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Stability of membranous nanostructures: a possible key mechanism in cancer progression

Authors Kralj-Iglic V

Received 28 December 2011

Accepted for publication 22 February 2012

Published 12 July 2012 Volume 2012:7 Pages 3579—3596


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Veronika Kralj-Iglic

Biomedical Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Zdravstvena 5, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Abstract: Membranous nanostructures, such as nanovesicles and nanotubules, are an important pool of biological membranes. Recent results indicate that they constitute cell-cell communication systems and that cancer development is influenced by these systems. Nanovesicles that are pinched off from cancer cells can move within the circulation and interact with distant cells. It has been suggested and indicated by experimental evidence that nanovesicles can induce metastases from the primary tumor in this way. Therefore, it is of importance to understand better the mechanisms of membrane budding and vesiculation. Here, a theoretical description is presented concerning consistently related lateral membrane composition, orientational ordering of membrane constituents, and a stable shape of nanovesicles and nanotubules. It is shown that the character of stable nanostructures reflects the composition of the membrane and the intrinsic shape of its constituents. An extension of the fluid mosaic model of biological membranes is suggested by taking into account curvature-mediated orientational ordering of the membrane constituents on strongly anisotropically curved regions. Based on experimental data for artificial membranes, a possible antimetastatic effect of plasma constituents via mediation of attractive interaction between membranous structures is suggested. This mediated attractive interaction hypothetically suppresses nanovesiculation by causing adhesion of buds to the mother membrane and preventing them from being pinched off from the membrane.

Keywords: nanovesicles, nanotubules, nanotubes, microvesicles, exosomes, metastasis

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