Tumor invasion as dysregulated cell motility

Semin Cancer Biol. 2001 Apr;11(2):105-17. doi: 10.1006/scbi.2000.0362.


Investigations across a range of disciplines over the past decade have brought the study of cell motility and its role in invasion to an exciting threshold. The biophysical forces proximally involved in generating cell locomotion, as well as the underlying signaling and genomic regulatory processes, are gradually becoming elucidated. We now appreciate the intricacies of the many cellular and extracellular events that modulate cell migration. This has enabled the demonstration of a causal role of cell motility in tumor progression, with various points of 'dysregulation' of motility being responsible for promoting invasion. In this paper, we describe key fundamental principles governing cell motility and branch out to describe the essence of the data that describe these principles. It has become evident that many proposed models may indeed be converging into a tightly-woven tapestry of coordinated events which employ various growth factors and their receptors, adhesion receptors (integrins), downstream molecules, cytoskeletal components, and altered genomic regulation to accomplish cell motility. Tumor invasion occurs in response to dysregulation of many of these modulatory points; specific examples include increased signaling from the EGF receptor and through PLC gamma, altered localization and expression of integrins, changes in actin modifying proteins and increased transcription from specific promoter sites. This diversity of alterations all leading to tumor invasion point to the difficulty of correcting causal events leading to tumor invasion and rather suggest that the underlying common processes required for motility be targeted for therapeutic intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion / physiology*
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Neoplasm Proteins