From within the rich fabric of connecting tissue between cells, researchers of four institutions, led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have identified the action of anastellin, a natural agent that is showing promise blocking metastasis of cancer cells and enhancing wound healing.
FN-III-1 during unraveling (bottom). Red (top and below) depicts the strong sheet (anastellin). Green depicts the weak sheet.
That anastellin is derived from the cell adhesion protein fibronectin found in the extracellular matrix surrounding cells was known. Researchers at the Burnham Institute in California in September had documented the molecular structure of anastellin, but its ability to initiate matrix assembly and block the spread of cancer cells remained a mystery.
Using crystallography, atomic force microscopy and advanced computer modeling, researchers sorted the chemical structure and mechanical strength of the known fibronectin proteins that glue together myriads of cells in mammalian body tissues.
Jim Barlow | EurekAlert!
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