A better understanding of the way metabolism works may in the long run mean make it easier to find new medicines for diseases such as diabetes. By combining different methods taken from physics, the researcher Anna-Karin Gustavsson has been able to study metabolism in individual cells.
The objective of these research studies is to see what cells do when there are changes in their environment.
A completely new discovery
Anna-Karin Gustavsson has created a specially designed microfluidic chip containing channels through which different solutions are able to flow. With the aid of optical tweezers, a device that traps a laser beam, she captures individual cells for placing at the point where the channels intersect. This intersection between the channels is where the cells' immediate environment can change very rapidly.
“By using a microscope, I have been able to monitor what the cells do when there are changes in their environment. I discovered that the concentration of molecules in the metabolism of individual cells while these are breaking down sugars could, under specific conditions, be made to rock; i.e. oscillate.”
Up to this moment, it had never been possible to demonstrate the monitoring of oscillations in individual cells, despite there being many publications in high-ranking journals.
“The ability to confirm that this takes place in individual, isolated cells is something new,” says Anna-Karin Gustavsson, who together with her colleagues has also produced a mathematical model for the behaviour of the cells during glycolysis, the process whereby sugars are broken down in our cells to create energy.
May influence the designing of new medicines
In both human cells and yeast cells, which are the focus of Anna-Karin's studies, glucose is converted so as to create available energy. These studies may provide a deeper understanding of glycolysis, the way it works and the reason why oscillations occur.
In the past, these oscillations could only be seen in the form of millions of cells gathered in tight clusters and interacting with each other in order to coordinate their oscillations. Studying a population of millions of cells at the same time and on a collective basis produces only a mean value of the behaviour of all the cells, but looking at the cells one by one makes it possible to see that they behave very differently.
“Studying their heterogeneity is important for understanding the way the biological processes work, and provides the knowledge needed for producing new medicines. These glycolytic oscillations in particular are a most interesting area for further study since they may have a connection to the way in which the body secretes insulin, and also to diabetes in cases where this secretion no longer works the way it should.”
When Anna-Karin Gustavsson's discovery was published in the FEBS Journal, her article was judged to be the best in the Young Scientists category, and she was awarded the FEBS Journal Prize for Young Scientists. Since then, she has mapped the way in which the oscillations arise and under which conditions they do so, and the way in which the individual cells interact with each other so as to synchronise their oscillations.
This research has been conducted in Gothenburg and Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Title of thesis: Glycolytic oscillations in individual yeast cells
Supervisor: Dr. Mattias Goksör
Assistant supervisor: Dr. Caroline Beck Adiels
Link to thesis: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/37367
Anna-Karin Gustavsson, the Department of Physics, University of Gothenburg
firstname.lastname@example.org, (+46) 702-604488
Photo: Johan Wingborg
Henrik Axlid | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Success at leading conference on silicon materials science and technology in Japan
13.12.2018 | IHP - Leibniz-Institut für innovative Mikroelektronik
13.11.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...
Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.
It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:
The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.
One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...
Just in time for Christmas, a Mars-analogue mission in Morocco, coordinated by the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as part of the SRC project FACILITATORS, has been successfully completed. SRC, the Strategic Research Cluster on Space Robotics Technologies, is a program of the European Union to support research and development in space technologies. From mid-November to mid-December 2018, a team of more than 30 scientists from 11 countries tested technologies for future exploration of Mars and Moon in the desert of the Maghreb state.
Close to the border with Algeria, the Erfoud region in Morocco – known to tourists for its impressive sand dunes – offered ideal conditions for the four-week...
Research opens doors in photonic quantum information processing, optical signal processing and microwave photonics
Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new integrated photonics platform that can...
16.01.2019 | Event News
14.01.2019 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Event News
17.01.2019 | Life Sciences
16.01.2019 | Life Sciences
16.01.2019 | Physics and Astronomy