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Cells keep together for protection

Cell-to-cell contacts are necessary for the survival of human cells under protein-damaging conditions and stress.

This was a conclusion reached by a research team from Åbo Akademi University, who said they were surprised by the findings, because the molecules they studied are usually linked with other cellular functions.

Lea Sistonen, Professor in Cell and Molecular Biology, said: “Our results show, for the first time, that the contacts between cells, known as cell adhesion, are essential for cells to survive stress.

“The findings also suggest that impaired cell adhesion may sensitise cancer cells to drugs that damage cell proteins and cause stress.”

The research project focused on heat shock factor 2 (HSF2), a specialised gene-regulating protein, and its impact on cells’ capacity to survive protein-damaging stress.

Protein-damaging stress is caused by, for example, high temperatures, virus infections and certain anti-cancer medications.

The results showed that HSF2 contributes to protecting cells against stress by regulating those genes that mediate cell adhesion contacts.

Image credit | Shutterstock

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