Skeleton key for cancer metastasis

Apr 26, 2010
An actin-rich invadopodium pushes through the basement membrane (red, left), allowing the tumor cell to follow (right). Credit: Schoumacher, M., et al. 2010. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.200909113.

Cancer cells need all three of their cytoskeletons—actin, microtubules, and intermediate filaments—to metastasize, according to a study published online on April 26 in the Journal of Cell Biology.

A cancer cell in an epithelial layer is trapped unless it can force through the basement membrane, which cordons off the tissue. start to dissolve the basement membrane with enzymes that build up within extensions called invadopodia. How the different components of the cytoskeleton collaborate to spring the cell remains unclear. To find out, Danijela Vignjevic and colleagues (Institut Curie) followed as they started their breakout.

They found that a tumor cell escapes in three stages. First, stumpy protrusions dig into the basement membrane. These structures then elongate into "mature" invadopodia. Finally, the rest of the cell follows. In culture, crawling cells produce extensions that carry either bundles of actin or an actin mesh. In the cells, both forms of actin were necessary for invadopodia to form and grow. However, microtubules and intermediate filaments were only essential for invadopodia to lengthen.

The researchers suggest a model for this initial step of metastasis. Growing actin bundles push out a protrusion, which the actin mesh stabilizes as it elongates. Only if the invadopodium stretches beyond 5 microns do microtubules and intermediate filaments get involved. most likely elongate the invadopodium by delivering materials such as enzymes to the tip. Intermediate filaments, meanwhile, may brace the growing extension.

Explore further: Deadly bacterium uses cellular proteins as bait to sabotage a pathway that enables immune response

More information: Schoumacher, M., et al. 2010. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.200909113

Related Stories

Understanding the migration of cancer cells

Jun 23, 2008

[B]Activity of regulatory proteins for the growth of filopodia and lamelopodia clarified[/B] Lamellipodia are veil-shaped protrusions of the plasma membrane, that can turn into upward-curled ruffles if they fail to adhere to ...

How actin networks are actin'

Jan 02, 2008

Dynamic networks of growing actin filaments are critical for many cellular processes, including cell migration, intracellular transport, and the recovery of proteins from the cell surface. In this week’s issue of the open-access ...

Fibroblasts invade at a snail's pace

Feb 02, 2009

A transcription factor known to drive the formation of fibroblasts during development also promotes their ability to invade and remodel surrounding tissues, report Rowe et al. in the February 9, 2009 issue ...

Research could lead to new treatments for brain injuries

Nov 20, 2007

MIT researchers have identified a family of proteins key to the formation of the communication networks critical for normal brain function. Their research could lead to new treatments for brain injury and ...

Recommended for you

The vital question: Why is life the way it is?

7 hours ago

The Vital Question: Why is life the way it is? is a new book by Nick Lane that is due out on April 23rd. His question is not one for a static answer but rather one for a series of ever sharper explanations—explanations that a ...

Food poisoning: New detection method for bacterial toxin

8 hours ago

The Bacillus cereus bacteria is one of the potential causes of food poisoning. Indeed, a recent study in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry shows that this versatile pathogen produces 19 different varian ...

Detailing heterochromatin formation at the onset of life

9 hours ago

Antoine Peters and his group at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI) have elucidated the mechanisms controlling the packaging of chromatin in the early embryo. They have identified ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.