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Science Features

steven j wolf, phd| april2017

Researchers from the Mechanobiology Institute, National University of Singapore have discovered the primary mechanism driving the extrusion of dying cells from epithelial monolayers. This work has been published in Nature.(Saw et al., Topological defects in epithelia govern cell death and extrusion, Nature 544, 212–216 [12 April 2017] doi:10.1038/nature21718).

Schematics showing the arrangement of cells in normal epithelial tissue (a), following the introduction of a topological defect (b) and the site of cell death and extrusion following the appearance of a topological defect in the epithelial layer (c). The blue gradient region represents a concentration of compressive force.

A question of life and death

The removal of cells from a tissue occurs regularly. Not only are damaged or dying cells removed, but the process of cell extrusion can prevent regions from becoming overcrowded. This is particularly important not only during developmental processes when tissues and organs are being formed, but also in diseases such as cancer, when tumors grow uncontrollably. Despite the importance of cell extrusion in development and aging, as well as the pathological importance in cancer progression, the cues that flag a cell for removal were poorly understood.

Now, by studying single-layers of epithelial cells grown in the lab, scientists from the Mechanobiology Institute, National University of Singapore, and Institut Jacques Monod, CNRS and University Paris Diderot (France) in collaboration with researchers from Oxford University (UK) and Institut Curie (France) have found that the major factor driving cell death and removal relies on the physical arrangement of cells in the surrounding cell layer. In particular, the appearance of defects in the cellular patterns of epithelial layers promotes cell death and elimination from the tissues.

There are several examples in nature where a molecule or cell type aligns in a defined manner. Bacteria colonies, fat molecules, and even internal components of the cell, are just a few examples. Another well-known example corresponds to liquid crystals, a state of matter between a solid and a liquid, which can consist of rod-shaped molecules. Under certain conditions, these molecules can align along a preferential orientation when altered by electric, magnetic fields or temperature. This phenomenon is particularly well-known since it is exploited in technologies such as liquid crystal displays. In this case the optical properties of liquid crystals are determined by their alignment. Shifts in their alignment determine what we see on the display. As in any crystal, a perfect arrangement does not exist in liquid crystals and defects emerge in their arrangement that strongly modify their physical properties. The starting point of this study was to show how the behaviour of the cell sheet is analogous to liquid crystals.

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Big banks are raking in monster profits

The giant bank reported a profit of $8.3 billion for the second quarter Friday, an increase of 18% from a year ago and not far off from JPMorgan's record quarterly profit of $8.7 billion in the first quarter .

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American banks have gotten a boost from this year's tax cuts.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said in a statement that "the healthy US consumer" helped drive big gains in its credit card and money management businesses. Deposits grew at a solid clip as well.

Dimon also said that JPMorgan posted record fees in its global investment banking unit in the first half of the year, thanks to a boom in trading revenue, mergers and IPOs.

"We see good global economic growth, particularly in the US, where consumer and business sentiment is high," Dimon said.

Dimon continued to defend Corporate America's use of tax savings to increase dividends and buy back more stock, moves that some have criticized as helping wealthier investors but not average consumers on Main Street.

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