Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Fusing Fronts

Robust tissue barriers form by regulated fusion and interlocking of epithelial cells

06 May 2019

Fusing Fronts

From your skin to your gut, tissue barriers are essential for a healthy, working body, whether it’s keeping the bad stuff out or the good stuff in. Researchers probed the dynamics of how tissue barriers form during development using fruit flies. Focusing on the formation of epithelial barriers, they fluorescently tagged actin, a protein that forms part of a cell’s architecture, in epithelial cells and imaged sheets of these cells fusing together in real-time (pictured). This revealed that the cells in the flanks of fusing sheets changed in number and geometry to ensure fusion remained steady and even. What’s more, they found that fusing cells came together front-on at the point of fusion but upon completion of fusion took on an interlocking pattern. Together these insights reveal how strong, stable seals can form to produce robust tissue barriers.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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