The relationship between tumor cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix (ECM) and invasion and metastasis formation is one of the most intensively studied topics in cancer biology within the last 10-15 years. The aberrant molecular relationships between malignant tumor cells and their surrounding ECM have been implicated at virtually every stage of the metastatic process; ranging from steps that involve the local invasion of tumor cells away from the primary tumor to those that are involved in mediating extravasation through microvessel-associated basement membranes at the site(s) of metastasis formation. The complexity of tumor metastasis has required that a reductionist approach be taken in order to identify and relate specific molecular mechanisms involved in tumor cell adhesion to various aspects of tumor metastasis. The intensive research efforts into cell adhesion and tumor cell biology have generated many significant new concepts towards our understanding of the molecular aspects of tumor cell adhesion and metastasis. Our purpose in this article is to briefly summarize the relationship of ECM-stimulated tumor cell adhesion to the processes of tumor cell motility and invasion. This is followed by a discussion of certain aspects of signal transduction pathways that may impact on cell motility, with an emphasis on the relationship between phosphatidylinositol hydrolysis and actin polymerization, as well as certain GTP-binding protein-(G-protein) mediated events that could influence cytoskeletal organization and cell motility. Our emphasis is based on increasing evidence that implicates members of the signal transduction G-proteins in the motility and invasion of many normal and transformed cells.
- signal transduction