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In fight against cancer, a closer look at nuclear blebbing
Date:2/19/2013

Misshapen cell nuclei are frequently observed in the cells of people with cancer and other diseases, but what causes the abnormality -- and why it is associated with certain disorders -- has remained unclear.

Researchers at Northwestern University have recently developed a mathematical model that sheds light on the defect by clarifying the mechanisms that cause bulges known as "blebs" in cells' nuclear membranes. The research -- a collaboration between experts at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Feinberg School of Medicine -- could be a step toward bleb prevention, which may ultimately provide potential therapies for related diseases.

A paper describing the research, titled "Mechanical Model of Blebbing in Nuclear Lamin Meshworks," was published Feb. 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS).

"Changes in the shape of the nucleus are indicative of a range of pathologies, including the premature aging disorder Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, EmeryDreifuss muscular dystrophy and some cancers," said Monica Olvera de la Cruz, the corresponding author of the paper. "Our research suggests that blebbing may be the result of an imbalance between the various proteins that constitute the nuclear lamina."

She is a Lawyer Taylor Professor, professor of materials science and engineering in the McCormick School and professor of chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

The nucleus -- the control center of the cell, the keeper of genetic material and overseer of cell growth and reproduction -- is covered by a nuclear envelope consisting of a double membrane and an underlying structure called the nuclear lamina that surrounds the surface of the nucleus and gives it shape. In addition to its mechanical support, the lamina helps regulate cell division and organize genetic material.

In the majority of healthy cells, the nucleus appears
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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