This condition has adopted the name of “erebosis”.
Scientists at the Riken Institute of Japan have discovered a type of cell death hitherto unknown and which takes place in the bowels of the fruit fly common, a finding that will force us to review what was known about this biological process.
The team, led by Sa Kan Yooof the Biosystem Dynamics Research Center (RBD) of Riken, believes that the new process, which they have called “erebosis“plays a role in the gut metabolism.
The findingspublished today in “PLOS Biology”, turn the current theory upside down on the homeostasis o autoregulation of tissues in the gut and oblige to review the conventional concept of cell death.
As in the skin, the cells of the intestine die and are constantly substituted by new ones, a process called ‘replacement‘ which helps maintain balance (homeostasis) in tissue growth and renewal.
The gut turnover theory holds that old or damaged cells They die through a process called apoptosis.programmed cell death“, which is one of the three currently recognized types of cell death.
But the findings of this research question this assumption and provide evidence of a second type of programmed cell death that could be specific to the intestines.
The discovery it happened by accident. The researchers were studying in fruit flies a version of ‘Ance’, an enzyme that helps reduce the blood pressurewhen they observed that the expression of Ance in the intestine of the fly was irregular and that the cells that contained it had strange features.
The authors found that these cells were very dark and lacked nuclear membranesmitochondria and cytoskeletons, and sometimes even of DNA and other cellular elements necessary for cells to stay alive.
The process was so gradual and different from the cell death which is observed in the apoptosiswhich they realized could be something new.
The authors concluded that the new type of cell death is related to the ‘replacement‘ in the intestines and baptized the process as erebosis, from “erebus“, what does it mean “darkness” in Greek, because dying cells look dark under the microscope.
For demonstrate that erebosis is a new type of cell deathThey carried out several tests.
They first saw that the experimental arrest of apoptosis it did not impede intestinal homeostasis, meaning that cell turnover in the intestine, including cell death, can occur without apoptosis.
Second, the dying cells did not show any of the molecular markers of apoptosis or the other two known types of cell death, but the cells in the advanced phase of erebosis did show a general marker of cell death related to the degradation of the DNA.
An detailed examination of the cells in which erebosis was occurring revealed that they were located near clusters of intestinal stem cells, proof that erebotic cells they are replaced by newly differentiated intestinal cells during turnover.
The next step is describe the molecular mechanisms that allow erebosis and cell turnover in the fly intestine, although for Yoo, these results “have the potential to be a seminal finding“.
In addition, the researchers will try determine now if the erebosis exists both in the human intestine as in fruit flies.