This propulsion is the same movement that tumor cells use to invade healthy tissue during cancer metastasis so cracking the code to this signaling network may lead to new therapeutic strategies against cancer and other devastating diseases.
Many different types of cells in our body can crawl and migrate to distinct locations, sometimes over long distances. Immune system cells, for example, move to a wound site to kill microorganisms during an infection, and connective tissue cells (fibroblasts) move there to repair damaged areas. Cell migration is essential to a variety of biological processes, such as the development of an organism, wound healing, and immune surveillance, but also the invasion of tumor cells during cancer metastasis.
Cell migration is an extraordinarily complex process which depends on the ability of a cell to form a front and a back (called polarization) and generate force in one preferred direction. Migrating cells are able to do this spontaneously, without assistance from the environment. How they do this is a question that has kept cell biologists busy for the last three decades.
These latest results shed light on the migratory mechanism of cells. In particular, the team found that the signaling network involved has an interesting property, well known to engineers and bankers: it is self-perpetuating. A classic analogy to this type of circuit is a bank run, which occurs when a large number of customers withdraw their money from a bank due to concerns about the bank's solvency. As more people withdraw their funds, the probability of default increases, prompting more people to withdraw their money, in a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy (or positive feedback loop).
The team went on to show that this positive feedback circuit is switched on in very specific regions in the connective tissue cells, causing proteins to push against only one side of the outer envelope of the cell, eventually causing movement in one preferred direction. Predictably, two important protein components of this signaling circuit, called Ras and PI3K, are often mutated in cancer. This suggests that misregulation of this circuit may increase the invasiveness of cancer cells. It also highlights the need to understand how signaling proteins interact with each other inside cells, hopefully leading one day to new therapies for cancer and other deadly diseases.
This study, entitled "The small GTPase HRas shapes local PI3K signals through positive feedback and regulates persistent membrane extension in migrating fibroblasts" was published online in Molecular Biology of the Cell on May 15. It is supported by a grant from the Ministry of Education.
Catherine Kolf | EurekAlert!
Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences