Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

E-cadherin, that cellular touch so important in cancer

17.10.2005


E-cadherin is a molecule involved in adhesion between epithelial cells that also seems to have a protective role in cancer, since its loss is associated with tumour progression and metastases formation in a series of different cancers. How this happens, however, is not clear but new research, about to be published on the "Journal of Experimental Cell Research", shows that cells that lose E-cadherin are more resistant to programmed cell death. Programmed cell death, also called apoptosis, is the mechanism by which the body eliminates unwanted or damaged cells, like those that can lead to cancer, by inducing them to die. The research about to be published also suggests that bcl-2 - a protein that affects cell division and whose abnormal production contributes to a variety of cancer - seems to have a role mediating E-cadherin effect. These results, although preliminary, help the understanding of E-cadherin role in cancer and consequently might contribute to the development of new therapeutics.

Cell survival depends on signals from the environment, such as those provided by adhesion molecules that mediate contacts between cells or between cells and the surrounding medium (the matrix). If these interactions cease to exist, the cells are programmed to die, which prevents their migration and growth in places where they do not belong, and consequently, where they have no physiological role. This is particularly important when we think about metastases - a process where cancer spreads to distant sites in the body to establish new tumours - which are associated with 90% of all the cancer deaths.

It is known that loss of adhesion between cells and between cells and the matrix is a pre-requisite for the detachment and migration of the tumour cells, and as a result it is believed that functional adhesion molecules are important in its prevention. One such example is E-cadherin, an adhesion molecule of epithelial cells, which is found altered in several cancers, and that, while intact, stops the tumour spreading into surrounding tissues. E-cadherin is especially interesting if we consider that 80-90% of tumours originate from epithelial cells, even if the majority of those result from accumulation of several mutations in several genes.



Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC), however, is a hereditary disease caused by mutations in the E-cadherin gene and in consequence is the perfect model to study the role of this molecule in cancer. And in fact, research in HDGC showed that cancer cells, which do not have a functional E-cadherin, are, not only capable of invading surrounding tissues but also able to survive and grow in the absence of contact with other cells. This last observation has led Gianpaolo Suriano, Raquel Seruca and colleagues from Portugal, Canada and Japan to hypothesize that maybe E-cadherin, when intact, not only prevents the migration of cancerous cells but is also involved in the process of cellular death and so have a dual role in cancer prevention.

To test their theory the team of scientists exposed cells with a functional or a non-functional E-cadherin, as well as cells with no E-cadherin to several stimuli capable of induce cell death, including a chemical used to destroy cancer cells. Confirming their hypothesis, results showed that cells without a functional E-cadherin were 3 to 4 times more resistant to cell death, indicating that this molecule is in fact involved in the mechanism of induced cell death. Also, very interestingly, Suriano and colleagues found that this resistance to death seemed to be mediated through bcl-2, a protein that when over produced leads to cell resistance to apoptosis, a hallmark of malignant processes.

Suriano, Seruca and colleagues’ results support the hypothesis that adhesion molecules are more than simple mediators of cell contact and adhesion and calls for further investigation into these proteins.

The fact that E-cadherin is involved in programmed cell death - a vital biological mechanism that assures the clearance of unwanted cells, that, if not destroyed, could lead to disease, and in extreme cases to malignant processes - is important for the understanding of cancers where E-cadherin function is affected and so, also to the development of future therapies. In fact, if further research confirms that bcl-2 is indeed involved in these type of cancers, therapy presently being developed for bcl-2 might be used in the future to control tumour development, which results from E-cadherin deregulation.

As well worthy of note, is the fact that one of the chemicals employed by the researchers to induce cell death in these experiments, is normally used, together with other drugs, to treat advanced cancers including epithelial tumours resulting from E-cadherin loss. This result questions its effectiveness in this type of tumours and calls for the need of further research on the subject.

Piece researched and written by:
Catarina Amorim (catarina.amorim@linacre.ox.ac.uk)

Catarina Amorim | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00144827
http://www.linacre.ox.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>