The role of cell adhesion molecules in cancer invasion and metastasis

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1993;24(3):175-84. doi: 10.1007/BF01833258.


Invasion and metastasis of tumor cells is the primary cause for the fatal outcome of cancer diseases. A striking feature of metastatic cells is the considerable flexibility in their adhesive interactions with other cells or components of the extracellular matrix. This review will describe the involvement of specific cell adhesion receptors, extracellular matrix molecules, and cell dissociating cytokines in the metastatic cascade. We will particularly focus on disturbance of intercellular adhesion as a prerequisite for the release of invasive cells from carcinomas. We suggest that cell dissociation in these tumors is accomplished by loss of function or expression of the epithelial cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin, and through the activity of cell motility factors, like scatter factor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cadherins / chemistry
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / physiology*
  • Carcinoma / metabolism
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / chemistry
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / physiopathology*


  • Cadherins
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor