Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UCLA researchers recreate patterns formed by mammalian cells

15.06.2004


Implications for tissue regeneration, birth defects and heart disease



In early development, how do cells know to put the right spacing between ribs, fingers and toes? How do they communicate with each other to form symmetrical and repeated patterns such as zebra stripes or leopard spots?

For the first time, UCLA researchers have recreated the ability of mammalian cells to self-organize, forming evenly spaced patterns in a test tube. Published in the June 22, 2004 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the findings may help improve methods for regenerating tissue, controlling birth defects and developing new treatments for specific diseases.


"Just as a marching band needs direction from a conductor to line up in formation on a football field, cells also need guidance to form patterns -- but until now we didn’t know how they were communicating or receiving direction," said Alan Garfinkel, Ph.D., first author and professor of physiology and cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"Previously it was a bit magical how cells knew exactly how far apart to space ribs or tiger stripes," said Dr. Linda L. Demer, senior investigator, Guthman Professor of Medicine and Physiology, and vice chair for cardiovascular and vascular medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "We now know that it’s orchestrated by specific proteins produced by cells that disperse at different rates and interfere with one another. These interactions can be described in mathematical formulas dictating how cells organize into specific, evenly spaced patterns."

Demer notes that similar mechanisms may explain how an embryo creates structures in evenly spaced patterns in early development or how certain diseases may trigger cells to create lesions in specific patterns.

Researchers grew stem cells from adult bovine arteries and found that they produce intricate, lace-like patterns in culture dishes. Such patterns are known to be created in nature by a process called reaction-diffusion discovered by Alan Turing, the mathematician famous for his role in breaking the Nazi code during World War II. He showed that patterns required interaction between an activating protein that draws cells together (activator) and another protein that stops them from coming together (inhibitor). The inhibitor protein must diffuse or disperse more rapidly than the activator. The result creates areas where cells pile up separated by empty spaces. The exact patterns depend on the strength and speed of the two proteins.

The UCLA researchers knew the likely activator protein was BMP-2; it was produced by the cells and caused cells to draw together. One of the researchers, Dr. Kristina Bostrom, had recently discovered a new inhibitor of BMP-2, an unusually small protein known as MGP. The investigators theorized that interference between these two proteins was the source of the patterns. To test this idea, collaborator Dr. Danny Petrasek from the California Institute of Technology generated computer simulations of the expected interactions. He predicted that adding MGP to the cell culture would change the pattern from stripes to spots. Without knowing his result, Bostrom added MGP to the cells and found that they indeed produced spots instead of stripes.

"Using the mathematical formula based on Turing’s concepts, we were able to recreate the classic stripe or spot patterns seen throughout nature – such as in a zebra’s stripes or leopard’s spots," said Garfinkel.

Garfinkel adds that many parts of the body are based on patterns: Stripe patterns are used to generate fingers, ribs and toes, while branching patterns generate vessels, lungs and nerves, and spot patterns produce the organization of hair follicles, vertebrae and teeth. The type of structure formed depends upon the types and amounts of the proteins and cells involved.

To be sure that the proteins were controlling the patterns produced by cells, the researchers added the drug warfarin, which blocks MGP. The result was a double-striped pattern, also predicted by the simulation. This may help explain the known association of warfarin with birth defects.

"The abnormal cell pattern resulting from adding warfarin, may give researchers some insight into how birth defects develop," said Garfinkel.

The next step, Garfinkel added, is to generate more complex patterns by adjusting the ratios of the two proteins BMP-2 and MGP. Such control would be useful for tissue engineering architecture – producing replacement tissue in desired shapes and patterns.

Demer also notes that the research may offer a greater understanding of how artery cells calcify and turn to bone in atherosclerotic heart disease.

"Our ability to recreate cell patterns may ultimately help us learn how to better control them, leading to new ways to treat certain conditions like heart disease," said Demer.

Rachel Champeau | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucla.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University

nachricht Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>