Metastasis follows the inappropriate activation of a genetic programme termed invasive growth, which is a physiological process that occurs during embryonic development and post-natal organ regeneration. Burgeoning evidence indicates that invasive growth is also executed by stem and progenitor cells, and is usurped by cancer stem cells. The MET proto-oncogene, which is expressed in both stem and cancer cells, is a key regulator of invasive growth. Recent findings indicate that the MET tyrosine-kinase receptor is a sensor of adverse microenvironmental conditions (such as hypoxia) and drives cell invasion and metastasis through the transcriptional activation of a set of genes that control blood coagulation.
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