Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Discover Cells Reorganize Shape to Fit the Situation

26.11.2008
Flip open any biology textbook and you're bound to see a complicated diagram of the inner workings of a cell, with its internal scaffolding, the cytoskeleton, and how it maintains a cell’s shape. Yet the fundamental question remains, which came first: the shape, or the skeleton?

Now a research team led by Phong Tran, PhD, Assistant Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has the answer: Both.

The findings, published online this week in the journal Current Biology by co-senior authors Tran and Matthieu Piel of the Institut Curie, Paris, combine genetics, live-cell imaging, and microfluidics technology. They were able to force normally rod-shaped yeast cells to grow within tiny curved channels. Using the channels, they made rod-shaped cells deform into curved-shaped mutant cells and conversely, curved-shaped cells straighten out into a rod. The surprising finding: as the cells bend, they reorganize their cytoskeleton, and as they reorganize their internal skeletons, the cells further adjust their shape.

Cell shape gone awry has been implicated in some forms of cancer. In the future, one potential implication of Tran's findings is that it might be possible to rescue certain disease states via squeezing or otherwise applying mechanical pressure to tissues or organs. But that, he concedes, is “completely science fiction on my part.” Instead, he says at this point this study is pure, basic research. “It was just a cool experiment.”

The findings point to a type of feedback loop. “The cytoskeleton changes the shape of the cell and the shape of the cell also changes the organization of the cytoskeleton,” he says. “In fact they feed back on each other, so any perturbation on one system will change the other, and visa versa.”

The results validate a common belief among cell biologists, says Tran – that to cause a cell to form a branching projection, such as filopodia or dendrite, or new shape, simply adjust the cytoskeleton accordingly, and the shape will follow suit.

"Our demonstration is a conclusive and direct demonstration of that theory because we used normally rod-shaped cells, as opposed to indirect proof of the concept using mutant cell shapes,” he says.

At least five cellular components are required for making changes to the organization of the cytoskeleton and therefore the shape of a cell: microtubules, actin filaments, the cell membrane, and two protein complexes. Microtubules are hollow protein pipes that arrange themselves in bundles down the long axis of the cell. As they extend from the cell center towards the periphery, they carry with them one of the protein complexes, so that when they finally dock with a protein receptor at the cell membrane, the effect is to deliver the complex to the desired growth point. What follows is a cascade of events: This complex recruits the second protein complex, which in turn recruits the protein actin. Filaments of actin from this site bring the transport machinery necessary for new cell membrane to extend in the intended direction – generally, further along the long axis of the cell.

Essentially, what Tran's team, led by technician Courtney Terenna, found was that if normal yeast cells are forced to bend, their microtubules can no longer reach the old tip of the cell and so form new growth tips. Conversely, they also found that mutant yeast cells normally grow bent or round, if forced to grow in straight channels, will adopt cytoskeletal structures that are the normal rod-shape.

This, says Tran, could in theory partially explain why some cells from mouse knock-outs, when grown in two-dimensional tissue culture, have more severe problems than when grown in a three-dimensional animal. The researchers surmise that the three-dimensional architecture of a tissue inside a living organ rescues cytoskeletal abnormalities that otherwise arise in an artificial two-dimensional construct.

The study stems from an international collaboration between the microfluidics experts in Piel's group and the biology experts in Tran's. Co-first authors Terenna and Tatyana Makushok, a graduate student in Piel's group, funded by a Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), an international organization funded by various countries, traveled to Paris and Philadelphia, respectively, to learn their counterpart's secrets so they could then proceed independently.

Now Tran's group is working to address several questions that arise from this research. First, how long can mutant cells maintain their wild-type phenotype once they are removed from the physical constraints of the microfluidic channel? How do the two protein complexes work together to affect cell shape? And, what effects do other environmental variables, such as temperature, have on cytoskeletal dynamics?

Tran’s lab is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, and the HFSP.

This release and related images can be found at: http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2008/11/cytoskeleton-cell-shape.html

PENN Medicine is a $3.6 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #4 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to most recent data from the National Institutes of Health, received over $379 million in NIH research funds in the 2006 fiscal year. Supporting 1,700 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) includes its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation’s top ten “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. In addition UPHS includes a primary-care provider network; a faculty practice plan; home care, hospice, and nursing home; three multispecialty satellite facilities; as well as the Penn Medicine at Rittenhouse campus, which offers comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient services in multiple specialties.

Karen Kreeger | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uphs.upenn.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

nachricht Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017
25.04.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>