Even if you’re sitting very still, some of your cells might be on the move, especially if your body is fighting an infection or healing a wound. Cells do this by rearranging their cytoskeletons, the framework that gives cells their shape. The problem is when cancer cells move – damaging an entire organ or metastasizing to distant sites in the body.Two protein networks make up the cytoskeleton and allow for cellular movement – actin and microtubules. Actin is the major driver, while microtubules play a secondary role as navigator. However, a recent study led by Dr. Robert Margolis challenges that accepted dogma. He and his team found that glioblastoma cells, a type of brain cancer, are the exception to the rule. To Dr. Margolis’ surprise, glioblastoma cell movement persists even when the actin scaffolding is completely disassembled.
“This still needs to be confirmed, but something unusual is definitely happening,” explains Dr. Margolis, professor in Sanford-Burnham’s Tumor Development Program. “This is very atypical behavior for cells.”