Open AccessReview
Potential of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) for Treating Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Cells 2016, 5(4), 44; doi:10.3390/cells5040044 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The field of stem cell biology has rapidly evolved in the last few decades. In the area of regenerative medicine, clinical applications using stem cells hold the potential to be a powerful tool in the treatment of a wide variety of diseases, in
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The field of stem cell biology has rapidly evolved in the last few decades. In the area of regenerative medicine, clinical applications using stem cells hold the potential to be a powerful tool in the treatment of a wide variety of diseases, in particular, disorders of the eye. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are promising technologies that can potentially provide an unlimited source of cells for cell replacement therapy in the treatment of retinal degenerative disorders such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Stargardt disease, and other disorders. ESCs and iPSCs have been used to generate retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells and their functional behavior has been tested in vitro and in vivo in animal models. Additionally, iPSC-derived RPE cells provide an autologous source of cells for therapeutic use, as well as allow for novel approaches in disease modeling and drug development platforms. Clinical trials are currently testing the safety and efficacy of these cells in patients with AMD. In this review, the current status of iPSC disease modeling of AMD is discussed, as well as the challenges and potential of this technology as a viable option for cell replacement therapy in retinal degeneration. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Role of Cytokine-Induced Glycosylation Changes in Regulating Cell Interactions and Cell Signaling in Inflammatory Diseases and Cancer
Cells 2016, 5(4), 43; doi:10.3390/cells5040043 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Glycosylation is one of the most important modifications of proteins and lipids, and cell surface glycoconjugates are thought to play important roles in a variety of biological functions including cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions, bacterial adhesion, cell immunogenicity and cell signaling. Alterations of glycosylation
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Glycosylation is one of the most important modifications of proteins and lipids, and cell surface glycoconjugates are thought to play important roles in a variety of biological functions including cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions, bacterial adhesion, cell immunogenicity and cell signaling. Alterations of glycosylation are observed in number of diseases such as cancer and chronic inflammation. In that context, pro-inflammatory cytokines have been shown to modulate cell surface glycosylation by regulating the expression of glycosyltransferases involved in the biosynthesis of carbohydrate chains. These changes in cell surface glycosylation are also known to regulate cell signaling and could contribute to disease pathogenesis. This review summarizes our current knowledge of the glycosylation changes induced by pro-inflammatory cytokines, with a particular focus on cancer and cystic fibrosis, and their consequences on cell interactions and signaling. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Role and Application of Sirtuins and mTOR Signaling in the Control of Ovarian Functions
Cells 2016, 5(4), 42; doi:10.3390/cells5040042 -
Abstract
The present short review demonstrates the involvement of sirtuins (SIRTs) in the control of ovarian functions at various regulatory levels. External and endocrine factors can affect female reproduction via SIRTs-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) system, which, via hormones and growth factors, can in
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The present short review demonstrates the involvement of sirtuins (SIRTs) in the control of ovarian functions at various regulatory levels. External and endocrine factors can affect female reproduction via SIRTs-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) system, which, via hormones and growth factors, can in turn regulate basic ovarian functions (proliferation, apoptosis, secretory activity of ovarian cells, their response to upstream hormonal regulators, ovarian folliculo- and oogenesis, and fecundity). SIRTs and SIRTs-related signaling molecules and drugs regulating mTOR can be used for characterization, prediction, and regulation of ovarian functions, as well as for diagnostics and treatment of ovarian disorders. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Prelamin A Accumulation Attenuates Rac1 Activity and Increases the Intrinsic Migrational Persistence of Aged Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells
Cells 2016, 5(4), 41; doi:10.3390/cells5040041 -
Abstract
Vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) motility is essential during both physiological and pathological vessel remodeling. Although ageing has emerged as a major risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disease, our understanding of the impact of ageing on VSMC motility remains limited. Prelamin
