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

smooth and maintains an overall spherical shape, but abnormal nuclear shapes characterized by blebs have been observed in the cells of people suffering from some forms of cancer and other diseases.

In mammals, the lamin meshworks that make up the nuclear lamina consist of mainly two types of lamin proteins, known as types A and B, which are wrapped like two nets around the nucleus. Under normal conditions, the A-type and B-type lamins co-exist throughout the sphere, creating a healthy lamina of approximately even thickness throughout.

But when one of the B-type lamins is depleted, researchers found the A-type and B-type lamins begin to segregate from one another, resulting in an uneven mesh layer with altered mechanical properties. In some regions, the lamina's fibers begin to gap and separate, giving rise to nuclear blebs, bulges in the cell's nuclear envelope.

The nuclear lamins, especially the A-type lamins, are now considered to be major building blocks of nuclear architecture and are thus involved in numerous important nuclear functions. Much of the recent information on the functions of the nuclear lamins comes from findings demonstrating that many different human diseases are caused by hundreds of mutations in the nuclear lamin A gene. Many of these diseases are accompanied by changes in nuclear shape and altered lamin organization.

"This study helps us to begin to understand how these abnormal shapes are formed," said Robert D. Goldman, the Stephen Walter Ranson Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology, chair of the department of cell and molecular biology at the Feinberg School, and one of the paper's authors. "Collaborations between physicists and cell biologists are beginning to reveal new insights into these normal and abnormal cells."

Enabling some of those new insights, the Northwestern researchers designed an energy-minimizing continuum elastic model that enabled them to produce structures with comparable
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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