Windows to cell function and dysfunction : signatures written in the boundary layers
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The medium surrounding cells either in culture or in tissues contains a chemical mix varying with cell state. As solutes move in and out of the cytoplasmic compartment they set up characteristic signatures in the cellular boundary layers. These layers are complex physical and chemical environments whose profiles both reflect cell physiology and provide conduits for intercellular messaging. Here we review some of the most relevant characteristics of the extracellular/intercellular space. Our initial focus is primarily with cultured cells but we extend our consideration to the far more complex environment of tissues and discuss how chemical signatures in the boundary layer can or may affect cell function. Critical to the entire essay are the methods used, or being developed, to monitor chemical profiles in the boundary layers. We review recent developments in ultramicro electrochemical sensors and tailored optical reporters suitable for the task in hand.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2010. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of John Wiley & Sons for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in BioEssays 32 (2010): 514-523, doi:10.1002/bies.200900173.
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