Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers discover the mechanism that determines cell position in the intestinal epithelium

How do cells know where to position themselves and where to accumulate in order to carry out their functions correctly within each organ?

Researchers with the Colorectal Cancer Lab at IRB Barcelona have revealed the molecular mechanisms responsible for organizing the intestinal epithelium into distinct comportments, defined by frontiers or territories. The study, headed by Eduard Batlle, coordinator of the Oncology Programme at IRB Barcelona and ICREA Research Professor, is published in today's online version of the Journal Nature Cell Biology, part of the prestigious editorial group Nature.

The organization of tissues and organs in the human body can be compared to a very complex and sophisticated engine, whose structure is maintained by positioning its components (cells) in a very precise way. Errors in the assembly (location) of the components might lead to changes in the function of the engine (tissue or organ).

New protein complexes that position cells in the right place

Complex tissues and organs require the separation of diverse cells types into separate zones in order to maintain their architecture. In the case of the intestinal epithelium, the lower part of the invaginations formed by the epithelium, called crypts, contains stem cells that regenerate tissue, while the upper part holds differentiated cells that are responsible for nutrient absorption.

The so-called EphB receptors, present in the cells at the bottom of the crypts, bind to Ephrin ligands located mainly in differentiated cells in the upper part of the intestinal epithelium. The ligand-receptor binding occurs at the frontier between the two cell populations and controls cell positioning in the tissue. However, until now, the way in which these ligand-receptor bindings instruct cells to position themselves in one place or another was unknown.

The results of this study demonstrate that EphB-ephrin bindings activate the metaloprotease ADAM10, which destroys the binding between distinct cell types, such as between cells from the bottom and surface of crypts. It is the destruction of these binding between cells from distinct compartments that prevents cell mixing, thus impeding once cell type from entering the wrong territory. In the words of Guiomar Solanas, first author of the article, "we have found the molecular mechanisms by which EphB receptors and their ligands tell each cell where it has to be throughout its life: from its generation from stem cells in the crypt bottom until its differentiation".

The loss of cell organization in a tissue is often associated with cancer. In addition to the loss of EphB receptor function in tumors is associated with a worse prognosis for patients. This new regulatory mechanism of affinity between cells types and territory maintenance could be key to our understanding of how less aggressive tumors evolve into malignant ones.

Reference article: Cleavage of E-cadherin by ADAM10 mediates epithelial cell sorting downstream of EphB signaling. Guiomar Solanas, Carme Cortina, Marta Sevillano and Eduard Batlle. Nature Cell Biology (2011). [DOI: 10.1038/ncb2298]

Nuria Noriega | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

nachricht 'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>