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Vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) motility is essential during both physiological and pathological vessel remodeling. Although ageing has emerged as a major risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disease, our understanding of the impact of ageing on VSMC motility remains limited. Prelamin A accumulation is known to drive VSMC ageing and we show that presenescent VSMCs, that have accumulated prelamin A, display increased focal adhesion dynamics, augmented migrational velocity/persistence and attenuated Rac1 activity. Importantly, prelamin A accumulation in proliferative VSMCs, induced by depletion of the prelamin A processing enzyme FACE1, recapitulated the focal adhesion, migrational persistence and Rac1 phenotypes observed in presenescent VSMCs. Moreover, lamin A/C-depleted VSMCs also display reduced Rac1 activity, suggesting that prelamin A influences Rac1 activity by interfering with lamin A/C function at the nuclear envelope. Taken together, these data demonstrate that lamin A/C maintains Rac1 activity in VSMCs and prelamin A disrupts lamin A/C function to reduce Rac1 activity and induce migrational persistence during VSMC ageing. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Airway Epithelial Cell Cilia and Obstructive Lung Disease
Cells 2016, 5(4), 40; doi:10.3390/cells5040040 -
Abstract
Airway epithelium is the first line of defense against exposure of the airway and lung to various inflammatory stimuli. Ciliary beating of airway epithelial cells constitutes an important part of the mucociliary transport apparatus. To be effective in transporting secretions out of the
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Airway epithelium is the first line of defense against exposure of the airway and lung to various inflammatory stimuli. Ciliary beating of airway epithelial cells constitutes an important part of the mucociliary transport apparatus. To be effective in transporting secretions out of the lung, the mucociliary transport apparatus must exhibit a cohesive beating of all ciliated epithelial cells that line the upper and lower respiratory tract. Cilia function can be modulated by exposures to endogenous and exogenous factors and by the viscosity of the mucus lining the epithelium. Cilia function is impaired in lung diseases such as COPD and asthma, and pharmacologic agents can modulate cilia function and mucus viscosity. Cilia beating is reduced in COPD, however, more research is needed to determine the structural-functional regulation of ciliary beating via all signaling pathways and how this might relate to the initiation or progression of obstructive lung diseases. Additionally, genotypes and how these can influence phenotypes and epithelial cell cilia function and structure should be taken into consideration in future investigations. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Self-Organization of Stem Cell Colonies and of Early Mammalian Embryos: Recent Experiments Shed New Light on the Role of Autonomy vs. External Instructions in Basic Body Plan Development
Cells 2016, 5(4), 39; doi:10.3390/cells5040039 -
Abstract
Organoids”, i.e., complex structures that can develop when pluripotent or multipotent stem cells are maintained in three-dimensional cultures, have become a new area of interest in stem cell research. Hopes have grown that when focussing experimentally on the mechanisms behind this
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Organoids”, i.e., complex structures that can develop when pluripotent or multipotent stem cells are maintained in three-dimensional cultures, have become a new area of interest in stem cell research. Hopes have grown that when focussing experimentally on the mechanisms behind this type of in vitro morphogenesis, research aiming at tissue and organ replacements can be boosted. Processes leading to the formation of organoids in vitro are now often addressed as self-organization, a term referring to the formation of complex tissue architecture in groups of cells without depending on specific instruction provided by other cells or tissues. The present article focuses on recent reports using the term self-organization in the context of studies on embryogenesis, specifically addressing pattern formation processes in human blastocysts attaching in vitro, or in colonies of pluripotent stem cells (“gastruloids”). These morphogenetic processes are of particular interest because, during development in vivo, they lead to basic body plan formation and individuation. Since improved methodologies like those employed by the cited authors became available, early embryonic pattern formation/self-organization appears to evolve now as a research topic of its own. This review discusses concepts concerning the involved mechanisms, focussing on autonomy of basic body plan development vs. dependence on external signals, as possibly provided by implantation in the uterus, and it addresses biological differences between an early mammalian embryo, e.g., a morula, and a cluster of pluripotent stem cells. It is concluded that, apart from being of considerable biological interest, the described type of research needs to be contemplated carefully with regard to ethical implications when performed with human cells. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Segmental Aging Underlies the Development of a Parkinson Phenotype in the AS/AGU Rat
