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UCSF team uncovers how immune cells move against invaders
Date:1/19/2012

aid lead author Orion Weiner, PhD, an assistant professor in residence at UCSF's Cardiovascular Research Institute.

The finding may help researchers identify new therapies that can promote or block the process of cell mobilization as a way of intervening in conditions, he said. After a spinal cord injury, for example, neurons don't readily cross the site of the injury, impairing motor function or leading to paralysis. There may be drugs that can help the neurons form a leading edge and enable them to jump the gap, Weiner said. Other drugs might impede cells from migrating inappropriately as they do in cancer.

To reach their conclusion, Weiner and his colleagues conducted a series of experiments in which they applied or removed tension from neutrophils and tracked the accumulation of actin and the movement of the cell. Andrew Houk, a graduate student in Weiner's lab, conducted many of the experiments. They showed that tension is necessary and sufficient to constrain the spread of an existing front and keep a cell from forming a second one.

"Our study establishes tension as a central regulator of this process of leading-edge formation," Weiner said. "The challenge now is to figure out which molecules respond to that tension and how."


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Contact: Kristen Bole
kristen.bole@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert  

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