Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Asterix's Roman foes -- Researchers have a better idea of how cancer cells move and grow

12.03.2013
In a number of biological processes, including in the formation of metastases, cells communicate with each other in order to move as a group

Researchers at the University of Montreal's Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) have discovered a new mechanism that allows some cells in our body to move together, in some ways like the tortoise formation used by Roman soldiers depicted in the Asterix series.


Researchers at the University of Montreal's Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) have discovered a new mechanism that allows some cells in our body to move together, in some ways like the tortoise formation used by Roman soldiers depicted in the Asterix series.

Credit: Université de Montréal

Collective cell migration is an essential part of our body's growth and defense system, but it is also used by cancerous cells to disseminate efficiently in the body. "We have found a key mechanism that allows cells to coordinate their movement as a group and we believe that this mechanism is used by malignant cells in a number of cancers, including some types of breast, prostate and skin cancers" explained lead researcher Gregory Emery. Roman soldiers formed the tortoise, or testudo formation, by coming closely together and aligning their shields side-by-side in order to defend themselves as they broke their enemy lines.

"As for the Romans, if some cancerous cells are migrating efficiently, it is because their movements are tightly coordinated. To stop their progression, we have first to understand how they coordinate. Then, we will aim at blocking this coordination in cancer cells to abrogate cancer progression."

IRIC's scientists and their colleagues from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, USA studied the movement of the "border-cells" in the ovaries of fruit flies, a biological process that is well understood by scientists and that they can reproduce easily. Researchers often use these kinds of cells as a model to get insight into metastatic cell migration – the process by which malignant cells leave the original tumor– as they can be easily manipulated and observed. Researchers look at how chemicals known as proteins that our body produces influence what goes on in cells. In this study for instance, the researchers from IRIC were able to aim a laser with sufficient precision to activate or inactivate an engineered protein in a single living cell, and observe directly the consequences of these alterations.

They found that a protein known as Rab11 enables individual cells to sense what the others are doing and organize into a tight structure to move together. Rab11 achieves this by regulating another protein, called Moesin which is involved in controlling the shape and rigidity of cells. Reducing the level of Moesin reduces the cohesion of the cluster and impedes cell movement. "Here, we have identified a mechanism by which the cells share information to coordinate movements. By disrupting this mechanism, we are able to block their migration." Dr Emery explained.
Although the findings were in a specific kind of cells in an insect model, the proteins involved, Rab11 and Moesin, have already been shown to play a role in some human cancers. "This indicates that the new regulatory mechanism we identified in fly cells is most likely also important in human cancers," Dr. Emery said. "Our work will allow us to identify molecular targets to disrupt collective cell migration and hopefully to fight metastasis formation" he concludes.


About this study:
Gregory Emery and his co-authors published "Rab11 regulates cell-cell communication during collective cell movements" in Nature Cell Biology online on February 3, 2013. The research received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQ-S). IRIC is supported in part by the Canadian Center of Excellence in Commercialization and Research (CECR), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the FRQ-S. Dr. Emery holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Vesicular Trafficking and Cell Signalling and is a professor at the University of Montreal's Department of Pathology and Cell Biology. The University of Montreal is officially known as Université de Montréal.

William Raillant-Clark | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umontreal.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Magic number colloidal clusters
13.12.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht Record levels of mercury released by thawing permafrost in Canadian Arctic
13.12.2018 | University of Alberta

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magic number colloidal clusters

13.12.2018 | Life Sciences

UNLV study unlocks clues to how planets form

13.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis

13.12.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>