Molecular aspects of tumor cell migration and invasion

Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2010;46(1):66-80. doi: 10.4415/ANN_10_01_09.


Cell migration and invasion are crucial steps in many physiological events. However, they are also implicated in the physiopathology of many diseases, such as cancer. To spread through the tissues, tumor cells use mechanisms that involve several molecular actors: adhesion receptor families, receptor tyrosine kinases, cytoskeleton proteins, adapter and signalling proteins interplay in a complex scenario. The balance of cellular signals for proliferation and survival responses also regulates migratory behaviours of tumor cells. To complicate the scene of crime drug resistance players can interfere thus worsening this delicate situation. The complete understanding of this molecular jungle is an impossible mission: some molecular aspects are reviewed in this paper.

MeSH terms

  • Biochemical Phenomena
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / physiology
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Humans
  • Metalloproteases / physiology
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating*


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Metalloproteases