Role of cell-matrix contacts in cell migration and epithelial-mesenchymal transformation

Cell Differ Dev. 1990 Dec 2;32(3):367-75. doi: 10.1016/0922-3371(90)90052-x.


Epithelial cells make contact with extracellular matrix via receptors on the basal surface that interact with the basal actin cortex. In 3D matrix, the mesenchymal cell makes contact with matrix all around its circumference via similar receptors. When moving, the fibroblasts is constantly constructing a new front end. We postulate in a 'fixed cortex' theory of cell motility that the circumferential actin cortex is firmly attached to matrix and that the myosin-rich endoplasm slides past it into the continually forming new front end. During epithelial-mesenchymal transformation, the presumptive mesenchymal cell seems to turn on the new front end mechanism as a way of emigrating from the epithelium into the underlying matrix with which it makes 'fixed' contacts. Master genes may exist that regulate the expression of epithelial genes on the one hand, and mesenchymal genes on the other.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / physiology
  • Actins / physiology
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology*
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Chick Embryo
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development*
  • Epithelial Cells*
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Fibroblasts / cytology*
  • Fibroblasts / ultrastructure
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Lens, Crystalline / embryology
  • Mesoderm / cytology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mullerian Ducts / cytology
  • Rats / embryology


  • Actins