8th Annual Symposium
Physics of Cancer
October 4-6, 2017
|PoC - Physics of Cancer - Annual Symposium|
Hybrid epithelial/mesenchymal phenotype (E/M) – a ‘metastatic sweet spot’
Rice University, 1080 B, Bioscience Research Collaborative (BRC), 6500 Main St. Houston, TX 77030, USA
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Metastases claim more than 90% of cancer-related patient deaths and are usually seeded by a subset of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) shed off from the primary tumor. In circulation, CTCs are found both as single cells and as clusters of cells. The clusters of CTCs, although many fewer in number, possess much higher metastatic potential as compared to that of individual CTCs. This talk will highlight insights gained via an integrated theoretical-experimental framework into molecular mechanisms that can enable the formation of these clusters - (a) hybrid E/M (epithelial/ mesenchymal) phenotype of cells that couples their ability to migrate and adhere, and (b) intercellular communication that can spatially coordinate the cluster formation and provide survival signals to cancer cells. Building upon these molecular mechanisms, we also offer a possible mechanistic understanding of why clusters are endowed with a higher metastatic potential. Finally, we discuss the highly aggressive Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) as an example of a carcinoma that metastasizes via clusters and corroborates the proposed molecular mechanisms.