Metastasis is the spread of cancer cells throughout the body. The motility of tumor cells depends on the microenvironment around them, and a recent paper systematically looks at how that microenvironment can predict or alter the behavior of tumor cells. Gligorijevic and colleagues tracked the motility of individual mouse mammary carcinoma cells in vivo using high-resolution multi-photon microscopy, and found that tumor cells exhibited either fast or slow locomotion. Those tumor cells with slow locomotion also exhibited invadopodia, protrusions that Gligorijevic and colleagues directly link to degradation of the underlying extracellular matrix and metastasis. While no single parameter of the tumor’s microenvironment could predict the locomotion of tumor cells, a support vector machine algorithm indicated how combinations of many parameters could predict tumor cell phenotype and behavior. By characterizing the heterogeneous microenvironment of a tumor and predicting the location and behavior of metastatic tumor cells, researchers can better understand treatment of tumors and the varying responses. Images above show protrusions (arrowheads, over 30 minutes) on two different tumor cells with slow locomotion, with protrusions facing collagen fibers (purple).
BONUS!! Check out a movie of these protrusions below. Note that some protrusion face collagen fibers (purple, panels a and b), and some protrude into blood vessels (red, panels c and d).
BONUS!! Check out Bojana Gligorijevic ‘s interview with SciArt about her images, research, and art here.
Gligorijevic, B., Bergman, A., & Condeelis, J. (2014). Multiparametric Classification Links Tumor Microenvironments with Tumor Cell Phenotype PLoS Biology, 12 (11) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001995