Cancer progression, characterized by uncontrolled proliferation and motility of cells, is a complex and deadly process. Integrins, a major cell surface adhesion receptor family, are transmembrane proteins known to regulate cell behaviour by transducing extracellular signals to cytoplasmic protein complexes. We and others have shown that recruitment of specific protein complexes by the cytoplasmic domains of integrins is important in tumorigenesis. Here our aim is to study three interrelated processes in cancer progression which involve integrin signalling, but which have not been elucidated earlier at all. 1) Integrins in cell division (cytokinesis). Since coordinated action of the cytoskeleton and membranes is needed both for cell division and motility, shared integrin functions can regulate both events. 2) Dynamic integrin signalosomes at the leading edge of invading cells. Spatially and temporally regulated, integrin-protein complexes at the front of infiltrating cells are likely to dictate the movement of cancer cells in tissues. 3) Transmembrane segments of integrins as scaffolds for integrin signalling. In addition to cytosolic proteins, integrins most likely interact with proteins within the membrane resulting into new signalling modalities. In this proposal we will use innovative, modern and even unconventional techniques (such as RNAi and live-cell arrays detecting integrin traffic, cell motility and multiplication, laser-microdissection, proteomics and bacterial-two-hybrid screens) to unravel these new integrin functions, for which we have preliminary evidence. Each project will give fundamentally novel mechanistic insight into the role of integrins in cancer. Moreover, these interdisciplinary new openings will increase our understanding in cancer progression in general and will open new possibilities for therapeutic intervention targeting both cancer proliferation and dissemination in the body.
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