Researchers supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation have discovered how aggressive cells can invade healthy tissue during the earliest stage of tumour development. This opens up new ways of attacking cancer at its root.
When normal body cells escape the control from their peers, a tumour can form and eventually lead to cancer. Scientists have been struggling to understand how exactly these cells manage to set themselves free in the first place.
The team of Eduardo Moreno, professor at the Institute of Cell Biology at the University of Bern, has now discovered that a mechanism that is known from the early development of embryos plays a role in the earliest stages of adult tumour development (*).
As part of their SNSF-funded project, the researchers were able to film the cells of developing fruit fly pupas under the microscope for several hours. The genetically modified fruit flies carried an artificially activated gene called Myc, which is known to be involved in tumour formation.
The gene alone was sufficient to induce abnormal cells to divide more actively, squeeze through between healthy cells, kill them and take over their place. This represents an unexpected mechanism of invading tissues in the first phase of tumour development.
A model for most cancers
"The activation of the tumour gene gave the cells special mechanical properties helping them to intermingle with normal cells, surround them and eventually kill them more efficiently", says Romain Levayer, the first author of the study.
"This invasion mechanism is known to be active during embryonic development when cells rearrange themselves to transform the body shape. We have now shown that cells are capable of using the same programme in order to invade healthy tissue", says group leader Moreno. "Divide and rule", the famous military strategy, is how the researchers describe the aggressive cells' behaviour.
The mechanism could explain the earliest beginnings of tumour development of most cancer types and is different from invasion mechanisms of metastases in later phases. "We were able to observe the mechanism in fruit fly pupas. The fruit fly was chosen as a model because it can be easily modified genetically. Since the pupa does not move and is transparent, it is ideal for observation under the microscope", says Moreno.
About 90 percent of all cancers form in lining tissues (epithelia) like the one filmed in the pupas: in colon, skin or the mammary gland. The manipulated Myc gene is the most commonly misregulated gene in tumours. The identified mechanism could therefore apply to many cancers and help scientists to find new strategies to prevent tumour formation at its root before much damage has been caused.
(*) R. Levayer, B. Hauert and E. Moreno et al. (2015). Myc-induced cell mixing is required for competitive tissue invasion and destruction. Nature online: doi:10.1038/nature14684
(Available to journalists as a PDF file from the SNSF: firstname.lastname@example.org)
> Video of Invasion Mechanism (on YouTube): https://youtu.be/DaQ4oXPTHK0
Abnormal green cells invade healthy purple tissue in fruit fly pupa
© Eduardo Moreno, University of Bern
Prof. Dr. Eduardo Moreno
Institute of Cell Biology
Phone: +41 (0)31 631 46 77
Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells
22.08.2017 | National University Health System
Biochemical 'fingerprints' reveal diabetes progression
22.08.2017 | Umea University
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine
22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.08.2017 | Life Sciences