Research reveals how cells use octopus-like tentacles to maneuver across the physique

With assist from the most effective tweezers on the planet a crew of researchers from the College of Copenhagen has shed new gentle on a basic mechanism in all residing cells that helps them discover their environment and even invade tissue. Their discovery might have implications for analysis into most cancers, neurological problems and far else.

Utilizing octopus-like tentacles, a cell pushes towards its goal, a bacterium, like a predator monitoring down its prey. The scene might be taking part in out in a nature programme. As an alternative the pursuit is being noticed on the nano-scale by a microscope on the College of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute. The microscope recording reveals a human immune cell pursuing after which devouring a bacterium.

With their new examine, a crew of Danish researchers has added to the world’s understanding of how cells use octopus-like tentacles known as filopodia to maneuver round in our our bodies. This discovery about how cells transfer had by no means been addressed. The examine is being revealed at the moment within the famend journal, Nature Communications.

Whereas the cell does not have eyes or a way of scent, its floor is supplied with ultra-slim filopodia that resemble entangled octopus tentacles. These filopodia assist a cell transfer in the direction of a bacterium, and on the similar time, act as sensory feelers that establish the bacterium as a prey.”

Affiliate Professor Poul Martin Bendix, head of the laboratory for experimental biophysics, Niels Bohr Institute

The invention shouldn’t be that filopodia act as sensory units – which was already nicely established – however relatively about how they will rotate and behave mechanically, which helps a cell transfer, as when a most cancers cell invades new tissue.

“Clearly, our outcomes are of curiosity to most cancers researchers. Most cancers cells are famous for his or her being extremely invasive. And, it’s cheap to imagine that they’re particularly depending on the efficacy of their filopodia, when it comes to inspecting their environment and facilitating their unfold. So, it is conceivable that by discovering methods of inhibiting the filopodia of most cancers cells, most cancers progress will be stalled,” explains Affiliate Professor Poul Martin Bendix.

For that reason, researchers from the Danish Most cancers Society Analysis Heart are part of the crew behind the invention. Amongst different issues, the most cancers researchers are occupied with whether or not switching off the manufacturing of sure proteins can inhibit the transport mechanisms that are essential for the filopodia of most cancers cells.

The cell’s engine and slicing torch

In keeping with Poul Martin Bendix, the mechanical perform of filopodia will be in comparison with a rubber band. Untwisted, a rubber band has no energy. However when you twist it, it contracts. This mixture of twisting and contraction helps a cell transfer directionally and makes the filopodia very versatile.

“They’re capable of bend -; twist, if you’ll -; in a approach that enables them to discover the whole house across the cell, they usually may even penetrate tissues of their atmosphere,” says lead writer, Natascha Leijnse.

The mechanism found by the Danish researchers seems to be present in all residing cells. In addition to most cancers cells, it’s also related to review the significance of filopodia in different sorts of cells, corresponding to embryonic stem cells and mind cells, that are extremely depending on filopodia for his or her growth.

Learning cells with the most effective tweezers on the planet

The challenge concerned interdisciplinary collaboration on the Niels Bohr Institute, the place Affiliate Professor Amin Doostmohammadi, who heads a analysis group that simulates biologically lively supplies, contributed with the modeling of filopodia habits.

“It is rather fascinating that Amin Doostmohammadi might simulate the mechanical actions we witnessed by the microscope, fully impartial of chemical and organic particulars,” explains Poul Martin Bendix.

The principle motive that the crew succeeded in being the primary to explain the mechanical behaviour of filopodia is that NBI has distinctive tools for such a experiment, in addition to expert researchers with great expertise working with optical tweezers. When an object is very small, holding onto it mechanically turns into unimaginable. Nevertheless, it may be held and moved utilizing a laser beam with a wavelength fastidiously calibrated to the thing being studied. That is known as an optical tweezers.

“At NBI, we now have among the world’s finest optical tweezers for biomechanical research. The experiments require using a number of optical tweezers and the simultaneous deployment of ultra-fine microscopy,” explains Poul Martin Bendix.

Main the examine alongside Poul Martin Bendix and Assistant Professor Natascha Leijnse was NBI Technical Scientist Younes Barooji. The article on cell filopodia is revealed at the moment in Nature Communications.


College of Copenhagen – School of Science

Journal reference:

Leijnse, N., et al. (2022) Filopodia rotate and coil by actively producing twist of their actin shaft. Nature Communications.

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