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Collagen IV scaffolds assemble through an intricate pathway that begins intracellularly and is completed extracellularly. Multiple intracellular enzymes act in concert to assemble collagen IV protomers, the building blocks of collagen IV scaffolds. After being secreted from cells, protomers are activated to initiate oligomerization, forming insoluble networks that are structurally reinforced with covalent crosslinks. Within these networks, embedded binding sites along the length of the protomer lead to the "decoration" of collagen IV triple helix with numerous functional molecules. We refer to these networks as "smart" scaffolds, which as a component of the basement membrane enable the development and function of multicellular tissues in all animal phyla. In this review, we present key molecular mechanisms that drive the assembly of collagen IV smart scaffolds.
© 2017 The Protein Society.
Eukaryotic cell motility involves complex interactions of signalling molecules, cytoskeleton, cell membrane, and mechanics interacting in space and time. Collectively, these components are used by the cell to interpret and respond to external stimuli, leading to polarization, protrusion, adhesion formation, and myosin-facilitated retraction. When these processes are choreographed correctly, shape change and motility results. A wealth of experimental data have identified numerous molecular constituents involved in these processes, but the complexity of their interactions and spatial organization make this a challenging problem to understand. This has motivated theoretical and computational approaches with simplified caricatures of cell structure and behaviour, each aiming to gain better understanding of certain kinds of cells and/or repertoire of behaviour. Reaction-diffusion (RD) equations as well as equations of viscoelastic flows have been used to describe the motility machinery. In this review, we describe some of the recent computational models for cell motility, concentrating on simulations of cell shape changes (mainly in two but also three dimensions). The problem is challenging not only due to the difficulty of abstracting and simplifying biological complexity but also because computing RD or fluid flow equations in deforming regions, known as a "free-boundary" problem, is an extremely challenging problem in applied mathematics. Here we describe the distinct approaches, comparing their strengths and weaknesses, and the kinds of biological questions that they have been able to address.
The nuclear envelope (NE) in eukaryotic cells serves as the physical barrier between the nucleus and cytoplasm. Until recently, mechanisms for establishing the composition of the inner nuclear membrane (INM) remained uncharted. Current findings uncover multiple pathways for trafficking of integral and peripheral INM proteins. A major route for INM protein transport occurs through the nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) with additional requirements for nuclear localization sequences, transport receptors, and Ran-GTP. Studies also reveal a putative NPC-independent vesicular pathway for NE trafficking. INM perturbations lead to changes in nuclear physiology highlighting the potential human disease impacts of continued NE discoveries.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Three-dimensional (3D) maps of proteins within the context of whole cells are important for investigating cellular function. However, 3D reconstructions of whole cells are challenging to obtain using conventional transmission electron microscopy (TEM). We describe a methodology to determine the 3D locations of proteins labeled with gold nanoparticles on whole eukaryotic cells. The epidermal growth factor receptors on COS7 cells were labeled with gold nanoparticles, and critical-point dried whole-mount cell samples were prepared. 3D focal series were obtained with aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), without tilting the specimen. The axial resolution was improved with deconvolution. The vertical locations of the nanoparticles in a whole-mount cell were determined with a precision of 3nm. From the analysis of the variation of the axial positions of the labels we concluded that the cellular surface was ruffled. To achieve sufficient stability of the sample under electron beam irradiation during the recording of the focal series, the sample was carbon coated. A quantitative method was developed to analyze the stability of the ultrastructure after electron beam irradiation using TEM. The results of this study demonstrate the feasibility of using aberration-corrected STEM to study the 3D nanoparticle distribution in whole cells.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
We present a microfluidic system that maintains liquid flow in a specimen chamber for scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) imaging. The specimen chamber consists of two ultrathin silicon nitride windows supported by silicon microchips. They are placed in a specimen holder that seals the sample from the vacuum in the electron microscope and incorporates tubing to and from the sample connected to a syringe pump outside the microscope. Using results obtained from fluorescence microscopy of microspheres flowing through the system, an equation to characterize the liquid flow through the system was calibrated. Gold nanoparticles of diameters of 30 and 100 nm moving in liquid were imaged with a 200 kV STEM. It was concluded that despite strong influences from Brownian motion, and sensitivity to small changes in the depth of the bypass channel, the electron microscopy flow data matched the calculated flow speed within an order of magnitude. The system allows for rapid (within a minute) liquid exchange, which can potentially be used, for example, to investigate the response of specimens, e.g., eukaryotic or bacterial cells, to certain stimuli.
