:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 09-07-2011
Watching cells communicate: CHO cells in listening (red) and sending (green) modes
Cell communication is essential for the development of any organism. Scientists know that cells have the power to “talk” to one another, sending signals through their membranes in order to “discuss” what kind of cell they will ultimately become — whether a neuron or a hair, bone, or muscle. And because cells continuously multiply, it’s easy to imagine a cacophony of communication.
But according to Dr. David Sprinzak, a new faculty recruit of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, cells know when to transmit signals — and they know when it’s time to shut up and let other cells do the talking. In collaboration with a team of researchers at the California Institute of Technology, Dr. Sprinzak has discovered the mechanism that allows cells to switch from sender to receiver mode or vice versa, inhibiting their own signals while allowing them to receive information from other cells — controlling their development like a well-run business meeting.
Dr. Sprinzak’s breakthrough can lead to the development of cancer drugs that specifically target these transactions as needed, further inhibiting or encouraging the flow of information between cells and potentially stopping the uncontrollable proliferation of cancer cells. Dr. Sprinzak’s research appeared in the journal PLoS Computational Biology.
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:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 05-19-2011
Can life begin ex nihilo (from nothing)? That is the question that scientists and theologians have been asking for centuries. A new study out of the University of Penn State University suggests that the success of early life forms may have indeed begun from from non-living matter.
Christine Keating, an associate professor of chemistry at Penn State University, and Meghan Andes-Koback, a graduate student in the Penn State Department of Chemistry, generated simple, non-living model “cells” with which they established that asymmetric division — the process by which a cell splits to become two distinct daughter cells — is possible even in the absence of complex cellular components, such as genes.
The new modeling techniques seems to suggests that simple chemical and physical interactions within cells — such as self-assembly, phase separation, and partitioning — can result in seemingly complex behaviors – like asymmetric division — even when no additional cellular machinery is present.
Furthermore, the fact that the rudimentary process of cell division, (excluding cell differentiation and a myriad of cell functions), can occur in the absence of genetic material and other cellular machinery, provides evidence that the mysterious process of abiogenesis — the formation of life from non-living matter — is indeed a scientific possibility.
To read more click New Technique Sheds Light on the Mysterious Process of Cell Division