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Keep Moving

Protein called ERK3 plays a key role in formation of cell protrusions and cell migration – insights for development and cancer

02 July 2023

Keep Moving

Our bodies were made to move. Every cell and molecule dances to a single beat in a carefully choreographed routine. Keeping that movement in perfect sync requires constant regulation. Missteps can cause disease, so researchers examined one key choreographer, a protein called ERK3. ERK3 helps control the actin cytoskeleton, which gives cells the structure and strength they need to move. In experiments with ERK3 depleted, cells were unable to develop key structures essential to movement like lamellipodia (top protrusions in the human cell pictured) and filopodia (protrusions towards the bottom left). These forms are usually produced when ERK3 gives the nod to molecules called RAC1 and CDC42. Without this activation cell movement was impaired, and since altered cell migration is a hallmark of both cancer and developmental disorders, understanding these mechanisms could not just help explain the biology of disease, but perhaps point to new types of treatment.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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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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