SEP 29, 2017 5:04 PM PDT

Scientists Created a way to Induce Endocytosis in Cells

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Endocytosis is a critical cellular function; it is used to absorb vital materials and can facilitate cell growth, motility, and communication. Now researchers have found a way to trigger the process, clathrin-mediated endocytosis, in the lab. Reporting in The Journal of Cell Biology, they describe how a chemical called rapamycin triggers endocytosis all over a cell after diffusing into it. While scientists have studied the process for decades, this is the first time it has been controlled. It may help investigators perfect ways to deliver drugs or nanoparticles directly to certain cells.

The pinky-purple spots are the endocytic vesicles made by the hot-wiring process. / Credit: Gabrielle Larocque

"We've compared our method to 'hot-wiring' a car. When this happens in the movies, a bad guy breaks into a car and just twists some wires together to start the car and make a getaway,” explained the senior author of the report, Dr. Stephen Royle, a senior Cancer Research UK fellow at Warwick Medical School. 

"To trigger endocytosis we used the cell's own proteins, but we modified them. We chopped out all the unnecessary parts and just left the bare essentials. We call the process of triggering endocytosis 'hot-wiring' because it is similar to just twisting the wires together rather than having a key,” he continued. 

“It turns out that movies are not like real life, and hot-wiring a car is actually quite difficult and takes a while. So our systems are more like the Hollywood version than real life!"

The researchers added another degree of control to the procedure so endocytosis can be triggered in specific regions. This light-sensitive version of the method uses blue light to narrow the area where endocytosis occurs. That means that the time and location can be controlled.

Scientists can now use this protocol to study how endocytosis is timed, as well as what proteins are involved. It may also allow for the delivery of molecules, such as therapeutic nanoparticles, directly to certain areas of specific cells, like cancerous tumors. 

In the video above, Dr. Royle briefly discusses his work.

Sources: AAAS/Eurekealert! Via University of Warwick, The Journal of Cell Biology

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
SEP 19, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Reward and Punishment Take Similar Paths in the Mouse Brain
SEP 19, 2020
Reward and Punishment Take Similar Paths in the Mouse Brain
Scientists have determined that mice have brain cells that can help them learn to avoid bad experiences.
OCT 07, 2020
Neuroscience
Biocompatible Gel Restores Sciatic Nerve Function in Rats
OCT 07, 2020
Biocompatible Gel Restores Sciatic Nerve Function in Rats
Video: Explains poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid), a hydrogel biopolymer that is a similar concept to the new hydrogel built ...
OCT 22, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
How a Gene Variant Raises the Risk of Multiple Sclerosis
OCT 22, 2020
How a Gene Variant Raises the Risk of Multiple Sclerosis
Now that sequencing the whole human genome is easier, faster, and cheaper than it used to be, scientists have been able ...
OCT 26, 2020
Cancer
Investigating the Receptor Protein FPR1 in Brain Cancer
OCT 26, 2020
Investigating the Receptor Protein FPR1 in Brain Cancer
Amongst the more common targets for cancer therapies are cell surface receptors. These receptors are proteins – us ...
OCT 24, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Cord Blood Samples Reveal More About the Genetics of Autism
OCT 24, 2020
Cord Blood Samples Reveal More About the Genetics of Autism
The activity of genes in our genome is controlled by many factors, one of which are chemical tags or structural changes ...
NOV 16, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Hidden Genes in the SARS-CoV-2 Genome
NOV 16, 2020
Hidden Genes in the SARS-CoV-2 Genome
It's essential for organisms to use their genomes to make proteins, and the processes of transcription and translation a ...
Loading Comments...