Cell Adhesion Molecules In Breast Cancer Invasion And Metastasis

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Lalita A. Shevde1,2 and Judy A. King2,3,4

1Mitchell Cancer Institute, 2Department of Pathology, 3Department of Pharmacology, 4Center for Lung Biology, College of Medicine, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL 36688-0002, USA

Abstract: Metastasis occurs through a series of sequential steps, all of which a metastatic cell must successfully complete in order to establish growth at the secondary site. Cell adhesion molecules including the cadherins, immunoglobulin superfamily, selectins, and integrins play important roles in tumor metastasis. Mucins can also be involved in tumor cell adhesion. In this chapter we review the current knowledge of these groups of cell adhesion molecules in breast cancer.

Keywords: adhesion, cadherin, selectin, immunoglobulin, integrin, metastasis

Metastasis occurs through a series of sequential steps, all of which a metastatic cell must successfully complete in order to establish growth at the secondary site. Upon establishment of a blood supply to support its metabolic needs, the new blood vessels provide an escape route for the tumor cells to enter directly into the vasculature (intravasation). The tumor cells eventually end up in blood circulation via the lymphatics as well. The tumor cells need to survive in the circulation until they arrest in a new organ and extravasate. Multiple fates await tumor cells once they land at secondary sites: (a) they may be destroyed by immune or nonimmune defenses; (b) they may lie dormant in the tissue for years, reactivating later with appropriate stimuli (immune suppression); or (c) they may proliferate either intravascularly or in tissues following extravasation (1). Among the many changes in gene expression and protein function that occur during tumor progression, alterations in cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion seem to have a central role in facilitating tumor cell migration, invasion, and metastatic dissemination (2, 3). At

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