Dividing cells showing (i) symmetrical and (ii) asymmetrical protein distribution
Researchers from Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and our Flow Cytometry core have received international recognition from the International Society of Advancement of Cytometry (ISAC) for their work on developing the first quantitative method of asymmetrical cell division in differentiated cells. These are cells that have specialised into a particular cell type (such as blood or immune cells), rather than stem cells with ability to become any kind of cell.
Asymmetric cell division, where the resulting cells have different concentrations of proteins and/or nucleic acids, is an important biological process that generates cellular diversity. It is crucial during early development of the embryo and in stem cell division.
People have suspected for some time that asymmetric division may also be happening in differentiated cells, but it is a rare event making it difficult to get direct evidence.
To tackle this issue, the researchers used the Biomedical Research Centre’s Amnis ImageStream X (ISX), a specialist cytometer that combines the power of cytometry and microscopy.
“Asymmetric cell division in the context of an immune response is a controversial area of research, partly due to the technical limitations for studying it. We’ve used the ISX to overcome these limitations, offering a clear and objective methodology to investigate asymmetric division in any cell type," said Dr Andrew Filby, from CRUK and the study’s lead researcher. “This image-based technique means that we can measure and quantify this process in a statistically significant way.”
Using our ISX, CRUK researchers were for the first time able to:
Simultaneously visualise all four major stages of mitosis
Measure the polarity of PKC zeta, a key protein involved in generating memory and effector T cells from the same precursor during an immunological reaction
The work was published in Cytometry A, and will be awarded with the journal’s Best Paper 2012 award on 27 June 2012 at the CYTO 2012 conference.
“As well as resulting in great science, the project has benefited both organisations,” says Dr Susanne Heck, senior manager of the flow cytometry facility.
“CRUK gained access to equipment not available within its organisation. We benefited from being involved with a well-planned and advanced project, which not only promoted a strong and ongoing collaboration with CRUK but also helped to demonstrate the capabilities of the ISX to researchers within our Biomedical Research Centre.”
The technique developed by the team can be widely applied, and more cell types are already under detailed investigation.
Since the ISX was acquired in September 2010 the BRC flow core has seen a steady increase in projects and has built a large body of expertise for immune monitoring and biomarker discovery.
Find out more about our flow cyometry facility.
Filby A, Cytometry A, Jun 2011
Posted on Tuesday 15th May 2012