Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Dancing with the cells

16.06.2015

Cells “dance” as they draw together during early embryo development

The same kind of contraction that fires our muscles also controls a key stage of mammalian embryo development, according to a new study published in Nature Cell Biology. The research, conducted at EMBL Heidelberg, measured and mapped how cells in very early stage embryos bond tightly together. The scientists also discovered a cellular behaviour that hadn’t been observed before: cells in the embryo ‘dance’, each one making the same rhythmic movement.


The scientists measured the force required to change the shape of the cells by gently deforming each cell with a pipette. IMAGE: J.L. Maitre/EMBL

The focus of the study was a stage of development known as compaction, which takes place when the embryo has eight cells. Compaction changes the embryo from a loosely attached group of cells to a closely bonded single entity. During compaction – which takes around 10 hours – the cells change shape to create the overall form of the embryo, increasing the area of contact between them.

Using a new method, the researchers were able to measure the forces required to change the shape of the cells as compaction progressed.

Being able to chart the tension within the embryo without destroying it meant they were able to investigate which cellular process was the main driver behind the compaction process.
The first contender was a process known as adhesion. This is controlled by E-cadherin, an adhesion molecule on the cell surface that sticks cells together, ’zipping up’ the two surfaces as the molecules attach to each other. Earlier research had shown that when adhesion was blocked, compaction did not take place.

The second contender was cell contraction, a process controlled by myosin, a type of motor protein that also causes contractions in muscle fibres. Myosin ‘walks’ on tracks formed by another protein, actin. Every cell has a layer of actin underneath its membrane, and myosin contracts this cortical layer, controlling the tension of the cell surface. The EMBL Heidelberg team had also established that compaction did not take place if a cell’s ability to contract was blocked.

Postdoctoral researcher and first author, Jean-Léon Maître, explains: “By measuring the tensions of the cells when each cellular process was blocked, we were able to prove it was a contraction that pulls the cells together to compact the embryo, rather than adhesion acting as a glue to ‘stick’ them together. Adhesion is obviously important, but it appears to work as an anchor, rather than an engine of the compaction process.”

This discovery was made possible by combining biological expertise from the group led by Takashi Hiiragi with that of the physicists working in the Nédéléc group.

Hervé Turlier explains: “The research showed that it was the increased tension at the outer surface of the embryo that drives the compaction, rather than the relaxation of the cell to cell contacts. In fact, the changing ratio between these two tensions now provides us with a simple way to portray the compaction process despite the complex biological mechanisms taking place.”

At the same time as compaction but on a shorter timescale, the team observed that the cells start to ‘dance’. The ‘dance’ is caused by a wave of contraction that bends the surface of the cell, traveling round it every 80 seconds.

“We’ve no idea at the moment if this ‘dance’ is important,” says Hiiragi. “All we know is that it happens at the same time as compaction and is controlled by the same process.”

Embryonic cells in other animals are known to pulse every 80 seconds, but this particular form of the movement hasn’t been observed before. Further research will hopefully unveil the details underlying this peculiar phenomenon.


Published online in Nature Cell Biology on 15 June 2015. DOI: 10.1038/ncb3185.
For images, video and more information please visit:

http://www.embl.org/press/2015/150615_Heidelberg

Isabelle Kling | EMBL

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View
22.06.2018 | University of Sussex

nachricht New cellular pathway helps explain how inflammation leads to artery disease
22.06.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Superconducting vortices quantize ordinary metal

Russian researchers together with their French colleagues discovered that a genuine feature of superconductors -- quantum Abrikosov vortices of supercurrent -- can also exist in an ordinary nonsuperconducting metal put into contact with a superconductor. The observation of these vortices provides direct evidence of induced quantum coherence. The pioneering experimental observation was supported by a first-ever numerical model that describes the induced vortices in finer detail.

These fundamental results, published in the journal Nature Communications, enable a better understanding and description of the processes occurring at the...

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rapid water formation in diffuse interstellar clouds

25.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Using tree-fall patterns to calculate tornado wind speed

25.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Stealth' material hides hot objects from infrared eyes

25.06.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>