December 27, 2005
Researchers in Bioengineering Professor Dan Fletcher’s laboratory have gained new insight into how cells move and grow. Dr. Daniel Fletcher, bioengineering graduate students Sapun Parekh and Ovijit Chaudhuri, and Julie Theriot of Stanford University published their findings in the Dec. 2005 issue ofNature Cell Biology.
The team modified an Atomic Force Microscope to discover new evidence showing how the fibrous scaffolding within cells, made up of actin protein fibers, responds to resistance to grow around an obstacle. They found that actin growth is dependent not only on current resistance or load on the fibers, but historical loads. The growth of actin fibers is an important mechanism for cell movement, and more information in this area can help scientists better understand how white blood cells move, or how cancerous tumors grow.
A window into the cell reveals the actin network and organelles inside a macrophage as it pursues bacterial invaders. Image Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation
Read more about this discovery at the NSF News Center.