Navigation Links
Bulletproof nuclei? Stem cells exhibit unusual absorption property
Date:4/20/2014

Stem cells the body's master cells demonstrate a bizarre property never before seen at a cellular level, according to a study published today from scientists at the University of Cambridge. The property known as auxeticity is one which may have application as wide-ranging as soundproofing, super-absorbent sponges and bulletproof vests.

Most materials when stretched will contract. For example, if one pulls on an elastic band, the elastic itself will get thinner. The opposite is also true: squeeze a material and it will expand for example, if one squeezes a tennis ball between both hands, the circumference around the ball gets larger. However, material scientists have begun to explore auxeticity, an unusual property which has the opposite effect squeeze it and it will contract, stretch it and it will expand. This means that auxetic materials act as excellent shock absorbers or sponges, a fact that is being explored for various uses.

Until now, auxeticity has only been demonstrated in manmade materials and very rarely in nature, such as some species of sponge. But today, in a paper published in the journal Nature Materials, a team of University of Cambridge researchers including biologists, engineers and physicists, report having observed auxeticity in the nuclei of embryonic stem cells, master cells within the body which can turn into any other type of cell.

Dr Kevin Chalut from the Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, who led the study, says: "This is a pretty bizarre finding and very unexpected. When the stem cell is in the process of transforming into a particular type of cell, its nucleus takes on an auxetic property, allowing it to 'sponge up' essential materials from its surrounding. This property has not, to my knowledge, been seen before at a cellular level and is highly unusual in the natural world."

The auxetic properties only appear in the stem cell's nucleus when it is in the transition stage, changing from an embryonic, non-specific stem cell into a differentiated, tissue-specific cell, such as a heart tissue cell. Dr Chalut and colleagues treated the transitioning cell's cytoplasm, the fluid surrounding the nucleus, with a coloured dye and found that when they stretched the nucleus, it absorbed the dye, suggesting that it had expanded to become porous. It is possible that it does so to absorb molecules from the cytoplasm or environment which would help the cell differentiate.

Auxetic materials are of great interest to material scientists and engineers and this new discovery may provide clues to different methods of manufacture. The vast majority of known auxetic materials are highly ordered, such as the auxetic honeycomb. However, some examples of disordered auxetic materials are known for example, if one pulls both ends of a scrunched up ball of paper, the circumference around the ball expands. The nucleus of the transitional stem cell is likewise disordered.

"There is clearly a lot we can learn from nature," adds Dr Chalut. "We are already seeing auxeticity explored for its super-absorption properties, but despite great technological effort, auxetic materials are still rare and there is still much to discover about them in order to manufacture them better. To overcome this, materials scientists can do what has become de rigueur in their discipline: they can learn from nature. Studying how auxeticity has evolved in nature will guide research into new ways to produce auxetic materials, which might have many diverse applications in our everyday life."


'/>"/>

Contact: Craig Brierley
craig.brierley@admin.cam.ac.uk
44-012-237-66205
University of Cambridge
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Tortoise and the hare: New drug stops rushing cancer cells, slow and steady healthy cells unharmed
2. Stem cells can repair a damaged cornea
3. Scientists produce eye structures from human blood-derived stem cells
4. Study demonstrates cells can acquire new functions through transcriptional regulatory network
5. Epigenetic signatures direct the repair potential of reprogrammed cells
6. Researchers print live cells with a standard inkjet printer
7. Nanopills release drugs directly from the inside of cells
8. Protein jailbreak helps breast cancer cells live
9. Newly found protein helps cells build tissues
10. BU researchers derive purified lung and thyroid progenitors from embryonic stem cells
11. Housekeeping mechanism for brain stem cells discovered
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:9/8/2019)... , ... September 06, 2019 ... ... disrupter and leading supplier of innovative human mesenchymal stem/stromal cell (hMSC) biomanufacturing ... umbilical cord (hUC) MSC paired cell and media system designed for product ...
(Date:8/29/2019)... ... 2019 , ... Advancements with Ted Danson announced today that ... which is scheduled to broadcast 1Q/2020. Check local listings for more information. , ... solutions for the treatment of patients suffering from spinal disorders. Traveling behind-the-scenes to ...
(Date:8/27/2019)... ... August 26, 2019 , ... Shoreline Biome , a microbiome research company ... Bill McKenzie as its CEO and Karen Woodward as its VP of Business Development. ... demand for its products and expand the company’s sales worldwide. , Prior to joining ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:9/17/2019)... ... , ... Tucker, a Labrador retriever, was just a puppy when he began ... lame on his right hip and elbow. At one year of age, Tucker was ... the vet had seen.” He was prescribed pain medications, both oral and injectable, as ...
(Date:9/17/2019)... ... September 16, 2019 , ... A ... Saturday, September 21st @11:00am ET. Check local listings for more information on this ... Biomedical), a molecular diagnostic company from Singapore dedicated to developing advanced diagnostic technologies ...
(Date:9/11/2019)... (PRWEB) , ... September 10, 2019 , ... ... broadcast 1Q/2020 will educate about the latest developments in genome sequencing analysis. Check ... about the innovation taking place at Rivermap Research & Consulting and will explore ...
(Date:9/8/2019)... ... September 05, 2019 , ... ... former Vice President of Finance for Shopify, has been named Chief Financial Officer. ... venture capitalist Joel Finlayson as strategic advisors. Additionally, Spartan has hired Steve Edgett ...
Breaking Biology Technology: