Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Asterix's Roman foes -- Researchers have a better idea of how cancer cells move and grow

12.03.2013
In a number of biological processes, including in the formation of metastases, cells communicate with each other in order to move as a group

Researchers at the University of Montreal's Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) have discovered a new mechanism that allows some cells in our body to move together, in some ways like the tortoise formation used by Roman soldiers depicted in the Asterix series.


Researchers at the University of Montreal's Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) have discovered a new mechanism that allows some cells in our body to move together, in some ways like the tortoise formation used by Roman soldiers depicted in the Asterix series.

Credit: Université de Montréal

Collective cell migration is an essential part of our body's growth and defense system, but it is also used by cancerous cells to disseminate efficiently in the body. "We have found a key mechanism that allows cells to coordinate their movement as a group and we believe that this mechanism is used by malignant cells in a number of cancers, including some types of breast, prostate and skin cancers" explained lead researcher Gregory Emery. Roman soldiers formed the tortoise, or testudo formation, by coming closely together and aligning their shields side-by-side in order to defend themselves as they broke their enemy lines.

"As for the Romans, if some cancerous cells are migrating efficiently, it is because their movements are tightly coordinated. To stop their progression, we have first to understand how they coordinate. Then, we will aim at blocking this coordination in cancer cells to abrogate cancer progression."

IRIC's scientists and their colleagues from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, USA studied the movement of the "border-cells" in the ovaries of fruit flies, a biological process that is well understood by scientists and that they can reproduce easily. Researchers often use these kinds of cells as a model to get insight into metastatic cell migration – the process by which malignant cells leave the original tumor– as they can be easily manipulated and observed. Researchers look at how chemicals known as proteins that our body produces influence what goes on in cells. In this study for instance, the researchers from IRIC were able to aim a laser with sufficient precision to activate or inactivate an engineered protein in a single living cell, and observe directly the consequences of these alterations.

They found that a protein known as Rab11 enables individual cells to sense what the others are doing and organize into a tight structure to move together. Rab11 achieves this by regulating another protein, called Moesin which is involved in controlling the shape and rigidity of cells. Reducing the level of Moesin reduces the cohesion of the cluster and impedes cell movement. "Here, we have identified a mechanism by which the cells share information to coordinate movements. By disrupting this mechanism, we are able to block their migration." Dr Emery explained.
Although the findings were in a specific kind of cells in an insect model, the proteins involved, Rab11 and Moesin, have already been shown to play a role in some human cancers. "This indicates that the new regulatory mechanism we identified in fly cells is most likely also important in human cancers," Dr. Emery said. "Our work will allow us to identify molecular targets to disrupt collective cell migration and hopefully to fight metastasis formation" he concludes.


About this study:
Gregory Emery and his co-authors published "Rab11 regulates cell-cell communication during collective cell movements" in Nature Cell Biology online on February 3, 2013. The research received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQ-S). IRIC is supported in part by the Canadian Center of Excellence in Commercialization and Research (CECR), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the FRQ-S. Dr. Emery holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Vesicular Trafficking and Cell Signalling and is a professor at the University of Montreal's Department of Pathology and Cell Biology. The University of Montreal is officially known as Université de Montréal.

William Raillant-Clark | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umontreal.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Closing in on advanced prostate cancer
13.12.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht Visualizing single molecules in whole cells with a new spin
13.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water without windows: Capturing water vapor inside an electron microscope

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease

13.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>