November 2021

Danuser Lab takes the lead in launching the Center for Metastatic Tumor Imaging

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) at NIH funds innovative research directions in cancer biology. The Cellular Cancer Biology Imaging Research (CCBIR) is one such program that brings together diverse scientists from academic and clinical backgrounds to establish interdisciplinary Centers.

The Danuser, Fiolka, Dean and Morrison labs, together with the Amatruda Lab at CHLA and the Sorger Lab at Harvard Medical School successfully applied for one of 4 CCBIR centers.

UT Southwestern’s Center for Metastatic Tumor Imaging brings microscope engineers, cell biologists, and computational biologists together with clinicians to probe mechanisms of metastatic tumor formation in situ. Xenografts of human tumors in zebrafish and mice models are being used to elucidate cell signaling events leading to metastatic behaviors. Simultaneously, quantitative single cell imaging technology is being designed to visualize and measure the earliest events of metastatic colonization in situ. These tools are intended to drastically change the approaches used to interrogate the molecular cancer biology of metastasis. Four key research areas are being studied:

  1. Changes in inter- and intracellular signaling that affect expression of the membrane adaptor protein Caveolin-1 and change metastatic propensity of pediatric sarcomas
  2. Effects of variations in lipid metabolism on metastatic melanomas
  3. Effects of microenvironmental variation across an organism to characterize the cell-intrinsic heterogeneity leading to metastatic spreading
  4. The molecular, metabolic, morphological, and functional states of metastatic cells across entire mouse organs

In future years, the Center will be open to investigators at UT Southwestern and throughout the US for broader imaging studies of cancer cell behavior. We invite anyone interested to work with us to contact the PI, Gaudenz Danuser.

Zebrafish embryo Top panel - In-vivo light-sheet imaging over an entire Zebrafish embryo with xenografted Ewing sarcoma cells. Vasculature labeled with Fli-GFP and Ewing Sarcomas with LSSmOrange (magenta). Bottom panels - a group (left) and individual cells (right). Arrows indicate protrusions and non-apoptotic blebbing.