When tumor cells acquire the capacity to move around and invade other tissues, there is a risk of metastases and cancer treatment becomes more difficult.
At the Institut Curie, CNRS Director of Research Philippe Chavrier and his group have just discovered how breast cancer cells break the bonds that tether them to the tumor. The basement membrane around the mammary gland is a barrier to the spread of cancer cells. Three proteins in the tumor cells transport enzymes needed to perforate this barrier, and another protein puts these enzymes in the right place.
These discoveries, published in Cell Biology and Current Biology, shed light on the early mechanisms of the formation of metastases in certain breast cancers. These findings constitute an essential step in the quest for the early identification of highly invasive tumors, or even the blocking of formation of metastases.