A study performed by researchers at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), in collaboration with researchers at the Instituto de Biologa Molecular of the CSIC, reveal a mechanism that controls the movement of cells in a tissue by regulating cell adhesion. This same mechanism may be defective in diseases such as cancer and its metastasis, when tumour cells lose their adhesion to neighbouring cells and migrate through the organism. The results of this research have been published in this week's Nature Cell Biology.
Specialists in development, Daniel Shaye, Jordi Casanova and Marta Llimargas, have studied the mechanisms that control cell movements during trachea development in the fly Drosophila. In this process, cells that initially form column of two cells deep, change their position to line up one after the other in a single file. A key element in the regulation of these movements is the amount of adhesive protein E-Cadherin located in the cellular membrane. Jordi Casanova, head of the Morphogenesis in Drosophila at IRB Barcelona, explains that "when movement starts, the levels of this protein in the cells decrease, thereby allowing them to slide one on top of the other, and once in this position the levels of this protein are re-established in order to seal the new binding alignment". The in-depth study of this phenomenon has led to the finding that the amount of E-Cadherin on the cell surface is controlled by the trafficking of this protein inside the cell and the identification of the elements that regulate this transport. During the experiments, the researchers induced or blocked cell movement by modifying the elements that control the trafficking of adhesive protein towards the membrane. "We demonstrate a mechanism that explains how cells can change their position within a given tissue. The sequence is clear: the greater the amount of protein, the greater the adhesion and the smaller the movement", recaps Casanova.
|Contact: Snia Armengou|
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)