With high powered microscopes and new imaging technology scientists have discovered a previously unknown re-configurable nano wiring system inside of cells that directs cellular activities.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found information is carried across a web of guide wires that transmit signals across tiny, nanoscale distances.
It is the movement of charged molecules across these tiny distances that transmit information, just as in a computer microprocessor, the researchers say.
These localised signals are responsible for orchestrating the cell’s activities, such as instructing muscle cells to relax or contract.
When these signals reach the genetic material at the heart of the cell, called the nucleus, they instruct minute changes in structure that release specific genes so that they can be expressed.
These changes in gene expression further alter the behaviour of the cell. When, for instance, the cell moves from a steady state into a growth phase, the web is completely reconfigured to transmit signals that switch on the genes needed for growth.
Researchers say understanding the code that controls this wiring system could help understand diseases such as pulmonary hypertension and cancer, and could one day open up new treatment opportunities.
The team made their discovery by studying the movement of charged calcium molecules inside cells, which are the key messages that carry instructions inside cells.
Using high-powered microscopes, they were able to observe the wiring network with the help of computing techniques similar to those that enabled the first ever image of a black hole to be obtained.
Scientists say their findings are an example of quantum biology — an emerging field that uses quantum mechanics and theoretical chemistry to solve biological problems. …
The cell-wide web coordinates cellular processes by directing site-specific Ca2+ flux across cytoplasmic nanocourses
Read more: Nature
I’m impressed. Cells have their own highly advanced little nervous systems and we didn’t know this until now. This should get a prize. It can potentially change a lot of understanding about our basic biology.