Lung cancer is one of the most common fatal diseases in the developed world. The disease is rarely cured by currently available therapies, with an overall survival rate of ∼10%. Characterizing novel proteins that offer crucial insights into the processes of lung tumour invasion and metastasis may therefore provide much-needed prognostic markers, and influence therapeutic strategies. Aberrant function of the integrin family of heterodimeric cell surface receptors is a common theme in cancer--investigation into novel integrin activity regulators may offer crucial insights into the processes of tumour invasion and metastasis and may reveal insights into potential therapeutic targets. We previously described that depletion of the novel multi-transmembrane domain protein Fam38A, located at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), inactivates endogenous beta1 integrin affinity, reducing cell adhesion. We now show that depletion of Fam38A, also now known as Piezo1, causes anchorage independence and a switch to a reduced integrin-dependent mode of cell migration/invasion, a novel phenotype for this integrin-regulating protein. Normal lung epithelial cells show increased rates of migration by 2D time-lapse microscopy and increased capacity to invade into matrigel, despite having decreased integrin affinity. We confirm greatly depleted Fam38A expression in small cell lung cancer (SCLC) lines where a form of reduced integrin-dependent migration, i.e. amoeboid migration, is a known phenotype. We propose that loss of Fam38A expression may cause increased cell migration and metastasis in lung tumours.
McHugh, B. J., Murdoch, A., Haslett, C., & Sethi, T. (2012). Loss of the integrin-activating transmembrane protein Fam38A (Piezo1) promotes a switch to a reduced integrin-dependent mode of cell migration. PLoS ONE, 7(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0040346