Molecular requirements for carcinoma cell interactions with the microenvironment are critical for disease progression but are poorly understood. Integrin alpha v beta 5, which senses the extracellular matrix, is important for carcinoma cell dissemination in vivo. alpha v beta 5 signaling induces Mig-7, a novel human gene product that is apparently carcinoma-specific. We hypothesized that Mig-7 expression facilitates tumor cell dissemination by increasing invasion and vasculogenic mimicry. Results show that embryonic cytotrophoblasts up-regulated Mig-7 expression before they acquired an invasive phenotype capable of pseudovasculogenesis. Mig-7 protein primarily co-localized with vasculogenic mimicry markers factor VIII-associated antigen, vascular endothelial-cadherin, and laminin 5 gamma 2 chain domain III fragment in lymph node metastases. Overexpression of Mig-7 increased gamma 2 chain domain III fragments known to contain epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like repeats that can activate EGF receptor. Interestingly, EGF also induced Mig-7 expression. Carcinoma cell adhesion to laminins was significantly reduced by Mig-7 expression. Remarkably, in two-dimensional and three-dimensional Matrigel cultures, Mig-7 expression caused invasion and vessel-like structures. Melanoma cells, which were previously characterized to invade aggressively and to undergo vasculogenic mimicry, expressed Mig-7. Taken together, these data suggest that Mig-7 expression allows cells to sense their environment, to invade, and to form vessel-like structures through a novel relationship with laminin 5 gamma 2 chain domain III fragments.