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Cancer Sci. 2008 Nov;99(11):2252-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2008.00927.x. Epub 2008 Sep 15.

WAVE2- and microtubule-dependent formation of long protrusions and invasion of cancer cells cultured on three-dimensional extracellular matrices.

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Molecular Cell Biology Division, Kanagawa Cancer Center Research Institute, Yokohama, Japan.


Invadopodia, small protrusions formed at ventral membranes of several types of invasive cancer cells upon contact with the extracellular matrix (ECM), are implicated in cell invasion; however, the relationship between invadopodia formation and cell invasion through the ECM is still unknown. To correlate the formation of membrane protrusions and cell invasion, a three-dimensional (3-D) gel culture system with native collagen type-I matrix overlaid with a thin basement membrane equivalent (Matrigel) was made. Human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 formed long protrusions in addition to small protrusions reminiscent of invadopodia and migrated into the collagen layer. Comparative analyses with other cancer cell lines indicate that cellular ability to form long protrusions, but not small protrusions or invadopodia, correlates with cellular invasiveness in the 3-D culture. Some of the long protrusions in MDA-MB-231 cells appeared to extend from the adherence membrane, implying that they are derived from small protrusions. The formation of long protrusions and invasion, as well as the formation of invadopodia, required WAVE2 in MDA-MB-231 cells. Accumulation of tubulin was observed in long protrusions but not in invadopodia. Correspondingly, a microtubule-stabilizing agent, paclitaxel, suppressed the formation of long protrusions and invasion, but not the formation of invadopodia, in MDA-MB-231 cells. These results suggest that long protrusions formed in a WAVE2- and microtubule-dependent manner may identify the cells at the later stage of invasion, possibly after the formation of invadopodia in the 3-D cultures.

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