Invadopodia: specialized tumor cell structures for the focal degradation of the extracellular matrix

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2009 Jun;28(1-2):137-49. doi: 10.1007/s10555-008-9176-1.


Invasive tumor-derived or transformed cells, cultured on a flat extracellular matrix substratum, extend specialized proteolytically active plasma membrane protrusions. These structures, termed invadopodia, are responsible for the focal degradation of the underlying substrate. Considerable progress has been made in recent years towards understanding the basic molecular components and regulatory circuits and the ultrastructural features of invadopodia. This has generated substantial interest in invadopodia as a paradigm to study the complex interactions between the intracellular trafficking, signal transduction and cytoskeleton regulation machineries; hopes are high that they may also represent valid biological targets to help advance the anti-cancer drug discovery process. Current knowledge will be reviewed here with an emphasis on the many open questions in invadopodia biology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Movement
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Drug Discovery
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases