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Molecular probes identify changes in fibronectin that may lead to disease
Date:4/24/2012

Fibronectin plays a major role in wound healing and embryonic development. The protein, which is located in the extracellular matrix of cells, has also been linked to pathological conditions including cancer and fibrosis.

During physiological processes, fibronectin fibers are believed to experience mechanical forces that strain the fibers and cause dramatic structural modifications that change their biological activity. While understanding the role of fibronectin strain events in development and disease progression is becoming increasingly important, detecting and interrogating these events is difficult.

In a new study, researchers identified molecular probes capable of selectively attaching to fibronectin fibers under different strain states, enabling the detection and examination of fibronectin strain events in both culture and living tissues.

"The mechano-sensitive molecular probes we identified allow us to dynamically examine the relevance of mechanical strain events within the natural cellular microenvironment and correlate these events with specific alterations in fibronectin associated with the progression of disease," said Thomas Barker, an assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

The study was published on April 23, 2012 in the online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Barker worked on the study with Georgia Tech graduate student Lizhi Cao and Harry Bermudez, an assistant professor in the University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of Polymer Science and Engineering. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers have hypothesized that mechanical forces emanating from cells may partially unfold fibronectin and regulate what proteins bind to it. While simulation and tissue culture experiments support this hypothesis, direct evidence that such mole
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Contact: Abby Robinson
abby@innovate.gatech.edu
404-385-3364
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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