Cell behaviour in low oxygen conditions mapped

Feb 19, 2014
Cell behaviour in low oxygen conditions mapped
By monitoring the levels of proteins in the cells and observing how they influenced genes switching on in the cells, the researchers were able to determine the optimum conditions for keeping cells alive.

(Phys.org) —Research at the University of Liverpool has explained how cells behave when placed in a low oxygen environment, a development that could have implications for cancer patients and other serious illnesses.

The research opens up the possibility of controlling the signals that keep cells alive, preventing the damages caused by ischemia – a restriction of blood supply to tissues.  It could also work to help destroy .

When the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply it is known as hypoxia and can cause the death of cells. This occurs in patients suffering from 'ischemia', which can lead to gangrene or paralysis.
A reduction in , such as that used in the new study and which mimics the situation in a tumour, causes cells to adapt to the new environment and become resistant.
The researchers from the Institute of Integrative Biology in collaboration with researchers from the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University, subjected cells to conditions with only 1% oxygen for 20 hours, and imaged the cellular response in real-time. They then mathematically modelled the profile of the proteins which conveyed instructions telling the cells how to behave.

It has not been established before why some cells died and others lived under low oxygen conditions, but by monitoring the levels of proteins in the cells and observing how they influenced genes switching on in the cells, the researchers were able to determine the optimum conditions for keeping cells alive.

Cell biologist, Dr Violaine See, who led the project, said: "These findings could have important consequences for how we understand tumours, which are hypoxic because of the rapid cell growth which outpaces their ."

The study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Explore further: Oat breakfast cereals may contain a common mold-related toxin

More information: James Bagnall, Joseph Leedale, Sarah Taylor, David G. Spiller, Michael R. H. White, Kieran J. Sharkey, Rachel N. Bearon, and Violaine See
"Tight control of Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF)-alpha transient dynamics is essential for cell survival in hypoxia." J. Biol. Chem. jbc.M113.500405. First Published on January 6, 2014, DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M113.500405

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Suffocating tumors could lead to new cancer drugs

Jul 26, 2013

Scientists have discovered a new molecule that prevents cancer cells from responding and surviving when starved of oxygen and which could be developed into new treatments for the disease, according to new research published ...

Rock And Rho: Proteins that help cancer cells groove

Dec 26, 2013

Biologists at The Johns Hopkins University have discovered that low oxygen conditions, which often persist inside tumors, are sufficient to initiate a molecular chain of events that transforms breast cancer ...

New drug candidate starves dormant cancer cells

Feb 18, 2014

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University in Sweden present a new drug candidate, which selectively kills dormant cells within a cancer tumour through starva ...

Cutting off the oxygen supply to serious diseases

Jan 30, 2012

A new family of proteins which regulate the human body's 'hypoxic response' to low levels of oxygen has been discovered by scientists at Barts Cancer Institute at Queen Mary, University of London and The University of Nottingham.

Recommended for you

Aerogel catalyst shows promise for fuel cells

5 minutes ago

(Phys.org)—Graphene nanoribbons formed into a three-dimensional aerogel and enhanced with boron and nitrogen are excellent catalysts for fuel cells, even in comparison to platinum, according to Rice University ...

Researchers bring clean energy a step closer

Feb 27, 2015

For nearly half a century, scientists have been trying to replace precious metal catalysts in fuel cells. Now, for the first time, researchers at Case Western Reserve University have shown that an inexpensive metal-free catalyst ...

The construction of ordered nanostructures from benzene

Feb 27, 2015

A way to link benzene rings together in a highly ordered three-dimensional helical structure using a straightforward polymerization procedure has been discovered by researchers from RIKEN Center for Sustainable ...

Superatomic nickel core and unusual molecular reactivity

Feb 27, 2015

A superatom is a combination of two or more atoms that form a stable structural fragment and possess unique physical and chemical properties. Systems, that contain superatoms, open a number of amazing possibilities ...

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.