Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

To differentiate or not to differentiate?

12.12.2017

Stem cells sense neighbourhood crowding to make decisions on their behaviour

Human skin is a remarkable organ serving as a barrier protecting us from pathogens, toxic substances and others. Our skin needs to constantly renew throughout our lifetime as well as change its size to perfectly fit and cover the body.


Immunofluorescent image of skin cells growing in a petri dish. Cytoskeleton shown in green, Cell-cell junction protein shown in red.

Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing

To fulfill such a complex and dynamic behavior every cell within the skin has a specific task dependent on its position. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne have now shown that cell density and crowding play a critical role in instructing single stem cell fate decisions and movement of differentiating cells upwards within the tissue. This ensures that all cell types are correctly positioned within the tissue.

Adult skin epidermis is build of different layers. Stem cells reside in the bottom layer where their task is to produce new cells which then differentiate and move upwards into the more specialized upper layer. This differentiation process involves permanent changes in the cells properties to best suit to serve skin’s barrier function.

The skin must maintain balanced numbers of stem and differentiated cells as loss of proper balance would result in aberrant tissue structure and therefore function. How this intricate balance is maintained remained largely unknown until recently.

“At the beginning of our study we asked ourselves how the skin cells know where they are and what they are supposed to be doing”, explains Yekaterina Miroshnikova, lead author of the study and Postdoctoral Researcher in the lab of Sara Wickström at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing. The researchers analyzed embryonic mouse tissues and cultured stem cells and found an elegant mechanism based on mechanical guidance.

Local stress induced by crowding leads to differentiation

“We observed that dividing stem cells induced a local crowding effect to the stem cell layer which deformed the cells in the vicinity of this event. Intriguingly, this compression and deformation triggered the differentiation of the neighboring cell”, explains Miroshnikova.

The crowded and squeezed cells change their properties, leading to their ‘escape’ from the local stress in the bottom layer and upward movement. “The fact that cells sense what their neighbors are doing and do the exact opposite provides a very efficient and simple way to maintain tissue size, architecture and function”, says Miroshnikova.

These results for the first time demonstrate how a complex tissue such as the human skin can generate and maintain its structure through very simple principles of self-organization. In the future, the group will continue using a combination of computational modeling and cell biology to uncover how genetic mutations that occur during cancer target stem cell proliferation and mechanics to impair this process.

The research was performed in collaboration with CECAD.

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.age.mpg.de

Dr. Maren Berghoff | Max-Planck-Institut für Biologie des Alterns

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

nachricht The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

One step closer to reality

20.04.2018 | Life Sciences

The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver

20.04.2018 | Life Sciences

Diamond-like carbon is formed differently to what was believed -- machine learning enables development of new model

19.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>