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Inside the cell, an ocean of buffeting waves
Date:8/14/2014

xpected thermal movement from the measured cytoplasmic mechanics provides enough information for them to calculate the other forces within the cell.

"This is the first time it has been possible to measure the aggregate forces in a cell, which now will allow us to distinguish the state of its motor or enzymatic activity under different conditions or subjected to different stimuli," says Weitz. "That information should provide a completely new perspective on cell behavior."

In addition to his role at Harvard SEAS, Weitz is the director of Harvard's Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, co-director of the BASF Advanced Research Initiative, a member of the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science & Technology, and an associate of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

"Our results imply that factors affecting the activities of molecular motors indirectly orchestrate the overall rheology of the cytoplasm," says coauthor Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, Distinguished NIH Investigator and Chief of the Section on Organelle Biology at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

"The conclusion that the cytoplasm is best modeled as an elastic gel, out of equilibrium, rather than as a Brownian-based fluid has important implications," she says. "It means that factors modulating the stiffness and motion of the cytoplasm derive from the cell's underlying energetic state."

The research team observed this in practice when they measured and compared the cytoplasmic forces within benign and malignant breast cells. The hyperactive malignant cells exhibited much stronger aggregate forces.

In short, changes in the activities of molecular motors and other enzymatic activity can affect cellular properties like the stiffness of the cytoplasm and how easily objects can move within it. Cytoplasmic changes might then affect other cellular activities, further do
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Contact: Caroline Perry
cperry@seas.harvard.edu
617-496-1351
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert  

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