Colo. – Researchers from the University of Colorado School of
Medicine and the University of Geneva have explained a previously unrecognized
cellular process that could help understand some causes of cancer, polycystic
kidney disease and other intestinal disorders.
process is described in an article published Aug. 3 in Nature Communications, a
peer-reviewed an open access, multidisciplinary scientific journal.
human tissues and organs consist of various hollow structures, such as lungs
and kidney tubules, that are formed by a specialized type of cells, known as
epithelial cells. These cells are highly polarized at the individual cell level
and are arranged in polarized tubular structures. The loss of individual cell
polarity and malformation of the tubular structures, which are multicellular,
leads to a variety of diseases, such as cancer, polycystic kidney disease, and
other intestinal disorders,
we still understand very little about the molecular machinery governing
individual cell polarization and the ability of these cells to ‘talk’ to each
other in order to coordinate the formation of these luminal structures,” said
Rytis Prekeris, PhD, professor of cell and developmental biology at the CU
School of Medicine.
study, published in Nature Communications, focuses on determining how, during
embryonic development, individual collections of non-polarized epithelial cell
precursors coordinate with each other to determine how and where to start
forming lumen of these multicellular tubular structures while undergoing
polarization at individual cellular level.
researchers found that division of individual cells leaves a structure known as
a midbody. Midbody is a tubulin-rich structure that forms during cell division.
For many years, the midbody has been thought to play no further role after cell
division is completed.
this study, Prekeris and his fellow authors show that midbody is preserved
after cell division and fulfills an important function of providing a “polarity
cue” that marks the spot where future lumen will form. While cell division is
at first a symmetry-breaking event, the midbody allow the newly formed daughter
cells to coordinate where future lumen will form. In addition, the researchers
identified protein interaction cascades that are essential to the process.
addition to Prekeris, the co-authors of the Nature Communications article are
Anthony J. Mangan, Daniel V. Sietsema, Dongying Li, PhD, and Jeffrey K. Moore,
PhD, all from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Sandra Citi,
MD, PhD, from the University of Geneva.
study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National
Institute of General Medical Sciences and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.