Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Blocking "Engulfment" Gives Dying Cells New Lease On Life

Date:
July 13, 2001
Source:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Summary:
Multicellular life is a balance between cell survival and cell death. The genetically programmed death of cells is a normal part of embryonic development and occurs throughout the lifetime of organisms to rid abnormal (e.g. pre-cancerous) and surplus cells from the body. Research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory now reveals that under special circumstances, cells programmed to die during nervous system development can be brought back from the brink of death.

Multicellular life is a balance between cell survival and cell death. The genetically programmed death of cells is a normal part of embryonic development and occurs throughout the lifetime of organisms to rid abnormal (e.g. pre-cancerous) and surplus cells from the body. Research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory now reveals that under special circumstances, cells programmed to die during nervous system development can be brought back from the brink of death. This finding has important implications for the treatment of neurodegenerative disease, stroke, and cancer.

The study, to be published July 12 in Nature, focused on the developing nervous system of a favored experimental organism: the soil nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. Cell survival and cell death during development in this animal is highly stereotyped. Among different embryos, cells in corresponding positions virtually always share the same fate. Because the worms are transparent, the fate of all cells—living, dead, or dying—can be followed relatively easily and filmed by using a video camera attached to a microscope.

Under normal circumstances, dead cells are engulfed by neighboring cells to eliminate them from the embryo. Until now, the engulfment process was viewed as an after-the-fact, disposal operation. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory researchers Daniel Hoeppner and Michael Hengartner, together with Ralf Schnabel of the Institute for Genetics (Braunschweig, Germany), studied how the death and "burial" (engulfment) processes are coφrdinated during development of the C. elegans nervous system. They made two interesting discoveries.

First, the scientists found that when they weakened the genetically programmed signal for cells to die, most cells still died (65%) and an expected cohort of cells survived (15%). Surprisingly, however, a few cells (5%) proceeded all the way to death's door but at the very last stage before death (stage 3 of 4), they reverted to a normal appearance and survived.

Second, the researchers found that blocking engulfment in animals with a genetically weakened cell death signal increased the number of cells that escaped death to nearly 20%. Moreover, some 40% of cells slated for death in these animals survived outright, never displaying signs of death. In essence, when the engulfment machinery was disabled, cells lived that otherwise would have died. This finding indicates that the engulfment machinery actively contributes to cell killing, rather than merely eliminating dead cells.

Because many features of programmed cell death and engulfment are conserved between C. elegans and humans, the scientists suggest that modulating the activity of the engulfment machinery in humans might be an effective therapy for neurodegenerative disease, stroke, and cancer.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Blocking "Engulfment" Gives Dying Cells New Lease On Life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 July 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/07/010712080935.htm>.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. (2001, July 13). Blocking "Engulfment" Gives Dying Cells New Lease On Life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/07/010712080935.htm
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Blocking "Engulfment" Gives Dying Cells New Lease On Life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/07/010712080935.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) — America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins