We found you, wheel cell! - A new mechanism of cell migration -

The use of a wheel is one of the most energy-efficient migration patterns. On top of that, the energy efficiency of life phenomena is considered to be higher than that of machines. Despite these facts, no example has ever been found where wheels are used as an organ for migration.

A group led by Technical Assistant Chika Okimura and Associate Professor Yoshiaki Iwadate at the Faculty of Science, Yamaguchi University, in cooperation with a group led by Associate Professor Shigenori Nonaka and Researcher Atsushi Taniguchi at the National Institute for Basic Biology, found that there is a wheel structure inside migratory epidermal cells related to wound repair in fish, and they successfully observed cell migration performed through the rotation of a wheel. This is the first example that shows life can migrate using a wheel.

When fish skin is wounded, cells called keratocytes migrate to the wound and repair it. Keratocytes are unique cells that migrate with a speed ten times faster than that of typical migrating cells found in mammals, including humans. Focusing on the migration pattern of these keratocytes, the group of presenters successfully captured images of the rotating wheel located inside the cell, using a special microscope called a light sheet microscope. Ketratocytes migrate on epithelial surfaces using a wheel.

This discovery deepens our understanding of wound healing mechanisms, and may lead to the development of completely new methods for wound treatment and methods for controlling migration of other migrating cells, including cancer cells and immune cells. Furthermore, this discovery overturns the preconceived idea that living things do not use wheels, and can be called a discovery that expands our concept of life. Our imaginations will grow to encompass the possibility of living things with wheels in the primeval era or on other planets.

The research results were published in Nature's Scientific Reports on July 17 (Tue.).
 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-28875-z
 LINK: http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-28875-z