Sticky Cell Fingers Help Contain Breast Tumors – Genetics News

Researchers from the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, Finland, have identified that finger-like cell extensions called filopodia help build a barrier surrounding breast tumors.

In the early stage of breast cancer, malignant cells are trapped by a tissue barrier called the basement membrane which prevents them from spreading to other parts of the body. This early stage of the disease is usually not life threatening because surgery can remove the tumor. However, breast cancer can become fatal if it spreads and forms metastases.

To escape and spread, tumor cells must first cross their most proximal barrier, the basement membrane. Researchers from the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University have found that cellular structures called filopodia help preserve the basement membrane surrounding the tumor, blocking their escape.

“These results are very surprising because we previously thought that the sticky fingers of these cancer cells were only used to invade nearby tissues. We are now seeing that these structures can also help contain the tumour,” says Professor Johanna Ivaska, InFLAMES group leader, University of Turku. .

These sticky fingers are generated by a protein called Myosin-10. The research teams led by Professor Ivaska, docent at the Institute of Biomedicine of the University of Turku, Dr Emilia Peuhu, and the leader of the InFLAMES group, associate professor of cell biology, Dr Guillaume Jacquemet of the University from Åbo Akademi, found that cancer cells lacking myosin-10 cannot construct and maintain their surrounding barrier, the basement membrane. This facilitates the escape of cancer cells.

“Remove the myosin-10 and the tumors are significantly more aggressive. Their basal membrane has almost completely disappeared and they spread more freely to the surrounding tissues,” says Dr. Peuhu.

For several years, the Ivaska and Jacquemet teams have focused their efforts on understanding how cancer cells use filopodia to move around and invade surrounding tissues. Their previous findings highlight that filopodia are used by cancer cells to spread once they have escaped the primary tumor. However, the teams have discovered that the filopodia have an opposite role at the early stage of the disease.

“We have sought to develop anti-filopodia strategies to treat cancers, but our new results clearly highlight that targeting filopodia or myosin-10 too early could actually make things worse,” says Dr. Jacquemet.

The teams and their collaborators are now evaluating how filopodia regulate basement membrane assembly.

InFLAMES Flagship is a joint initiative of the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, Finland. The Flagship’s objective is to integrate immunological and immunology-related research activities to develop and exploit new diagnostic and therapeutic tools for personalized medicine. InFLAMES is funded by the Academy of Finland.

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Materials provided by University of Turku. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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Sticky Cell Fingers Help Contain Breast Tumors – Genetics News


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