A new system for collaboration in cell communication

Jun 26, 2007

Investigators from the Institute of Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) have identified a new signalling mechanism among cells in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. The researchers found that two independent groups of cells generate the same signal by different pathways and that these cells subsequently act together to send the signal to the target cell. In this manner, the receptor cell receives the signal from two distinct sources.

The results of this study appear in today’s advanced electronic issue of the journal, PNAS.

Jordi Casanova (IRB Barcelona/CSIC) explains that different types of cells working together to send a message can be regarded as a “security measure designed to ensure that the signal reaches the receptor cell in the proper fashion, neither too weakly nor too strongly”. Using RNA interference techniques (RNAi), the researchers observed that it was necessary to disactivate the signal in both groups of cells in order to prevent the message from being sent. They also observed that overstimulating signal production (producing more of the signalling molecule) created problems in the receptor cell, causing it to develop incorrectly.

Researchers made the discovery by studying the behaviour of a gene called torso-like during the early stages of embryonic development of the Drosophila fly. Two groups of cells activated the same torso-like gene separately and by different mechanisms when they were still in separate compartments inside the Drosophila ovary. Subsequently, the cells migrated until they met and jointly signalled the target cell.

Marc Furriols, lead author of the study, explains that the torso-like gene activates a membrane receptor molecule that is specific to Drosophila, but that the molecule belongs to a receptor family (that includes, for example, the human growth factor), which also reacts when it receives an external signal. “This research describes a very signalling mechanism in the fly which is very basic. It gives us good insight into how these mechanisms work so that we can later manipulate and control them.

Many of these pathways and signalling systems have been observed throughout evolution and hence, studies with models such as the fruit fly, can provide further insight into how these signalling mechanisms work in humans.

Source: Institute for Research in Biomedicine

Explore further: Obama recommends extended wilderness zone in Alaska

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Does acupuncture help pets?

48 minutes ago

Like any other type of medical therapy, acupuncture is not magic: It is a mode of therapy that has both applications and limitations. I don't like to say that acupuncture treats disease, because so many people associate the ...

New computation method helps identify functional DNA

Jan 21, 2015

Striving to unravel and comprehend DNA's biological significance, Cornell scientists have created a new computational method that can identify positions in the human genome that play a role in the proper ...

Sonic booms in nerves and lipid membranes

Jan 20, 2015

(Phys.org)—Neurons might not be able to send signals as fast as electrons in wires or photons in fiber, but what if they can communicate using miniature sonic booms? That would be quite a revolutionary ...

Recommended for you

Researchers image and measure tubulin transport in cilia

18 minutes ago

Defective cilia can lead to a host of diseases and conditions in the human body—from rare, inherited bone malformations to blindness, male infertility, kidney disease and obesity. Scientists knew that somehow ...

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.