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Channeling the Force: Piezo1 Mechanotransduction in Cancer Metastasis


Dombroski JAJenna A , Hope JMJacob M , Sarna NSNicole S , King MRMichael R . Cells. 2021 10 20; 10(11).


Cancer metastasis is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, motivating research into identifying new methods of preventing cancer metastasis. Recently there has been increasing interest in understanding how cancer cells transduce mechanical forces into biochemical signals, as metastasis is a process that consists of a wide range of physical forces. For instance, the circulatory system through which disseminating cancer cells must transit is an environment characterized by variable fluid shear stress due to blood flow. Cancer cells and other cells can transduce physical stimuli into biochemical responses using the mechanosensitive ion channel Piezo1, which is activated by membrane deformations that occur when cells are exposed to physical forces. When active, Piezo1 opens, allowing for calcium flux into the cell. Calcium, as a ubiquitous second-messenger cation, is associated with many signaling pathways involved in cancer metastasis, such as angiogenesis, cell migration, intravasation, and proliferation. In this review, we discuss the roles of Piezo1 in each stage of cancer metastasis in addition to its roles in immune cell activation and cancer cell death.