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 Complementing conventional antibiotics
24.05.2018 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Building a brain, cell by cell: Researchers make a mini neuron network (of two)
23.05.2018 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

When corals eat plastics

24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Surgery involving ultrasound energy found to treat high blood pressure

24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering

First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR

24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>