Study provides novel insights into how cells move through the body

Recent research published in eLife revealed that cells can control their capability to migrate throughout the body with the help of a protein named fascin, which regulates the stiffness of neighboring cells. The research was carried out in fruit flies.

This observation might help researchers comprehend how cells move during early development and the happenings that lead to some developmental disorders. The findings might also shed new light on the spreading of cancer cells and aid researchers create novel means to retard or stop them.

Lab studies of cell migration reveal that cells migrate rapidly and easily across stiffer artificial surfaces. However, it was still unknown if similar conditions induce cell movement in living organisms.

Understanding the mechanisms controlling this balance of forces between migrating cells and the surfaces they move across in living organisms is essential to understanding how developmental defects caused by aberrant migration and cancer metastasis occur.”

Maureen Lamb, Study First Author and Graduate Student, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

To examine cell movement in more natural conditions, Lamb and associates examined the migration of cells in the ovaries of fruit flies. They carried out detailed examinations on the happenings in cells genetically engineered to lack a protein named fascin. Fascin controls a cell-stiffening protein named myosin.

The scientists discovered that in the cells without fascin, the myosin activity increased, and both the cells and their neighboring cells stiffened, impeding their migration. Upon restoration of fascin to the moving cells, normal myosin activity and stiffness of the neighboring cells were observed, facilitating cell movement. They also identified a process that cells can employ to turn fascin on and off.

We’ve shown that migrating cells use fascin to control the stiffness of surrounding cells, making it easier for them to move through the body.”

Maureen Lamb, Study First Author and Graduate Student, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

The accidental finding that cells can regulate their ability to migrate by controlling the stiffness of surrounding cells might have vital effects for comprehending how cancer cells spread. When cancer advances beyond the original tumor and forms metastases, it becomes harder to treat and decreases the chance of survival of the patient.

If cancer cells use the same mechanisms identified in our study, then it may be possible to reduce their spread by altering the tissues that they prefer to move across so that the tissues don’t stiffen in response to the cells. The next step is to test this idea in larger organisms to see if it could be a potential strategy to slow or prevent the spread of cancer.”

Tina Tootle, Study Senior Author and Associate Professor, Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

Source:
Journal reference:

Lamb, M. C., et al. (2021) Fascin limits Myosin activity within Drosophila border cells to control substrate stiffness and promote migration. eLife. doi.org/10.7554/eLife.69836.

Comments

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AZoLifeSciences.
You might also like... ×
Researchers predict the spread of beetle species harming local flora