Sticky is good. A University of California, San Diego bioengineer is the first author on an article in the journal Science that provides insights on the "stickiness of life." The big idea is that cells, tissues and organisms hailing from all limbs of the tree of life respond to stimuli using basic biological "modules." For example, the researchers outlined similar strategies across biology for fulfilling the tasks of "sticking together" (cell-cell interactions), "sticking to their surroundings" (cell-extracellular matrix [ECM] interactions), and responding to forces.
Adam Engler, a bioengineering assistant professor from UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering, is the first author of the Review article entitled "Multiscale Modeling of Form and Function" published in the 10 April issue of the journal Science. According to Engler, there is something inherent in the nature of the ever-present tasks of sticking together and responding to forces that causes common form and function to emerge. For example, even though the cells within bacteria, fungi, sponges, nematodes and humans do not use exactly the same proteins to stick together, all of these organisms rely on fundamental components of cell-cell adhesions for survival. For this reason, the capacity to form complex multilayer organisms through cell-cell interactions is likely based on the evolutionary advantage to adhere to new environments and survive in potentially hostile environments, the authors say.
The team also described a universal need for cells, tissues, organs and organisms to respond to forces. Two examples of very different biological structures that nevertheless rely on responsiveness to forces for proper function are leg bones and breast acini. Breast acini are hollow spherical objects at the ends of breast ducts that are made of a layer of cells that secrete milk proteins. Breast acini form hollow spheres, according to Engler, because this form maximizes t
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University of California - San Diego