Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Immune cells use 'bungee of death' to kill dangerous cells, new research shows

Date:
March 27, 2010
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
Immune cells ensnare dangerous cells that are on the run with a bungee-like nanotube, according to new research. The study shows that natural killer cells use this bungee to destroy cells that could otherwise escape them.

Immune cells ensnare dangerous cells that are on the run with a bungee-like nanotube, according to research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, by researchers from Imperial College London, shows that natural killer (NK) cells use this bungee to destroy cells that could otherwise escape them.

Related Articles


NK cells are our first line of defence against dangerous cells, such as tumour cells and cells infected with bacteria and viruses. Researchers are keen to understand how NK cells work because they help the body to fight infection and stop tumours from growing. It is thought that it may ultimately be possible to design drugs that harness the cells' ability to fight disease.

Prior to this study, it was already known that NK cells can kill their target cells by attaching onto them, forming a connection called an immune synapse, which they use to pass toxic molecules into their target. However, sometimes the target cells move away from the NK cells to escape being killed.

This study, which was funded by the Medical Research Council and the Association pour la recherche sur le cancer (ARC), shows that NK cells can keep hold of their target cells by snaring them with a bungee-like tube, called a membrane nanotube. The cells then either recoil the target cells back into direct contact to be killed, or kill them from a distance.

Professor Daniel Davis, corresponding author of the study from the Division of Cell & Molecular Biology at Imperial College London said: "Natural Killer cells are cells that are really good at killing tumours and virus-infected cells. It was thought they kill these diseased cells only by sticking to them tightly for several minutes. These new movies show that in fact they also tether cells with long membrane connections and can pull diseased cells back into contact. We think they may also use these nanotubes to kill them from a distance.

"The movies show the process vividly but the next step is difficult because we have to know where and when these processes are important in your body, and the technology to see such thin nanotubes in the body hasn't been invented yet! It's a very new research area and we need to learn how the process works precisely so that we can then think about ways to design drugs that help immune cells kill," added Professor Davis.

Their next step will be to find out exactly how the bungee tubes help immune cells kill their target cells. The researchers hope that a better understanding of the process may help others in the future to develop drugs to improve the function of NK cells.

The researchers looked at the membrane nanotubes by staining cells with a dye that reveals membranes in microscope images. They found membrane nanotubes connecting NK cells with other NK cells, tumour cells, cells infected with viruses and cancer cells.

The researchers took video footage of the cells, showing the target cells moving away and being pulled back towards the NK cells. When a target cell moves away from an NK cell, it normally moves 'head' first, at around eight micrometres per minute. However, this research shows that when the NK cell pulls its target cell back using the nanotube bungee it moves much faster, at around 14 micrometres per minute, and the cell is pulled backwards.

Membrane nanotubes increase an NK cell's chance of killing its target cell from a distance dramatically. In the study, NK cells killed their target cells from a distance in 12 out of 16 cases (75 per cent) if they were connected by a membrane nanotube, compared to four out of 18 (25 per cent) if the nanotube was cut.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Anne Chauveau, Anne Aucher, Philipp Eissmann, Eric Vivier, and Daniel M. Davis. Membrane nanotubes facilitate long-distance interactions between natural killer cells and target cells. PNAS, 8 March 2010 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0910074107

Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "Immune cells use 'bungee of death' to kill dangerous cells, new research shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100308151053.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2010, March 27). Immune cells use 'bungee of death' to kill dangerous cells, new research shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100308151053.htm
Imperial College London. "Immune cells use 'bungee of death' to kill dangerous cells, new research shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100308151053.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) — Madagascar said Monday it is trying to contain an outbreak of plague -- similar to the Black Death that swept Medieval Europe -- that has killed 40 people and is spreading to the capital Antananarivo. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. 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:

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