Nav: Home

How to organize a cell: Novel insight from a fungus

June 02, 2016

University of Exeter researchers have found novel insight into the ways cells organise themselves. Their work, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and published this week in Nature Communications, uses an interdisciplinary approach to show, for the first time, that random distribution of organelles is a consequence of energy-dependent activity in a fungus and mammalian cell line.

Organelles are the functional units of a cell. Like "organs" in a body, they perform specialised functions that allow survival of the cell.

The energy spent to distribute them is provided by ATP, a general "fuel" for molecular motors, which transports its "cargo" along the fibres of the cytoskeleton. The authors show that, like lorries on a highway, the motors move a specific commodity. This "directed transport" drags other organelles, but also creates turbulence that increases random motion of the organelles. Both mechanisms are required to mix the cell contents and ensure interaction between organelles. This is essential for cell survival. This study was undertaken by an interdisciplinary team of researchers led by Professor Gero Steinberg (Biosciences) and his team, in collaboration with Dr Congping Lin and Professor Peter Ashwin (Mathematics).

Lead author Professor Gero Steinberg, Chair in Cell Biology and Director of the Bioimaging Centre at the University of Exeter, said: "Many people had previously assumed that organelles are randomly-distributed, as that's how they appear. Our research has revealed a new fundamental principle of the way cells organise themselves -- that they use energy to create this seemingly random, even distribution. This allows the organelles to interact with each other throughout the cell. Interestingly, organelle clustering is found in some human disorders, such as Zellweger syndrome. Thus, understanding the mechanism of distributing organelles may have wider implications for medical research."

Professor Nick Talbot, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Impact) at the University of Exeter, said the research was an excellent example of disciplines working together to advance knowledge. He said: "This is a beautiful piece of work which represents some of the finest live cell imaging being done anywhere in the world, coupled with mathematical modelling and molecular genetics. The study also exemplifies the research approach of looking at living cells as integrated biological systems in the way that we aim to achieve in our new Living Systems Institute, opening in September, which will bring together scientists from a range of disciplines to pioneer new approaches to understanding disease."
-end-
The paper, 'Active diffusion and microtubule-based transport oppose myosin forces to position organelles in cells', is published in Nature Communications on June 2nd , by Congping Lin, Martin Schuster, Sofia Cunha Guimaraes, Peter Ashwin, Michael Schrader, Jeremy Metz, Christian Hacker, Sarah Jane Gurr and Gero Steinberg.

University of Exeter

Related Cell Biology Articles:

Biochemists develop new way to control cell biology with light
Researchers at the University of Alberta have developed a new method of controlling biology at the cellular level using light.
Molecular biology: Fingerprinting cell identities
Every cell has its own individual molecular fingerprint, which is informative for its functions and regulatory states.
Cell biology: Take the mRNA train
Messenger RNAs bearing the genetic information for the synthesis of proteins are delivered to defined sites in the cell cytoplasm by molecular motors.
Designer switches of cell fate could streamline stem cell biology
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a novel strategy to reprogram cells from one type to another in a more efficient and less biased manner than previous methods.
Live cell imaging of asymmetric cell division in fertilized plant cells
Plant biologists have succeeded for the first time in visualizing how egg cells in plants divides unequally (asymmetric cell division) after being fertilized.
Vortex rings may aid cell delivery, cell-free protein production
Cornell researchers have devised a method for producing toroid-shaped particles through a process called vortex ring freezing.
Original cell type does not affect iPS cell differentiation to blood
The effectiveness of reprogramming cells into blood cells is thought to depend on the original cell type and reprogramming method.
Misleading images in cell biology
Virtually all membrane proteins have been reported to be organized as clusters on cell surfaces, when in fact many of them are just single proteins which have been counted multiple times.
Roadmap for advanced cell manufacturing shows path to cell-based therapeutics
An industry-driven consortium has developed a national roadmap designed to chart the path to large-scale manufacturing of cell-based therapeutics for use in a broad range of illnesses including cancer, neuro-degenerative diseases, blood and vision disorders and organ regeneration and repair.
Copernicus Award 2016 for German-Polish Collaboration in Molecular Cell Biology
Researchers from Göttingen and Warsaw receive award from the DFG and the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP) / Award ceremony to take place on June 7, 2016 in Warsaw.

Related Cell Biology Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...