Growth Factor Regulation of Integrin-Mediated Cell Motility

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 1995 Sep;14(3):205-17. doi: 10.1007/BF00690292.


Cell motility, a primary component of tumor cell invasion, is a continuum of sequential events in which the cell extends pseudopodia, forms nascent attachments, assembles and contracts the cytoskeleton, and finally, as it translocates forward, disengages distal adhesions. What triggers cells to move? Substratum contact mediated by integrin adhesion receptors is important, but other signals such as chemokinetic factors appear to be required for continued crawling. It is now apparent that integrins do not simply bind cells to matrix in a Velcro-like fashion, but also are potent signaling molecules. Initial engagement of integrins induces their condensation into focal contacts, forming anchors to the extracellular matrix and discrete signal-transducing complexes on the cytoplasmic surface. A number of growth factors, through either autocrine or paracrine pathways, can activate the cellular machinery that mobilizes the cell. Thus, these two classes of receptors--the integrin receptors that bind specific extracellular adhesion molecules, and growth factor receptors that bind their respective ligands--can regulate cell locomotion. Not surprisingly, there is 'cross-talk' between integrin and growth factor receptors that occurs through their common intracellular signaling pathways. In this way, each receptor type can either amplify or attenuate the other's signal and downstream response. An example of growth factor-induced motility is the epithelial-mesenchymal transition induced by hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF). When bound to its receptor, the c-met proto-oncogene product, HGF/SF induces a phenotypic conversion that appears to be an important aspect of tumor progression in malignant carcinomas. The motogenic response produced by HGF/SF in carcinoma cells occurs in discrete steps in which integrins and focal adhesion kinase (p125FAK) are first recruited to focal contacts. This is rapidly followed by cell spreading, disruption of focal adhesions and cell-cell contacts, and, finally, cell crawling. The precise mechanism by which growth factors such as HGF/SF and its receptor induce this motogenic response and modulate integrin function has not been clearly defined but appears to involve several signaling pathways. Understanding the process by which growth factor and integrin receptors interact and regulate motility may suggest novel targets for therapeutic intervention.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Growth Substances / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Integrins / physiology*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness


  • Growth Substances
  • Integrins