Tight junctions and their role in cancer metastasis
Tight Junctions govern the permeability of endothelial and epithelial cells and are the most topical structures of these cell types. Tight junctions create an intercellular barrier and intramembrane diffusion fence. An important step in the formation of cancer metastases is interaction and penetration of the vascular endothelium by dissociated cancer cells.
Early studies demonstrated a correlation between the reduction of tight junctions and tumour differentiation and experimental evidence has emerged to place tight junctions in the frontline as the structure that cancer cells must overcome in order to metastasise. Changes in tight junction function are thus an early and key aspect in cancer metastasis.
Further work is required to fully realise the potential that this structure has in cancer invasion and metastasis in order to develop new and novel therapies in the prevention of tumour metastasis.