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Stopping the Spread

Protein called LAP1 involved in metastasis of melanoma cells making their nuclei more fluid and able to easier squeeze through gaps

17 February 2023

Stopping the Spread

"Your cancer has spread". Words no-one wants to hear. This process of cancer spreading to other parts of the body is called metastasis and accounts for most cancer-related deaths. So understanding how cancer cells break free of a dense tumour and start migrating is a high priority. Researchers have now identified a key culprit in melanoma; the most serious type of skin cancer. Migrating cancer cells were able to move through smaller spaces more easily, compared to ones confined to a tumour, by changing the shape of their nucleus (four pictured). Their nuclei become ‘more fluid’ by forming bulges of different shapes and sizes at the edges. Usually the nucleus is protected by a rigid layer called the nuclear envelope. However, a protein called LAP-1 (highlighted in magenta) helps to loosen that layer in more aggressive cancer cells allowing them to squeeze through smaller gaps enabling invasion and migration.

Written by Sophie Arthur

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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