Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A switch that controls whether cells pass point of no return

25.03.2008
Investigators at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy have revealed the hidden properties of an on-off switch that governs cell growth.

The Duke team proved that if the switch is on, then a cell will divide, even if it’s damaged or the signal to grow disappears. Showing how the switch works may provide clues to novel drug targets for cancer and other diseases in which cell growth goes awry.

The switch is part of a critical pathway that controls cell division, the process by which the body makes new cells. Before a cell starts to divide, it goes through a checklist to make sure everything is in order, much like preparing for a long trip. If a cell senses something is wrong early on, it can halt the process. But once a cell passes a milestone called the restriction point, there’s no turning back, no matter the consequences. The switch controls this milestone and is key to cell growth.

The results will appear in the April issue of the journal Nature Cell Biology. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship.

... more about:
»Critical »Point »Switch »Yao »bistable »controls

The switch is part of the Rb-E2F signaling pathway. Rb, or retinoblastoma, is a key tumor suppressor gene, and E2F is a transcription factor that governs the expression of all the genes important for cells to grow.

“The wiring diagram is fundamentally the same. It’s very likely that different organisms have evolved a very conserved design principle to regulate their growth,” said Guang Yao, Ph.D., lead study author and a postdoctoral fellow in Duke’s department of molecular genetics and microbiology.

The cellular pathway that includes the switch is found in all multi-cellular life, from plants to people. A cell decides to trigger the pathway when it receives an external chemical signal to grow.

During the project, the researchers discovered the switch has an unexpected property: it is bistable. Once turned on by an external signal, the switch can maintain its on state, even if the signal disappears.

It was an engineer, Lingchong You, Ph.D., who recognized that the switch might represent a bistable condition. You, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering in Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering and an Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy (IGSP) investigator, works next door to Yao and his postdoctoral advisor Joseph Nevins, Ph.D., a professor of molecular genetics at the IGSP.

During conversations with Nevins and Yao about the restriction point phenomenon, You realized that the process could be described as a bistable switch.

The collaboration continued as the scientists broke down the pathway into individual chemical reactions that could be described by mathematical equations. Graduate student Tae Jun Lee worked with Yao to develop and analyze a mathematical model that predicted the switch could be bistable and identified the critical decision maker at the restriction point. Yao verified the results in laboratory experiments on single cells.

Nevins, who has studied the Rb-E2F pathway for 20 years, sees an opportunity to extend this approach to other critical aspects of cell behavior, such as the decisions involved in cell death.

“This pathway, and this decision whether it is time to proliferate, is very tightly coupled to decisions of cell fate,” Nevins said. “There’s a decision as to whether the proliferation process is normal, and if the answer is not, then the result is that the cell dies. We don’t know critical dynamics of that process.”

Mary Jane Gore | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

Further reports about: Critical Point Switch Yao bistable controls

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Exciting Plant Vacuoles
14.06.2019 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht A microscopic topographic map of cellular function
13.06.2019 | University of Missouri-Columbia

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

Im Focus: Tube anemone has the largest animal mitochondrial genome ever sequenced

Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.

The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....

Im Focus: Tiny light box opens new doors into the nanoworld

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and linking light to matter at the nanolevel. Using a tiny box, built from stacked atomically thin material, they have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. The discovery, which was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, opens up new possibilities in the world of nanophotonics.

Photonics is concerned with various means of using light. Fibre-optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and...

Im Focus: Cost-effective and individualized advanced electronic packaging in small batches now available

Fraunhofer IZM is joining the EUROPRACTICE IC Service platform. Together, the partners are making fan-out wafer level packaging (FOWLP) for electronic devices available and affordable even in small batches – and thus of interest to research institutes, universities, and SMEs. Costs can be significantly reduced by up to ten customers implementing individual fan-out wafer level packaging for their ICs or other components on a multi-project wafer. The target group includes any organization that does not produce in large quantities, but requires prototypes.

Research always means trying things out and daring to do new things. Research institutes, universities, and SMEs do not produce in large batches, but rather...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Concert of magnetic moments

14.06.2019 | Information Technology

Materials informatics reveals new class of super-hard alloys

14.06.2019 | Materials Sciences

New imaging modality targets cholesterol in arterial plaque

14.06.2019 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>