A recent discovery of a protein pathway by Moffitt Cancer Center researchers may lead to more of an understanding of how lung cancer cells metastasize.

Scientists from Moffitt reported in the Jan. 19 online edition of Cancer Research that nicotine induces the metastatic spread of lung cancer cells by stimulating a protein called beta-arrestin-1. Activation of beta-arrestin-1 causes lung cancer cells to produce proteins associated with increased motility and invasion. These proteins cause the cells to change their shape and become more motile, allowing them to move to different sites.

The researchers wanted to further investigate the mechanisms of how beta-arrestin-1 causes cell invasion.