Athens, Ga. Researchers at the University of Georgia have discovered a central switch that controls whether cells move or remain stationary. The misregulation of this switch may play a role in the increased movement of tumor cells and in the aggressiveness of tumors themselves.
"Malignant cancer arises when cancer cells acquire the ability to move away from their primary tissue location," said Natalia Starostina assistant research scientist in the UGA department of cellular biology and lead author of the research. "The control of cell movement is a fundamental aspect of animal development, and defects in cell movements can have devastating results ranging from tumor metastasis to vascular disease."
The movement of cells requires the "remodeling" of a supporting cell structure called the actin cytoskeleton. Starostina's research focused on how actin remodeling is controlled and how this regulates the movement of cancer cells.
The study was just published in the journal Developmental Cell. In addition to Starostina, other authors include Jennifer Simpliciano, undergraduate student; Michael McGuirk, lab technician; and Edward Kipreos, head of the lab. Cellular biology is a division of biological sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
The research by Kipreos' group focused on an unlikely source to control cell movement, a CKI protein.CKIs were originally identified as inhibitors of the cell cycle that function in the nucleus to prevent cells from dividing. Surprisingly, in the last few years, scientists noticed that certain very aggressive tumor cells had high levels of CKI in the cytoplasm, which is the part of the cell surrounding the nucleus.
Kipreos' team discovered that a protein known as LRR-1 degrades a CKI called p21 specifically in the cytoplasm of human cells. If LRR-1 is inactivated, then p21 accumulates in the cytoplasm, where it induces the remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton and increas
|Contact: Edward Kipreos|
University of Georgia