Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Battery of tests on cancer cells shows them as 'squishy,' yet tactically strong

29.04.2013
Student researchers get a new view of the dynamics of cancer cells as they metastasize

A team of student researchers and their professors from 20 laboratories around the country have gotten a new view of cancer cells. The work could shed light on the transforming physical properties of these cells as they metastasize, said Jack R. Staunton, a Ph.D. candidate at Arizona State University in the lab of Prof. Robert Ros, and the lead author of a paper reporting on the topic.

Metastasis is a critical step in the progression of cancer. It is when the cancer spreads from one organ or part to another. While much is known about metastasis, it remains an incomplete understanding of the physical biology of the transition.

To get a better understanding of metastasis, more than 95 graduate students, post docs and professors in a variety of laboratories across the U.S. subjected two cell lines to a battery of high-tech tests and measurements. Their results, outlined in the paper "A physical sciences network characterization of non-tumorigenic and metastatic cells," were published today (April 26, 2013) in Scientific Reports.

The researchers performed coordinated molecular and biophysical studies of non-malignant and metastatic breast cell lines to learn more about what happens to a cell when it transitions to a metastatic state.

Each laboratory is part of the National Cancer Institute's Physical Sciences Oncology Center (PSOC), a network of 12 centers devoted to understanding the physical sciences of cancer. ASU's center, the Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology, is led by Prof. Paul Davies.

Each PS-OC was supplied with identical cell lines and common reagents, and considerable effort was made to ensure that all the conditions were standardized and documented at regular intervals. Staunton said the ASU group made three contributions to the study.

Other ASU researchers involved in the project and co-authors on the paper are: Alexander Fuhrmann, Vivek Nandakumar, Laimonas Kelbauskas, Patti Senechal, Courtney Hemphill, Roger H. Johnson and Deirdre Meldrum.

"We compared the stiffness of normal breast cells and highly metastatic breast cancer cells, and found the cancer cells to be significantly more 'squishy' or deformable," Staunton said. "This makes sense because in order for a cell to metastasize, it has to squeeze through tight passages in the lymphatics and microvasculature, so being squishy helps cancer cells spread through the body."

"We also looked at the morphology of their nuclei," he added. "The cancer cell nuclei were found to have a characteristic 'crushed beach-ball' shape that might correspond to the abnormal chromosomal rearrangements associated with cancer."

"Finally, we took individual cells, put each one in an airtight chamber, and measured how much oxygen they consumed," Staunton said. "This tells us about their metabolism. We found the cancer cells use less oxygen, relying more on glycolysis, kind of like what bacteria and yeast do."

Taken together, researchers at the 12 PSOC's used some 20 distinct techniques, including atomic force microscopy, ballistic intracellular nano-rheology, cell surface receptor expression levels, differential interference contrast microscopy, micro-patterning and extracellular matrix secretion, and traction force microscopy.

The work has enabled a comprehensive cataloging and comparison of the physical characteristics of non-malignant and metastatic cells, and the molecular signatures associated with those characteristics. This made it possible to identify unique relationships between observations, Staunton said.

"We were surprised that even though the cancer cells are softer, they are able to exert more contractile forces on the fibers surrounding them – which was determined at the Cornell University PSOC by a method called traction force microscopy. This pair of characteristics is somewhat contradictory from a purely physical perspective, but it makes sense for a cancer cell, since both traits improve their chances of metastasizing. Understanding why is still an active area of research," explained Staunton, who is working towards his doctorate in physics.

"Another interesting finding was that a protein called CD44, which doubles as a cancer stem cell marker and as a molecule that helps the cell stick to certain fibers in the extracellular matrix, is equally abundant in the normal and cancer cells. But in the cancer cells the proteins don't make it to the cell surface," he added.

"For some reason they stay inside the cytoplasm, so the cancer cells are not as sticky," added Staunton whose hometown is Buffalo, N.Y. "This is another trait that contributes to their ability to spread through the body."

The PSOC network went to great lengths to have all of the studies performed under comparable conditions. While the cell lines studied are well understood, part of the effort for the network was to prove they could consistently coordinate the research.

Staunton, who has been involved in ASU's center since its inception, says the experience has helped his growth as a researcher.

"It is the perfect habitat for budding scientists and for transdisciplinary collaborations," he said.

Source:
Jack "Rory" Staunton, (480) 809-7212
Media contact:
Skip Derra, (480) 965-4823; skip.derra@asu.edu

Skip Derra | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View
22.06.2018 | University of Sussex

nachricht New cellular pathway helps explain how inflammation leads to artery disease
22.06.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>