Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


The mending tissue -- Cellular instructions for tissue repair


NUS-led collaborative study identifies universal mechanism that explains how tissue shape regulates physiological processes such as wound healing and embryo development

A collaborative study led by scientists at the Mechanobiology Institute (MBI) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has described a universal mechanism that regulates forces during epithelial tissue repair.

The researchers found that cells at the convex edge moved in faster than those at the concave edges. The image above depicts the shape used throughout the investigation which was chosen for its very large range of curvature (from highly convex to highly concave). The green structures protruding into the gap are the lamellipodia or the actin structures that are used in the cell crawling mechanism, while the white and magenta ring surrounding the gap shows the actomyosin cable used in the purse-string mechanism. The cell nuclei are represented in blue.

Credit: Mechanobiology Institute, National University of Singapore

This work, led by MBI co-Principal Investigator Professor Benoit Ladoux and conducted in collaboration with scientists from the Pierre et Marie Curie University, France; the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia, Spain; Chronic Disease Research Centre, Portugal, the Weizmann Institute, Israel; and the Cambridge University, UK, was published in prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications in July 2015.

How tissue shape regulates wound repair mechanisms

The epithelial tissue, or the epithelium, is one of four major types of tissue that lines the surfaces of all organs and hollow spaces in our body. The epithelium protects the organs from damage and maintains the body in a state of balance by allowing a selective in-and-out passage of substances. Proper function of the epithelium requires an intact layer of epithelial cells.

During the lifetime of an organism, gaps or holes of different sizes and shapes are introduced into this intact epithelium. They may appear as a consequence of natural biological processes such as embryo development when cells move around and rearrange to establish body patterns, or during cell turnover in adult tissues, when dead cells are cleared away by neighbouring healthy cells. In addition, injury or disease may also lead to wounds or ulcers in the tissue. In either case, any gap in the tissue needs to be sealed so that the normal functioning of the tissue is restored.

In the likelihood of an open wound or gap causing complications such as infections, inflammation or even cancer, our body has developed two major repair mechanisms whereby cells surrounding the gap collectively move in and seal the open spaces completely.

To do so, cells either put forth finger-like protrusions called lamellipodia to crawl along the underlying surface or form an interconnecting belt or cable of actin filaments and myosin proteins. When this cable contracts, it pulls the cells closer in a coordinated fashion, similar to the action of drawing a purse-string. However, the extent to which either mechanism contributes to tissue repair is known to depend on several factors such as the gap geometry, gap size or the presence or absence of an underlying supporting surface.

To determine the impact of tissue geometry on gap closure, the international research team studied the effects of gap shapes on gap closure mechanisms.

By using microfabrication techniques to grow epithelial cells around stencils made of an inert polymer, they created gaps of desired shapes within the cell culture. The boundaries of the gap were either protruding inwards (concave edges) or were extending away (convex edges).

Interestingly, the researchers noted that the speed at which cells along the gap edge moved depended on the local curvature. Specifically, they found that cells at the convex edge moved in faster than those at the concave edges. To test the relevance of their findings in a living system, the researchers studied wound repair in flies and found a similar association between wound shape and wound repair.

The current study has identified a universal mechanism that explains how the geometrical properties of tissue regulate forces and guide cellular movement during physiological processes such as cell turnover, embryo development and wound healing. Cells essentially receive the instructions on how to close a gap by sensing and measuring the shape of the gap itself. Further understanding of how cells do this will help researchers know how to treat chronic medical conditions involving wounds or unsealed gaps as well as designing new substrates to optimise tissue regeneration.

Media Contact

Amal Naquiah


Amal Naquiah | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Cellular embryo development epithelial epithelial tissue epithelium gaps organs processes

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

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

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>