Research from Adam Marcus’ and Mala Shanmugam’s labs was published Tuesday in Nature Communications – months after we wrote an article for Winship Cancer Institute’s magazine about it. So here it is again!
At your last visit to the dentist, you may have been given a mouth rinse with the antiseptic chlorhexidine. Available over the counter, chlorhexidine is also washed over the skin to prepare someone for surgery. Winship researchers are now looking at chlorhexidine and its chemical relative alexidine for another purpose: stopping cancer metastasis.
While the researchers don’t envision using chlorhexidine mouthwash as an anti-cancer measure directly, their findings suggest ways to combine other drugs, already in clinical trials, in ways that could deplete the cells needed for metastasis.
When used as an antiseptic, chlorhexidine is basically a detergent that blasts bacteria apart, scientists think. As leads for potential anti-cancer agents, chlorhexidine and its relatives appear to have a different effect. They interfere with mitochondria, the miniature power plants in our cells. Cancer cells trying to metastasize and invade other tissues seem to need their mitochondria more—especially the cells that are leading the way. Read more
Cancer biologists Jessica Konen and Scott Wilkinson,Â in Adam Marcus’ lab, recently published a paper on the function of LKB1, a gene that is often mutated in lung cancer cells. [Number three behind K-ras and p53.]
Mesenchymal shape is defined as having a length more than twice the width. Amoeboid looks more like the cell on the right: rounded up. Thanks to Jessica Konen for photo.
Konen and Marcus were featured in a prize-winning video that our team produced last year, which discusses how they developed a technique for isolatingÂ “leader cells”Â — lung cancer cells that migrate and invade more quickly — from a large groupÂ and studying those cells’ properties more intensively.
TheÂ Molecular Biology of the Cell paper covers a related topic: how LKB1 mutation affects cell shape. In particular, losing LKB1 converts lung cancer cells from a “mesenchymal” morphology to an “amoeboid” morphology.Â Read more
Earlier today, weÂ posted a notice on Eurekalert for a Sunday, December 13 presentation by graduate student Jessica Konen at theÂ American Society for Cell Biology meeting in San Diego.
Her research, performed with Adam Marcus at Winship Cancer Institute, was the topic of a video that recently won first prize in a contest sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges. ThisÂ was our video team’s first use of theÂ “fast hand on whiteboard” effect, and a lot of fun to make. The video’s strength growsÂ out of the footageÂ Konen and Marcus have of cancer cells migrating in culture. Check it out, if you haven’t already.
PosterÂ presentations at the 2015 ASCB meeting can be found by searching this PDF. A few Emory-centric highlights:
*Chelsey Ruppersburg and Criss Hartzell’s work on the “nimbus”, a torus-shaped structure enriched in proteins needed to build the cell’s primary cilium
*Anita CorbettÂ on how Emory students have a strong record of attaining their own NIH research funding
*Additional work by Adam Marcus’ lab on the tumor suppressor gene LKB1 and how its loss drives lung cancer cells to take on a “unique amoeboid morphology”
*Research from David Katz’s lab on the “epigenetic eraser” LSD1 (lysine-specific demethylase) and its function in neurons and neurodegeneration Read more
This image submitted by Thalita Abrahao won second place at the Postdoctoral Research Symposium Thursday. Abrahao, a postdoc in Kathy Griendlingâ€™s lab, is studying vesicle trafficking in vascular smooth muscle cells.
Thalita Abrahao — Kathy Griendling lab
Griendlingâ€™s lab has been looking into how the enzyme Nox4 and its partner Poldip2 are involved in cell migration, and Abrahao was investigating if vascular smooth muscle cells that have less Poldip2 have changes in protein processing.
Here, green represents beta-tubulin, a protein making up fine-looking fibers (microtubules) extending through the cell. Purple represents Sec23, part of the process of vesicle trafficking and protein secretion. White indicates when beta-tubulin and Sec23 are both present. Orange marks DNA in the nucleus.
For your viewing pleasure, we have two videos, courtesy of Winship Cancer Institute’s Adam Marcus.Â He and his colleagues are investigating whether Withania somnifera, a root used in Indian traditional medicine,Â could be a source for drugsÂ that inhibit breast cancer invasion and metastasis.Â Metastasis occurs when cells from a primary tumor migrate to a new location and invade the tissues at the new location.
The first video, the blob that grows, shows MCF10a mammary Ray Ban outlet epithelial cells undergoing epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in response to TGF-beta. This is a laboratory model for understanding breast cancer invasion and metastasis.
The second shows what happens when the same cells are treated with an extract from Withania somnifera. The blob doesn’t expand in such a threatening way anymore!Â The results were recently published in PLOS One.