Forcing through Tumor Metastasis: The Interplay between Tissue Rigidity and Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition

Trends Cell Biol. 2016 Feb;26(2):111-120. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2015.09.009. Epub 2015 Oct 24.


The mechanical properties of the tumor microenvironment have been increasingly recognized as potent modulators of cell behavior and function. In particular, tissue rigidity is functionally important during tumor progression. In this review, we survey recent advances in our understanding of the role of tissue rigidity in tumor progression and metastasis, the mechanisms by which mechanical cues integrate with biochemical signals from the microenvironment, and the underlying mechanotransduction pathways involved in tumor progression. These findings highlight the importance of understanding and defining cellular mechanotransduction pathways and the breadth of signals derived from the tumor microenvironment that influence tumor progression.

Keywords: EMT; extracellular matrix; matrix stiffness; metastasis; tissue rigidity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology*
  • Permeability
  • Transendothelial and Transepithelial Migration*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / physiology