Navigation Links
Guelph researchers solve part of hagfish slime mystery
Date:4/4/2014

University of Guelph researchers have unravelled some of the inner workings of slime produced by one of nature's most bizarre creatures hagfish.

They've learned how the super-strong and mega-long protein threads secreted by the eel-like animals are organized at the cellular level. Their research was published today in the science journal Nature Communications.

The slime-making process has fascinated and perplexed biologists for more than 100 years, says lead author Prof. Douglas Fudge of Guelph's Department of Integrative Biology.

Besides satisfying scientific curiosity, the discovery also provides valuable insights into the quest to produce synthetic versions of hagfish threads for commercial use.

"What we are doing is biomimicry, imitating and getting inspiration from nature to help solve complex human problems," Fudge said.

"We know that hagfish slime has incredible, interesting properties -- we just don't know how it's achieved. We do know that it's a complex process, and the final product is a super fibre that is almost as strong as spider silk. We need to figure out how the cells make these fibres that are so special."

Hagfishes are an ancient group of bottom-dwelling creatures that have remained relatively unchanged for more than 300 million years. When threatened, they secrete a gelatinous slime containing mucus and tens of thousands of protein threads coiled like skeins of yarn.

The threads are incredibly strong and extremely long, and can uncoil rapidly without tangling. "It's pretty amazing, considering that one of these threads is the equivalent of a rope that is one centimetre in diameter and 1.5 kilometres long," Fudge said.

"How do you coil a rope that long in such a way that it doesn't tangle when it unravels?"

The protein threads could be spun and woven into novel biomaterials, which could provide a sustainable alternative to synthetic fibres such as Nylon, which are made from petroleum feedstocks.

Stretched enough, the protein molecules snap into different arrangements, becoming stronger and tougher, and more akin to spider dragline silks and high performance synthetics like Kevlar, Fudge said. That suggests more applications, including anything from bullet-proof vests to ropes or artificial tendons.

Scientists hope to duplicate the thread-making process, but so far, synthetic versions have proven inferior to natural slime threads.

"If we have any chance of making these things artificially, we have to know how the hagfishes produce these threads inside of their cells," Fudge said.

"We decided to figure out how the thread is organized first, because it may give us clues as to how the cells make it."

Fudge and Guelph researchers Timothy Winegard, Julia Herr and Mark Bernards teamed up with neuro-imaging specialists from universities in California and Michigan. They examined the pattern of slime thread coiling within developing cells using light and electron microscopy and 3D imaging and modelling.

"For the first time, we had the technology to study the morphology and structure of the threads in the cells," Fudge said.

They found that the 15-centimetre-long protein threads are arranged in "skeins" of 15 to 20 conical layers of loops.

Changes in nuclear morphology, size and position explain how the threads are coiled in cells, and the threads change in length and width as cells mature. The next step is to unravel the biochemical and biophysical mechanism behind those changes. "This study provided information about how the thread coils and fills the cells as it grows," Fudge said.

"And these results led us to some very strong clues about how the threads are actually made, and figuring that out is the ultimate goal."


'/>"/>

Contact: Douglas Fudge
dfudge@uoguelph.ca
519-824-4120 x56418
University of Guelph
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. University of Guelph study assesses environmental impact of Ontario corn production
2. Study by UC Santa Barbara researchers suggests that bacteria communicate by touch
3. UC Santa Barbara researchers discover genetic link between visual pathways of hydras and humans
4. Researchers attempt to solve problems of antibiotic resistance and bee deaths in one
5. UNH researchers find African farmers need better climate change data to improve farming practices
6. Ottawa researchers to lead world-first clinical trial of stem cell therapy for septic shock
7. Researchers uncover molecular pathway through which common yeast becomes fungal pathogen
8. Researchers print live cells with a standard inkjet printer
9. Columbia Engineering and Penn researchers increase speed of single-molecule measurements
10. Researchers reveal how a single gene mutation leads to uncontrolled obesity
11. Researchers discover novel therapy for Crohns disease
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Guelph researchers solve part of hagfish slime mystery
(Date:3/7/2017)... 2017   HireVue , the leading provider of ... the best talent, faster, today announced the additions of ... and Diana Kucer as Chief Marketing Officer ... team poised to drive continued growth in the company,s ... of record bookings in 2017. "Companies worldwide ...
(Date:3/2/2017)... , March 2, 2017 Summary ... to better understand Merck KGaA and its partnering interests ... https://www.reportbuyer.com/product/3605601/ Description The Partnering Deals and ... the partnering activity of one of the world,s leading ... are prepared upon purchase to ensure inclusion of the ...
(Date:3/1/2017)... -- Aware, Inc. (NASDAQ: AWRE), a leading supplier of biometrics ... has resigned, effective March 3, 2017, as co-Chief ... Treasurer of Aware citing a desire to retire.  Mr. ... the Board of Directors of Aware. ... co-President, General Counsel has been named Chief Executive Officer, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/24/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition ... Strategic Business Report" report to their offering. ... This report analyzes the Global ... Annual estimates and forecasts are provided for the period 2014 through ... research. The report profiles 25 companies including many ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... ... March 23, 2017 , ... AxioMed president, Jake ... and elastic characteristics when deformed, which is identical to how the human discs ... compressive forces and return to its natural state along a hysteresis curve, exactly ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... Colo. , March 23, 2017  GlobeImmune, Inc. ... agreement for the sale of 12,835,490 shares of its ... NantWorks  ecosystem of companies. In connection with the sale of ... $100,000 in cash and issue to GlobeImmune 200,000 shares, ... stock. "We are pleased to enter ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... York , March 23, 2017 According ... plasma products and derivatives market is fragmented due to the presence of ... such as Proliant, Thermo Fisher , and Sigma-Aldrich, compete with ... these three companies, collectively, held more than 76% of this market ... As ...
Breaking Biology Technology: