Studying the motility machinery of cells
What molecular mechanisms make it possible for cells to move? That is one of the main questions in the research of Staffan Strömblad and his group. Cell motility is an important factor in cancer and studying the underlying mechanisms can give new insights into how cancer is spread in the body and hopefully ideas for novel treatment strategies.
Staffan Strömblad and his colleagues also engage in developing new scientific tools to make it possible to analyze living cells from different aspects to follow them in time and space.
Cell motility is a key factor behind cancer cells' ability to escape from the primary tumour, reach distant locations in the body and invade tissues there.
"Given that metastasis accounts for more than 90 percent of all cancer mortality, there are good reasons to study cell motility," says Staffan Strömblad, Professor at the Department for Biosciences and Nutrition.
Staffan Strömblad's group has for a long time been studying a group of molecules called integrins on the cell surface. Integrins join the cell with the extracellular matrix. As parts of different signaling pathways or via direct interaction with proteins, integrins are involved in many essential cellular functions. Now the researchers go deeper into investigating integrin-mediated protein complexes important for motility.
Results from Staffan Strömblad's group are used in development of new cancer drugs. One example is the ongoing work aimed to create a drug targeted at a molecule called PAK4. Another example is a project where Staffan Strömblad has contributed to the research on a substance that can activate the tumour suppressor gene p53.
"It is rewarding to see that our research can lead to results potentially helping cancer patients, and I feel an obligation to contribute to that whenever possible. However, I do not think that researchers such as us should think too much about future medical applications. We should focus on what we do best and that is curiosity driven basic research!" says Staffan Strömblad.
Staffan Strömblad and his co-workers are also interested in generating new scientific tools. They are active in an international community of researchers working to develop a new strategy, "Systems Microscopy", which makes it possible to study dynamic cellular processes in time and space in a quantitative manner. The idea is to combine a spectrum of methods, such as automated fluorescence microscopy, quantitative image analysis, statistics and computer modeling. Staffan Strömblad is also the coordinator of the EU Network of Excellence "Systems Microscopy".
Interview by: Helene Wallskär
- Jan Peter Axelsson, Ph.D., Researcher
- Tania Côsta, Ph.D. student
- Sara Göransson, Ph.D. student
- Xiaowei Gong, Ph.D., Post-doctoral fellow
- Mehrdad Jafari Mamaghani, Ph.D. student
- Ammad Khan, Ph.D. student
- Zhilun Li, MD, Ph.D., Post-doctoral fellow
- John Lock, Ph.D., Post-doctoral fellow
- Helene Olofsson, M.Sc. Laboratory manager
- Andrew Paterson, Ph.D., Post-doctoral fellow
- Staffan Strömblad, Ph.D., Professor, Principal investigator
- Hamdah Shafqat Abbasi, Ph.D. student
- Miao Zhao, Ph.D. student
- Ting Zhuang, Ph.D. student
PRIMA-1Met/APR-246 induces wild-type p53-dependent suppression of malignant melanoma tumor growth in 3D culture and in vivo
Cell Cycle, 10, 301-307 (2011)
PtdIns(3,4,5)P3 is a regulator of Myosin-X localization and filopodia formation
J Cell Sci., 123, 3525-3534 (2010)
Wrap53 is essential for Cajal body formation and for targeting the SMN complex to Cajal bodies.
PLoS Biol., 8, e1000521 (2010)
p21-activated kinase 4 regulates c-Src, ERK1/2 and MMP2 and contributes to ovarian cancer progression and prognosis
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 107, 18622-18627 (2010)
Integrin-mediated Cell Attachment Induces a PAK4-dependent Feedback Loop Regulating Cell Adhesion through Modified Integrin ±v²5 Clustering and Turnover
Mol Biol Cell. 2010 October 1; 21(19): 3317-3329
Systems microscopy: An emerging strategy for the life sciences
Exp Cell Res. 2010 May 1;316(8):1438-44
The kinase domain of p21-activated kinase 1 (PAK1) inhibits cell cycle progression independent of PAK1 kinase activity
Oncogene 26, 1820-1828 (2007)
Oncogenic H-Ras V12 promotes anchorage-independent cytokinesis
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 104, 20338-20343 (2007)
Myosin-X provides a motor-based link between integrins and the cytoskeleton.
Nature Cell Biol. 6, 523-531 (2004).
Retinoblastoma susceptibility gene product (pRb) and p107 functionally separate the requirements for serum and anchorage in the cell cycle G1-phase.
J. Biol. Chem. 279, 13640-13644 (2004).
Integrin av-mediated inactivation of p53 controls a MEK-1-dependent melanoma cell survival pathway in three-dimensional collagen.
J. Cell Biol. 167, 745-756 (2004).