Mechanical rigidity in the tumor microenvironment is associated with a high risk of tumor formation and aggressiveness. Adhesion-based signaling driven by a rigid microenvironment is thought to facilitate invasion and migration of cancer cells away from primary tumors. Proteolytic degradation of extracellular matrix (ECM) is a key component of this process and is mediated by subcellular actin-rich structures known as invadopodia. Both ECM rigidity and cellular traction stresses promote invadopodia formation and activity, suggesting a role for these structures in mechanosensing. The presence and activity of mechanosensitive adhesive and signaling components at invadopodia further indicates the potential for these structures to utilize myosin-dependent forces to probe and remodel their ECM environments. Here, we provide a brief review of the role of adhesion-based mechanical signaling in controlling invadopodia and invasive cancer behavior.
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