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Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today. 2007 Dec;81(4):329-43. doi: 10.1002/bdrc.20110.

Cellular mechanobiology and cancer metastasis.

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Moores UCSD Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0819, USA.


The primary cause of cancer treatment failure is invasion and metastasis, and invading tumor cells utilize many of the motility patterns that have been documented for normal morphogenesis. Recently, the role of mechanical forces in guiding various tissue and cell movements in embryonic development has been systematically analyzed with new experimental and computational methods. The tissue and cellular mechanobiology approach also holds promise for increasing the understanding of tumor invasion. In fact, the mechanical stiffness of tumors has correlated with invasiveness, and manipulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness in vitro has suppressed the cancer phenotype. Several important signaling molecules reside on the cytoskeleton, which is affected by external stress imparted by the ECM, and deformation of the nucleus can trigger the activation of certain genes. All these observations suggest that a synthesis of the biology of cancer cell invasion and cellular mechanobiology may offer new targets for the treatment of malignant disease. Accordingly, sensitive and relevant in vivo models and methods to study cancer mechanobiology are needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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