Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unexpected discovery of the ways cells move could boost understanding of complex diseases

24.06.2013
A new discovery about how cells move inside the body may provide scientists with crucial information about disease mechanisms such as the spread of cancer or the constriction of airways caused by asthma.

Led by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), investigators found that epithelial cells—the type that form a barrier between the inside and the outside of the body, such as skin cells—move in a group, propelled by forces both from within and from nearby cells—to fill any unfilled spaces they encounter.

The study appears June 23, 2013 in an advance online edition of Nature Materials.

"We were trying to understand the basic relationship between collective cellular motions and collective cellular forces, as might occur during cancer cell invasion, for example. But in doing so we stumbled onto a phenomenon that was totally unexpected," said senior author Jeffrey Fredberg, professor of bioengineering and physiology in the HSPH Department of Environmental Health and co-senior investigator of HSPH's Molecular and Integrative Cellular Dynamics lab.

Biologists, engineers, and physicists from HSPH and IBEC worked together to shed light on collective cellular motion because it plays a key role in functions such as wound healing, organ development, and tumor growth. Using a technique called monolayer stress microscopy—which they invented themselves—they measured the forces affecting a single layer of moving epithelial cells. They examined the cells' velocity and direction as well as traction—how some cells either pull or push themselves and thus force collective movement.

As they expected, the researchers found that when an obstacle was placed in the path of an advancing cell layer—in this case, a gel that provided no traction—the cells moved around it, tightly hugging the sides of the gel as they passed. However, the researchers also found something surprising—that the cells, in addition to moving forward, continued to pull themselves collectively back toward the gel, as if yearning to fill the unfilled space. The researchers dubbed this movement "kenotaxis," from the Greek words "keno" (vacuum) and "taxis" (arrangement), because it seemed the cells were attempting to fill a vacuum.

This new finding could help researchers better understand cell behavior—and evaluate potential drugs to influence that behavior—in a variety of complex diseases, such as cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, developmental abnormalities, and glaucoma. The finding could also help with tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, both of which rely on cell migration.

In carcinomas, for instance—which represent 90% of all cancers and involve epithelial cells—the new information on cell movement could improve understanding of how cancer cells migrate through the body. Asthma research could also get a boost, because scientists think migration of damaged epithelial cells in the lungs are involved in the airway narrowing caused by the disease.

"Kenotaxis is a property of the cellular collective, not the individual cell," said Jae Hun Kim, the study's first author. "It was amazing to us that the cellular collective can organize to pull itself systematically in one direction while moving systematically in an altogether different direction."

Other HSPH authors included James Butler, senior lecturer on physiology in the Department of Environmental Health and co-senior investigator of the lab; and researchers Dhananjay Tambe, Enhua Zhou, Chan Young Park, Monirosadat Sadati, Jin-Ah Park, Bomi Gweon, and Emil Millet.

Support for the study came from the Spanish Ministry for Science and Innovation (BFU2012-38146 and FPU fellowship XS), the Swiss National Science Foundation (PBEZP2-140047), the National Research Foundation of Korea (2012R1A6A3A03040450), the European Research Council (Grant Agreement 242993), Parker B. Francis (Fellowship RK), American Heart Association (13SDG14320004), and the National Institutes of Health (R01HL102373, R01HL107561).

"Propulsion and navigation within the advancing monolayer sheet," Jae Hun Kim, Xavier Serra-Picamal, Dhananjay T. Tambe, Enhua H. Zhou, Chan Young Park, Monirosadat Sadati, Jin-Ah Park, Ramaswamy Krishnan, Bomi Gweon, Emil Millet, James P. Butler, Xavier Trepat, Jeffrey J. Fredberg, Nature Materials, online, June 23, 2013

Visit the HSPH website for the latest news, press releases and multimedia offerings.

Harvard School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people's lives—not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at HSPH teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America's first professional training program in public health.

HSPH on Twitter: http://twitter.com/HarvardHSPH

HSPH on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/harvardpublichealth

HSPH on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/HarvardPublicHealth

HSPH home page: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu

Marge Dwyer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Unique brain 'fingerprint' can predict drug effectiveness
11.07.2018 | McGill University

nachricht Direct conversion of non-neuronal cells into nerve cells
03.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino

16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides

16.07.2018 | Life Sciences

New research calculates capacity of North American forests to sequester carbon

16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>