Metastasis is a complex clinical and biological problem presently under intense study, and several model systems are in use to experimentally recapitulate and dissect the various steps of the metastatic process. Genetically engineered mouse models provide faithful renditions of events in tumor progression, angiogenesis, and local invasion that set the stage for metastasis, whereas engrafting of human or mouse tumor tissues into mouse hosts has been successfully exploited to investigate metastatic dissemination and colonization of distant organs. Real-time, high-resolution microscopy in live animals, and comprehensive genetic and molecular profiling are effective tools to interrogate diverse metastatic cancer cell phenotypes as well as the metastatic tumor microenvironment in different organs. By integrating the information obtained with these complementary approaches the field is currently obtaining an unprecedented level of understanding of the biology, molecular basis, and therapeutic vulnerabilities of metastasis.
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