UC-Riverside researchers found that certain cells of the epithelium have a potentially important role in immune surveillance – creating an electrostatic repulsion field to microbial invasion.
The study is featured on the cover of the July issue of Infection and Immunity, a journal published by the American Society for Microbiology.
The finding improves scientists’ understanding of the densely packed protrusions – resembling a carpet – on the surface of some cells that line the insides of the intestines and respiratory system. The protrusions, which biologists call microvilli, increase the surface area of cells and have a role in absorbing nutrients, for instance.
But Lo’s laboratory has found that the microvilli actually repel negatively charged bacteria and viruses, suggesting a protective “shield” akin to the force field that envelops the Enterprise in the plots of many “Star Trek” television episodes and movies.
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