Cancer Metastasis: Related Genes


DR Welch (ed)
Kluwer Academic Publishers (2002)
ISBN: 1-4020-0229. 265 pages plus index.
RRP: US$115.00


As stated in the preface, “relatively little is known about the control of the metastatic process at the molecular level”. This book explores current knowledge of factors that control the metastatic phenotype. To date, only a limited number of genes have been shown to functionally regulate the metastatic cascade, required for the spread of cells from the primary tumour to secondary sites. To be mentioned in this book, genes thought to be involved in the metastatic process are those that have been validated in vivo. They include a series of metastasis-promoting genes involved in tumor progression, including components of the MAP kinase signalling cascade, and metastasis-suppressor genes, including AP2, KiSS1, BRMS1, MKK4, KAI-1, NM23 and others.

Mechanisms through which the expression of these genes is regulated are discussed. These include the roles potentially played by transcription factors (and their identification), growth factors and their receptors (eg autocrine motility factor and its receptor), diet and restriction of specific amino acids, members of the stress-activated MAP kinase family, and heterochromatin associated protein. Interactions of the cell surface with other cells, or with the surrounding matrix, through surface adhesion molecules, integrins, selectins, cadherins, Ig superfamily proteins, tetraspan molecules, proteolytic enzymes and their receptors, and other cooperative molecules, are discussed.

As this area is relatively young, each chapter is written in the style of a summary work-in-progress, with future plans for further experimentation. The book is generally well-written and easy-to-read, despite its complexity. Unfortunately, the figures and tables have been omitted from chapter four, though reference is made to them.

The whole area of factors involved in the metastatic cascade and its genetic background, together with the array of potential interactions between the multiple factors, is tantalizing. It is not yet clear whether metastasis-suppressor genes are specific to particular types of cells or have a general role in cancer.

The book is suitable for researchers in the field, and for students, rather than for clinicians, as most of the work is at the preclinical evaluation stage.

P Russell
Oncology Research Centre
Prince of Wales Hospital
Randwick, NSW

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