Cells 2016, 5(4), 38; doi:10.3390/cells5040038 -
Abstract
There is a paucity of information on the molecular biology of aging processes in the brain. We have used biomarkers of aging (SA β-Gal, p16Ink4a, Sirt5, Sirt6, and Sirt7) to demonstrate the presence of an accelerated aging phenotype across different brain
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There is a paucity of information on the molecular biology of aging processes in the brain. We have used biomarkers of aging (SA β-Gal, p16Ink4a, Sirt5, Sirt6, and Sirt7) to demonstrate the presence of an accelerated aging phenotype across different brain regions in the AS/AGU rat, a spontaneous Parkinsonian mutant of PKCγ derived from a parental AS strain. P16INK4a expression was significantly higher in AS/AGU animals compared to age-matched AS controls (p < 0.001) and displayed segmental expression across various brain regions. The age-related expression of sirtuins similarly showed differences between strains and between brain regions. Our data clearly show segmental aging processes within the rat brain, and that these are accelerated in the AS/AGU mutant. The accelerated aging, Parkinsonian phenotype, and disruption to dopamine signalling in the basal ganglia in AS/AGU rats, suggests that this rat strain represents a useful model for studies of development and progression of Parkinson’s disease in the context of biological aging and may offer unique mechanistic insights into the biology of aging. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Implications and Assessment of the Elastic Behavior of Lamins in Laminopathies
Cells 2016, 5(4), 37; doi:10.3390/cells5040037 -
Abstract
Lamins are mechanosensitive and elastic components of the nuclear lamina that respond to external mechanical cues by altering gene regulation in a feedback mechanism. Numerous mutations in A-type lamins cause a plethora of diverse diseases collectively termed as laminopathies, the majority of which
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Lamins are mechanosensitive and elastic components of the nuclear lamina that respond to external mechanical cues by altering gene regulation in a feedback mechanism. Numerous mutations in A-type lamins cause a plethora of diverse diseases collectively termed as laminopathies, the majority of which are characterized by irregularly shaped, fragile, and plastic nuclei. These nuclei are challenged to normal mechanotransduction and lead to disease phenotypes. Here, we review our current understanding of the nucleocytoskeleton coupling in mechanotransduction mediated by lamins. We also present an up-to-date understanding of the methods used to determine laminar elasticity both at the bulk and single molecule level. Full article
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Open AccessErratum
Erratum: Lazar-Karsten, P., et al. Generation and Characterization of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Lines Derived from a Patient with a Bicuspid Aortic Valve. Cells 2016, 5, 19.
Cells 2016, 5(3), 36; doi:10.3390/cells5030036 -
Abstract The authors wish to make the following erratum to this paper [1].[...] Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Keratins Are Altered in Intestinal Disease-Related Stress Responses
Cells 2016, 5(3), 35; doi:10.3390/cells5030035 -
Abstract
Keratin (K) intermediate filaments can be divided into type I/type II proteins, which form obligate heteropolymers. Epithelial cells express type I-type II keratin pairs, and K7, K8 (type II) and K18, K19 and K20 (type I) are the primary keratins found in the
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Keratin (K) intermediate filaments can be divided into type I/type II proteins, which form obligate heteropolymers. Epithelial cells express type I-type II keratin pairs, and K7, K8 (type II) and K18, K19 and K20 (type I) are the primary keratins found in the single-layered intestinal epithelium. Keratins are upregulated during stress in liver, pancreas, lung, kidney and skin, however, little is known about their dynamics in the intestinal stress response. Here, keratin mRNA, protein and phosphorylation levels were studied in response to murine colonic stresses modeling human conditions, and in colorectal cancer HT29 cells. Dextran sulphate sodium (DSS)-colitis was used as a model for intestinal inflammatory stress, which elicited a strong upregulation and widened crypt distribution of K7 and K20. K8 levels were slightly downregulated in acute DSS, while stress-responsive K8 serine-74 phosphorylation (K8 pS74) was increased. By eliminating colonic microflora using antibiotics, K8 pS74 in proliferating cells was significantly increased, together with an upregulation of K8 and K19. In the aging mouse colon, most colonic keratins were upregulated. In vitro, K8, K19 and K8 pS74 levels were increased in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammation in HT29 cells. In conclusion, intestinal keratins are differentially and dynamically upregulated and post-translationally modified during stress and recovery. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Multiple Roles of the Small GTPase Rab7
