Eric M. Balzer

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Solid tumor metastasis often involves detachment of epithelial carcinoma cells into the vasculature or lymphatics. However, most studies of cytoskeletal rearrangement in solid tumors focus on attached cells. In this study, we report for the first time that human breast tumor cells produce unique tubulin-based protrusions when detached from extracellular(More)
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is associated with increased breast tumor metastasis; however, the specific mechanisms by which EMT promotes metastasis remain somewhat unclear. Despite the importance of cytoskeletal dynamics during both EMT and metastasis, very few current studies examine the cytoskeleton of detached and circulating tumor cells.(More)
During metastasis, invading cells produce various actin-based membrane protrusions that promote directional migration and proteolysis of extracellular matrix (ECM). Observations of actin staining within thin, tubulin-based microtentacle (McTN) protrusions in suspended MDA-MB-231 tumor cells, prompted an investigation of whether McTNs are structural or(More)
Detection of circulating tumor cells (CTC) is advancing as an effective predictor of patient outcome and therapeutic response. Unfortunately, our knowledge of CTC biology remains limited, and the impact of drug treatments on CTC metastatic potential is currently unclear. Improved CTC imaging in vivo and analysis of free-floating tumor cells now show that(More)
Selectins promote metastasis by mediating specific interactions between selectin ligands on tumor cells and selectin-expressing host cells in the microvasculature. Using affinity chromatography in conjunction with tandem mass spectrometry and bioinformatics tools, we identified mucin 16 (MUC16) as a novel selectin ligand expressed by metastatic pancreatic(More)
Cell migration on planar surfaces is driven by cycles of actin protrusion, integrin-mediated adhesion, and myosin-mediated contraction; however, this mechanism may not accurately describe movement in 3-dimensional (3D) space. By subjecting cells to restrictive 3D environments, we demonstrate that physical confinement constitutes a biophysical stimulus that(More)
Loss of PTEN tumor suppressor enhances metastatic risk in breast cancer, although the underlying mechanisms are poorly defined. We report that homozygous deletion of PTEN in mammary epithelial cells induces tubulin-based microtentacles (McTNs) that facilitate cell reattachment and homotypic aggregation. Treatment with contractility-modulating drugs showed(More)
The cytoskeletal organization of detached and circulating tumor cells (CTCs) is currently not well defined and may provide potential targets for new therapies to limit metastatic tumor spread. In vivo, CTCs reattach in distant tissues by a mechanism that is tubulin-dependent and suppressed by polymerized actin. The cytoskeletal mechanisms that promote(More)
The molecular mechanism(s) linking tumorigenesis and morphological alterations in the nucleolus are presently coming into focus. The nucleolus is the cellular organelle in which the formation of ribosomal subunits occurs. Ribosomal biogenesis occurs through the transcription of ribosomal RNA (rRNA), rRNA processing and production of ribosomal proteins. An(More)
The centrosome is the major organelle responsible for the nucleation and organization of microtubules into arrays. Recent studies demonstrate that microtubules can nucleate outside the centrosome. The molecular mechanisms controlling acentrosomal microtubule nucleation are currently poorly defined, and the function of this type of microtubule regulation in(More)