Spiral waves in neutrophils

A few weeks ago I heard an interesting talk by Orion Weiner from the University of California at San Francisco. This contained a lot of information and it has taken me some time to get around to processing it. One of the things he talked about establishes a surprising link between two topics I have discussed before, chemotaxis and spiral waves. The idea is that the motion of the leading edge of cells such as neutrophils are driven by spiral waves in the concentrations of certain proteins. These waves have been filmed using sophisticated techniques of microscopy. The proteins involved belong to something called the WAVE complex. The name has nothing to do with waves. The WA in the name comes from ‘Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASp)’. More specifically the protein whose concentration shows the wavelike phenomena is hematopoietic protein 1 (Hem-1). This protein interacts with the actin which is involved in the mechanics of the motion. However the waves are not visible in the concentration of the actin itself. More information about this and an interview with Weiner can be found here.

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