Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Protein called T-plastin bridges gaps between cells as migrating cells cross them

09 November 2020

Gap Hazard

When cells travel or migrate, they must journey through an extra-cellular environment of rough and smooth regions littered with microscopic chasms that are challenging to cross. This human cell, highlighted with a yellow fluorescent protein, is stretching out across a series of gaps – a bit like stepping stones, although 100,000 times smaller. The cell uses bundles of actin filaments to poke its membrane towards the other side – these protrusions, known as lamellipodia, latch on to fibronectin proteins (purple) and pull across. Researchers found T-plastin, a protein which helps to bundle actin together, is essential to bridging these gaps – offering an important target for drugs helping migrating cells to heal wounds, or blocking cancer cells from invading healthy tissues.

Written by John Ankers

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