Live free or die: Tales of homeless (cells) in cancer

Craig Horbinski, Colton Mojesky, Natasha Kyprianou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Anoikis, programed cell death that occurs on cell detachment from the extracellular matrix, thus disrupting integrin-ligand interactions, is a critical mechanism in preventing ectopic cell growth or attachment to an inappropriate matrix. Anoikis prevents shed epithelial cells from colonizing elsewhere and is thus essential for maintaining tissue organization. Lack of integrin ligation leads to decreased focal adhesion kinase and integrin-linked kinase activity, which impairs downstream survival signaling. Consequently, targeting tumor cell survival by triggering anoikis provides a unique molecular basis for novel therapeutic targeting of tumors before initiation of metastasis. The two major cell death pathways involved in anoikis signaling are apoptosis and autophagy; growing evidence suggests an extensive cross-talk between the two killing modes as well as context-dependent cooperation and antagonism. This review discusses the functional integration between the two modes of cell death converging at anoikis, including key molecules of interaction such as Beclin 1, reactive oxygen species, extracellular signal-related kinase, and death-associated protein kinase. The involvement of other apoptotic effectors such as Bcl-2, p53, and FLICE inhibitory protein in cancer cell anoikis is also discussed. Dissecting the mechanistic players in the cellular response may be of high clinical significance in identifying effective approaches in reversing anoikis resistance in primary tumor cells and, consequently, impairing metastasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1044-1052
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Live free or die: Tales of homeless (cells) in cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this