The vascular basement membrane (BM) is a thin and dense cross-linked extracellular matrix layer that covers and protects blood vessels. Understanding how cells cross the physical barrier of the vascular BM will provide greater insight into the potentially critical role of vascular BM breaching in cancer extravasation, leukocyte trafficking and angiogenic sprouting. In the last year, new evidence has mechanistically linked the breaching of vascular BM with the formation of specific cellular micro-domains known as podosomes and invadopodia. These structures are specialized cell-matrix contacts with an inherent ability to degrade the extracellular matrix. Specifically, the formation of podosomes or invadopodia was shown as an important step in vascular sprouting and tumor cell extravasation, respectively. Here, we review and comment on these recent findings and explore the functions of podosomes and invadopodia within the context of pathological processes such as tumor dissemination and tumor angiogenesis.
Keywords: endothelial cell; invadopodia; podosome; rosette; tumor angiogenesis; tumor dissemination; vascular basement membrane; vascular sprouting.