Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Who's the boss? Research shows cells influence their own destiny

Date:
January 9, 2012
Source:
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Summary:
In a major shake-up of scientists' understanding of what determines the fate of cells, researchers have shown that cells have some control over their own destiny.

Professor Phil Hodgkin (far right) and colleagues (from left to right) Ms Jie Zhou, Dr Cameron Wellard, Dr John Markham and Dr Mark Dowling have shown that cells have some control over their own destiny.
Credit: Image courtesy of Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

In a major shake-up of scientists' understanding of what determines the fate of cells, researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have shown that cells have some control over their own destiny.

The researchers, from the institute's Immunology division, drew their conclusion after studying B cells, immune system cells that can make antibodies.

B cells can have multiple fates. Some of the more common fates are to die, divide, become an antibody-secreting cell or change what antibody they make. This all happens while the cells are proliferating in the lymph nodes.

The commonly-held view is that a cell's fate is determined by external cues such as the presence of particular hormones or cell signaling molecules.

However the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute's head of immunology, Professor Phil Hodgkin, and colleagues Dr Mark Dowling, Dr Cameron Wellard and Ms Jie Zhou, predicted that cell fates are, to a large extent, determined by internal processes.

To test their theory the research team recreated the conditions required for B cells to develop into the different cell types and then filmed the cells, working with Dr John Markham from National Information and Communications Technology Australia to develop new technology and image analysis methods.

The research team's experimental observations were further enhanced by the expertise of mathematician Dr Ken Duffy from the Hamilton Institute at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. Dr Duffy's understanding of probabilities was critical for the team to interpret the behaviour of the 2500 cells that were filmed. The team's research findings have just been published in the journal Science.

Professor Hodgkin said the cells behaved as though there were internal machines that governed the cells' fates. "Each of these internal machines is like a little clock or timer for division, death, what type of antibody they make and whether they become antibody secreting cells," he said.

Dr Dowling explains it as the different fate outcomes being a competition. "Each cell will, in some sense, set up a clock that starts ticking for each of the outcomes and whatever clock goes off first is the decision that the cell makes," he said. "The cell is trying to do everything but only one fate wins."

Professor Hodgkin said even though the cells were getting the same external signals there was still considerable variation in what happened to the cell population. "A reliable proportion of the B cells would end up with each of the different fates," he said. "This suggests that external factors such as hormones or cell signaling molecules were not telling the cells what to do but were altering the probability of what the cells were going to do anyway."

When the body is responding to an infection many immune cell types, each with a different function, are produced. Dr Dowling said it could be that the body was tweaking the odds of producing particular cell types depending on the situation. "The body produces many different hormones and cell signaling proteins so the odds will be different for different infections. A whole lot of molecules involved in the immune system will affect those odds."

Professor Hodgkin said the hope now was to create mathematical models that accurately predict how external signals will alter the probability of what an immune cell population will do. "The development of such models would help in the design of new immune therapies for autoimmune diseases and improved vaccines," he said.

This study was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the Victorian Government and Science Foundation Ireland.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. R. Duffy, C. J. Wellard, J. F. Markham, J. H. S. Zhou, R. Holmberg, E. D. Hawkins, J. Hasbold, M. R. Dowling, P. D. Hodgkin. Activation-Induced B Cell Fates Are Selected by Intracellular Stochastic Competition. Science, 2012; DOI: 10.1126/science.1213230

Cite This Page:

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Who's the boss? Research shows cells influence their own destiny." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120105145708.htm>.
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. (2012, January 9). Who's the boss? Research shows cells influence their own destiny. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120105145708.htm
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Who's the boss? Research shows cells influence their own destiny." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120105145708.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 24, 2014) Smoothies are a great way to get in lots of healthy ingredients, plus they taste great! Howdini has a trick for making the perfect single-size smoothie that will save you time on cleanup too! All you need is a blender and a mason jar. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. 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