Human red blood cells are very flexible and have their shape altered during normal physiological blood flow, and more dramatically in some pathological conditions. A recent study by a team including Dmitry Shishmarev, Post-Doctoral Fellow in the ACRF Department of Cancer Biology and Therapeutics at JCSMR, and his colleagues at the University of Sydney, has shown for the first time that controllable physical distortion of human red blood cells leads to accelerated metabolic processes inside them and enhanced energy consumption. The effect is mediated by a recently discovered membrane-embedded protein Piezo1, which senses changes in the tension/curvature of the cell membrane and opens up for transport of cations in and out of the cell. The discovery will be important in terms of deeper understanding of how cells regulate their shape and volume, as well as treating diseases which involve distortion of the normal biconcave-disc shape of red blood cells, such as malaria, sickle-cell anaemia, hereditary spherocytosis, and stomatocytosis.
Read the full study, published in Science Advances here: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/10/eaao1016.full