Tube travel: the role of proteases in individual and collective cancer cell invasion

Cancer Res. 2008 Sep 15;68(18):7247-9. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-0784.


Recent advances in high-resolution multimodal microscopy reveal how MT1-matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)/MMP-14 and other cell surface proteases degrade and remodel the extracellular matrix (ECM) to drive the dissemination of cancer cells into normal adjacent tissue. By cleaving collagen fibers and repatterning them into parallel bundles, individual cells reorient the ECM to permit movement in tube-like microtracks. Cells along the edge of these tubes can excavate ECM outward, generating macrotracks through which collective mass movement of cancer cells can occur. These findings develop our understanding of invasive processes in cancer and how to attack them by interfering with MMP-14 activity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / pathology
  • Humans
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 14 / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 14