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The extracellular matrix: A dynamic niche in cancer progression

  • Author(s): Lu, P
  • Weaver, VM
  • Werb, Z
  • et al.
Abstract

The local microenvironment, or niche, of a cancer cell plays important roles in cancer development. A major component of the niche is the extracellular matrix (ECM), a complex network of macromolecules with distinctive physical, biochemical, and biomechanical properties. Although tightly controlled during embryonic development and organ homeostasis, the ECM is commonly deregulated and becomes disorganized in diseases such as cancer. Abnormal ECM affects cancer progression by directly promoting cellular transformation and metastasis. Importantly, however, ECM anomalies also deregulate behavior of stromal cells, facilitate tumor-associated angiogenesis and inflammation, and thus lead to generation of a tumorigenic microenvironment. Understanding how ECM composition and topography are maintained and how their deregulation influences cancer progression may help develop new therapeutic interventions by targeting the tumor niche. © 2012 Lu et al.

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