Navigation Links
Biological signal processing: Body cells -- instrumentalists in a symphony orchestra

Every organism has one aim: to survive. Its body cells all work in concert to keep it alive. They do so through finely tuned means of communication. Together with cooperation partners from Berlin and Cambridge, scientists at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg have now successfully revealed for the first time the laws by which cells translate signals from their surroundings into internal signals. Like an isolated note in a symphony orchestra, an isolated signal in the cell is of subordinate importance. "What is important is the relative variation of intensity and frequency at which the signals are transmitted from the cell membrane into the cell," says Dr. Alexander Skupin, who led the studies at LCSB. The research group published their results now in the scientific journal Science Signaling (DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005237).

The instruments in an orchestra produce signals musical notes by causing the air to vibrate. Inside a cell, calcium ions carry signals. When a piece of information from the environment say a biological messenger meets the outer envelope of the cell, calcium ions are released inside the cell. There, they control various adaptation processes. "At first sight, there is no simple pattern to the ion impulses," Skupin explains; "yet they still culminate in a meaningful response inside the cell, like the activation of a specific gene, for instance."

In order to determine the laws underlying this phenomenon, the researchers studied human kidney cells and rat liver cells using a combination of imaging technologies and mathematical methods. They discovered that the intensity and frequency of calcium impulses undergo extreme variation both cell-internally and cell-to-cell. Accordingly, the information they convey cannot be interpreted by analyzing isolated signals alone. "It's like in an orchestra, where studying an isolated note on its own allows no inference of the melody," Skupin continues the musical analogy. "You have to hear how the frequency and volume of all instruments vary and produce the melody. Then you gain an impression of the musical piece."

Now, for the first time, the researchers have managed to gain such an impression of the whole by listening in on the cells' communications. They discovered that the plethora of calcium impulses vary relatively to one another in a specific relationship: A stimulus from outside does not lead to an absolute increase in calcium impulses, but instead to a change in the frequency at which they occur in the concert hall, the notes of the instruments rise and fall in symphony. "This pattern is the actual signal that leads to a response in the cells," Skupin says. "With our analyses, we have rendered it interpretable."

"The results are of great importance for analyzing diseases," says Director of LCSB Prof. Dr. Rudi Balling. "We know that, in Parkinson's disease, the calcium balance in the nerve cells is disrupted, and suspect that errant communications between the cells could play a role in the onset of neurodegenerative diseases. With the discovery of the fundamental laws of these communications, as Alexander Skupin, his team and our cooperation partners have now achieved, we are set to take a major step forward in the analysis of Parkinson's disease."


Contact: Britta Schlüter
University of Luxembourg

Related biology news :

1. A first: Scientists show bacteria can evolve a biological timer to survive antibiotics
2. Fruit fly research to provide new insight into our body clock and its biological impact
3. Bottom trawling causes deep-sea biological desertification
4. National Academy of Sciences elects 5 from UChicago, Marine Biological Laboratory
5. New atom-scale knowledge on the function of biological photosensors
6. Biological testing tool, ScanDrop, tests in fraction of time and cost of industry standard
7. Research findings link post-heart attack biological events that provide cardioprotection
8. New biological scaffold offers promising foundation for engineered tissues
9. First biological marker for major depression could enable better diagnosis and treatment
10. Scientists turn primitive artificial cell into complex biological materials
11. New study may aid rearing of stink bugs for biological control
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Biological signal processing: Body cells -- instrumentalists in a symphony orchestra
(Date:11/12/2015)... 11, 2015   Growing need for low-cost, ... has been paving the way for use of ... discrete analytes in clinical, agricultural, environmental, food and ... used in medical applications, however, their adoption is ... to continuous emphasis on improving product quality and ...
(Date:11/10/2015)... Nov. 10, 2015 About ... that helps to identify and verify the identity ... considered as the secure and accurate method of ... a particular individual because each individual,s signature is ... especially when dynamic signature of an individual is ...
(Date:11/4/2015)... ALBANY, New York , November 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... According to a new market report published by Transparency ... Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022", ... value of US$ 30.3 bn by 2022. The market ... during the forecast period from 2015 to 2022. Rising ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... November 25, 2015 Studies reveal ... human plaque and pave the way for more effective treatment ... cats     --> ... diagnosed health problems in cats, yet relatively little was understood ... collaborative studies have been conducted by researchers from the WALTHAM ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 Orexigen® Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... a fireside chat discussion at the Piper Jaffray 27th ... . The discussion is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2, ... .  A replay will be available for 14 days ... , Julie NormartVP, Corporate Communications and Business Development , ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 Cepheid (NASDAQ: CPHD ) today ... following conference, and invited investors to participate via webcast. ...      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern Time ...      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern Time ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS) (TSX: ... behalf of the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms that as ... no corporate developments that would cause the recent movements ... --> About Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... --> Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty biopharmaceutical company ...
Breaking Biology Technology: