February 14, 2011

Cancer cells are smart little guys, unfortunately. Many cancer therapies target a specific type of cancer cell migration, but many cancer cells are able to switch to a different mode of migration and evade the attack. Today’s image is from a paper looking at these two modes of migration by using 3D cultures of malignant breast cancer cells.

Malignant cancer cells are able to spread beyond the initial tumor, and their migration can occur from using either of two types of cancer cell migration—mesenchymal and amoeboid. Mesenchymal migration is characterized by elongated cancer cells that can undergo proteolysis of and adhesion to the extracellular matrix on which it is migrating. Cancer cells undergoing amoeboid migration are rounded and squeeze through extracellular spaces without proteolysis of or adhesion to the matrix. A recent paper looks at the distinct roles of two different adhesion adaptor proteins – paxillin and Hic-5 – in these two modes of migration. Images above are of breast cancer cells (green) grown in two different types of 3D cultures (top and bottom). Compared with the mixed morphologies of control breast cancer cells (left images), cells without paxillin (middle images) had elongated, mesenchymal morphologies. Breast cancer cells without Hic-5 (right images) had more rounded, amoeboid morphologies.

ResearchBlogging.orgDeakin, N., & Turner, C. (2010). Distinct roles for paxillin and Hic-5 in regulating breast cancer cell morphology, invasion, and metastasis Molecular Biology of the Cell, 22 (3), 327-341 DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E10-09-0790

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