Now, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies take a step back and illuminate the molecular process that regulates formation of cilia in early fish embryos. In a study published in a forthcoming issue of Nature Genetics, the Salk team, led by Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte, Ph.D., a professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory, identified a novel factor that links early developmental signals with the function of cilia and their role in controlling left-right specification in zebrafish.
"When we altered the function of the gene duboraya, we saw problems with cilia formation, although the gene product itself is not a part of the structure. This opens up a new area of research," says Belmonte.
Cilia have been known to cell biologists for over a hundred years. Belmonte is convinced that these humble structures, which have until recently been ignored by physiologists and molecular biologists alike, are poised to take center stage in the field of biology. Explains Belmonte: "When you impair the function of cilia or the flow of cilia, you create substantial problems throughout the body."
These simple, whip-like structures are not only critically involved in specifying left-right sidedness during development, but they help move fluid and mucus around the brain, lung, eye and kidney, and are required for smell, sight and reproduction. Medical conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, have been linked to structural defects in the architecture or in function of cilia. Moreover, recent evidence indicates that cilia may have additional roles in controlling skeletal development and brain function.
Cilia on the outer surface of the embryo's underside, an area called the ventral node in mammals, exhibit a characteristic twirling movement that wafts chemical messengers over to the left side. This sets up a chemical concentration gradient that tells stem cells how and where to develop. When cilia function is impaired, organs like the heart, lungs, and liver may end up on the wrong side of the body.
When postdoctoral researcher and first author Isao Oishi, Ph.D., searched for genes in zebrafish involved in the left-right patterning of early embryos, he expected to find genes encoding components of cilia. "Instead we found a non-structural cilia gene that influences the function of the cilia, and that, among other things, caused problems with left/right patterning," he says. He named the gene duboraya after the shape of the Japanese duboraya lantern, which fish with an inactivated version of the gene assume as they develop.
Oishi discovered that duboraya is required for formation of fully functional cilia in Kupffer's vesicle, the fish equivalent of the mammalian ventral node. Without duboraya, cilia were reduced to short stumps, unable to create the counterclockwise flow needed to establish left versus right. Duboraya protein, he found, is activated by frizzled-2, a member of the highly conserved Wnt signaling pathway, which orchestrates the activities of a vast number of cells during embryonic development.
Explains Belmonte: "We could show that genes that sense their external or internal environment communicate with structural genes that are responsible for making the cilia and tell them to beat this way or that way. What Isao discovered is a mechanism of how they relay information."
Gina Kirchweger | EurekAlert!
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy