15 March 2012 Leukocyte adhesion in PNAS

Individual integrin nanoclusters diffusing on the cell membrane

Two nanoclusters diffusing in time with the corresponding trajectories in space and time

ICFO researchers introduce new insights into cell migration and leukocyte adhesion Researchers at ICFO in the group led by ICREA Prof. Maria Garcia-Parajo, working in collaboration with a team from Nijmegen Center for Molecular Life Sciences in the Netherlands have been able to capture the initial steps leading to leukocyte adhesion using Super-Resolution Light Microscopy and Single Molecule Dynamic techniques. As they report in this week’s publication of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA (PNAS), their findings are contrary to previous beliefs, representing a change of paradigm in cell biology.

This new discovery reveals lateral mobility of integrins on the cells membranes, allowing for the formation of nanoclusters. These nanoclusters set the stage for the initiation of competent nanoplatforms and determine the strength of the leukocyte adhesion.

A broad range of phenomena in health and disease are governed by cell adhesion and migration. When properly regulated, adhesion enables the defense of our body against inflammation or infections, and tissue healing. However, when regulation fails, adhesion enables devastating pathologies such as cancer, autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammation. Understanding the process of cell adhesion is thus vital to both the facilitation of migration of leukocytes to fight disease and the hindrance of movement in disease spreading cancer cells.