Polarity proteins in oncogenesis
- PMID: 31509786 [PubMed].
Most human cancers arise from epithelial tissues, which are apical-basally polarized and possess intercellular adhesive junctions. Epithelial cells grow to characteristic densities, often from proliferative progenitors, which arrest as they mature. Homeostatic mechanisms can maintain this characteristic density if it is exceeded (crowding) or is too low (e.g. in response to wounding). During tumor initiation and progression this homeostatic mechanism is lost. Some aspects of cell polarity are also lost, although many carcinomas retain intercellular junctions and even apical domains. In other cases, and particularly in recurrent tumors, however, the cells become predominantly mesenchymal. A major question, still only incompletely answered, is whether the proteins that determine cell polarity function as tumor suppressors or tumor promoters. Here we discuss recent advances in understanding the role of polarity proteins and homeostasis in cancer.