The role of tight junctions in cancer metastasis

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2014 Dec;36:224-31. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2014.09.008. Epub 2014 Sep 17.


Over the last decade, it has become apparent that the tight junction (TJ) is a key component in tumour progression and metastasis. In addition to its role in the control of paracellular diffusion of ions and certain molecules, the TJ has a vital role in maintaining cell to cell adhesion and tissue integrity. Changes in the expression and/or distribution of TJ proteins can result in loss in cohesion of the TJ structure, which in turn results in the ability of cancer cells to become invasive and then ultimately lead to the metastasis of cancer cells. This review will discuss recent insights into how TJ are involved in the process of tumour metastasis.

Keywords: Metastasis; Tight junction; Tumour.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion / physiology*
  • Cell Movement
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Tight Junctions / metabolism*