Breaking Through: Cancer Cells at the Basement Membrane


Submitted by Tuomas Tammela at the Koch Institute


Tuomas Tammela
Jacks Laboratory
Koch Institute at MIT

This image shows red human lung cancer cells grown in a specialized 3-dimensional gel. The cells to the right have broken through a tight protein layer termed the basement membrane (in green). The cells that broke through are flat and extend finger-like projections to invade into the surrounding gel. On the other hand, cells that are still attached to the basement membrane on the left are quiescent and more organized. Understanding how cancer cells invade surrounding tissues can lead to the discovery of drugs that suppress the formation of metastasis.