Chromosomal Instability in Cancer Cells Causes DNA Damage and Promotes Invasiveness Through Caspase Activity

In cells with high levels of chromosomal instability (in red), activation of the apoptotic caspases (in green) plays a fundamental role in tissue invasiveness. (Credit: Dr. Mariana Muzzopappa, IRB Barcelona).

Chromosomal instability is a phenomenon characterized by rapid changes in the number and structure of chromosomes during cell division. It is very common in solid tumors and it is linked to the aggressive spread of cancer, that is to say, metastasis. Given that metastasis causes 90% of cancer-related deaths, it is vital to unravel the details of this process. Scientists from IRB Barcelona´s Development and Growth Control Laboratory, ​​led by ICREA researcher Dr. Marco Milan, have revealed how DNA damage caused by chromosomal instability increases the invasiveness of cancer cells. The research details how such instability activates a signaling pathway known as JAK/STAT and promotes caspase activity, which in turn causes DNA injury. This damage allows cells to escape from the primary tumor, thereby leading to metastasis.

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