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Sociable receptors: In pairs, in groups or in a crowd
Date:2/5/2014

This news release is available in German.

When cells migrate in the body, for instance, during development, or when neurons establish new connections, cells need to know where they are going. A 'wrong turn' will generally cause disease or developmental disorders. The cells take direction cues from other cells with which they interact, and which they then repel after a short period of contact. Among those direction cues are ephrin ligands, recognized by Eph receptors on the cell. Together with colleagues from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried have discovered that Eph receptors must form groups of three or four in order to become active and transmit the signal. Furthermore, the ratio of such multimers to inactive dimers determines the strength of the cellular repulsion response. The new findings help scientists understand how cells communicate and offer a point of departure for studying diseases related to breakdowns in this guidance system.

When people get together, there is usually a lot of interaction. Our cells behave similarly. When cells grow close to each other during development, they need to communicate with the surrounding cells to establish whether they are in the right place in the organism and which cells they should connect with. This communication is especially critical in the brain, where adhesion and repulsion processes between neurons occur continuously. It is only when the right cells connect that something new can be learned, for example. Emerging tumours also must exchange information with the cells around them to be able to grow. "It is of fundamental importance to understand how cells communicate with one another", says Rdiger Klein, Director at the
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Contact: Stefanie Merker
merker@neuro.mpg.de
49-898-578-3514
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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