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Tumour-stromal interactions: Integrins and cell adhesions as modulators of mammary cell survival and transformation

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Stromal-epithelial interactions modulate mammary epithelial cell (MEC) growth and apoptosis by influencing cell adhesion and tissue organization. Perturbations in the mammary stroma and cell adhesion characterize breast tumors and underlie the altered tissue organization, disrupted tissue homeostasis and enhanced survival phenotype of the disease. Apoptosis resistance likely arises during malignant transformation via genetic and epigenetic modification of cell adhesion pathways induced by a changing tissue microenvironment. Acquisition of adhesion-linked survival networks that enhance MEC viability in the absence of basement membrane interactions probably promote malignant transformation, and may render breast tumors sufficiently resistant to exogenous apoptotic stimuli to generate multidrug resistance.

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