Tissue architecture and function: dynamic reciprocity via extra- and intra-cellular matrices

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2009 Jun;28(1-2):167-76. doi: 10.1007/s10555-008-9178-z.


Mammary gland development, functional differentiation, and homeostasis are orchestrated and sustained by a balance of biochemical and biophysical cues from the organ's microenvironment. The three-dimensional microenvironment of the mammary gland, predominantly 'encoded' by a collaboration between the extracellular matrix (ECM), hormones, and growth factors, sends signals from ECM receptors through the cytoskeletal intracellular matrix to nuclear and chromatin structures resulting in gene expression; the ECM in turn is regulated and remodeled by signals from the nucleus. In this chapter, we discuss how coordinated ECM deposition and remodeling is necessary for mammary gland development, how the ECM provides structural and biochemical cues necessary for tissue-specific function, and the role of the cytoskeleton in mediating the extra--to intracellular dialogue occurring between the nucleus and the microenvironment. When operating normally, the cytoskeletal-mediated dynamic and reciprocal integration of tissue architecture and function directs mammary gland development, tissue polarity, and ultimately, tissue-specific gene expression. Cancer occurs when these dynamic interactions go awry for an extended time.

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
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Genome
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Human / growth & development
  • Models, Biological
  • Signal Transduction


  • Chromatin