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Cancer cells get help migrating throughout the body.

Some helper cells may smooth the way for cancer cells to move, a new study suggests. Cells called cancer-associated fibroblasts arrange a normal meshwork of fibers into straight tracks, cell biologist Begum Erdogan of Vanderbilt University in Nashville and colleagues reported December 13. Fibroblasts are cells that help construct connective tissue. Erdogan and colleagues examined one type of fiber built of a protein called fibronectin.

Normal fibroblasts form a meshwork of fibronectin that helps support cells. But Erdogan and colleagues found that fibroblasts associated with prostate cancer could either lay straight new fibronectin tracks or grab and pull snarled networks into straightaways that cancer cells could then move along. Such tracks may help cancer spread throughout the body.

Compared with normal fibroblasts, cancer-associated fibroblasts pull harder on connective fibers, thanks partly to increased activity of a motor protein called myosin 11. Extra doses of a protein called alpha5beta1 integrin may also give the cancer-associated fibroblasts extra handholds on fibers.

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Title Annotation:MEETING NOTES
Author:Saey, Tina Hesman
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 9, 2016
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