Enhanced blebbing as a marker for metastatic prostate cancer

Zeina S. Khan, Julianna M. Santos, Neil G. Vaz, Fazle Hussain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Highly metastatic prostate cancer cells flowing through a microfluidic channel form plasma membrane blebs: they form 27% more than normal cells and have a lower stiffness (about 50%). Hypo-osmotic stress assays (with ∼ 50 % osmolarity) show 22% more blebbing of highly metastatic than moderately metastatic and 30% more than normal cells. Plasma membrane blebbing is known to provide important metastatic capabilities to cancer cells by aiding cell detachment from the primary tumor site and increasing cell deformability to promote cell migration through the extracellular matrix. Increased blebbing was attributed by others to decreased phosphorylated ezrin, radixin, and moesin (ERM) (p-ERM) protein expression - p-ERMs bind the plasma membrane to the actin cortex and reduced p-ERM expression can weaken membrane-cortex attachment. Myosin II also influences blebbing as myosin's natural contraction generates tension in the actin cortex. This increases cellular hydrostatic pressure, causes cortex rupture, cytoplasm flow out of the cortex, and hence blebbing. Highly metastatic cells are surprisingly found to express similar ezrin and myosin II levels but higher moesin levels in comparison with lowly metastatic or normal cells - suggesting that their levels, contrary to the literature [G. Charras and E. Paluch, Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 9(9), 730-736 (2008); J.-Y. Tinevez, U. Schulze, G. Salbreux, J. Roensch, J.-F. Joanny, and E. Paluch, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 106(44), 18581-18586 (2009); M. Bergert, S. D. Chandradoss, R. A. Desai, and E. Paluch, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109(36), 14434-14439 (2012); E. K. Paluch and E. Raz: Curr. Opin. Cell Biol. 25(5), 582-590 (2013)], are not important in metastatic prostate cell blebbing. Our results show that reduced F-actin is primarily responsible for increased blebbing in these metastatic cells. Blebbing can thus serve as a simple prognostic marker for the highly incident and lethal metastatic prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034110
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Genetics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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