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Biomed J. 2015 Sep-Oct;38(5):367-79. doi: 10.4103/2319-4170.164229.

Caveolae and cancer: A new mechanical perspective.

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Institut Curie-Centre de Recherche, PSL Research University, Membrane Dynamics and Mechanics of Intracellular Signaling Laboratory; National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) U1143; Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UMR 3666, Paris, France.


Caveolae are small invaginations of the plasma membrane in cells. In addition to their classically described functions in cell signaling and membrane trafficking, it was recently shown that caveolae act also as plasma membrane sensors that respond immediately to acute mechanical stresses. Caveolin 1 (Cav1), the main component of caveolae, is a multifunctional scaffolding protein that can remodel the extracellular environment. Caveolae dysfunction, due to mutations in  caveolins, has been linked to several human diseases called "caveolinopathies," including muscular dystrophies, cardiac disease, infection, osteoporosis, and cancer. The role of caveolae and/or Cav1 remains controversial particularly in tumor progression. Cav1 function has been associated with several steps of cancerogenesis such as tumor growth, cell migration, metastasis, and angiogenesis, yet it was observed that Cav1 could affect these steps in a positive or negative manner. Here, we discuss the possible function of caveolae and Cav1 in tumor progression in the context of their recently discovered role in cell mechanics.

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