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Iowa State, Ames Lab researchers find the mechanism that forms cell-to-cell catch bonds
Date:6/5/2014

ered molecular dynamics computer simulations based on data from previous experiments. They found that two rod-shaped cadherins bound together in an X-shape (called an X-dimer) form catch bonds when pulled and in the presence of calcium ions.

The calcium ions keep the cadherins rigid and ordered while the pulling brings parts of the proteins closer together. All of that allows a series of hydrogen bonds to form. These long-lived, force-induced hydrogen bonds lock the X-dimers into tighter contact.

Sivasankar said the researchers followed up the simulations with single-molecule experiments using atomic force microscopy. The experiments confirmed that cadherin X-dimers, when pulled and exposed to high calcium ion concentrations, formed catch bonds. Take away the force or the calcium ions, and catch bond formation was eliminated.

All of this, Sivasankar said, helps explain the biophysics of cell-to-cell adhesion. And that's important to all of us.

"Robust cadherin adhesion," the researchers wrote in their paper, "is essential for maintaining the integrity of tissue such as the skin, blood vessels, cartilage and muscle that are exposed to continuous mechanical assault."


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Contact: Sanjeevi Sivasankar
sivasank@iastate.edu
515-294-1220
Iowa State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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