Cells 2016, 5(3), 34; doi:10.3390/cells5030034 -
Abstract
Rab7 is a small GTPase that belongs to the Rab family and controls transport to late endocytic compartments such as late endosomes and lysosomes. The mechanism of action of Rab7 in the late endocytic pathway has been extensively studied. Rab7 is fundamental for
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Rab7 is a small GTPase that belongs to the Rab family and controls transport to late endocytic compartments such as late endosomes and lysosomes. The mechanism of action of Rab7 in the late endocytic pathway has been extensively studied. Rab7 is fundamental for lysosomal biogenesis, positioning and functions, and for trafficking and degradation of several signaling receptors, thus also having implications on signal transduction. Several Rab7 interacting proteins have being identified leading to the discovery of a number of different important functions, beside its established role in endocytosis. Furthermore, Rab7 has specific functions in neurons. This review highlights and discusses the role and the importance of Rab7 on different cellular pathways and processes. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Skeletal Muscle Laminopathies: A Review of Clinical and Molecular Features
Cells 2016, 5(3), 33; doi:10.3390/cells5030033 -
Abstract
LMNA-related disorders are caused by mutations in the LMNA gene, which encodes for the nuclear envelope proteins, lamin A and C, via alternative splicing. Laminopathies are associated with a wide range of disease phenotypes, including neuromuscular, cardiac, metabolic disorders and premature aging
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LMNA-related disorders are caused by mutations in the LMNA gene, which encodes for the nuclear envelope proteins, lamin A and C, via alternative splicing. Laminopathies are associated with a wide range of disease phenotypes, including neuromuscular, cardiac, metabolic disorders and premature aging syndromes. The most frequent diseases associated with mutations in the LMNA gene are characterized by skeletal and cardiac muscle involvement. This review will focus on genetics and clinical features of laminopathies affecting primarily skeletal muscle. Although only symptomatic treatment is available for these patients, many achievements have been made in clarifying the pathogenesis and improving the management of these diseases. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Intermediate Filaments and Polarization in the Intestinal Epithelium
Cells 2016, 5(3), 32; doi:10.3390/cells5030032 -
Abstract
The cytoplasmic intermediate filament cytoskeleton provides a tissue-specific three-dimensional scaffolding with unique context-dependent organizational features. This is particularly apparent in the intestinal epithelium, in which the intermediate filament network is localized below the apical terminal web region and is anchored to the apical
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The cytoplasmic intermediate filament cytoskeleton provides a tissue-specific three-dimensional scaffolding with unique context-dependent organizational features. This is particularly apparent in the intestinal epithelium, in which the intermediate filament network is localized below the apical terminal web region and is anchored to the apical junction complex. This arrangement is conserved from the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to humans. The review summarizes compositional, morphological and functional features of the polarized intermediate filament cytoskeleton in intestinal cells of nematodes and mammals. We emphasize the cross talk of intermediate filaments with the actin- and tubulin-based cytoskeleton. Possible links of the intermediate filament system to the distribution of apical membrane proteins and the cell polarity complex are highlighted. Finally, we discuss how these properties relate to the establishment and maintenance of polarity in the intestine. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Antisense-Based Progerin Downregulation in HGPS-Like Patients’ Cells
Cells 2016, 5(3), 31; doi:10.3390/cells5030031 -
Abstract
Progeroid laminopathies, including Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS, OMIM #176670), are premature and accelerated aging diseases caused by defects in nuclear A-type Lamins. Most HGPS patients carry a de novo point mutation within exon 11 of the LMNA gene encoding A-type Lamins. This mutation
