Podosomes and invadopodia are highly dynamic, actin-rich adhesion structures and represent the two founding members of the invadosome family. Podosomes form spontaneously in cells of the myelomonocytic lineage but a plethora of other cells are endowed with this capacity, under appropriate stimulation, such as a soluble factor, matrix receptor, or cell stress. Related structures called invadopodia are detected in some cancer cells or appear on cells upon oncogenic transformation. In contrast to other cell adhesion devices, invadosomes harbour metalloproteases which degrade components of the extracellular matrix. Because of this distinctive feature, invadosomes have been systematically linked with invasion processes. However, it now appears that these intriguing structures are endowed with other functions and are therefore expected to contribute to a wider range of biological processes. The invadosome field has been progressing for thirty years, expanding exponentially during the last decade, where tremendous advances have been made regarding the molecular mechanism underlying their formation, dynamics and function. Invadosomes are involved in human diseases but the causative link remains to be established. To this end, 3D analysis of invadosomes is now being actively developed in ex vivo and in vivo models to demonstrate their occurrence and establish their role in pathological and physiological processes.
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