Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tumor cells that border normal tissue are told to leave

10.01.2006


The thin, single-cell boundary where a tumor meets normal tissue is the most dangerous part of a cancer according to a new study by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The researchers found that tumor cells bordering normal tissue receive signals that tell them to wander away from the tumor, allowing the cancer cells to establish deadly metastatic tumors elsewhere in the body.



The researchers say their discovery demonstrates the importance of the tumor’s environment and shows more precisely how the metastatic process occurs and might be stopped. Their study appears in the January 10 issue of Developmental Cell.

"What actually kills in cancer is not the primary tumor--it’s metastasis," says senior author Ross L. Cagan, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular biology and pharmacology and a researcher with the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "You can’t study that in a laboratory dish. You have to look at the tumor cells in their natural environment--surrounded by normal tissues."


To do this, the research team created tumors in fruit fly eyes and wings that permitted them to study the behavior of individual tumor cells.

"We found that the tumor cells in direct contact with normal cells had a different behavior than cells further inside the tumor," says lead author Marcos Vidal, Ph.D., research associate in molecular biology and pharmacology. "They were exclusively the ones that tended to leave the tissue."

The tumors were generated by turning off an inhibitor of a major oncogene called Src (pronounced sarc), making the tumor cells high in Src oncogene activity. (An oncogene is a gene that increases the malignancy of a tumor cell.) This particular genetic change is common in human breast tumors.

Boundary tumor cells were shown to lose surface proteins that attach them to other cells and stabilize their position within tissues. The study demonstrated that it was the difference in Src activity that led to the change in the attachment proteins. When a high Src cell (tumor cell) was next to a low Src cell (normal cell) the attachment proteins changed their characteristics, and the high Src cell became "unglued."

In addition, this change sent a signal that activated several other proteins in the tumor cell, one of which was an enzyme that dissolves the matrix surrounding cells. This enzyme makes it possible for a cell to move through tissues.

"Even though all the cells in the tumors we created were genetically identical, the proximity of the boundary cells to normal cells--their interaction with normal cells--made them special," Vidal says. "This is the first time the epithelial environment has been shown to play a role in metastasis."

The cells that left the fruit fly tumors eventually succumbed to the natural process of programmed cell death and were eliminated. According to Cagan, that was not unexpected.

"In a tumor, probably 99.99 percent of the border cells are raining out of the edges and dying," Cagan says. "But as oncologists have found, cancer stems from an accumulation of genetic mutations. If one of these wandering cells acquires a second mutation that prevents cell death, it could go on to establish a metastatic tumor."

Having created a model for studying metastasis of tumor cells, the research team has begun to look for ways to manipulate boundary cells to prevent their metastatic behavior. They have seen that disabling some of the genes in the pathway activated in boundary cells stops the cells from leaving the tumor.

Cagan’s laboratory also has developed a robotic system for screening anticancer drugs, and they plan to use this system to look for drugs that will affect the metastatic process in their fruit fly model.

"A drug that can prevent metastasis would be an important adjunct for cancer treatments," Cagan says. "It could cut a patient’s risk of having tumor cells leave the area before the primary tumor was eradicated. That’s essential--metastatic cancer is far harder to treat than early-stage tumors."

Gwen Ericson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wustl.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

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...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

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...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

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...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

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...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>