Integrins in development and cancer
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- Anderson, L.R., Owens, T.W. & Naylor, M.J. Biophys Rev (2014) 6: 191. doi:10.1007/s12551-013-0123-1
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The correct control of cell fate decisions is critical for metazoan development and tissue homeostasis. It is established that the integrin family of cell surface receptors regulate cell fate by mediating cell–cell and cell–extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions. However, our understanding of how the different family members control discrete aspects of cell biology, and how this varies between tissues and is temporally regulated, is still in its infancy. An emerging area of investigation aims to understand how integrins translate changes in tension in the surrounding microenvironment into biological responses. This is particularly pertinent due to changes in the mechanical properties of the ECM having been linked to diseases, such as cancer. In this review, we provide an overview of the roles integrins play in important developmental processes, such as proliferation, polarity, apoptosis, differentiation and maintenance of “stemness”. We also discuss recent advances in integrin mechanobiology and highlight the involvement of integrins and aberrant ECM in cancer.