In mammals, numerous organ systems are equipped with adhesion G protein-coupled receptors (aGPCRs) to shape cellular processes including migration, adhesion, polarity and guidance. All of these cell biological aspects are closely associated with tumor cell biology. Consistently, aberrant expression or malfunction of aGPCRs has been associated with dysplasia and tumorigenesis. Mounting evidence indicates that cancer cells comprise viscoelastic properties that are different from that of their non-tumorigenic counterparts, a feature that is believed to contribute to the increased motility and invasiveness of metastatic cancer cells. This is particularly interesting in light of the recent identification of the mechanosensitive facility of aGPCRs. aGPCRs are signified by large extracellular domains (ECDs) with adhesive properties, which promote the engagement with insoluble ligands. This configuration may enable reliable force transmission to the ECDs and may constitute a molecular switch, vital for mechano-dependent aGPCR signaling. The investigation of aGPCR function in mechanosensation is still in its infancy and has been largely restricted to physiological contexts. It remains to be elucidated if and how aGPCR function affects the mechanoregulation of tumor cells, how this may shape the mechanical signature and ultimately determines the pathological features of a cancer cell. This article aims to view known aGPCR functions from a biomechanical perspective and to delineate how this might impinge on the mechanobiology of cancer cells.
Scholz, N. (2018). Cancer Cell Mechanics: Adhesion G Protein-coupled Receptors in Action? Frontiers in Oncology, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2018.00059