Research Highlight: How do our cells grow?

In a study recently published in Nature Cell Biology, Thierry Galli, leader of ENP team Membrane Traffic in Health and Pathology reveal a new mechanism involved in cell membrane growth.

Check out the article:

Maja Petkovic, Aymen Jemaiel, Frédéric Daste, Christian G. Specht, Ignacio Izeddin, Daniela Vorkel, Jean-Marc Verbavatz Xavier Darzacq, Antoine Triller, Karl H. Pfenninger, David Tareste, Catherine L. Jackson and Thierry Galli. The SNARE Sec22b has a non-fusogenic function in plasma membrane expansion. Nature 2014 

Some cells in our bodies need to increase their surface area significantly in order to perform their functions. This is particularly true of neurons, whose cell membrane surface area increases by 20% every day during development. When neurons reach maturity, their membrane surface area is 250,000 µm², totalling 25000 m² when all the neurons in the brain are considered. Starting at only ~1256 μm², the total surface area of the ensemble of brain neurons thus increases 200 times, eventually covering an area equivalent to 4 football fields. Read more in the Inserm Press Room.

Figure: Special types of vesicular transport in rat hippocampal neurons after 3 days’ growth (SNARE proteins in red). © Inserm/Burgo, Andrea