The cells in a tissue are surrounded by a net-like structure called the extracellular matrix. To attach itself to the matrix the cells have receptor molecules on their surfaces, which control the assembly of large protein complexes inside them.
These so-called adhesion complexes connect the outside to the cell interior and also signal to the cell about its immediate environment, which affects its properties and behaviour.
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have now discovered a new type of adhesion complex with a unique molecular composition that sets it apart from those already known about. The discovery has been made in collaboration with researchers in the UK.
“It’s incredibly surprising that there’s a new cell structure left to discover in 2018,” says principal investigator Staffan Strömblad, professor at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet. “The existence of this type of adhesion complex has completely passed us by.”
The trouble with actually knowing things is that when you know more, you discover you know less, in proportion to what is knowable. You struggle to the top of the mountain and look north over…the Canadian Rockies.
Not only that, but some new knowledge challenges or even destroys old certainties; it is practically a law.
The newly discovered adhesion complex can provide answers to an as-yet unanswered question — how the cell can remain attached to the matrix during cell division. The previously known adhesion complexes dissolve during the process to allow the cell to divide. But not this new type.
The researchers call the newly discovered cell structure ‘reticular adhesions’ to reflect their net-like form. Paper. (paywall) – John G. Lock, Matthew C. Jones, Janet A. Askari, Xiaowei Gong, Anna Oddone, Helene Olofsson, Sara Göransson, Melike Lakadamyali, Martin J. Humphries, Staffan Strömblad. Reticular adhesions are a distinct class of cell-matrix adhesions that mediate attachment during mitosis. Nature Cell Biology, 2018; 20 (11): 1290 DOI: 10.1038/s41556-018-0220-2s More.
Who would be surprised if there are other formerly unknown systems in there as well?
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See also: Human brain cells live long but acquire thousands of mutations along the way