The molecular mechanisms and genetic programs required for cancer metastasis are sometimes overlapping, but components are clearly distinct from those promoting growth of a primary tumor. Every sequential, rate-limiting step in the sequence of events leading to metastasis requires coordinated expression of multiple genes, necessary signaling events, and favorable environmental conditions or the ability to escape negative selection pressures. Metastasis suppressors are molecules that inhibit the process of metastasis without preventing growth of the primary tumor. The cellular processes regulated by metastasis suppressors are diverse and function at every step in the metastatic cascade. As we gain knowledge into the molecular mechanisms of metastasis suppressors and cofactors with which they interact, we learn more about the process, including appreciation that some are potential targets for therapy of metastasis, the most lethal aspect of cancer. Until now, metastasis suppressors have been described largely by their function. With greater appreciation of their biochemical mechanisms of action, the importance of context is increasingly recognized especially since tumor cells exist in myriad microenvironments. In this chapter, we assemble the evidence that selected molecules are indeed suppressors of metastasis, collate the data defining the biochemical mechanisms of action, and glean insights regarding how metastasis suppressors regulate tumor cell communication to-from microenvironments.
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