ASCB 2013 PressBook - page 6

T H E A M E R I C A N S O C I E T Y F O R C E L L B I O L O G Y
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6
News from
The American Society
for Cell Biology
53rd Annual Meeting
New Orleans, LA
December 14–18, 2013
Cancer co-opts another
would-be defender
EMBARGOED
FOR RELEASE
10:00 am, U.S. Central Time
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Spontaneous fusion with macrophages
gives new powers to cancer cells
A
s we have learned more about the
biology of cancer, it has become
obvious that, aside from changes to
the cancer genome, there are many other
factors that determine tumor outcomes.
Epigenetics, influences from the microen-
vironment, exosomes, and interplay with
the immune system are now all recognized
major players in cancer progression. Fresh
evidence from Alain Silk, MelissaWong,
and colleagues at Oregon Health & Science
University (OHSU) in Portland implicates
a century-old observation—fusion of cancer
cells with macrophages—as a new potentia-
tor of cancer progression.
The researchers followed the work of
German pathologist Otto Aichel, who sug-
gested in 1911 that a cancer cell under attack
by a white blood cell might spontaneously
fuse with that cell to produce a hybrid cell
with chromosomal abnormalities that could
lead to cancer. Aichel’s theory was largely
dismissed by his contemporaries, but recent
discoveries about the broader role of cell
fusion in tissue homeostasis and regenera-
tion have revived interest in his ideas. Today
there is strong evidence of fusion between
cancer and normal cells in human cancer,
but it has not been apparent whether cell
fusion events could be giving cancer cells a
selective advantage and enhancing cancer
progression.
As cancer progresses, tumor cells must
acquire new capabilities, or phenotypes.
They must start to grow in an uncontrolled
manner, then be able to leave their site of
origin, and then later become resistant to
anti-cancer drugs. Many new cancer cell
phenotypes arise from changes to the cancer
genome that accumulate over time, but this
new work suggests that spontaneous fusion
of cancer cells with macrophages, white
blood cells normally associated with defend-
ing the body, can also deliver significant new
advantages to tumorigenic cells.
The OHSU researchers began by con-
firming that cells from various types of
cancer could readily and spontaneously
fuse with macrophages. Then, by intensively
studying the fusion-derived cancer cells, the
researchers were able to identify their new
behaviors. They found that fusion-derived
cancer cells exhibited enhanced adhesive
Fresh evidence from researchers at Oregon Health &
Science University implicates a century-old observa-
tion—fusion of cancer cells with macrophages—as a
new potentiator of cancer progression. They found that
fusion-derived cancer cells exhibited enhanced adhesive
strength, formed tumors more rapidly than unfused
cancer cells, and flourished under conditions that
dramatically inhibited growth of unfused cells.
strength, formed tumors more rapidly than
unfused cancer cells, and flourished un-
der conditions that dramatically inhibited
growth of unfused cells.
“Overall, our findings demonstrate
that spontaneous fusion of cancer cells
with macrophages can profoundly and sig-
nificantly impact the phenotype of tumori-
genic cells, with implications for our basic
understanding of cancer cell biology and
the process of tumor evolution,” Silk and
colleagues conclude.
Instrumentation used in this work was
supported by grant number S10-RR023432
from the NIH National Center for Research
Resources. Research funds came from the NIH
National Cancer Institute under award numbers
T32CA106195 and U54CA112970 and from the
NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
under award number T32HL007781. Support
was also provided by the NIH under award
number R01CA118235 to M.H.W.
Contact
Alain Silk
Oregon Health & Science University
3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road
5582 Richard Jones Hall
Portland, OR 97239
(503) 494-8953
Author Presents
Sunday, December 15, 2013
12:00 PM−1:30 PM
Tumor Microenvironment
Presentation 914
Poster B1518
Exhibit Halls B-D
Sunday, December 15, 2013
1:30−3:00 PM
Cancer Cell Biology and Tumor
Microenvironment
ePoster Talk
Presentation 9
Room 231
Thread: Medicine
Spontaneous fusion with
macrophages alters cancer
cell phenotypes
A. D. Silk
1
, S. Watson
2
, A. Agarwal
3
,
K. H. Perrone
1
, Y. Su
4
, K. A. Michaelis
1
,
T. G. Levin
2
, J. Rantala
2
, B. J. Druker
3,5
,
J. Korkola
2
, J. W. Gray
2
, M. H. Wong
1
1
Cell and Developmental Biology,
Oregon Health & Science University,
Portland, OR
2
Biomedical Engineering, Oregon
Health & Science University,
Portland, OR
3
Hematology and Medical Oncology,
Oregon Health & Science University,
Portland, OR
4
Program in Cancer Biology, Oregon
Health & Science University,
Portland, OR
5
Howard Hughes Medical Institute,
Portland, OR
I,II,1,2,3,4,5 7,8,9,10,11,12,13
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