Receptor, Signal, Nucleus, Action: Signals That Pass through Akt on the Road to Head and Neck Cancer Cell Migration

Albashir Alzawi, Anem Iftikhar, Basher Shalgm, Sarah Jones, Ian Ellis, Mohammad Islam (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


This review aims to provide evidence for the role of the tumour microenvironment in cancer progression, including invasion and metastasis. The tumour microenvironment is complex and consists of tumour cells and stromal-derived cells, in addition to a modified extracellular matrix. The cellular components synthesise growth factors such as EGF, TGFα and β, VEGF, and NGF, which have been shown to initiate paracrine signalling in head and neck cancer cells by binding to cell surface receptors. One example is the phosphorylation, and hence activation, of the signalling protein Akt, which can ultimately induce oral cancer cell migration in vitro. Blocking of Akt activation by an inhibitor, MK2206, leads to a significant decrease, in vitro, of cancer-derived cell migration, visualised in both wound healing and scatter assays. Signalling pathways have therefore been popular targets for the design of chemotherapeutic agents, but drug resistance has been observed and is related to direct tumour-tumour cell communication, the tumour-extracellular matrix interface, and tumour-stromal cell interactions. Translation of this knowledge to patient care is reliant upon a comprehensive understanding of the complex relationships present in the tumour microenvironment and could ultimately lead to the design of efficacious treatment regimens such as targeted therapy or novel therapeutic combinations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2606
Number of pages22
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2022


  • tumour microenvironment
  • extracellular matrix
  • growth factors
  • cell migration
  • Akt
  • head and neck cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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