June 19, 2024

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Residual Cell Division Components May Be the Cause of Cancer Spread

Residual Cell Division Components May Be the Cause of Cancer Spread



Residual Cell Division Components May Be the Cause of Cancer Spread.

Previously considered cellular waste, remnants known as the “intercellular body” contain functional RNA that can influence other cells, potentially leading to cancer.

This discovery highlights their potential role in cancer proliferation and provides new avenues for cancer detection and treatment.

The role of intercellular bodies in cell signaling and stimulating cell proliferation has been studied before, but researchers aim to delve deeper into the internals of these remnants to gain more insight.

 

Residual Cell Division Components May Be the Cause of Cancer Spread

 

Once regarded as the cell’s trash can, small vesicles of cellular material known as intercellular bodies are, in fact, packaging genetic material that has the ability to alter the fate of other cells, potentially transforming them into cancer.

Ahna Skop, a genetics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explained that what surprises many is that when a cell divides (a process known as mitosis), the outcome isn’t just two daughter cells.

“When a cell divides, it splits into three parts: two cells and an intercellular body, a novel signaling organelle,” Skop stated. “What astonishes us is that the intercellular body is packed with genetic information, RNA. It doesn’t have much to do with cell division, but it might play a role in cell communication.”

In a recent study published in “iScience,” Skop’s lab collaborated with the Pasteur Institute in Paris, Harvard Medical School, Boston University, and the University of Utah to analyze the contents of intercellular bodies, which form between daughter cells during the process of cell division. They tracked the interactions of intercellular body remnants released after cell division. Their findings suggest that these intercellular bodies serve as carriers for the spread of cancer throughout the body.

“People used to think that intercellular bodies were where cells go to die or get recycled,” Skop said. “But one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Intercellular bodies are a tiny package of information that cells use to communicate.”

The role of intercellular bodies in cell signaling and stimulating cell proliferation has been studied before, but Skop and her collaborators aim to gain a deeper understanding of the internals of these remnants.

Researchers found RNA within intercellular bodies, which are essential for translating RNA into proteins, the working copies of DNA responsible for making things happen within cells. The RNA in intercellular bodies often isn’t a blueprint for the cell division process but instead serves as a blueprint for activities that guide cell functions, including pluripotency (the ability to develop into many different cell types within the body) and tumorigenesis (the formation of cancerous tumors).

“Intercellular bodies are incredibly small. They’re about one micrometer, a millionth of a meter,” Skop explained. “But they’re like a small lunar lander. They have everything needed to sustain the work of dividing cells. They can move away from the mitotic site, enter your bloodstream, and land on another cell far away.”

While many intercellular bodies are reabsorbed by one of the daughter cells that splits off, those that land on distant surfaces, like lunar landers, may be engulfed by a third cell. If this cell ingests an intercellular body, it may erroneously start using the enclosed RNA as if it were its own blueprint.

Prior research suggests that cancer cells are more likely to ingest intercellular bodies and their potentially fate-altering contents than stem cells. Stem cells have the ability to generate new cells and are highly valued for their pluripotency. They release numerous intercellular bodies, possibly to maintain their pluripotency.

Future research may harness the power of intercellular body RNA to deliver drugs to cancer cells or inhibit their proliferation.

“We believe our findings represent a significant target for cancer detection and treatment,” Skop said, with support from the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers have identified a gene called Arc, which is crucial for loading RNA into intercellular bodies and their remnants. Arc was extracted from an ancient virus and plays a significant role in the formation of memories in brain cells.

“Loss of Arc results in the loss of RNA in intercellular bodies and the loss of RNA information reaching recipient cells,” Skop explained. “We believe this memory gene is essential for transmitting RNA information in all cells.”

Sungjin Park, a senior scientist in Skop’s lab, is the lead author of this new study. Skop and her collaborators are also applying for patents on two new methods that can make it easier to isolate intercellular body structures from cellular media or serum, thereby improving cancer diagnostics.

 

 

 

Residual Cell Division Components May Be the Cause of Cancer Spread

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