Mechanical forces and architecture may not sound very “bio”, but they are key tools of epidermal stem cells. These stem cells essentially engineer their environment by producing both the cells above them (the skin cells) and the extracellular matrix mesh (the basement membrane) that they sit on. In this episode we explore whether, when these stem cells acquire oncogenic mutations (the ones that cause cancer), do they now architect in a different way, and does this influence the development of cancer?
Host Lauren Richardson and Professor Elaine Fuchs of Rockefeller University discuss her lab’s recent Nature article “Mechanics of a multilayer epithelium instruct tumour architecture and function“. The article investigates the differences in mechanical forces and tissue architecture in two distinct types of skin cancer: one that tends to be begin and non-invasive and one that tends to be aggressive and metastatic. The conversation covers how computational modeling played a critical role in uncovering new sources of forces and how changes in architecture influence invasive properties.