Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cell contacts in embryonic development determine cellular fate

13.10.2017

Feedback loop between contact formation and cell fate specification discovered – Paper published today in Developmental Cell

The average human consists of about 37.2 trillion cells. But not all cells are created equal: while muscle cells contain the molecular machinery to contract and relax your muscles, some neurons send meter-long axons from the spinal cord to the tip of your toes, and red blood cells bind oxygen and transport it around the body. How does a cell “know” which function to fulfil?


Artistic 3D rendering showing progenitor cells in a zebrafish

Vanessa Barone / IST Austria

In a paper published today in Developmental Cell, the group of Carl-Philipp Heisenberg at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria), including first author and PhD student Vanessa Barone, sheds light on how a cell’s fate is determined. They for the first time report a positive feedback loop between the duration of cell-cell contacts and the specification of a cell’s fate.

In our bodies, cells do not just sit next to each other. Instead, neighbouring cells can form contacts with each other: connections of different size, strength and duration which reach from one cell to another. Heisenberg and his group used the zebrafish, a small fish frequently used to study animal development, to investigate whether signalling between cells and cell-cell contact formation affect each other, and influence how a cell’s fate is determined.

The researchers looked at progenitor cells within the forming anterior axial mesendoderm that give rise to either the head mesoderm or endoderm of the developing embryo. In this system, the authors identified a positive feedback loop between cell-cell contact formation and cell fate specification: when mesendoderm progenitor cells form long-lasting cell-cell contacts, the cells become head mesoderm, while in case they only form short-lasting contacts, they will form endoderm.

Cell-cell contact formation and cell fate specification promote each other by contact formation triggering high Nodal/TGFβ-mediated cell-cell signalling, required for head mesoderm cell fate specification and differentiation, and Nodal signalling, in turn, promoting cell-cell contact formation. The authors thereby identify cell-cell contact duration - as opposed to e.g. the number or size of cell-cell contacts - as a key feature in controlling the level of cell-cell signalling determining binary cell fate decisions during embryonic development

Carl-Philipp Heisenberg, an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) as well as of the Leopoldina —the German National Academy of Sciences—, joined IST Austria in 2010. He and his group study vertebrate morphogenesis using multi-disciplinary approach employing a combination of genetic, cell biological, biochemical and biophysical techniques.

Earlier this year, he obtained an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council. First author Vanessa Barone was a student in his group and graduated from IST Austria’s PhD program this summer. The interdisciplinary graduate school of IST Austria which she attended offers fully-funded PhD positions in the natural and mathematical sciences: http://phd.ist.ac.at/

IST Austria
The Institute of Science and Technology (IST Austria) is a PhD granting research institution located in Klosterneuburg, 18 km from the center of Vienna, Austria. Inaugurated in 2009, the Institute is dedicated to basic research in the natural and mathematical sciences. IST Austria employs professors on a tenure-track system, postdoctoral fellows, and doctoral students at its international graduate school. While dedicated to the principle of curiosity-driven research, the Institute owns the rights to all scientific discoveries and is committed to promote their use. The first president of IST Austria is Thomas A. Henzinger, a leading computer scientist and former professor at the University of California in Berkeley, USA, and the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. http://www.ist.ac.at

Bernhard Wenzl | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: cell fate embryonic development progenitor progenitor cells

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Mass spectrometry sheds new light on thallium poisoning cold case
14.12.2018 | University of Maryland

nachricht Protein involved in nematode stress response identified
14.12.2018 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>