Your source for the latest research news

Friday, 19 June 2020

Study unveils new mechanism for long-distance cell communication

An extracellular vesicle — a nanoparticle released by cells — can use jerky movements similar to a car weaving in and out of traffic to navigate the obstacle-filled environment outside of cells, according to new discoveries made by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Their findings, published in Nature Nanotechnology, are a key first step to efficiently use extracellular vesicles, or EVs, as a therapeutic that targets diseases, such as lung injury and cancer.

“Although EVs were discovered over 30 years ago, many believed that EVs were cellular junk that was trapped in the extracellular matrix,” said senior author Jae-Won Shin, UIC assistant professor of pharmacology and bioengineering at the College of Medicine. “Within the last 10 years, the field has learned that EVs aren’t junk. They play a critical role in sending signals for long-distance communication between cells.”

The extracellular matrix is a gel-like net of compacted protein chains and sugars that surrounds cells. To understand how billions of EVs navigate through the matrix, Shin’s lab used improved imaging, vesicle labeling and motion capturing technologies that weren’t available decades ago.

“We saw that the gaps in the matrix were smaller than the size of EVs and thought travel would be difficult,” Shin said. “It was a surprise when we observed that the EVs traveled much more readily than we thought in certain conditions.”

The researchers utilized an artificial matrix, called a hydrogel, to study whether its structure played a role in EV navigation. They customize the hydrogel’s stiffness and how well the hydrogel could relax after being stressed by an object in order to make the hydrogel more or less like the matrix in the body.

“The EVs became stuck when the hydrogel couldn’t relax over time, like rubber,” said Stephen Lenzini, first author and UIC graduate student in the College of Engineering. “The hydrogel needed to have a stiff backbone to provide some sort of structure, but after a stress it also had to relax enough to rearrange itself over time, which allowed the EVs to move around. The interesting finding was that this ability to move that occurred for EVs in some materials did not occur for synthetic particles of similar size.”

The same membrane that EVs use to protect their cargo also was essential for its own flexibility in tight spaces. When aquaporin-1 — a membrane protein that allows water in and out of EVs — stopped functioning, the EVs became stuck. The permeation of water through aquaporin-1 in the membrane was essential for EVs to slip through the hydrogel gaps.

“This study has opened new avenues into studying the distribution of EVs and their contents through tissues,” Lenzini said.

The findings advance the UIC research group closer to engineering effective delivery systems, according to Shin.

“There are a range of diseases that undergo substantial changes in their environment. In fibrosis and some cancers, the tissues and matrix become more rigid as time progresses. In some cancers, the distribution of EVs have led to disease spreading,” he said. “So, understanding how EVs are dispersed is critical for developing these cell-free therapeutics and stopping disease progression.”

More information: 

Stephen Lenzini et al. Matrix mechanics and water permeation regulate extracellular vesicle transport, Nature Nanotechnology (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41565-020-0636-2

1 comment:

  1. Hello everyone, Words cannot describe how happy I am today after being cured from the herpes disease that I have been suffering from over 4 years now. I was infected with herpes and I have been living in shame and hiding it, but it became worse that I was searching for a cure from different means so desperate until I met with a lady online who was testifying about this herbal doctor called Dr Oniha. Who said she get her herpes disease cured with the use of Dr Oniha herbal medicine. I never believed but I have to give it a try because I was desperately in need of a cure to the deadly disease that i have been living with. So i contacted him and we discussed how to get the cure and Dr Oniha told me he cured with herbal medicine which i will order for and it will be delivered to me. Which I did what he wanted and to my greatest surprise the herbal medicine was delivered to me at my address which I gave to him, with instruction on how to apply it was also given to me by Dr Oniha. Then I started to use the herbal medicine, so after four weeks of using the herbal medicine, I saw physical changes and went for a test at two separate hospitals and I was totally cured, i am here to say thanks to you again Dr Oniha for saving me from the deadly herpes disease. Anyone with such disease can also contact Dr Oniha through his EMAIL: You can also WHATSAPP him on +16692213962. website: