The Morphological Oncogenic Signature

Reorganization of Epithelial Cytoarchitecture and Metabolic Regulation by Tumor Promoters and by Transformation
  • Edward G. Fey
  • Sheldon Penman
Part of the Developmental Biology book series (DEBO, volume 3)


An often underappreciated function of metazoan cells is the construction of complex tissue with its attendant elaborate architecture. We propose that the information for architectural expression is mediated by the skeletal networks of each cell. These networks establish cell morphology and phenotype and may also serve to transduce morphological signals regulating gene expression. In this view, the transduction of cell shape and surface contact signals is central to the establishment of differentiated cell organization and function. We further postulate that alterations in cytoskeletal organization may result in the break down of controlled gene expression in differentiated cells and tissues. In this study we present evidence suggesting that the tumor promoter 12-0-tetradecanoyl phorbol 13-acetate (TPA) induces a specific alteration in the morphology and cytoskeletal organization of differentiated epithelial cell colonies. This morphological “signature” closely resembles the phenotype expressed by permanently transformed cells. These results suggest that such an alteration of cytoarchitecture may be an obligatory step in the establishment of neoplastic growth. Certainly gross changes in cellular organization are well-established diagnostic markers for neoplasia (Weil, 1978) and serve as the basis of pathological examination.


Phorbol Ester Nuclear Matrix Tumor Promoter Transmission Electron Micro Cytoskeletal Organization 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward G. Fey
    • 1
  • Sheldon Penman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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