Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unexpected discovery of the ways cells move could boost understanding of complex diseases

Date:
June 23, 2013
Source:
Harvard School of Public Health
Summary:
A new discovery about how cells move may provide scientists with crucial information about disease mechanisms such as the spread of cancer or the constriction of airways caused by asthma. Scientists found that epithelial cells move in a group, propelled by forces both from within and from nearby cells, to fill any unfilled spaces they encounter.

A new discovery about how cells move inside the body may provide scientists with crucial information about disease mechanisms such as the spread of cancer or the constriction of airways caused by asthma. Led by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), investigators found that epithelial cells -- the type that form a barrier between the inside and the outside of the body, such as skin cells -- move in a group, propelled by forces both from within and from nearby cells -- to fill any unfilled spaces they encounter.

The study appears June 23, 2013 in an advance online edition of Nature Materials.

"We were trying to understand the basic relationship between collective cellular motions and collective cellular forces, as might occur during cancer cell invasion, for example. But in doing so we stumbled onto a phenomenon that was totally unexpected," said senior author Jeffrey Fredberg, professor of bioengineering and physiology in the HSPH Department of Environmental Health and co-senior investigator of HSPH's Molecular and Integrative Cellular Dynamics lab.

Biologists, engineers, and physicists from HSPH and IBEC worked together to shed light on collective cellular motion because it plays a key role in functions such as wound healing, organ development, and tumor growth. Using a technique called monolayer stress microscopy -- which they invented themselves -- they measured the forces affecting a single layer of moving epithelial cells. They examined the cells' velocity and direction as well as traction -- how some cells either pull or push themselves and thus force collective movement.

As they expected, the researchers found that when an obstacle was placed in the path of an advancing cell layer -- in this case, a gel that provided no traction -- the cells moved around it, tightly hugging the sides of the gel as they passed. However, the researchers also found something surprising -- that the cells, in addition to moving forward, continued to pull themselves collectively back toward the gel, as if yearning to fill the unfilled space. The researchers dubbed this movement "kenotaxis," from the Greek words "keno" (vacuum) and "taxis" (arrangement), because it seemed the cells were attempting to fill a vacuum.

This new finding could help researchers better understand cell behavior -- and evaluate potential drugs to influence that behavior -- in a variety of complex diseases, such as cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, developmental abnormalities, and glaucoma. The finding could also help with tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, both of which rely on cell migration.

In carcinomas, for instance -- which represent 90% of all cancers and involve epithelial cells -- the new information on cell movement could improve understanding of how cancer cells migrate through the body. Asthma research could also get a boost, because scientists think migration of damaged epithelial cells in the lungs are involved in the airway narrowing caused by the disease.

"Kenotaxis is a property of the cellular collective, not the individual cell," said Jae Hun Kim, the study's first author. "It was amazing to us that the cellular collective can organize to pull itself systematically in one direction while moving systematically in an altogether different direction."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jae Hun Kim, Xavier Serra-Picamal, Dhananjay T. Tambe, Enhua H. Zhou, Chan Young Park, Monirosadat Sadati, Jin-Ah Park, Ramaswamy Krishnan, Bomi Gweon, Emil Millet, James P. Butler, Xavier Trepat, Jeffrey J. Fredberg. Propulsion and navigation within the advancing monolayer sheet. Nature Materials, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nmat3689

Cite This Page:

Harvard School of Public Health. "Unexpected discovery of the ways cells move could boost understanding of complex diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130623145100.htm>.
Harvard School of Public Health. (2013, June 23). Unexpected discovery of the ways cells move could boost understanding of complex diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130623145100.htm
Harvard School of Public Health. "Unexpected discovery of the ways cells move could boost understanding of complex diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130623145100.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
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