Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Identify a Molecule That Coordinates the Movement of Cells

06.10.2008
A molecule bridging two proteins that gives cells their shape and ability to migrate in a directed fashion may also shed light on how to keep cancer from spreading.

Even cells commute. To get from their birthplace to their work site, they sequentially attach to and detach from an elaborate track of exceptionally strong proteins known as the extracellular matrix. Now, in research to appear in the October 3 issue of Cell, scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Rockefeller University show that a molecule, called ACF7, helps regulate and power this movement from the inside -- findings that could have implications for understanding how cancer cells metastasize.

"The most dangerous part of cancer is that cancer cells migrate from their primary location and invade other parts of the body," says first author Xiaoyang Wu, a postdoc in Elaine Fuchs's Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development. "ACF7 facilitates cell movement, so it's possible that the less ACF7 a cell has, the less malignant it would become. It's a really exciting question in cancer biology now."

To travel along the extracellular matrix, cells must stick to and unstick from it via focal adhesions, structures composed of molecules that connect the inside to the outside of the cell. (While some molecules connect to the matrix, others connect to a scaffold inside the cell called the cytoskeleton.) As these structures collectively assemble and disassemble, the cell walks forward. Fuchs and Wu show that ACF7 can not only access energy stores to power this movement from within but also coordinate it by linking two fiber-like proteins called f-actin and microtubules, which together form the cytoskeleton and help give cells their shape.

"Inside the cell, actin cables converge at focal adhesions at the cell's leading edge," Fuchs explains. "We found that ACF7 guides microtubules along a roadway of actin cables and leads them toward the focal adhesions at the cell's periphery. Among the cargo transported along microtubules are factors that disassemble focal adhesions. Hence by coupling microtubule, actin and focal adhesion dynamics within the cell, ACF7 becomes an orchestrator of directed cellular movement."

In particular, Wu and Fuchs, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor at Rockefeller, found that without ACF7, microtubules were no longer guided toward the focal adhesions in a directed manner. They also noticed that cellular movement slowed, suggesting that the sticky adhesive sites were no longer assembling and disassembling efficiently.

To figure out why, Fuchs and Wu studied how quickly wounds heal in mice. "During injury, stem cells proliferate and migrate to the affected site and replenish lost cells," explains Wu. "We saw that the cells without ACF7 proliferated normally, but they moved very, very slowly compared to normal skin cells. So the problem wasn't with abnormal proliferation but with cell migration." When the researchers mutated ACF7 so it couldn't release stored energy in cells, ACF7 linked f-actin and microtubules but the cells were also sluggish in their movement.

In previous work, the Fuchs team had already showed that ACF7 appeared side by side with focal adhesion molecules, but they never knew, until now, that ACF7 guides microtubules along actin cables to these sites. "Now, we have a better idea of why it's important for ACF7 to be there," says Fuchs. "In order to make the adhesive sites dynamically stick and unstick, assembly and disassembly factors need to be recruited there. The intracellular roadway governed by ACF7 makes that possible."

In the future, this information could be relevant in developing cancer therapeutics. "A major goal in the clinical arena is to halt cancer cells from migrating, a process important in metastasis," says Fuchs. By suppressing ACF7's function in cancer cells, it might be possible to slow metastasis.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Thania Benios | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.rockefeller.edu
http://newswire.rockefeller.edu

Further reports about: ACF7 Cancer Cell Molecule Protein adhesion cancer cells cell movement cytoskeleton microtubule

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht If solubilty is the problem - Mechanochemistry is the solution
25.05.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden

nachricht The big clean up after stress
25.05.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

If solubilty is the problem - Mechanochemistry is the solution

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

Investigating cell membranes: researchers develop a substance mimicking a vital membrane component

25.05.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

When corals eat plastics

24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>