Researchers discovered three types of bonds when they subjected common adhesion proteins (called cadherins) to a pulling force: ideal, catch and slip bonds. The three bonds react differently to that force: ideal bonds aren’t affected, catch bonds last longer and slip bonds don’t last as long.
One of the researchers said ideal bonds – the ones that aren’t affected by the pulling force – had not been seen in any previous experiments. The researchers discovered them as they observed catch bonds transitioning to slip bonds.
“Ideal bonds are like a nanoscale shock absorber,” he said. “They dampen all the force.” And the others? “Catch bonds are like a nanoscale seatbelt,” he said. “They become stronger when pulled. Slip bonds are more conventional; they weaken and break when tugged.”
The researchers made their discovery by taking single-molecule force measurements with an atomic force microscope. They coated the microscope tip and surface with cadherins, lowered the tip to the surface so bonds could form, pulled the tip back, held it and measured how long the bonds lasted under a range of constant pulling force.
The researchers propose that cell binding “is a dynamic process; cadherins tailor their adhesion in response to changes in the mechanical properties of their surrounding environment,” according to the paper.
When you cut your finger, for example, cells filling the wound might use catch bonds that resist the pulls and forces placed on the wound. As the forces go away with healing, the cells may transition to ideal bonds and then to slip bonds.
The researchers said problems with cell adhesion can lead to diseases, including cancers and cardiovascular problems.
And so the research team is pursuing other studies of cell-to-cell bonds: “This is the beginning of a lot to be discovered about the role of these types of interactions in healthy physiology as well as diseases like cancer.”
This story is reprinted from material from Iowa State University, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.