Mechanosensitive Ion Channels: TRPV4 and P2X7 in Disseminating Cancer Cells

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Cancer metastasis is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Despite its morbidity, metastasis is an inefficient process that few cells can survive. However, cancer cells can overcome these metastatic barriers via cellular responses to microenvironmental cues, such as through mechanotransduction. This review focuses on the mechanosensitive ion channels TRPV4 and P2X7, and their roles in metastasis, as both channels have been shown to significantly affect tumor cell dissemination. Upon activation, these channels help form tumor neovasculature, promote transendothelial migration, and increase cell motility. Conversely, they have also been linked to forms of cancer cell death dependent upon levels of activation, implying the complex functionality of mechanosensitive ion channels. Understanding the roles of TRPV4, P2X7 and other mechanosensitive ion channels in these processes may reveal new possible drug targets that modify channel function to reduce a tumor’s metastatic potential.

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