Contractile forces in tumor cell migration

Eur J Cell Biol. 2008 Sep;87(8-9):669-76. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcb.2008.01.002. Epub 2008 Mar 4.


Cancer is a deadly disease primarily because of the ability of tumor cells to spread from the primary tumor, to invade into the connective tissue, and to form metastases at distant sites. In contrast to cell migration on a planar surface where large cell tractions and contractile forces are not essential, tractions and forces are thought to be crucial for overcoming the resistance and steric hindrance of a dense three-dimensional connective tissue matrix. In this review, we describe recently developed biophysical tools, including 2-D and 3-D traction microscopy to measure contractile forces of cells. We discuss evidence indicating that tumor cell invasiveness is associated with increased contractile force generation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Connective Tissue / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Video
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology