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Bird embryo provides unique insights into development related to cancer and wound healing
Date:3/23/2011

nse interconnected networks of both vimentin and cytokeratin in the edge cells surprised the researchers.

"Since cytokeratin is generally associated with the epithelial phenotype and vimentin is generally associated with the mesenchymal phenotype, it's rare to see them expressed in the same cells, but this does occur in metastasizing tumor cells," said Zamir.

Cells expressing the mesenchymal phenotype are typically found in connective tissues -- such as bone, cartilage, and the lymphatic and circulatory systems -- whereas cells of the epithelial phenotype are found in cavities and glands and on surfaces throughout the body.

This finding provides evidence that epithelial cells normally attached to a membrane surface underwent biochemical changes that enabled them to assume a mesenchymal cell phenotype, which enhanced their migratory capacity. This process, called partial epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, has many similarities to the initiation of tumor cell metastasis and wound healing.

Since this epithelial and mesenchymal expression pattern in the edge cells has not previously been reported in Xenopus or zebrafish, it may be unique to the avian embryo. This discovery would make the avian embryo a valuable model for studying tumor cell migration and wound healing.

In addition to detailing protein expression in the quail embryo during development, the researchers also determined the origin of the new cells required at the migrating edge to cover the growing yolk. During development, the radius of the quail yolk doubles every day for the first few days, representing a hundreds-fold increase in the egg yolk surface area.

"For each individual cell that has to cover the egg yolk as it grows, the migration around the yolk is extraordinary, because it's such a large territory -- it'd be like an ant walking across the earth," explained Zamir.

Looking more closely at the edge cells, the researchers found str
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Contact: Abby Robinson
abby@innovate.gatech.edu
404-385-3364
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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