Skip to main content

emily-hughes
14th December 2015

Proteins discovered tell body cells how to move and feel

Scientists from the University of Manchester have discovered a group of proteins that enable body cells to move and feel
Categories: ,
TLDR

A new study from a University of Manchester team has shown how a collection of proteins allow cells in the body to move and feel. The discovery, published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, found that a group of 60 proteins enable body cells to sense differences in their environment and communicate this information to each other.

All the different kinds of cells in our bodies react differently to different surfaces and environments. For example, tumour cells move more slowly on soft surfaces in comparison to harder surfaces. Stem cells can also develop into entirely different cells depending on the environment that they are in. Until now, however, the way cells do this—by sensing their environment and developing accordingly, has remained largely a mystery.

The study focused on a group of transmembrane receptors called integrins. These normally function by providing a scaffold for interactions between cells, or between a cell and the extracellular matrix. Once activated, integrins send signals in order to trigger a variety of chemical pathways that can result in many responses, such as changes to a cell shape which add more receptors to a cell membrane, or helping with an immune response. Proteins can cluster around integrins during these interactions.

The study assembled global data of proteins in order to understand the workings of the integrin protein clusters. They found a group of 60 proteins that cluster around integrins. Ed Horton, a member of the team, said that these proteins are “the essential mediators of the information exchange between integrins and the outside world.”

The result of this research is the new knowledge that integrins work with the 60 proteins in clusters to coordinate functions, hopefully providing a new avenue for research for scientists. This knowledge could be especially useful in the case regarding diseases with tumorous cells such as cancer.


More Coverage

Manchester Camp of Resistance disruption spreads across campus

An instagram post by MLA shows protestors occupying University Place, the same day that the encampment spread onto the Alan Gilbert square

Circadian rhythms of health: Why syncing with the environment is vital to wellbeing

Learn how circadian rhythms are the key to optimise your sleep, improve your mood and ace your exams

Ice, Ice, Maybe? The art of remembering and forgetting, from a roundworm’s ice bath

Love an ice bath? So do roundworms – because they can remember that they’ve just had one. The storing of memory is a complex phenomenon, but a recent study has found that roundworms can delay their forgetting of their memory if they’re placed on ice

Students and public display solidarity with student occupation in face of police presence

Protesters and police gathered outside the building on May 27, but the occupation remains on-going