Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UCLA researchers recreate patterns formed by mammalian cells

15.06.2004


Implications for tissue regeneration, birth defects and heart disease



In early development, how do cells know to put the right spacing between ribs, fingers and toes? How do they communicate with each other to form symmetrical and repeated patterns such as zebra stripes or leopard spots?

For the first time, UCLA researchers have recreated the ability of mammalian cells to self-organize, forming evenly spaced patterns in a test tube. Published in the June 22, 2004 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the findings may help improve methods for regenerating tissue, controlling birth defects and developing new treatments for specific diseases.


"Just as a marching band needs direction from a conductor to line up in formation on a football field, cells also need guidance to form patterns -- but until now we didn’t know how they were communicating or receiving direction," said Alan Garfinkel, Ph.D., first author and professor of physiology and cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"Previously it was a bit magical how cells knew exactly how far apart to space ribs or tiger stripes," said Dr. Linda L. Demer, senior investigator, Guthman Professor of Medicine and Physiology, and vice chair for cardiovascular and vascular medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "We now know that it’s orchestrated by specific proteins produced by cells that disperse at different rates and interfere with one another. These interactions can be described in mathematical formulas dictating how cells organize into specific, evenly spaced patterns."

Demer notes that similar mechanisms may explain how an embryo creates structures in evenly spaced patterns in early development or how certain diseases may trigger cells to create lesions in specific patterns.

Researchers grew stem cells from adult bovine arteries and found that they produce intricate, lace-like patterns in culture dishes. Such patterns are known to be created in nature by a process called reaction-diffusion discovered by Alan Turing, the mathematician famous for his role in breaking the Nazi code during World War II. He showed that patterns required interaction between an activating protein that draws cells together (activator) and another protein that stops them from coming together (inhibitor). The inhibitor protein must diffuse or disperse more rapidly than the activator. The result creates areas where cells pile up separated by empty spaces. The exact patterns depend on the strength and speed of the two proteins.

The UCLA researchers knew the likely activator protein was BMP-2; it was produced by the cells and caused cells to draw together. One of the researchers, Dr. Kristina Bostrom, had recently discovered a new inhibitor of BMP-2, an unusually small protein known as MGP. The investigators theorized that interference between these two proteins was the source of the patterns. To test this idea, collaborator Dr. Danny Petrasek from the California Institute of Technology generated computer simulations of the expected interactions. He predicted that adding MGP to the cell culture would change the pattern from stripes to spots. Without knowing his result, Bostrom added MGP to the cells and found that they indeed produced spots instead of stripes.

"Using the mathematical formula based on Turing’s concepts, we were able to recreate the classic stripe or spot patterns seen throughout nature – such as in a zebra’s stripes or leopard’s spots," said Garfinkel.

Garfinkel adds that many parts of the body are based on patterns: Stripe patterns are used to generate fingers, ribs and toes, while branching patterns generate vessels, lungs and nerves, and spot patterns produce the organization of hair follicles, vertebrae and teeth. The type of structure formed depends upon the types and amounts of the proteins and cells involved.

To be sure that the proteins were controlling the patterns produced by cells, the researchers added the drug warfarin, which blocks MGP. The result was a double-striped pattern, also predicted by the simulation. This may help explain the known association of warfarin with birth defects.

"The abnormal cell pattern resulting from adding warfarin, may give researchers some insight into how birth defects develop," said Garfinkel.

The next step, Garfinkel added, is to generate more complex patterns by adjusting the ratios of the two proteins BMP-2 and MGP. Such control would be useful for tissue engineering architecture – producing replacement tissue in desired shapes and patterns.

Demer also notes that the research may offer a greater understanding of how artery cells calcify and turn to bone in atherosclerotic heart disease.

"Our ability to recreate cell patterns may ultimately help us learn how to better control them, leading to new ways to treat certain conditions like heart disease," said Demer.

Rachel Champeau | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucla.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Overlooked molecular machine in cell nucleus may hold key to treating aggressive leukemia
23.04.2019 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

nachricht Bacteria use their enemy -- phage -- for 'self-recognition'
23.04.2019 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum gas turns supersolid

Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.

Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
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

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Marine Skin dives deeper for better monitoring

23.04.2019 | Information Technology

Geomagnetic jerks finally reproduced and explained

23.04.2019 | Earth Sciences

Overlooked molecular machine in cell nucleus may hold key to treating aggressive leukemia

23.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>