Published on March 8, 2013 at 11:57 AM
“Reconstructing high-efficiency cell fusion outside of a living organism allows us to observe the process in unprecedented detail and deduce general principles underlying cell-cell fusion,” Chen notes. One of her group’s first discoveries with the new system was that Eff-1 clusters along the finger-like protrusions, where the two fusion partners are in close contact. “This suggests to us that one of the purposes of the invasive fingers is to engage fusogenic proteins in both cells,” Chen explains. “We are excited about this finding since it reveals, for the first time, an intimate coordination between the actin cytoskeleton-propelled membrane protrusions and fusogenic proteins, a principle that will likely apply to other types of cell fusion events as well.”
The insights from this study raise many new questions, and Chen says the cell culture system will be a major help in her and other scientists’ continued study of cell fusion. With enough knowledge of the process, researchers may be able to optimize cell-based treatments for muscular dystrophy, in which normal muscle cells are transplanted into a patient and then fuse to repair damaged muscle fibers.
The study was funded by a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association to lead author Khurts Shilagardi, and by grants from the Packard Foundation and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (grant number R01 GM098816).
Other authors on the report were Shuo Li, Fengbao Luo, Faiz Marikar, Rui Duan, Peng Jin, Ji Hoon Kim and Katherine Murnen, all of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine