Navigation Links
Dividing cells 'feel' their way out of warp

Every moment, millions of a body's cells flawlessly divvy up their genes and pinch perfectly in half to form two identical progeny for the replenishment of tissues and organs even as they collide, get stuck, and squeeze through infinitesimally small spaces that distort their shapes.

Now Johns Hopkins scientists, working with the simplest of organisms, have discovered the molecular sensor that lets cells not only "feel" changes to their neat shapes, but also to remodel themselves back into ready-to-split symmetry. In a study published September 15 in Current Biology, the researchers show that two force-sensitive proteins accumulate at the sites of cell-shape disturbances and cooperate first to sense the changes and then to resculpt the cells. The proteins myosin II and cortexillin I monitor and correct shape changes in order to ensure smooth division.

"What we found is an exquisitely tuned mechanosensory system that keeps the cells shipshape so they can divide properly," says Douglas N. Robinson, Ph.D., an associate professor of Cell Biology, Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Faulty cell division can put organisms, including people, on the pathway to diseases such as cancer, Robinson notes, and a better understanding of how cells respond to mechanical stress on their shapes could present new targets for both diagnosing and treating such diseases.

Working with hardy, single-celled protozoa that move and divide similarly to human cells, the scientists watched through microscopes while they deformed the cells' shapes with a tiny instrument that, like a soda straw, sucks in on the cell surface and creates distorted shapes.

"This particular method, based on a very old principle that dates back to Archimedes, enables us to deform cells without killing them, much in the same way that natural processes in the body constantly assault them, Robinson says."

Once the cells were warped, the scientists monitored the movements of fluorescent-tagged myosin II and cortexillin I. Myosin, which normally accumulates in the middles of cells during division to help power that process, collected instead at the sites of disturbances made by the micropipette. Also amassing with myosin was cortexillin I, a so-called actin-crosslinking protein that, like glue, holds the toothpick-like filaments of a cell's housing together.

In the experiments, as soon as the two proteins accumulated to a certain level, the cells contracted, escaping the pipettes and assuming their original shapes. After the cells righted themselves, the proteins realigned along the cells' midlines and pinched to divide symmetrically into two daughter cells.

The researchers repeated the experiment using cells engineered to lack myosin II and then again with cells lacking cortexillin I. They discovered that cortexillin I responded to deformations except when myosin II was removed, and myosin II responded to deformations except when cortexillin I was removed.

"It's clear that the two need each other to operate as a cellular mechanosensor," Robinson says.


Contact: Maryalice Yakutchik
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Related biology news :

1. Carbon nanotubes could make efficient solar cells
2. Size of fat cells and waist size predict type 2 diabetes in women
3. Pandemic flu can infect cells deep in the lungs, says new research
4. Individual cells isolated from biological clock can keep daily time, but are unreliable
5. Researchers find first evidence of virus in malignant prostate cells
6. Liposuction leftovers easily converted to IPS cells, Stanford study shows
7. Making more efficient fuel cells
8. UT Southwestern researchers examine mechanisms that help cancer cells proliferate
9. Lower-cost solar cells to be printed like newspaper, painted on rooftops
10. Glow-in-the-dark red blood cells made from human stem cells
11. When cells run out of fuel
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Dividing cells 'feel' their way out of warp
(Date:11/18/2015)... PHILADELPHIA , Nov. 18, 2015  As new ... in children, doctors and other healthcare providers face challenges ... counsel families and patients. In addition, as more children ... into a patient,s adulthood and old age. ... The Children,s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) . ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... Paris from 17 th until ... from 17 th until 19 th November ... has invented the first combined scanner in the world which scans ... Until now two different scanners were required: one for passports ... on the same surface. This innovation is an ideal solution ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... LIVERMORE, Calif. , Nov. 17, 2015  Vigilant ... has joined its Board of Directors. ... Vigilant,s Board after recently retiring from the partnership at ... owning 107 companies with over $140 Billion in revenue.  ... performance improvement across all the TPG companies, from 1997 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Jessica Richman and Zachary ... in their initial angel funding process. Now, they are paying it forward to ... early stage investments in the microbiome space. In this, they join other ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced ... Section Award. Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award recognizes an individual’s ... , Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., is an extension specialist of turfgrass pathology ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... DIEGO , Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. ... Healthcare Conference in New York on Wednesday, ... Helen Torley , president and CEO, will provide a corporate ... New York at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT ... and investor relations, will provide a corporate overview. --> ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Mass. (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... to maintain healthy metabolism. But unless it is bound to proteins, copper is ... of Health (NIH), researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will conduct a systematic ...
Breaking Biology Technology: