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Monday, 04 July, 2011

The forces of attraction

How cells change direction

Many cell types in higher organisms are capable of implementing directed motion in response to the presence of certain chemical attractants in their vicinity. A team led by the associated NIM member Dr. Doris Heinrich (Faculty of Physics, LMU München) has developed a novel technique to expose an ensemble of living cells to rapidly varying concentrations of chemoattractants. “Using this novel experimental approach, we investigate with high temporal and spatial resolution how living cells react to rapid changes in concentration gradients of chemoattractants. This gives us a new means of studying how such changes are detected and transduced by the cell’s signaling pathways,” says Heinrich. The work is also of clinical significance, since directed migration of cells is essential for embryonic development and for immune responses. The researchers have even used their system to build a chemotactic trap that allows them to immobilize cells by exposing them to rapidly changing patterns of chemoattractants. (PNAS Early Edition 27 June 2011)

Complete press release (LMU Press office)

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