lecture 2 molecular mechanism of cancer metastasis n.
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Lecture:2 Molecular mechanism of cancer metastasis. Overview . What is metastasis? Molecular mechanisms of metastasis Signalling pathways involved in metastasis. I) What is cancer metastasis? .

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  • What is metastasis?
  • Molecular mechanisms of metastasis
  • Signalling pathways involved in metastasis
i what is cancer metastasis
I) What is cancer metastasis?
  • Cancer defines as a population of cells that have lost their normal controls of growth and differentiation and are proliferating without check.
  • Metastasis is the process by which a tumor cell leaves the primary tumor, travels to a distant site via the circulatory system, and establishes a secondary tumor.
reason for organ selectivity
Reason for organ selectivity

Mechanistic theory: determined by the pattern of blood flow.

“Seed and soil” theory: the provision of a fertile environment in which compatible tumor cells could grow.

determining factors
Determining factors
  • Appropriate growth factors or extracellular matrix environment.
  • Compatible adhesion sites on the endothelial lumenal surface.
  • Selective chemotaxis at which the organ producing some soluble attraction factors to the tumor cells.
5 major steps in metastasis
5 major steps in metastasis
  • Invasion and infiltration of surrounding normal host tissue with penetration of small lymphatic or vascular channels;
  • Release of neoplastic cells, either single cells or small clumps, into the circulation;
  • Survival in the circulation;
  • Arrest in the capillary beds of distant organs;
  • Penetration of the lymphatic or blood vessel walls followed by growth of the disseminated tumor cells.
stages of metastasis
Stages of metastasis
  • Invasion : primary tumour cells enter circulation.
  • Circulation to the secondary site of tumour growth.
  • Colonisation: formation of secondary tumour.
tumor invasion
Tumor invasion
  • Translocation of cells across extracellular matrix barriers.
  • Lysis of matrix protein by specific proteinases.
  • Cell migration.
components of invasion
Components of invasion
  • Matrix degrading enzymes
  • Cell adhesion
  • Cell motility
a matrix degrading enzymes
a) Matrix degrading enzymes
  • Required for a controlled degradation of components of the extracellular matrix (ECM).
  • The proteases involved in this process are classified into serine-, cysteine-, aspartyl-, and metalloproteinase.
matrix metalloproteinases mmp
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)
  • 16 members, subdivided into 4 groups, based on their structural characteristics and substrate specificities.
  • Soluble and secreted groups; collagenase, gelatinase and stromelysins.
  • Membrane type (MT-MMP) group are anchored in the plasma membrane.
  • A zinc ion in the active centre of the protease is required for their catalytic activities.
regulation of mmp
Regulation of MMP
  • MMP is controlled by an increased expression on a transcriptional level.
  • MMPs are calcium-dependent proteases, which are synthesized as a inactive proenzymes and are activated by the cleavage of a propeptide.
  • MMP activity is regulated by specific inhibitors, the tissue inhibitors of MMP (TIMPs). Binding TIMP to MMP is in a 1:1 stoichiometry.
  • MMP2 and MMP9, which cleave type IV collagen the major constituent of basement membrane, are believed to be of special importance.
serine proteases
Serine proteases
  • Serine protease involved in ECM degradation are plasmin, plasminogen activators and cathepsin G.
  • Plasmin is believed to be the most important serine protease, firstly because its ability to degrade several matrix components like gelatin, fibronectin or laminin, and secondly by the possible activation of numerous proforms of MMPs by propeptide cleavage.
  • Plasmin is synthesized in its inactive proform, plasminogen, which can be converted to plasmin by plasminogen activator.
plasminogen activator
Plasminogen activator
  • Two main types : urokinase (uPA) and tissue (tPA).
  • uPA is bound to the surface of tumor cells by means of a specific receptor (uPAR).
  • There are specific inhibitors (PAI-1 and PAI-2) for the PA.
b cell attachment adhesion
b) Cell attachment (Adhesion)
  • Integrin: cell-matrix adhesion.
  • E-cadherin/catenin adhesion complex: cell-cell adhesion.
1 integrin
1) Integrin
  • Heterodimeric transmembrane receptors consists of a and b subunits.
  • Function to provide interactions between cells and macromolecules in the ECM.
  • Integrin can affect the transcription of MMP genes.
2 e cadherin and catenin complex
2) E-cadherin and catenin complex
  • Most important cell-cell adhesion molecules.
  • Reduce expression of E-cadherin and catenin increase the invasiveness of tumor cells
c cell migration
c) Cell migration
  • Small Rho GTPase family
  • Motility promoting factors
small rho gtpase
Small Rho GTPase







LIM kinase

MLC Kinase

Stress fibers


MLC Phosphorylation


Actin polymerisation




2 motility promoting factors
2) Motility promoting factors
  • Hepatocyte growth factor/scattering factor
  • Insulin-like growth factor II
  • Autotaxin
hgf scatting factor
HGF/scatting factor
  • Heterodimer of a and b chains
  • HGF normally acts as a paracrine growth factor, but in tumor cells it can act as an autocrine
  • HGF binds to the c-Met receptor and activated the downstream effectors

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