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 Microscope measures muscle weakness
16.11.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht Good preparation is half the digestion
16.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>