The Cell-Surface Membrane in Malignancy

  • J. T. Gallagher


The cellular micro-environment plays a central role in regulating the growth and development of normal cells. A cell will interact with adjacent cells and with structural components of the extracellular matrix via the external surface of its plasma membrane. Although we still know very little about the mechanisms of cellular interactions, it is well established that cell development requires that the surface membrane should be capable of receiving and transmitting regulatory signals from the micro-environment. Cancer is a disease in which abnormalities of both cell growth and cell development are found. Tumour cells are capable of indefinite proliferation. Some specialist non-malignant cells have similar proliferative potential but tumour cells are able to overcome some of the physiological and mechanical constraints that restrict the population growth and territorial expansion of normal cells. In addition, tumour cells are frequently immature and lack the functional attributes of normal cell counterparts. It is therefore possible that cell-surface abnormalities are important factors in determining the characteristic features of malignant disease. If these abnormalities can be identified and related to specific behavioural properties they would throw some light on the molecular mechanisms of cancer and perhaps also represent target sites for chemo- or even immuno-therapy.


Hyaluronic Acid Sialic Acid Heparan Sulphate Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia Dermatan Sulphate 
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Further Reading

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  8. Stoddart, R.W. (1984) The Biosynthesis of Polysaccharides, Croom Helm, London and SydneyCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Peter B. Farmer and John M. Walker 1985

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  • J. T. Gallagher

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