Intercellular invasion and the organizational stability of tissues: a role for fibronectin. Academic Article uri icon


  • Intracellular invasion is the movement of cells of one type into the fabric of other, contiguous tissues. Invasion is a signature behavior of the malignant tumor and also is found as part of the normal behavior of inflammatory blood cells and tissues engaged in the morphogenetic movements of normal embryogenesis and in a number of instances of normal and pathological tissue remodeling in the adult. Informed by the view that the underlying mechanisms of invasion will be similar for tumor cells and invasive blood and embryonic cells, this review adopts a comparative approach to the analysis of invasion. Invasion results in the development of a diffuse interface between contiguous tissues. Its alternative is the maintenance of stable, planar tissue boundaries. This is the more usual condition for contiguous tissues in the animal. This review will focus on the processes that, on the one hand, stabilize planar contact interfaces between tissues, and, on the other, promote the destabilization of tissue integrity by fostering intercellular invasion. Particular attention is devoted to a role for adhesive interactions mediated by the matrix adhesion molecule, fibronectin. In certain instances, fibronectin in the matrix promotes invasion whereas in others, the presence of fibronectin prevents invasion. The distinction appears to depend on whether the invasive tissue is migrating into an acellular extracellular matrix or whether invasion involves densely cellular tissues. In the first instance, fibronectin promotes invasion, whereas in the second, it stabilizes the interface of the contacting tissues and prevents invasion.

publication date

  • March 27, 2000