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      Every step of the way: integrins in cancer progression and metastasis

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      Nature Reviews Cancer

      Springer Nature

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          Abstract

          <p class="first" id="P1">Cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix is fundamental to tissue integrity and human health. Integrins are the main cellular adhesion receptors that through multifaceted roles as signalling molecules, mechanotransducers and key components of the cell migration machinery are implicated in nearly every step of cancer progression from primary tumour development to metastasis. Altered integrin expression is frequently detected in tumours, where integrins have roles in supporting oncogenic growth factor receptor (GFR) signalling and GFR-dependent cancer cell migration and invasion. In addition, integrins determine colonization of metastatic sites and facilitate anchorage-independent survival of circulating tumour cells. Investigations describing integrin engagement with a growing number of versatile cell surface molecules, including channels, receptors and secreted proteins, continue to lead to the identification of novel tumour-promoting pathways. Integrin-mediated sensing, stiffening and remodelling of the tumour stroma are key steps in cancer progression supporting invasion, acquisition of cancer stem cell characteristics and drug resistance. Given the complexity of integrins and their adaptable and sometimes antagonistic roles in cancer cells and the tumour microenvironment, therapeutic targeting of these receptors has been a challenge. However, novel approaches to target integrins and antagonism of specific integrin subunits in stringently stratified patient cohorts are emerging as potential ways forward. </p>

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          Most cited references 141

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          Tensional homeostasis and the malignant phenotype.

          Tumors are stiffer than normal tissue, and tumors have altered integrins. Because integrins are mechanotransducers that regulate cell fate, we asked whether tissue stiffness could promote malignant behavior by modulating integrins. We found that tumors are rigid because they have a stiff stroma and elevated Rho-dependent cytoskeletal tension that drives focal adhesions, disrupts adherens junctions, perturbs tissue polarity, enhances growth, and hinders lumen formation. Matrix stiffness perturbs epithelial morphogenesis by clustering integrins to enhance ERK activation and increase ROCK-generated contractility and focal adhesions. Contractile, EGF-transformed epithelia with elevated ERK and Rho activity could be phenotypically reverted to tissues lacking focal adhesions if Rho-generated contractility or ERK activity was decreased. Thus, ERK and Rho constitute part of an integrated mechanoregulatory circuit linking matrix stiffness to cytoskeletal tension through integrins to regulate tissue phenotype.
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            Genes that mediate breast cancer metastasis to the brain.

            The molecular basis for breast cancer metastasis to the brain is largely unknown. Brain relapse typically occurs years after the removal of a breast tumour, suggesting that disseminated cancer cells must acquire specialized functions to take over this organ. Here we show that breast cancer metastasis to the brain involves mediators of extravasation through non-fenestrated capillaries, complemented by specific enhancers of blood-brain barrier crossing and brain colonization. We isolated cells that preferentially infiltrate the brain from patients with advanced disease. Gene expression analysis of these cells and of clinical samples, coupled with functional analysis, identified the cyclooxygenase COX2 (also known as PTGS2), the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) ligand HBEGF, and the alpha2,6-sialyltransferase ST6GALNAC5 as mediators of cancer cell passage through the blood-brain barrier. EGFR ligands and COX2 were previously linked to breast cancer infiltration of the lungs, but not the bones or liver, suggesting a sharing of these mediators in cerebral and pulmonary metastases. In contrast, ST6GALNAC5 specifically mediates brain metastasis. Normally restricted to the brain, the expression of ST6GALNAC5 in breast cancer cells enhances their adhesion to brain endothelial cells and their passage through the blood-brain barrier. This co-option of a brain sialyltransferase highlights the role of cell-surface glycosylation in organ-specific metastatic interactions.
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              Integrin ligands at a glance.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Cancer
                Nat Rev Cancer
                Springer Nature
                1474-175X
                1474-1768
                July 12 2018
                Article
                10.1038/s41568-018-0038-z
                6629548
                30002479
                © 2018

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