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Progeroid laminopathies, including Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS, OMIM #176670), are premature and accelerated aging diseases caused by defects in nuclear A-type Lamins. Most HGPS patients carry a de novo point mutation within exon 11 of the LMNA gene encoding A-type Lamins. This mutation activates a cryptic splice site leading to the deletion of 50 amino acids at its carboxy-terminal domain, resulting in a truncated and permanently farnesylated Prelamin A called Prelamin A Δ50 or Progerin. Some patients carry other LMNA mutations affecting exon 11 splicing and are named “HGPS-like” patients. They also produce Progerin and/or other truncated Prelamin A isoforms (Δ35 and Δ90) at the transcriptional and/or protein level. The results we present show that morpholino antisense oligonucleotides (AON) prevent pathogenic LMNA splicing, markedly reducing the accumulation of Progerin and/or other truncated Prelamin A isoforms (Prelamin A Δ35, Prelamin A Δ90) in HGPS-like patients’ cells. Finally, a patient affected with Mandibuloacral Dysplasia type B (MAD-B, carrying a homozygous mutation in ZMPSTE24, encoding an enzyme involved in Prelamin A maturation, leading to accumulation of wild type farnesylated Prelamin A), was also included in this study. These results provide preclinical proof of principle for the use of a personalized antisense approach in HGPS-like and MAD-B patients, who may therefore be eligible for inclusion in a therapeutic trial based on this approach, together with classical HGPS patients. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Intermediate Filaments as Organizers of Cellular Space: How They Affect Mitochondrial Structure and Function
Cells 2016, 5(3), 30; doi:10.3390/cells5030030 -
Abstract
Intermediate filaments together with actin filaments and microtubules form the cytoskeleton, which is a complex and highly dynamic 3D network. Intermediate filaments are the major mechanical stress protectors but also affect cell growth, differentiation, signal transduction, and migration. Using intermediate filament-mitochondrial crosstalk as
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Intermediate filaments together with actin filaments and microtubules form the cytoskeleton, which is a complex and highly dynamic 3D network. Intermediate filaments are the major mechanical stress protectors but also affect cell growth, differentiation, signal transduction, and migration. Using intermediate filament-mitochondrial crosstalk as a prominent example, this review emphasizes the importance of intermediate filaments as crucial organizers of cytoplasmic space to support these functions. We summarize observations in different mammalian cell types which demonstrate how intermediate filaments influence mitochondrial morphology, subcellular localization, and function through direct and indirect interactions and how perturbations of these interactions may lead to human diseases. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Epithelial Intermediate Filaments: Guardians against Microbial Infection?
Cells 2016, 5(3), 29; doi:10.3390/cells5030029 -
Abstract
Intermediate filaments are abundant cytoskeletal components of epithelial tissues. They have been implicated in overall stress protection. A hitherto poorly investigated area of research is the function of intermediate filaments as a barrier to microbial infection. This review summarizes the accumulating knowledge about
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Intermediate filaments are abundant cytoskeletal components of epithelial tissues. They have been implicated in overall stress protection. A hitherto poorly investigated area of research is the function of intermediate filaments as a barrier to microbial infection. This review summarizes the accumulating knowledge about this interaction. It first emphasizes the unique spatial organization of the keratin intermediate filament cytoskeleton in different epithelial tissues to protect the organism against microbial insults. We then present examples of direct interaction between viral, bacterial, and parasitic proteins and the intermediate filament system and describe how this affects the microbe-host interaction by modulating the epithelial cytoskeleton, the progression of infection, and host response. These observations not only provide novel insights into the dynamics and function of intermediate filaments but also indicate future avenues to combat microbial infection. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Under Pressure: Mechanical Stress Management in the Nucleus
Cells 2016, 5(2), 27; doi:10.3390/cells5020027 -
Abstract
Cells are constantly adjusting to the mechanical properties of their surroundings, operating a complex mechanochemical feedback, which hinges on mechanotransduction mechanisms. Whereas adhesion structures have been shown to play a central role in mechanotransduction, it now emerges that the nucleus may act as
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Cells are constantly adjusting to the mechanical properties of their surroundings, operating a complex mechanochemical feedback, which hinges on mechanotransduction mechanisms. Whereas adhesion structures have been shown to play a central role in mechanotransduction, it now emerges that the nucleus may act as a mechanosensitive structure. Here, we review recent advances demonstrating that mechanical stress emanating from the cytoskeleton can activate pathways in the nucleus which eventually impact both its structure and the transcriptional machinery. Full article
Open AccessReview
Atypical Rho GTPases of the RhoBTB Subfamily: Roles in Vesicle Trafficking and Tumorigenesis
