My last blog post was about how the immune system gets rid of invaders, but this post is about a paper showing some fascinating results about immune cells actually helping an unwanted resident, a transformed cell. This paper provides a very cool addition to the idea that some cancers look like non-healing wounds.
Zebrafish are a very powerful organism to use in the lab for many reasons, one of which is their transparency during development. Feng and colleagues recently took advantage of this in order to find and image the interactions between immune cells and oncogene-transformed cells as they initiate cancerous growth. These transformed cells recruit leukocytes, which are white blood cells, using H2O2 in a similar process that wounds use to recruit immune cells as part of the inflammatory response. When H2O2 synthesis was blocked, leukocytes were not recruited to the transformed cells and the number of transformed cells was reduced. The authors’ results suggest that the interactions with leukocytes serve to support proliferation of the transformed cells. Image above shows leukocytes (red) and transformed cells (green) interacting by forming tethers between the two cells.Feng, Y., Santoriello, C., Mione, M., Hurlstone, A., & Martin, P. (2010). Live Imaging of Innate Immune Cell Sensing of Transformed Cells in Zebrafish Larvae: Parallels between Tumor Initiation and Wound Inflammation PLoS Biology, 8 (12) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000562