Genetic determinants of cancer metastasis

Nat Rev Genet. 2007 May;8(5):341-52. doi: 10.1038/nrg2101.


Metastasis can be viewed as an evolutionary process, culminating in the prevalence of rare tumour cells that overcame stringent physiological barriers as they separated from their original environment and developmental fate. This phenomenon brings into focus long-standing questions about the stage at which cancer cells acquire metastatic abilities, the relationship of metastatic cells to their tumour of origin, the basis for metastatic tissue tropism, the nature of metastasis predisposition factors and, importantly, the identity of genes that mediate these processes. With knowledge cemented in decades of research into tumour-initiating events, current experimental and conceptual models are beginning to address the genetic basis for cancer colonization of distant organs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genes, Neoplasm / physiology
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genomics / methods
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / genetics*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor