During embryonic development, the programmed death of certain cells plays an important role in the formation of organs and allowing proper growth. This cell death in some cases is an effect of autophagy, an important cellular process responsible for the degradation and recycling of damaged or unwanted cellular components and which, if carried to excess, can end up eliminating the cell itself.
Led by Dr. Jordi Casanova and Dr. Panagiotis Giannios, a group of researchers at IRB Barcelona and IBMB(CSIC) revealed the relationship between autophagy and polyploidy, the latter a phenomenon in which cells have multiple copies of genetic material. In this regard, they discovered a scenario where the level of autophagy is higher in cells with more copies of DNA and that it can even trigger this programmed cell death.
Published in the journal Autophagythis finding sheds light on the biological processes that shape organisms during the first stages of life, and it paves the way to a better understanding of developmental disorders and also cancer.
“Polyploidy is a common phenomenon in many species, including humans, and understanding its implications for embryonic development can have a significant impact on medicine,” explained Dr. Casanova, head of Development and Morphogenesis in the Drosophila lab at IRB Barcelona.
Progenitor cells and polyploidy
Progenitor cells can give rise to different types of cells. In the case of the fly Drosophila melanogaster, the animal model used in this study, the progenitor cells are the larval cells that store the capacity to produce the adult organism. These cells do not have polyploidy (they have one copy of the set of chromosomes) and this allows them to survive metamorphosis and become part of the adult.
“In the case of cancer, it is common for cells to have many copies of DNA (polyploidy), and this property can give more resistance, for example, to chemotherapy treatment. So it is important to understand this process,” added Dr. Giannios, a postdoctoral researcher in the same laboratory.
Polyploidy in the trachea of the fruit fly
To study this process, the researchers worked on the trachea of the D. melanogaster fly as a model, which presents different cells of the same type, some with polyploidy and some without.
“Working with the trachea of Drosophila flies allows us to compare cells of the same type, some showing polyploidy and some not, and to see how polyploidy correlates with cell death during metamorphosis,” explained Dr. Beatriz Pino-Jiménez, first author of the work, who did this project as part of her doctoral studies.
The research team is currently working to determine whether polyploid cells respond better to stress situations and, if so, what are the mechanisms underlying this response.
Beatriz Pino-Jiménez et al, Polyploidy-associated autophagy promotes larval tracheal histolysis in Drosophila metamorphosis, Autophagy (2023). DOI: 10.1080/15548627.2023.2231828
Provided by the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Citation: DNA copy number influences the process of cell death that shapes organs during embryonic development: Study (2023, July 19) retrieved on July 22, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-07-dna-cell-death-embryonic.html
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