Published: 24-01-2014 00:00 | Updated: 29-10-2014 10:16

Study clarifies how oncogenes increase cell stiffness

Oncogenes deregulate fundamental cellular functions, leading to the development of tumors and metastases. A recent study published in the scientific journal PNAS, by researchers at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology (MTC), Karolinska Institutet together with colleagues at The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), clarifies how oncogenes induce the stiffness and invasive capacity of transformed cells.

The research group found that oncogenes change the organization of the vimentin fibers of the intracellular cytoskeleton, induce cell stiffness and an invasive capacity of cells. They also showed that the protein HDAC6 mediates this effect on vimentin reorganization and increased cell stiffness. These findings reveal how key molecules for tumor treatment and diagnosis, such as oncogenes, HDAC6 and vimentin, can modulate cell stiffness.

"Therefore, the findings underscore the importance of investigating the mechanical properties of cells to fully understand what causes tumors and metastasis", says project leader Annica Gad at MTC.


Oncogenes induce a vimentin filament collapse mediated by HDAC6 that is linked to cell stiffness.
Rathje L, Nordgren N, Pettersson T, Rönnlund D, Widengren J, Aspenström P, et al
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2014 Jan;111(4):1515-20