Navigation Links
Brandeis lab's artificial cilia spur new thinking in nanotechnology

Cilia, tiny hair-like structures that perform feats such as clearing microscopic debris from the lungs and determining the correct location of organs during development, move in mysterious ways. Their beating motions are synchronized to produce metachronal waves, similar in appearance to "the wave" created in large arenas when audience members use their hands to produce a pattern of movement around the entire stadium.

Due to the importance of ciliary functions for health, there is great interest in understanding the mechanism that controls the cilias' beating patterns. But learning exactly how cilia movement is coordinated has been challenging.

That may be beginning to change as a result of the creation, by a team of Brandeis researchers, of artificial cilia-like structures that dramatically offers a new approach for cilia study.

In a recent paper published in the journal Science, Associate Professor of Physics Zvonimir Dogic and colleagues present the first example of a simple microscopic system that self-organizes to produce cilia-like beating patterns.

"We've shown that there is a new approach toward studying the beating," says Dogic. "Instead of deconstructing the fully functioning structure, we can start building complexity from the ground up."

The complexity of these structures presents a major challenge as each cilium contains more than 600 different proteins. For this reason, most previous studies of cilia have employed a top-down approach, attempting to study the beating mechanism by deconstructing the fully functioning structures through the systematic elimination of individual components.

The interdisciplinary team consisted of physics graduate student Timothy Sanchez and biochemistry graduate student David Welch who worked with biologist Daniela Nicastro and Dogic. Their experimental system was comprised of three main components: microtubule filaments tiny hollow cylinders found in both animal and plant cells, motor proteins called kinesin, which consume chemical fuel to move along microtubules and a bundling agent that induces assembly of filaments into bundles.

Sanchez and colleagues found that under a particular set of conditions these very simple components spontaneously organize into active bundles that beat in a periodic manner.

In addition to observing the beating of isolated bundles, the researchers were also able to assemble a dense field of bundles that spontaneously synchronized their beating patterns into traveling waves.

Self-organizing processes of many kinds have recently become a focus of the physics community. These processes range in scale from microscopic cellular functions and swarms of bacteria to macroscopic phenomena such as flocking of birds and traffic jams. Since controllable experiments with birds, crowds at football stadiums and traffic are virtually impossible to conduct, the experiments described by Sanchez and colleagues could serve as a model for testing a broad range of theoretical predictions.

In addition, the reproduction of such an essential biological functionality in a simple system will be of great interest to the fields of cellular and evolutionary biology, Dogic says. The findings also open a door for the development of one of the major goals of nanotechnology to design an object that's capable of swimming independently.

The Dogic lab is currently planning refinements to the system to study these topics in greater depth.


Contact: Susan Chaityn Lebovits
Brandeis University

Related biology technology :

1. Hooper Holmes Heritage Labs Division Launches New Home Diabetes Test
2. GeoVax Labs, Inc. Announces Six Month Financial Results and Provides Operational Update
3. Interleukin Genetics Licenses its PST(R) Genetic Test to OralDNA Labs
4. Association of Clinical Research Organizations (ACRO) Welcomes Clinilabs and RPS as New Members
5. Oridion Expands its OEM Partnerships - New Agreement with Spacelabs Healthcare
6. Preliminary Report of American Biotech Labs HIV Study Featured in Inaugural Issue of Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes
7. Concentric Named Professional Agency of Record for Discovery Labs SURFAXIN(R)
8. DFB Sells Coria Labs to Valeant Pharmaceuticals
9. GeoVax Labs, Inc. Information To Be Available Through Standard & Poors Market Access Program
10. Nikon Instruments Appoints LABSCO its Clinical Distributor in Six States
11. GlaxoSmithKline to Acquire Genelabs Technologies to Increase Focus on Novel Small Molecule Therapies for Hepatitis C
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/23/2016)... Wausau, WI (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... probiotic supplements, is pleased to announce the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, ... supplements for over 35 years, is proud to add Target to its list ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 A person commits a crime, ... scene to track the criminal down. An outbreak ... and Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used ... investigations of foodborne illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is ... treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 ... countries. Read More About the Class of 2016 PCF ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... launch of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the ... future of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. , ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:5/9/2016)... Elevay is currently known as ... for high net worth professionals seeking travel for work ... world, there is still no substitute for a face-to-face ... your deal with a firm handshake. This is why ... of citizenship via investment programs like those offered by ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016 First quarter 2016: ... up 966% compared with the first quarter of 2015 ... SEK 589.1 M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% ... 0.32) Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M ... revenue guidance is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... 20, 2016 The new GEZE ... compact web-based "all-in-one" system solution for all door components. ... or the door interface with integration authorization management system, ... systems. The minimal dimensions of the access control and ... building installations offer considerable freedom of design with regard ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):