Cancer cells may promote metastasis and resistance to treatment, depending on their condition

Malignant breast cancer cells that have undergone partial EMT (green) leave the original cell cluster (red) and move to the surrounding area.Credits: University of Basel, Faculty of Biomedical Sciences

A type of cell transformation known as EMT allows cancer cells to move away from the tumor and form metastases elsewhere. However, this process is not always complete. Researchers at the University of Basel have shown that tumor cells have different effects on metastatic formation and development of resistance to treatment, depending on whether the tumor cells have undergone complete transformation or only partial transformation. I was able to do it.

many Cancer patients Instead of dying as a result of the primary tumor, they die by metastases that destroy important organs.Metastasis occurs when: cancer The cells separate from the original tumor and move to healthy tissue.

Multi-step process called Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) played an important role in this process, Tumor cells To spread away from their cell clusters throughout the body.

Chemotherapy in combination with the target in the short term Treatment It is highly effective in suppressing the growth of cancer. However, in the long run, cancer cells develop resistance to this treatment, and tumors and metastases grow more and more aggressively. Researchers suspect that EMT is the cause of cancer cells that avoid treatment and continue to metastasize.

EMT courses make all the difference

Not all cancer cells go through the EMT program completely, so they end up with different properties and properties. The research group of Professor Gerhard Christofori of the University of Basel’s School of Biomedical Sciences investigated how cells affect the progression of cancer, depending on the progress of EMT.

In the mouse model of breast cancerResearchers have been able to utilize genetic alterations to visualize cancer cells that have undergone partial or complete EMT. This has shown that cells at different stages of the EMT process contribute differently to metastasis formation and chemotherapy resistance.

Partial EMT required for metastasis

Breast cancer cells that have undergone only partial EMT can switch between the early stages of EMT and the epithelial state that is the starting point. In contrast, cells are less adaptable and rarely return to their initial state after a full EMT.

The researchers were able to show that breast cancer cells that completed only individual stages of EMT had a significant effect on the formation of lung metastases in mice. When researchers eliminated these cells, this proved to inhibit the development of metastases.

Partial EMT breast cancer cells appeared to function as pioneer cells and guide other breast cancer cells in collective cell migration.In contrast, breast cancer cell Those who underwent full EMT were rarely found in metastases, and their removal had no significant effect on metastases.

Both EMT types promote resistance to treatment

Both types of breast cancer cells contribute to the development of resistance to treatment, whether transformation is complete or partial.The result is the various stages of EMT and the resulting cellular plasticity. cancer cell It plays an important role in the formation of metastases and resistance to treatment.

These experiments highlight the great potential for inhibiting EMT in developing new therapeutic approaches to cancer metastasis and resistance to treatment.

The study was published in Developing cells..

Target breast cancer that metastasizes to the brain

For more information:
Fabiana Lüönd et al., Clear contribution of partial and complete EMT to malignancies of breast cancer, Developing cells (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.devcel.2021.11.006

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Cancer cells may promote metastasis and resistance to treatment, depending on their condition

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