Sea Skate Experiment Sheds Light on Human Cell Transport
Leon Goldstein, a professor of medical science at Brown Medical School, set out to plumb a molecular mystery.
Along with Mark Musch, a longtime University of Chicago collaborator, Goldstein conducted an experiment with the red blood cells of skates to understand how these skinny, graceful fish can swim from salt water to fresh water. For humans, such a drastic environmental change would prompt an equally drastic physiological change: Our cells would take in too much water, diluting blood and other body fluids and rapidly causing death. So how do skates do it?
Goldstein and Musch learned how cellular channels, or gates, spring into action when skate red blood cells become engorged with water. Vesicles, or tiny fluid-filled sacs, carry these gates up to the cell membrane. The vesicles are inserted into the membrane and a chemical process known as phosphorylation takes place. This activates the gates, which open to release excess water along with salts and other organic material.
The researchers made their discovery by using a plant-based substance to block an enzyme that causes phosphorylation. The result: The gates wouldn’t open. These findings are published in the current issue of the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, along with an accompanying editorial.
Goldstein said the results are important for a few reasons.
Because skate red blood cells closely resemble cells in the human kidney, the findings shed light on how these organs cope with excess water. But Goldstein and Musch also believe the mechanisms that trigger this cellular “release valve” are universal.
“We think that vesicle insertion, coupled with phosphorylation, is a broad mechanism for getting substances in and out of cells,” Goldstein said. “The idea that we can apply this knowledge to other cells and other animals – including humans – is what makes the findings exciting.”
In type 1 diabetes, cells lose their ability to transport glucose. Goldstein and Musch say their findings could explain the problem. People with type 1 diabetes dont produce insulin. Without that hormone, vesicles arent inserted into cell membranes – and glucose cant be moved between cells.
And when channels are blocked, damaged cells can’t die. This cell “suicide” is one of the body’s defenses against cancer. “There is a possible relationship between operation of these channels and the uncontrolled multiplication of cancer cells,” Goldstein said. “If so, this research points up an important area for future research.”
The National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health funded the work.
Wendy Lawton | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
New technique promises tunable laser devices
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...