Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Artificial cilia open new nanotech possibilties; One step closer to learning how cilia movement is coordinated

Date:
July 28, 2011
Source:
Brandeis University
Summary:
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. Researchers have created artificial cilia-like structures that offers a new approach for cilia study.

Artificial cilia exhibit spontaneous beating.
Credit: Image courtesy of Brandeis University

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 composed 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.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. T. Sanchez, D. Welch, D. Nicastro, Z. Dogic. Cilia-Like Beating of Active Microtubule Bundles. Science, 2011; 333 (6041): 456 DOI: 10.1126/science.1203963

Cite This Page:

Brandeis University. "Artificial cilia open new nanotech possibilties; One step closer to learning how cilia movement is coordinated." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727122649.htm>.
Brandeis University. (2011, July 28). Artificial cilia open new nanotech possibilties; One step closer to learning how cilia movement is coordinated. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727122649.htm
Brandeis University. "Artificial cilia open new nanotech possibilties; One step closer to learning how cilia movement is coordinated." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727122649.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. 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