Archives for posts with tag: signal transduction

Some cancer treatments target certain proteins in cancer cells to stop the cancer cells growing, dividing and spreading. These targeted therapies have dramatically improved the outcomes of many people with cancer, including those with breast cancer.

Unfortunately, patients can develop resistance to targeted therapies and then the drugs no longer work as they should.

This is a major clinical problem for breast cancer patients, so new approaches to overcome it are desperately needed.

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Cells of the body are constantly communicating with their surroundings. This integration of cells with their local environment is mediated by proteins on the surface of cells called integrin adhesion receptors. But how these proteins precisely control normal cellular functions is not well understood. In fact, it turns out to be extremely complex.

In new work, this complexity of cellular signalling is analysed. Distilling down the deluge of data allowed us to discover a key collection of components that congregate at sites of cell adhesion. These proteins play important roles in allowing cells to sense their surroundings, move and survive. When these processes go wrong, diseases like cancer can develop.

Our work is also featured on the cover of this month’s issue of Nature Cell Biology, with an image by Ed Horton showing all the proteins we analysed. See if you can spot your favourite adhesion protein!

Nature Cell Biology cover, 2015, vol. 17 (no. 12) // Image by Ed Horton

Nature Cell Biology cover, 2015, vol. 17 (no. 12)

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When cells adhere to and interact with their surroundings in tissues, they generate and transmit molecular signals that control how the cells behave, such as whether they move, grow or divide. Molecules that carry these signals are often modified temporarily to switch the signals on or off. One important type of biochemical modification is phosphorylation, which plays a role in many cell signalling processes, including cell adhesion.

Adhesion signalling molecules activated by phosphorylation // Image by Adam Byron

Adhesion signalling molecules activated by phosphorylation

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Targeted cancer therapies – drugs that interfere with specific molecules to block cancer growth and spread – have revolutionised the treatment of certain types of tumour. But tumour cells can become resistant to these therapies, and so patients no longer respond to the drugs.

Herceptin binding to HER2 receptors on breast cancer cells // Image by Adam Byron

Herceptin binding to HER2 receptors on breast cancer cells

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The movement of cells in the body is of great importance to our lives. For us to learn a language, to fight a cold, to heal a wound, to grow a pair (of arms, say), cells must migrate to the right place at the right time. So cell migration must be tightly controlled – throughout our entire lives.

Cells have many in-built control mechanisms that ensure their appropriate movement, but we still don’t fully understand how these various mechanisms operate.

In new work, published in the Journal of Cell Science this week, Guillaume Jacquemet and others identify a way that cells can coordinate proper cell migration. The research is highlighted by the journal editors and features on the cover of the journal.

Journal of Cell Science cover, 2013, vol. 126 (no. 18) // Image by Mark Morgan & Guillaume Jacquemet // Reproduced with permission from the authors and The Company of Biologists Ltd

Journal of Cell Science cover, 2013, vol. 126 (no. 18)

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