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Margaret Mead
Research Article

Protease-dependent versus -independent cancer cell invasion programs: three-dimensional amoeboid movement revisited


Tissue invasion during metastasis requires cancer cells to negotiate a stromal environment dominated by cross-linked networks of type I collagen. Although cancer cells are known to use proteinases to sever collagen networks and thus ease their passage through these barriers, migration across extracellular matrices has also been reported to occur by protease-independent mechanisms, whereby cells squeeze through collagen-lined pores by adopting an ameboid phenotype. We investigate these alternate models of motility here and demonstrate that cancer cells have an absolute requirement for the membrane-anchored metalloproteinase MT1-MMP for invasion, and that protease-independent mechanisms of cell migration are only plausible when the collagen network is devoid of the covalent cross-links that characterize normal tissues.