Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

University At Buffalo Biophysicists Discover High-Speed Motility In Cells In Response To Voltage Changes

Date:
September 28, 2001
Source:
University At Buffalo
Summary:
University at Buffalo biophysicists studying the motility of cells have shown that simple cells react in less than a millisecond to changes in membrane voltage, a property scientists have thought was confined to highly specialized cells such as the cochlear outer hair cells responsible for hearing.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo biophysicists studying the motility of cells have shown that simple cells react in less than a millisecond to changes in membrane voltage, a property scientists have thought was confined to highly specialized cells such as the cochlear outer hair cells responsible for hearing. In addition to providing new, basic information on how cells function, the finding calls into question the accepted purpose of the so-called "motor protein" prestin, which was thought to be essential for outer-hair-cell motility in the cochlea.

Related Articles


"We have found that cells 'wiggle' at high speed when voltage changes," said Frederick Sachs, Ph.D., UB professor of physiology and biophysics and the study's senior author. "They don't need any special proteins or lipids" to accomplish the movement.

Sachs is director of UB's Center for Single Molecule Biophysics and an authority on cell mechanics. The study appears in the Sept. 27 issue of the journal Nature.

Sachs and colleagues achieved their findings using instruments that can detect movements smaller than the diameter of a hydrogen atom. The measurement technique involves an atomic force microscope that uses a laser to measure the position of a pointed silicon probe, much as a phonograph needle tracks the grooves in a record. These experiments also allowed the researchers, for the first time, to compute the charge that is bound to the inner surface of a cell membrane.

The discovery of this basic property of cells, irrespective of their sophistication, came somewhat serendipitously. Sachs and colleagues had been trying to measure the motion of single ion channels, membrane proteins that function as biological transistors and control cells' voltage. Surprisingly, they found that the membrane itself moved with voltage. Even more surprising, they found that by diluting the concentration of ions in the solution bathing cells, they could reverse the direction of movement.

"When we could change the sign of the response, we knew we were looking at something fundamental," Sachs said.

Knowing how the supporting membrane moves, they now can distinguish the superimposed motion of the ion channels.

"If you are going to study motion changes with voltage of things imbedded in the cell membrane, you need to know the background movement," Sachs said. "If you want to know how an embedded protein is changing shape, you first need to know the background motion."

Finding this common property of cells allows scientists to move on to investigate whether the motility is used by biological systems. "By looking at very simple cells, we may learn more easily how specialized cells work," Sachs said. "If all cells move, we now can ask why nature bothered to make a specialized cell? We think it is to make the cell move faster."

Since cells move with voltage, and movement produces sound waves, Sachs predicts that the brain emits sounds during activity and that recording these sounds may eventually serve as a clinical diagnostic tool, much like electroenchephalograms, or EEGs, are used to look for regions of abnormal activity in the brain.

Ping-Cheng Zhang, Ph.D., and Asbed M. Keleshian, M.D., Ph.D., research scientists in the UB Center for Single Molecule Biophysics, were major contributors to the research.

The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Army Research Office, the Cell Mechanosensing Project, Japan Science and Technology Corporation and the Ralph Hochstetter Medical Research Fund in honor of Dr. Henry C. and Bertha H. Buswell.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University At Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University At Buffalo. "University At Buffalo Biophysicists Discover High-Speed Motility In Cells In Response To Voltage Changes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 September 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010928071223.htm>.
University At Buffalo. (2001, September 28). University At Buffalo Biophysicists Discover High-Speed Motility In Cells In Response To Voltage Changes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010928071223.htm
University At Buffalo. "University At Buffalo Biophysicists Discover High-Speed Motility In Cells In Response To Voltage Changes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010928071223.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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