Every living cell's surface has a protein-embedded membrane that's covered in polysaccharide chains – a literal sugar coating.
A new study by a Cornell University researcher found this coating is especially thick and pronounced on cancer cells and is a crucial determinant of the cell's survival.
Consisting of long, sugar-decorated molecules called glycoproteins, the coating causes physical changes in the cell membrane that make the cell better able to thrive – leading to a more lethal cancer.
Matthew Paszek, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Cornell and Valerie Weaver, at the University of California, San Francisco, led the study on glycoprotein-induced cancer cell survival, published online in Nature.
The researchers found that long glycoprotein chains on a cancer cell's surface cause the cell membrane to push away from its environment and bend inward. This physical change causes adhesion receptors on the cell surface called integrins to clump together. Integrins bind to protein scaffolds in their environment and regulate pretty much everything a cell does – movement, change and growth.
This clustering mechanism causes the integrins to alter the cell's normal signaling, leading to unchecked growth and survival.
"Changes to the sugar composition on the cell surface could alter physically how receptors are organized," he said. "That's really the big thing: coupling the regulation of the sugar coating to these biochemical signaling molecules."
The paper, "The cancer glycocalyx mechanically primes integrin-mediated growth and survival," was the subject of a "News and Views" feature in Nature.
Melissa Osgood | Eurek Alert!
Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria
23.05.2017 | Rice University
Discovery of an alga's 'dictionary of genes' could lead to advances in biofuels, medicine
23.05.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2017 | Life Sciences
23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering