Navigation Links
Scientists use super microscope to pinpoint body’s immunity 'switch'
Date:6/5/2011

Using the only microscope of its kind in Australia, medical scientists have been able for the first time to see the inner workings of T-cells, the front-line troops that alert our immune system to go on the defensive against germs and other invaders in our bloodstream.

The discovery overturns prevailing understanding, identifying the exact molecular 'switch' that spurs T-cells into action a breakthrough that could lead to treatments for a range of conditions from auto-immune diseases to cancer.

The findings, by researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), are reported this week in the high-impact journal Nature Immunology.

Studying a cell protein important in early immune response, the researchers led by Associate Professor Katharina Gaus from UNSW's Centre for Vascular Research at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre, used Australia's only microscope capable of super-resolution fluorescence microscopy to image the protein molecule-by-molecule to reveal the immunity 'switch'.

The technology is a major breakthrough for science, Dr Gaus said. Currently there are only half a dozen of the 'super' microscopes in use around the world.

"Previously you could see T-cells under a microscope but you couldn't see what their individual molecules were doing," Dr Gaus said.

Using the new microscope the scientists were able to image molecules as small as 10 nanometres. Dr Gaus said that what the team found overturns the existing understanding of T-cell activation.

"Previously it was thought that T-cell signalling was initiated at the cell surface in molecular clusters that formed around the activated receptor.

"In fact, what happens is that small membrane-enclosed sacks called vesicles inside the cell travel to the receptor, pick up the signal and then leave again," she said.

Dr Gaus said the discovery explained how the immune response could occur so quickly.

"There is this rolling amplification. The signalling station is like a docking port or an airport with vesicles like planes landing and taking off. The process allows a few receptors to activate a cell and then trigger the entire immune response," she said.

PhD candidate David Williamson, whose research formed the basis of the paper, said the discovery showed what could be achieved with the new generation of super-resolution fluorescence microscopes.

"In conventional microscopy, all the target molecules are lit up at once and individual molecules become lost amongst their neighbours it's like trying to follow a conversation in a crowd where everyone is talking at once.

"With our microscope we can make the target molecules light up one at a time and precisely determine their location while their neighbours remain dark. This 'role call' of all the target molecules means we can then build a 'super resolution' image of the sample," he said.

The next step was to pinpoint other key proteins to get a complete picture of T-cell activity and to extend the microscope to capture 3-D images with the same unprecedented resolution.

"Being able to see the behaviour and function of individual molecules in a live cell is the equivalent of seeing atoms for the first time. It could change the whole concept of molecular and cell biology," Mr Williamson said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Katharina Gaus
k.gaus@unsw.edu.au
61-293-851-377
University of New South Wales
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scripps Research scientists find way to block stress-related cell death
2. Scripps Research scientists find key mechanism in transition to alcohol dependence
3. Harvard scientists see the early cellular cause of dry eye disease for the first time
4. Scientists crack the spiders web code
5. Scientists discover fossil of giant ancient sea predator
6. Scientists discover the largest assembly of whale sharks ever recorded
7. Syracuse University scientists discover new hitch to link nerve cell motors to their cargo
8. Scientists list top 10 new species
9. Scientists find new drug target in breast cancer
10. Wildlife in trouble from oil palm plantations, according to scientists
11. UCSB scientists make strides in vision research
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/3/2016)... VILNIUS, Lithuania , May 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... today released the MegaMatcher Automated Biometric Identification ... deployment of large-scale multi-biometric projects. MegaMatcher ABIS can ... and accuracy using any combination of fingerprint, face ... of MegaMatcher SDK and MegaMatcher ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... and BANGALORE, India , April 28, 2016 ... a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), ... a global partnership that will provide end customers ... mobile banking and payment services.      (Logo: ... innovation area for financial services, but it also plays a ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... First quarter 2016:   , ... the first quarter of 2015 The gross margin was ... 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings ... flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , ... SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for 2016 is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... 29, 2016 , ... Proove Biosciences, Inc ., the ... launch of the Proove Health Foundation . The Foundation is a non-profit ... use of personalized medicine for tackling the nation’s most-pressing healthcare epidemics. As part ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... During ... transform technology into a viable company, CereScan’s CEO, John Kelley, joined other Denver ... recognized leader and mentor in the Denver area business community, shared his top ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... , April 29, 2016 ... the latest update to its industry-leading treatment planning software, ... that Monaco version 5.11 provides ... now attain calculation speeds up to four times faster ... . With the industry,s gold standard Monte ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... ... April 28, 2016 , ... Connecticut Innovations (CI), ... today announced the launch of VentureClash , a $5 million global investment ... “VentureClash looks to attract the best early-stage companies here in Connecticut, around the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: