Influence of stress on extracellular matrix and integrin biology

Oncogene. 2011 Jun 16;30(24):2697-706. doi: 10.1038/onc.2011.27. Epub 2011 Feb 21.


Dynamic interactions between cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) through integrins influence most cellular functions. Normal cells, but even more, tumor cells are subjected to different forms of stress, including ischemia, radical oxygen species production, starvation, mechanical stress or genotoxic insults due to anti-cancer drugs or irradiation. In these situations, an adaptative cellular response occurs, integrating a complex network of intracellular signaling modules, which, depending on stress intensity, may result to either damage repair followed by complete restitution of cellular functions, or programmed cell death. Because of its implication in oncogenesis and anti-cancer therapy, cellular stress response has been thoroughly investigated. However, most of these studies have been performed in the context of isolated cells without taking into consideration that most cells are part of the tissue within which they interact with ECM through integrin. Few studies have described the influence of stress on cell-to-ECM interaction. However, one can speculate that, in these conditions, cells could functionally interact with protein microenvironment either to create positive interactions to survive (for example by facilitating protective pathways) or negative interaction to die (for example by facilitating detachment). In this review, we summarize the knowledge relative to the influence of different stress modalities on ECM remodeling, integrin expression and/or function modifications, and possible functional consequences, independently from the cellular model as these findings came from a large variety of cells (mesenchymal, endothelial, muscular, epithelial and glandular) and fields of application (cancer, vascular biology and tissue engineering). Most studies support the general notion that non-lethal stress favors ECM stiffness, integrin activation and enhanced survival. This field opens large perspectives not only in tumor biology but also in anti-cancer therapy by targeting one or several steps of the integrin-mediated signaling pathway, including integrin ligation, or activation of integrin-linked enzymes or integrin adaptors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Cell Adhesion
  • DNA Damage / physiology*
  • Drug Resistance
  • Extracellular Matrix / drug effects
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix / radiation effects
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Integrins / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Integrins