Less "sticky" cells become more cancerous

August 25, 2020

They found out that during tumour development the way cells move can change from coordinated and collective to individual and chaotic behaviour. They have just published their research findings in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

The paper was supervised by tumour biologist Professor Peter Friedl of Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, in cooperation with the research groups headed by Professor Josef A. Käs (Leipzig University), Professor Andreas Deutsch (TU Dresden) and Professor Stefano Zapperi (University of Milan). The scientists studied biological changes that cells usually undergo as cancer develops. The most typical of these is the degradation of the epithelial adhesion molecule E-cadherin. In other words: the cells become less "sticky". The researchers showed that this degradation is accompanied by a change in the type of mobility in the tissue. Cells that are more cancerous can move freely past others of their kind, while the epithelial cells are "trapped" by their neighbours.

"It has long been assumed that the reduction in cell 'stickiness' during tumour development increases the mobility of these cancer cells. Our international team was able to confirm this fundamental assumption and show that a dense environment can still hold cancer cells back," said Professor Käs. In his view, it is clear that tumour invasion is strongly influenced by the local environment: cells acting individually can also move in groups if this reduces the resistance of the surrounding tissue. Both types of cell movement led to metastases in the researchers' experiments.

Most cancers are carcinomas that develop from epithelial tissue that covers and separates the organs. Its functions include protection and support. Immobile under healthy conditions, cells in this epithelium are a standard example in new research into "cell jamming", a field which is currently developing rapidly. This immobility is explained by the fact that the cells are in each other's way - similar to cars in a traffic jam or individual grains in a pile of sand. And to metastasise, cancer cells need the ability to move through the body. Their phenotype changes during tumour development, moving away from epithelial behaviour.

In experiments on tumour cells taken from patients, the researchers found that cancer cells spread in different ways in different environments: cells with an epithelial phenotype remained in a closed network, in which their movements were coordinated and collective. Less "sticky" cells in turn became more cancerous, with their cohesion reducing and movements growing more fluid. Individual, less "sticky" cells separated into the surrounding tissue. "This only happens if this tissue is not too dense. This movement is not coordinated, in step, as it would be in cells with an epithelial phenotype, but random and not coordinated with adjacent cells," said doctoral researcher Jürgen Lippoldt from Leipzig University. "In order to turn this understanding into an advantage for cancer patients, further research is needed to find out which migration method can lead to metastases under which circumstances."
Original title of the publication in Nature Cell Biology: "Cell-cell adhesion and 3D matrix confinement determine jamming transitions in breast cancer invasion", DOI 10.1038/s41556-020-0552-6.

Universität Leipzig

Related Cancer Cells Articles from Brightsurf:

Cancer researchers train white blood cells to attacks tumor cells
Scientists at the National Center for Tumor Diseases Dresden (NCT/UCC) and Dresden University Medicine, together with an international team of researchers, were able to demonstrate that certain white blood cells, so-called neutrophil granulocytes, can potentially - after completing a special training program -- be utilized for the treatment of tumors.

New way to target some rapidly dividing cancer cells, leaving healthy cells unharmed
Scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the University of Oxford say they have found a new way to kill some multiplying human breast cancer cells by selectively attacking the core of their cell division machinery.

Breast cancer cells use message-carrying vesicles to send oncogenic stimuli to normal cells
According to a Wistar study, breast cancer cells starved for oxygen send out messages that induce oncogenic changes in surrounding normal epithelial cells.

Breast cancer cells turn killer immune cells into allies
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered that breast cancer cells can alter the function of immune cells known as Natural killer (NK) cells so that instead of killing the cancer cells, they facilitate their spread to other parts of the body.

Breast cancer cells can reprogram immune cells to assist in metastasis
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center investigators report they have uncovered a new mechanism by which invasive breast cancer cells evade the immune system to metastasize, or spread, to other areas of the body.

Engineered immune cells recognize, attack human and mouse solid-tumor cancer cells
CAR-T therapy has been used successfully in patients with blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia.

Drug that keeps surface receptors on cancer cells makes them more visible to immune cells
A drug that is already clinically available for the treatment of nausea and psychosis, called prochlorperazine (PCZ), inhibits the internalization of receptors on the surface of tumor cells, thereby increasing the ability of anticancer antibodies to bind to the receptors and mount more effective immune responses.

Engineered bone marrow cells slow growth of prostate and pancreatic cancer cells
In experiments with mice, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center say they have slowed the growth of transplanted human prostate and pancreatic cancer cells by introducing bone marrow cells with a specific gene deletion to induce a novel immune response.

First phase i clinical trial of CRISPR-edited cells for cancer shows cells safe and durable
Following the first US test of CRISPR gene editing in patients with advanced cancer, researchers report these patients experienced no negative side effects and that the engineered T cells persisted in their bodies -- for months.

Zika virus' key into brain cells ID'd, leveraged to block infection and kill cancer cells
Two different UC San Diego research teams identified the same molecule -- αvβ5 integrin -- as Zika virus' key to brain cell entry.

Read More: Cancer Cells News and Cancer Cells Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.