FSU Study Examines Cell Polarity

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Oncologist Dale Wickstrum says much of what causes abnormal, even typical cell growth, remains a mystery.

"In the growth that we see of cells, there are a lot of controls. There are a lot of different things that tell a cell to grow in a certain fashion. Each one of those is coded by a little protein. It's part of this instruction manual that is embedded in the genes," said Wickstrum.

FSU researchers are digging deeper into the mystery of cell growth. They're studying fruit flies to understand how cells become polarized.

Cell polarization is what gives organisms a certain look, shape and function.

"Sometime, when they don't polarize properly, they receive signals and they don't know how to respond. They actually end up become cancerous cells. In other cases, they simply can't perform their jobs like they were meant to," said FSU researcher John Poulton.

"We can look at the polarity and see how those molecules become localized and can actually trace back and see what kinds of cellular events, molecular events led to this polarity,” said researcher Wu-Min Deng.

The focus of the research is on the communication of cells and how it regulates their polarity. This study could lead to answers of how muscular dystrophy and some cancers are developed in humans.