A recent study led by researchers at Penn State has shed light on the process of cancer cell invasion and identified a potential target for therapy. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study reveals how cancer cells coordinate and collaborate during invasion and identifies a molecular marker for leader cells, which play a crucial role in the dissemination of cancer cells.
Using cancer cells derived from patients with muscle invasive bladder cancer, the researchers developed a nanobiosensor to track long noncoding RNA (lncRNA), a type of genetic material that regulates gene expression. The sensor allowed them to monitor the distribution of specific lncRNA molecules in individual cells during collective cancer invasion. They discovered that a particular lncRNA called MALAT1 was highly present in leader cells, which are responsible for coordinating the invasion process.
Importantly, the study found that reducing the expression of MALAT1 prevented the formation of leader cells and inhibited cancer cell invasion. This suggests that MALAT1 plays a critical role in regulating leader cells during collective cancer invasion.
The research team aims to further investigate the mechanisms underlying the function of MALAT1 in leader cells. Their ultimate goal is to develop a prognostic tool that can guide treatment decisions. By understanding the characteristics and functions of leader cells, clinicians may be able to identify aggressive disease and predict patient outcomes more accurately. This knowledge could inform the development of novel prognostic and therapeutic approaches for bladder and other types of cancer.
Source: Pennsylvania State University