Healing powers: Team detects mechanism in cell division relevant for closing wounds

Nov 13, 2013
Healing powers
The image depicts a small region of the zebrafish Enveloping Layer, the early embryonic skin made of squamous epithelial cells. Credit: Heisenberg Group, 2012

How do cells spread to cover and close a wound? A team of researchers led by IST Austria professor Carl-Philipp Heisenberg, including first author Pedro Campinho, Ph.D. student in the Heisenberg group, publishes new insights into epithelial cell spreading in this week's edition of Nature Cell Biology.

Spreading of the epithelial cell layer is fundamental for epithelial closure and wound healing, as well as for . The challenge presented here is that the cell layer needs to increase in surface area, but nevertheless maintain its integrity. For their research, the Heisenberg's team used the process of epiboly in zebrafish development to model cell spreading. Epiboly is a step in the embryonic development of zebrafish during which a thin epithelial cell layer spreads over the entire cell sphere within a space of only 6 hours. This fast cell spreading comes along with a rapid increase of the epithelium's surface area, and a build-up of tension in the cell layer.

The researchers found a new mechanism required for releasing the built-up tension, namely orienting the direction in which cells divide through . They show that controlling this mechanism requires two processes, namely cell elongation and the correct alignment of the , the cell's control center for division. The tension in the epithelium elongates the cells. As cells usually orient their spindle along the longest axis, this results in cells dividing perpendicular to the long axis. In addition, myosin II activity aligns the mitotic spindle with the axis of tension.

In the absence of tension-oriented cell division, tissue tension is increased, and the researchers observed an ectopic fusion of cells as an alternative mechanism of tension release. They conclude that cell-division orientation by tension is a key mechanism for limiting the arising during epithelial spreading, thereby ensuring tissue integrity and tissue spreading during epiboly.

Explore further: Herpes virus hijackers

More information: www.nature.com/ncb/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/ncb2869.html

Related Stories

Molecular forces are key to proper cell division

Jan 21, 2013

Studies led by cell biologist Thomas Maresca at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are revealing new details about a molecular surveillance system that helps detect and correct errors in cell division ...

Discovery of 'mixer cells' could improve healing

Jun 09, 2010

French researchers from CNRS and Universite de Nice have recently identified cells that surprisingly change identity during embryogenesis in the Drosophila. By studying these "mixer cells" in a healing model, the scientists ...

Recommended for you

Herpes virus hijackers

May 22, 2015

The virus responsible for the common cold sore hijacks the machinery within our cells, causing them to break down and help shield the virus from our immune system, researchers from the University of Cambridge ...

Bacteria cooperate to repair damaged siblings

May 21, 2015

A University of Wyoming faculty member led a research team that discovered a certain type of soil bacteria can use their social behavior of outer membrane exchange (OME) to repair damaged cells and improve ...

New antibody insecticide targets malaria mosquito

May 20, 2015

Malaria is a cruel and disabling disease that targets victims of all ages. Even now, it is estimated to kill one child every minute. Recent progress in halting the spread of the disease has hinged on the ...

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.