Nav: Home

Epithelial cells adopt a new geometric shape so that tissue can curve

July 27, 2018

Researchers from the Department of Cellular Biology at the University of Seville and Seville Institute of Biomedicine (IBiS) have shown that epithelial cells, which are those that cover the surfaces of many organs, adopt a new, previously undescribed geometric shape, the scutoid, so that tissue can curve. This finding, which has just been published in the review Nature Communications, allows organ to acquire very complex yet very stable shapes. The experts state that these new and beautiful shapes, scutoids, are the solution that nature has found to fold and curve the epithelia.

"The epithelial cells are the "construction blocks" with which an organism is formed. They are like 'pieces of Tente or Lego from which animals are made'. The epithelia form structures with multiple functions like forming a barrier against infections or absorbing nutrients. In this way, during the development of an embryo, it changes from a simple structure formed from only a handful of cells to an animal with very complex organs. This process doesn't only occur because of the growth of the organism, but also because the epithelial cells start 'moving and joining together' to organise themselves correctly and give the organs their final shape", explains the University of Seville Biology faculty teacher Luisma Escudero.

Until now, these "blocks" were represented as being prism-shaped or being like truncated pyramids. However, upon examining epithelial curves in laboratory samples, the researchers found evidence that these real cells adopt other more complex shapes. "This is due to the fact that when tissue curves it tends to minimise energy, to be more stable, and for that reason our biophysical data indicates that what these cells do is adopt an scutoid shape", adds the researcher.

An scutoid is a solid geometric shape, like a cube or a pyramid, which had not been described until now. The epithelial cells adopt this form when the tissue curves, giving it a more stable structure. It could be said that they look like 'twisted prisms'.

From basic research to applied science

This discovery is included within basic science, at the interface between biology, mathematics and physics. However, this type of research is necessary for biomedicine. Specifically, this study opens the door to understanding how organs are formed during their development and what might be missing in some diseases in which this process is altered.

This research has been led by the Department of Cellular Biology at the Biology Faculty of the University of Seville and the Seville Institute of Biomedicine (IBiS), and the laboratory of Dr Javier Buceta from Lehigh University (USA). In addition, it benefitted from the collaboration of Alberto Márquez and Clara Grima of the 'Discrete Mathematics Research Group: Graph Theory and Computational Geometry" at the University of Seville, and experts from the Centro Andaluz de Biología del Desarrollo (Andalusian Centre for Developmental Biology).

Regarding the next step, the authors of the project state that they want "to find the molecules that cause the cells to adopt the escutoide shape. So, in the medium term, we will be able to begin to try to apply this knowledge to the creation of artificial tissue and organs in the laboratory, a great challenge for biology and biomedicine".
-end-


University of Seville

Related Epithelial Cells Articles:

A protein that stem cells require could be a target in killing breast cancer cells
Researchers have identified a protein that must be present in order for mammary stem cells to perform their normal functions.
Approaching a decades-old goal: Making blood stem cells from patients' own cells
Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have, for the first time, generated blood-forming stem cells in the lab using pluripotent stem cells, which can make virtually every cell type in the body.
Defects in epithelial tissue organization -- A question of life or death
Researchers from the Mechanobiology Institute, Singapore at the National University of Singapore have discovered the primary mechanism driving the extrusion of dying cells from epithelial monolayers.
E-cigarette vapor does not cause oxidative stress in viable lung epithelial cells
E-cigarette vapor is much less harmful to lung cells than cigarette smoke.
Mechanisms & therapeutic targets of microRNA-associated chemoresistance in epithelial ovarian cancer
This review provides an overview of current therapeutic targets of miRNA-associated chemoresistance in EOC and illustrates the therapeutic potential and molecular mechanisms by which miRNAs influence the development and reversal of chemoresistance.
Researchers convert cirrhosis-causing cells to healthy liver cells in mice
A team of researchers led by UC San Francisco scientists has demonstrated in mice that it is possible to generate healthy new liver cells within the organ itself, making engraftment unnecessary.
Scientists turn skin cells into heart cells and brain cells using drugs
In a major breakthrough, scientists at the Gladstone Institutes transformed skin cells into heart cells and brain cells using a combination of chemicals.
Dying epithelial cells regulate immune system: Could help treating inflammatory diseases
A University of Tsukuba-based research team has shown that commensal bacteria in the gut can induce dendritic cells to release interferon-ß, which promotes Treg cell proliferation.
Gene family turns cancer cells into aggressive stem cells that keep growing
An examination of 130 gene expression studies in 10 solid cancers has found that when any of four related genes is overexpressed, patients have much worse outcomes, including reduced survival.

Related Epithelial Cells 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

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#530 Why Aren't We Dead Yet?
We only notice our immune systems when they aren't working properly, or when they're under attack. How does our immune system understand what bits of us are us, and what bits are invading germs and viruses? How different are human immune systems from the immune systems of other creatures? And is the immune system so often the target of sketchy medical advice? Those questions and more, this week in our conversation with author Idan Ben-Barak about his book "Why Aren't We Dead Yet?: The Survivor’s Guide to the Immune System".