Flexible Cells

When stretched, lung cells signal to each other by releasing ATP.

Kate Yandell
Sep 1, 2013


ATP PUMP: As lung cells are stretched, they release ATP, which stimulates mucus and fluid secretion. Here, ATP concentrations around stretched cells are shown on a pseudo-color scale as a function of time.GRYGORCZYK R, FURUYA K, SOKABE M. J PHYSIOL. 2013 MAR 1;591(Pt 5):1195-215

The paper
R. Grygorczyk et al., “Imaging and characterization of stretch-induced ATP release from alveolar A549 cells,” J Physiol, 591:1195-215, 2013.

The finding
Extracellular signaling with ATP is a primitive method of cell communication that, in the lungs, stimulates the secretion of mucus, fluids, and surfactants. Cell physiologist Ryszard Grygorczyk of the University of Montreal and collaborators showed that mechanically stretching lung cells by more than 10 percent instigates ATP secretion in sufficient amounts to induce a physiological response.

The technique
Grygorczyk and colleagues stretched A549 cells—a human lung cancer cell line—with a computer-controlled machine mounted on a microscope that...