columnar epithelial cells like those lining the gut involves
reorganization of the microtubules, as well as the assembly of new
Microtubule Organizing Centers (MTOCs) which anchor one end of the
microtubules to cell surfaces.
Scientists have uncovered key processes in the healthy development of
cells which line the human gut, furthering their understanding about
the development of cancer. A University of East Anglia (UEA) study, published today in the journal Open Biology
, shows that a protein called ninein is essential for normal tissue development in the gut.
‘The healthy development of cells which line the human gut can only happen correctly when the protein ninein is present.’
The research aimed to unravel some of the poorly-understood
mechanisms involved in rearranging the internal 'skeleton' -
cytoskeleton - in cells that are undergoing a shape change during normal
Using 'mini-guts' created in the lab, they studied the tubular
filaments which are part of the cytoskeleton called microtubules, and
their dramatic rearrangements during the formation of certain types of
cells found for example in the gut.
Dr Mette Mogensen from UEA's School of Biology said: "We found that this process can only happen correctly when the
protein ninein is present. We also found that the microtubule-associated
protein CLIP-170 is needed for the relocation of ninein to the new
"The correct organization of microtubules in columnar gut cells
leads to the formation of a transcellular array. As well as influencing
cell shape, microtubules form tracks for the transport of vesicles and
molecules within cells, which enables nutrient uptake."
"Loss of this transcellular microtubule array leads to loss of
tissue architecture, function and ultimately cancer, so formation of
these new MTOCs is critical."
Researchers used 'mini-guts' during the study, generated from stem
cells that are isolated from gut tissue and grown in a special medium.
They formed structures in culture that mimic normal gut including
columnar cells with transcellular microtubule arrays and new MTOCs.
The research was funded by the BBSRC, Anatomical Society and BigC Appeal.
'Ninein is essential for apico-basal microtubule formation and
CLIP-170 facilitates its redeployment to non-centrosomal microtubule
organizing centers' is published in the journal Open Biology