Biomechanical regulation of cell orientation and fate

Oncogene. 2008 Nov 24;27(55):6981-93. doi: 10.1038/onc.2008.348.


Biomechanical regulation of tumor phenotypes have been noted for several decades, yet the function of mechanics in the co-evolution of the tumor epithelium and altered cancer extracellular matrix has not been appreciated until fairly recently. In this review, we examine the dynamic interaction between the developing epithelia and the extracellular matrix, and discuss how similar interactions are exploited by the genetically modified epithelium during tumor progression. We emphasize the process of mechanoreciprocity, which is a phenomenon observed during epithelial transformation, in which tension generated within the extracellular microenvironment induce and cooperate with opposing reactive forces within transformed epithelium to drive tumor progression and metastasis. We highlight the importance of matrix remodeling, and present a new, emerging paradigm that underscores the importance of tissue morphology as a key regulator of epithelial cell invasion and metastasis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biochemical Phenomena / physiology*
  • Bioreactors
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cell Polarity / physiology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Embryonic Development / physiology
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology