WSU researchers watch skin cells 'walk' to wounds

June 09, 2016

PULLMAN, Wash. - 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.

The research is in keeping with WSU's Grand Challenges, a suite of research initiatives aimed at large societal issues. It is particularly relevant to the challenge of Sustaining Health and its theme of changing the course of disease.
-end-


Washington State University

Related Proteins Articles from Brightsurf:

New understanding of how proteins operate
A ground-breaking discovery by Centenary Institute scientists has provided new understanding as to the nature of proteins and how they exist and operate in the human body.

Finding a handle to bag the right proteins
A method that lights up tags attached to selected proteins can help to purify the proteins from a mixed protein pool.

Designing vaccines from artificial proteins
EPFL scientists have developed a new computational approach to create artificial proteins, which showed promising results in vivo as functional vaccines.

New method to monitor Alzheimer's proteins
IBS-CINAP research team has reported a new method to identify the aggregation state of amyloid beta (Aβ) proteins in solution.

Composing new proteins with artificial intelligence
Scientists have long studied how to improve proteins or design new ones.

Hero proteins are here to save other proteins
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have discovered a new group of proteins, remarkable for their unusual shape and abilities to protect against protein clumps associated with neurodegenerative diseases in lab experiments.

Designer proteins
David Baker, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Washington to speak at the AAAS 2020 session, 'Synthetic Biology: Digital Design of Living Systems.' Prof.

Gone fishin' -- for proteins
Casting lines into human cells to snag proteins, a team of Montreal researchers has solved a 20-year-old mystery of cell biology.

Coupled proteins
Researchers from Heidelberg University and Sendai University in Japan used new biotechnological methods to study how human cells react to and further process external signals.

Understanding the power of honey through its proteins
Honey is a culinary staple that can be found in kitchens around the world.

Read More: Proteins News and Proteins Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.