Cell motility is a fundamental process with relevance to embryonic development, immune response, and metastasis. Cells move either spontaneously, in a nondirected fashion, or in response to chemotactic signals, in a directed fashion. Even though they are often studied separately, both forms of motility share many complex processes at the molecular and subcellular scale, e.g., orchestrated cytoskeletal rearrangements and polarization. In addition, at the cellular level both types of motility include persistent runs interspersed with reorientation pauses. Because there is a great range of variability in motility among different cell types, a key challenge in the field is to integrate these multiscale processes into a coherent framework. We analyzed the motility of Dictyostelium cells with bimodal analysis, a method that compares time spent in persistent versus reorientation mode. Unexpectedly, we found that reorientation time is coupled with persistent time in an inverse correlation and, surprisingly, the inverse correlation holds for both nondirected and chemotactic motility, so that the full range of Dictyostelium motility can be described by a single scaling relationship. Additionally, we found an identical scaling relationship for three human cell lines, indicating that the coupling of reorientation and persistence holds across species and making it possible to describe the complexity of cell motility in a surprisingly general and simple manner. With this new perspective, we analyzed the motility of Dictyostelium mutants, and found four in which the coupling between two modes was altered. Our results point to a fundamental underlying principle, described by a simple scaling law, unifying mechanisms of eukaryotic cell motility at several scales.
Copyright (c) 2010 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Internal membrane bound structures sequester all genetic material in eukaryotic cells. The most prominent of these structures is the nucleus, which is bounded by a double membrane termed the nuclear envelope (NE). Though this NE separates the nucleoplasm and genetic material within the nucleus from the surrounding cytoplasm, it is studded throughout with portals called nuclear pore complexes (NPCs). The NPC is a highly selective, bidirectional transporter for a tremendous range of protein and ribonucleoprotein cargoes. All the while the NPC must prevent the passage of nonspecific macromolecules, yet allow the free diffusion of water, sugars, and ions. These many types of nuclear transport are regulated at multiple stages, and the NPC carries binding sites for many of the proteins that modulate and modify the cargoes as they pass across the NE. Assembly, maintenance, and repair of the NPC must somehow occur while maintaining the integrity of the NE. Finally, the NPC appears to be an anchor for localization of many nuclear processes, including gene activation and cell cycle regulation. All these requirements demonstrate the complex design of the NPC and the integral role it plays in key cellular processes.
Correlative fluorescence microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is a state-of-the-art microscopy methodology to study cellular function, combining the functionality of light microscopy with the high resolution of electron microscopy. However, this technique involves complex sample preparation procedures due to its need for either thin sections or frozen samples for TEM imaging. Here, we introduce a novel correlative approach capable of imaging whole eukaryotic cells in liquid with fluorescence microscopy and with scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM); there is no additional sample preparation necessary for the electron microscopy. Quantum dots (QDs) were bound to epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptors of COS7 fibroblast cells. Fixed whole cells in saline water were imaged with fluorescence microscopy and subsequently with STEM. The STEM images were correlated with fluorescence images of the same cellular regions. QDs of dimensions 7x12 nm were visible in a 5 microm thick layer of saline water, consistent with calculations. A spatial resolution of 3 nm was achieved on the QDs.
Sterol 14α-demethylases (14DM) comprise the CYP51 cytochrome P450 genome family. The 14DM reaction is essential for the biosynthesis of sterols which are necessary for production of cellular membranes. This is the most widely distributed P450, being present in all biological kingdoms. From one kingdom to another the primary amino acid sequence identity usually ranges between 30 and 20%. In this minireview we describe the conservation of specific amino acids and the various CYP51 orthologs and indicate the roles that they may play in the structure/function of this monooxygenase. The prediction of the roles of different amino acids in 14DM is based on high resolution tertiary structures of these enzymes which set the stage for detailed understanding of the 14α-demethylase reaction and its selective, phyla-specific inhibition which is crucial for the design of potent inhibitors for treatment of infection by pathogenic microbes.
Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) was used to image gold nanoparticles on top of and below saline water layers of several micrometers thickness. The smallest gold nanoparticles studied had diameters of 1.4 nm and were visible for a liquid thickness of up to 3.3 microm. The imaging of gold nanoparticles below several micrometers of liquid was limited by broadening of the electron probe caused by scattering of the electron beam in the liquid. The experimental data corresponded to analytical models of the resolution and of the electron probe broadening as function of the liquid thickness. The results were also compared with Monte Carlo simulations of the STEM imaging on modeled specimens of similar geometry and composition as used for the experiments. Applications of STEM imaging in liquid can be found in cell biology, e.g., to study tagged proteins in whole eukaryotic cells in liquid and in materials science to study the interaction of solid:liquid interfaces at the nanoscale.
Published by Elsevier B.V.