent-lit calcium waves that pulse through the cell, issuing an intracellular call-to-arms to attack the pathogens within.

He explains that these high-speed images provide a level of detail about cell signaling that simply wasn’t possible just a few years ago.


In the April 15 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Petty provides more detail on cell signaling, depicting what he calls the "molecular machinery" underlying the immune response. He has identified a sequence of amino acids (LTL) that controls the calcium wave pathway and, crucially, the ability of immune cells to destroy targets.

The findings are important because they could eventually lead scientists to design drugs based on the amino acid motif.

"Our clinical goal," explains Petty, "is to characterize the immune cell’s signaling function so that we can interrupt it or somehow intervene when it begins to misfire." The process has implications for treating autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and the eye disorder uveitis.

Through images of phagocytosis, the process by which a cell engulfs and then destroys its target, Petty is able to track the movement of calcium waves as they send signals to key players in the immune response. The "calcium wave" is a stream of calcium ions coming into the cell, which is detected by the fluorescence emission of a calcium-sensing dye.

As a cell membrane begins to surround its target, two calcium waves begin to circulate. When the target is completely surrounded, one wave traveling around the cell’s perimeter splits in two, with the second wave encircling the phagosome or sac-like compartment. This second wave allows the digestive enzymes to enter the phagosome and finally destroy the target.

When Petty introduced a mutation in the gene (FcyRIIA) that controls phagocytosis, he found that the calcium wave simply circled the cell and bypassed the phagosome altogether. As a result, the immune cell could engulf, but could not carry out the destruction of its target. This led him to conclude that the LTL sequence orchestrates the cell signaling process.

The sequence may also have a role in directing other cell activities, for example signaling the endoplasmic reticulum to form a spindle that connects the phagosome and the outer cell membrane. "The spindle seems to act as an extension cord that signals the calcium wave into the phagosome to finish the attack," suggests Petty.

Petty explains that many of these findings are possible thanks to high-speed imaging techniques that enable him to merge knowledge of physics with cell and molecular biology. He uses high sensitivity fluorescence imaging with shutter speeds 600,000 times faster than video frames.

"Before the advent of high-speed imaging, you could not ask many of these questions because we had no way to see the movement of calcium waves," he says. "With conventional imaging you ended up with a blur of calcium." By contrast, Petty’s images resemble the movement of a comet across the night sky.

In the study reported in PNAS, Petty used leucocytes as a model for the process. The amino acid sequence is in the region of the gene FcyRIIA. He is currently studying the same phenomena in the eye, where phagocytosis disposes of the regularly-shed remnants of photoreceptor cells.


The paper, Signal sequence within FcRIIA controls calcium wave propagation patterns: Apparent role in phagolysosome fusion, also appears on the PNAS internet site at www.pnas.org.

Betsy Nisbet | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.pnas.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>