The Loh Down On Science

Mito-catapult

Self-sacrificing eosinophils help the body stave off bacterial infection.

Got a stomach bug? Open fire!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

And how some immune cells fight for our health.

White blood cells called eosinophils are known to stave off bacterial infections. But exactly HOW has been a mystery.

To find out, Shida Yousefi, from Switzerland's University of Bern, staged a battle between eosinophils and bacteria in his lab. He filmed the conflict through a microscope.

In less than a second after introducing enemy bugs, eosinophils launched their own insides at them--in particular, their mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondria generate power for cells.

Upon landing, the bombs immediately united with proteins that allowed them to stick onto, and attack, the invaders

Impressively, some mitochondrial DNA bombs landed well beyond a distance equal to the eosinophil's diameter. That's like a human vomiting 10 feet! While the actual mechanism behind catapulting remains unknown. . . that's pretty cool!

If you like. . . projectile vomiting. Of mitochondrial DNA. At the cellular level. Just think of it as a NEW kind of health movie. Check it out on YouTube. Vomiting DNA. Many, many hits.


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