Study resolves debate on human cell shut-down process

Apr 12, 2012

Researchers at the University of Liverpool have resolved the debate over the mechanisms involved in the shut-down process during cell division in the body.

Research findings, published in the journal , may contribute to future studies on how scientists could manipulate this shut-down process to ensure that viruses and other pathogens do not enter the cells of the body and cause harm.

Previous research has shown that when cells divide, they cannot perform any other task apart from this one. They cannot, for example, take in food and fluids at the same time as managing the important process of dividing into 'daughter cells' to replicate the body's . Cells, instead, shut-down the intake of food and fluid during cell division and for many years it was thought that they did this by preventing a vehicle - called a receptor - from transporting nutrients through the cell membrane.

In recent years scientists have shown evidence to suggest that this theory may be wrong. Scientists have argued that the cell does not shut down the mechanisms that allow food and fluid to enter the cell as previously thought, but rather the that transport this fuel are absent altogether during cell division, allowing the cell to focus on the one task of dividing.

Studies at Liverpool, however, have now shown that the original theory, first documented in 1965, is accurate. The receptors are present and able to transport food and fluid during cell division, but the mechanism that allows them through the membrane of the cell shuts-down until cell division is complete.

Dr Stephen Royle, from the University's Institute of Translational Medicine, explains: "We know that cells in the body do not have the ability to multi-task during cell division. It can only focus on the job of dividing and not on other important tasks such as uptake of nutrients. If we think of the cell membrane like a dock at a port and the receptors as a boat delivering cargo, we have shown that the boat, or receptor, is present but the dock, or membrane, does not allow it to unload or go any further.

"Viruses and use the same route into cells as , so the next stage of this work is to identify the trigger for this shut-down process, so that we understand whether this on/off switch can be manipulated to prevent harmful infections passing through the . This is a long way in the future, but this work puts us closer to understanding how the cells in the body work."

Explore further: Top Japan lab dismisses ground-breaking stem cell study

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

T cells outpace virus by getting a jump-start on division

Apr 04, 2011

Killer T cells begin to divide en route to virus-infected tissue, allowing them to hit the ground running when they arrive, according to a study published online on April 4 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Scavenger cells accomplices to viruses

Jul 21, 2011

Mucosal epithelia do not have any receptors on the outer membrane for the absorption of viruses like hepatitis C, herpes, the adenovirus or polio, and are thus well-protected against pathogenic germs. However, certain viruses, ...

Recommended for you

Top Japan lab dismisses ground-breaking stem cell study

18 hours ago

Japan's top research institute on Friday hammered the final nail in the coffin of what was once billed as a ground-breaking stem cell study, dismissing it as flawed and saying the work could have been fabricated.

Research sheds light on what causes cells to divide

Dec 24, 2014

When a rapidly-growing cell divides into two smaller cells, what triggers the split? Is it the size the growing cell eventually reaches? Or is the real trigger the time period over which the cell keeps growing ...

Locking mechanism found for 'scissors' that cut DNA

Dec 24, 2014

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered what keeps an enzyme from becoming overzealous in its clipping of DNA. Since controlled clipping is required for the production of specialized immune system proteins, ...

Scrapie could breach the species barrier

Dec 24, 2014

INRA scientists have shown for the first time that the pathogens responsible for scrapie in small ruminants (prions) have the potential to convert the human prion protein from a healthy state to a pathological ...

Extracting bioactive compounds from marine microalgae

Dec 24, 2014

Microalgae can produce high value health compounds like omega-3s , traditionally sourced from fish. With declining fish stocks, an alternative source is imperative. Published in the Pertanika Journal of Tr ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.