Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Control by the matrix: RUB researchers decipher the role of proteins in the cell environment

12.12.2011
Control by the matrix
Development: how specific cells are generated in the spinal cord
RUB researchers decipher the role of proteins in the cell environment

How astrocytes, certain cells of the nervous system, are generated was largely unknown up to now. Bochum’s researchers have now investigated what influence the cell environment, known as the extracellular matrix, has on this process.


Under suitable conditions, precursor cells in the nervous system (red) transform into other cell types, e.g. astrocytes (green). A fluorescence microscope image of a precursor cell culture is shown in which all cell nuclei are stained blue
Illustration: Dr. Michael Karus


The researchers from Bochum cultivated precursor cells of the nervous system as free-floating colonies called neurospheres. In the fluorescence microscope image, precursor cells are stained green, cell nuclei blue. In the neurosphere, there are also large amounts of a sugar residue (red), which is considered the classical marker for stem cells. Illustration: Dr. Michael Karus

They found out that the matrix protein tenascin C has to be present in order for astrocytes to multiply and distribute in a controlled fashion in the spinal cord of mice. Together with colleagues from the RWTH Aachen, the scientists from RUB Department of Cell Morphology and Molecular Neurobiology report their findings in the journal Development.

Tenascin C regulates astrocyte development

Immature astrocytes produce tenascin C and secrete it into the extracellular matrix. From there, it controls the development of the cells. To characterise the role of the protein more precisely, the Bochum team lead by Prof. Dr. Andreas Faissner, Prof. Dr. Stefan Wiese and Dr. Michael Karus analysed astrocytes that were genetically manipulated so that they did not produce tenascin C. The scientists observed that the astrocytes without the protein divided for a longer period of time, and migrated later to their destination in the spinal cord. “As a consequence of the longer cell division phase, we found an increased number of mature astrocytes” explained Karus.

Gene activity altered

Also at the molecular level, the tenascin C manipulation leaves its mark. With colleagues at the RWTH Aachen, Bochum’s researchers compared the gene activity in the spinal cord with and without tenascin C production. The absence of the protein not only affected genes that are typical of astrocytes. The scientists also documented expression level changes of genes that play a role for specific growth factors. These have an influence, for example, on the survival and division activity of different cell types.

Results also interesting for medical applications

Astrocytes take on a variety of tasks in the nervous system. They regulate the ion balance and the concentration of neurotransmitters, are part of the blood-brain barrier, and influence the activity of the nerve cells. In case of injuries to the central nervous system, or brain tumours, they form what are known as reactive astrocytes, which behave similarly to immature astrocytes. “So far, the function of tenascin C under such pathological conditions is largely unknown” said Karus. “However, if we find out more about the role of tenascin C during development, we will probably be able to better understand what affect it has, for example in spinal cord injuries.”

Bibliographic record

M. Karus, B. Denecke, C. ffrench-Constant, S. Wiese, A. Faissner (2011): The extracellular matrix molecule tenascin C modulates expression levels and territories of key patterning genes during spinal cord astrocyte specification, Development, doi: 10.1242/dev.067413

Further information

Dr. Michael Karus, Department of Cell Morphology and Molecular Neurobiology, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology at the Ruhr-Universität, 44780 Bochum, Tel.: +49/234/32-24312

Michael.Karus@ruhr-uni-bochum.de

Click for more

Department of Cell Morphology and Molecular Neurobiology
http://dbs-lin.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/cellmorphology/index.php?&language=en
Editor
Dr. Julia Weiler

Dr. Josef König | idw
Further information:
http://www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Chips, light and coding moves the front line in beating bacteria
16.08.2018 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

nachricht Protein droplets keep neurons at the ready and immune system in balance
16.08.2018 | Howard Hughes Medical Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Diving robots find Antarctic seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter

16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Protein droplets keep neurons at the ready and immune system in balance

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

3D inks that can be erased selectively

16.08.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>