Acidosis and proteolysis in the tumor microenvironment


The glycolytic phenotype of the Warburg effect is associated with acidification of the tumor microenvironment. In this review, we describe how acidification of the tumor microenvironment may increase the invasive and degradative phenotype of cancer cells. As a template of an extracellular acidic microenvironment that is linked to proteolysis, we use the resorptive pit formed between osteoclasts and bone. We describe similar changes that have been observed in cancer cells in response to an acidic microenvironment and that are associated with proteolysis and invasive and metastatic phenotypes. This includes consideration of changes observed in the intracellular trafficking of vesicles, i.e., lysosomes and exosomes, and in specialized regions of the membrane, i.e., invadopodia and caveolae. Cancer-associated cells are known to affect what is generally referred to as tumor proteolysis but little direct evidence for this being regulated by acidosis; we describe potential links that should be verified.

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Ji, K., Mayernik, L., Moin, K. et al. Acidosis and proteolysis in the tumor microenvironment. Cancer Metastasis Rev 38, 103–112 (2019) doi:10.1007/s10555-019-09796-3

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  • Acidosis
  • Lysosomes
  • Exosomes
  • Invadopodia
  • Caveolae