The scientists were able to observe the characteristics of human cells. They consist in the fact that the cell can squeeze through incredibly tight spaces. Most of the cells that make up the human body are considered to be soft. It is due to their internal structures allowing them to return to their original shape. They include a nucleus that safely stores genetic instructions hidden in certain configurations.
Like all cellular organs, the nucleus is anchored by a network of fibers. It's called the cytoskeleton and it plays a very important role in the movement of cells. That determines such important factors as development, proper functioning of organs and the ability of cancer to infect the body.
Until a certain point, cell movement was studied in a flat 2D environment. But today, a team of researchers from France was able to study in detail how the cells can overcome three-dimensional obstacles. Using the most modern technical devices, the scientists took an incredible footage.
Emily Le Maut, who is a molecular biologist at the University of Strasbourg, created an artificial obstacle course in the form of tunnels. The cells had to go through it. Some parts of the strip were wide and accessible, and some were extremely narrow, smaller than the nucleus of the cell itself. The scientists tested fibroblast cells, they make up connective tissue that is necessary for wound healing and collagen formation.
In areas where the path was too narrow, the cells stopped, anchored, and the nucleus began to develop in accordance with the shape of the passage in order to squeeze through it. And only after that did the cell penetrate through an extremely narrow space. The back of the nucleus at this time accumulated keratin, which is considered to be one of the most important components that make up the cytoskeleton of the cell.
Thanks to this rearrangement, the cell can be distorted to penetrate through the narrowest openings. According to the scientists, in the future that strategy may be useful in signaling networks that notify about the formation of cancerous tumors in the body.