Cells 2016, 5(2), 28; doi:10.3390/cells5020028 -
Abstract
RhoBTB proteins constitute a subfamily of atypical Rho GTPases represented in mammals by RhoBTB1, RhoBTB2, and RhoBTB3. Their characteristic feature is a carboxyl terminal extension that harbors two BTB domains capable of assembling cullin 3-dependent ubiquitin ligase complexes. The expression of all three
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RhoBTB proteins constitute a subfamily of atypical Rho GTPases represented in mammals by RhoBTB1, RhoBTB2, and RhoBTB3. Their characteristic feature is a carboxyl terminal extension that harbors two BTB domains capable of assembling cullin 3-dependent ubiquitin ligase complexes. The expression of all three RHOBTB genes has been found reduced or abolished in a variety of tumors. They are considered tumor suppressor genes and recent studies have strengthened their implication in tumorigenesis through regulation of the cell cycle and apoptosis. RhoBTB3 is also involved in retrograde transport from endosomes to the Golgi apparatus. One aspect that makes RhoBTB proteins atypical among the Rho GTPases is their proposed mechanism of activation. No specific guanine nucleotide exchange factors or GTPase activating proteins are known. Instead, RhoBTB might be activated through interaction with other proteins that relieve their auto-inhibited conformation and inactivated through auto-ubiquitination and destruction in the proteasome. In this review we discuss our current knowledge on the molecular mechanisms of action of RhoBTB proteins and the implications for tumorigenesis and other pathologic conditions. Full article
Open AccessReview
Structural Mechanisms and Drug Discovery Prospects of Rho GTPases
Cells 2016, 5(2), 26; doi:10.3390/cells5020026 -
Abstract
Rho GTPases regulate cellular morphology and dynamics, and some are key drivers of cancer progression. This superfamily offers attractive potential targets for therapeutic intervention, with RhoA, Rac1 and Cdc42 being prime examples. The challenges in developing agents that act on these signaling enzymes
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Rho GTPases regulate cellular morphology and dynamics, and some are key drivers of cancer progression. This superfamily offers attractive potential targets for therapeutic intervention, with RhoA, Rac1 and Cdc42 being prime examples. The challenges in developing agents that act on these signaling enzymes include the lack of obvious druggable pockets and their membrane-bound activities. However, progress in targeting the similar Ras protein is illuminating new strategies for specifically inhibiting oncogenic GTPases. The structures of multiple signaling and regulatory states of Rho proteins have been determined, and the post-translational modifications including acylation and phosphorylation points have been mapped and their functional effects examined. The development of inhibitors to probe the significance of overexpression and mutational hyperactivation of these GTPases underscores their importance in cancer progression. The ability to integrate in silico, in vitro, and in vivo investigations of drug-like molecules indicates the growing tractability of GTPase systems for lead optimization. Although no Rho-targeted drug molecules have yet been clinically approved, this family is clearly showing increasing promise for the development of precision medicine and combination cancer therapies. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
The Hagfish Gland Thread Cell: A Fiber-Producing Cell Involved in Predator Defense
Cells 2016, 5(2), 25; doi:10.3390/cells5020025 -
Abstract
Fibers are ubiquitous in biology, and include tensile materials produced by specialized glands (such as silks), extracellular fibrils that reinforce exoskeletons and connective tissues (such as chitin and collagen), as well as intracellular filaments that make up the metazoan cytoskeleton (such as F-actin,
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Fibers are ubiquitous in biology, and include tensile materials produced by specialized glands (such as silks), extracellular fibrils that reinforce exoskeletons and connective tissues (such as chitin and collagen), as well as intracellular filaments that make up the metazoan cytoskeleton (such as F-actin, microtubules, and intermediate filaments). Hagfish gland thread cells are unique in that they produce a high aspect ratio fiber from cytoskeletal building blocks within the confines of their cytoplasm. These threads are elaborately coiled into structures that readily unravel when they are ejected into seawater from the slime glands. In this review we summarize what is currently known about the structure and function of gland thread cells and we speculate about the mechanism that these cells use to produce a mechanically robust fiber that is almost one hundred thousand times longer than it is wide. We propose that a key feature of this mechanism involves the unidirectional rotation of the cell’s nucleus, which would serve to twist disorganized filaments into a coherent thread and impart a torsional stress on the thread that would both facilitate coiling and drive energetic unravelling in seawater. Full article