Researchers at IBEC have discovered that cell division in epithelial tissues is regulated by mechanical forces.
This revelation could potentially open avenues to a greater understanding of the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in tumors, and their possible regulation by means of physical forces.
Publishing in the June edition of Nature Cell Biology, the research group of ICREA professor Xavier Trepat, group leader at IBEC and associate professor at the University of Barcelona (UB), describe how the mechanical state of epithelial tissues – the continuous sheets of cells that cover all the exposed surfaces of the body – is related to the cell cycle and cell division.
IBEC group leader and ICREA research professor Xavier Trepat has been elected as a Member of EMBO, the European Molecular Biology Organisation.
EMBO’s members are 1,800 leading researchers that promotes excellence in the life sciences, and new ones are elected annually in recognition of their contributions to scientific excellence. Of the 62 researchers from 24 countries to receive membership this year, Xavier is one of the only two researchers in Spain.
The Integrative Cell and Tissue Dynamics group leader is IBEC’s first full EMBO Member, and one of just 79 based in Spain. In 2016 IBEC group leader Pere Roca-Cusachs was accepted into the EMBO Young Investigator Programme.
Alberto Elosegui-Artola, Xavier Trepat and Pere Roca-Cusachs’ paper in Trends in Cell Biology has made the cover of the latest issue of the Cell-family journal.
In ‘Control of Mechanotransduction by Molecular Clutch Dynamics’, the IBEC researchers review how cell dynamics and mechanotransduction are driven by molecular clutch dynamics.
The molecular clutch hypothesis suggests a mechanism of coupling between integrins and actin during cell migration, whereby a series of bonds that dynamically engage and disengage link cells to their microenvironment.
Researchers have shown for the first time that ion channels that are capable of detecting changes in the physical properties of the cellular environment play a key role in tumor invasion and metastasis.
The discovery, led by led by Miguel Angel Valverde from the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences of the UPF and involving IBEC’s Integrative Cell and Tissue Dynamics group, could open new avenues in the development of new drugs that reduce the risk of metastasis.
The way cells find their way around is by ‘groping’ rather than seeing their surroundings: this is the main conclusion of a study published in Nature last week involving several IBEC groups and their collaborators.
“We determined how cells detect the position of molecules (or ligands) in their environment with nanometric accuracy,” explains Pere Roca-Cusachs, group leader at IBEC and assistant professor at the University of Barcelona, who led the study. “By adhering to the ligands, the cells apply a force they can detect. As this force depends on the spatial distribution of the ligands, this allows the cells to ‘feel’ their surroundings. It’s like recognizing somebody’s face in the dark by touching it with your hand, rather than seeing the person.”
Researchers at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) have observed, for the first time, mechanical waves that form after collisions between cellular tissues.
After a collision, cells are pushed and deformed into waves that travel at a speed of three millimeters a day. This unexpected behavior defies what we know about cellular dynamics, and could be relevant to understand embryonic development or metastasis.
Mechanical waves – such as seismic waves, sound, or waves in the sea – are a phenomenon easily explained by the laws of physics: when two particles collide, a wave travels through the surrounding material.
The study will take as a starting point the pioneering research conducted by IBEC’s Xavier Trepat on how cadherins interact in metastasis
The pharmaceutical company Ferrer has created a consortium with the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and the bioinformatics company Mind the Byte, located at the Barcelona Science Park (PCB), to study the development of new therapeutic molecules against cancer metastasis.
The work will follow the research on cadherin interaction and its role in cells that cause metastasis conducted by Dr. Xavier Trepat, ICREA professor at IBEC and one of the few scientists to have won three grants from the European Research Council (ERC).
Xavier Trepat, ICREA professor and group leader at IBEC, was the guest star at the first anniversary celebration of Big Vang, La Vanguardia’s online science section
At the event on 7th June, where Xavier shared the stage with the director of IRB Joan Guinovart, the relationship between scientists and journalists was discussed – a relationship that can sometimes be a little illusive, as journalist Cristina Saez put it, referring to the disagreements that can arise between the two sides when explaining science to the public. Along with fellow journalist Núria Jar, she introduced questions to the invited guests.
Researchers at IBEC and their collaborators at the Centre of Regenerative Medicine of Barcelona (CMR[B]) have developed a revolutionary new technique based on photoactivation (light activation), by which cells in deep tissue can activated and tracked in vivo without causing any damage.
Manipulating protein expression to monitor cell behavior is a powerful tool in the field of biology.