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Researchers watch skin cells 'walk' to wounds

Process could be used to speed healing

Date:
June 9, 2016
Source:
Washington State University
Summary:
Skin cells typically spend their entire existence in one place on your body. But researchers have seen how the cells will alter the proteins holding them in place and move to repair a wound. 'And they walk,' said the lead author of a paper.
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Skin cells typically spend their entire existence in one place on your body. But Washington State University researchers have seen how the cells will alter the proteins holding them in place and move to repair a wound.

"And they walk," said Jonathan Jones, director of WSU's School of Molecular Biosciences and lead author of a paper on the phenomenon in the FASEB Journal.

With a better understanding of the process behind the cell movement, scientists might be able to manipulate and enhance it so wounds heal more quickly.

"Wound healing is deficient as we get old and also among diabetics," said Jones. "That's why diabetics get skin ulcers. If we could work out a way to enhance the motility of these skin cells, we could promote healing in patients that have problems with wound closure and ulceration of the skin."

Normal skin cells are typically held in place by contact with surrounding cells and proteins that bind them to underlying connective tissue. Jones and his colleagues -- post-doctoral research associate Sho Hiroyasu and graduate student Zachary Colburn -- saw how cells in the epidermis will dissolve the glue that binds them and reuse some of the proteins to move to seal a wound site. The cells will also grow more cells to form new, healed skin.

There are pictures. Recording through a high-resolution confocal microscope that gave them the most detailed look at the process, the researchers could watch individual cells crawl -- shifting from side to side to use their outer edges as "feet." A bed of fluorescent beads let the scientists calculate the displacement forces as each cell moved.

While they need to look further into the process, the researchers think the cell takes a protein used to hold it in place and uses it to generate the forces needed to move.

"It's using its internal muscle-related proteins to be able to generate these forces to allow the cell to use its feet and move along in step-wise fashion," Jones said.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Washington State University. Original written by Eric Sorensen. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Hiroyasu, Z. T. Colburn, J. C. R. Jones. A hemidesmosomal protein regulates actin dynamics and traction forces in motile keratinocytes. The FASEB Journal, 2016; 30 (6): 2298 DOI: 10.1096/fj.201500160R

Cite This Page:

Washington State University. "Researchers watch skin cells 'walk' to wounds: Process could be used to speed healing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160609151213.htm>.
Washington State University. (2016, June 9). Researchers watch skin cells 'walk' to wounds: Process could be used to speed healing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160609151213.htm
Washington State University. "Researchers watch skin cells 'walk' to wounds: Process could be used to speed healing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160609151213.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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