Researchers discover a rotational motion of cells that may have implications for future breast cancer research

Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have made a discovery that may have important implications for future breast cancer research. These findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to the research team led by Dr. Mina Bissell, human epithelial cells in the breast and other glandular tissues have a rotational motion, which they call “CAMo” (for coherent angular motion) that plays a critical role in their ability to form spherical structures or tube-shaped ducts. In the mammary gland, these spherical structures are known as acini. Without CAMo, the cells do not form spheres, which leads to loss of structure, inability to make and secrete milk, random motion, and malignancy.

Bissell and colleagues worked with epithelial cells from either reduction mammoplasty or nonmalignant breast cell lines. The cells were cultured in a 3D gel that served as a makeshift basement membrane. They used 4D live-imaging confocal microscopy and found that CAMo arises from a centripetal force generated by the flexing of molecules called actomyosin in the cell’s cytoskeleton. “In addition to wanting to know how a single cell and its progeny assemble into polar tissue, we also wanted to know whether cellular dynamics are corrupted by malignant transformation,” Bissell says. “In this study, we found that malignant cells do not display CAMo but instead become randomly motile and do not form spheres.”

According to the research team, the next step will be to study the effects of CAMo from the perspective of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and “look at the interaction of the ECM with a single cell as it undergoes CAMo and shows the in vivo relevance.” Read more about the study here.

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