Myosins as fundamental components during tumorigenesis: diverse and indispensable

Yan-Ruide Li _ and Wan-Xi Yang

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:46785-46812. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8800

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Yan-Ruide Li1 and Wan-Xi Yang1

1 The Sperm Laboratory, College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

Correspondence to:

Wan-Xi Yang, email:

Keywords: myosin, cancer, tumorigenesis, metastasis development, chromomyosin

Received: February 28, 2016 Accepted: April 10, 2016 Published: April 19, 2016


Myosin is a kind of actin-based motor protein. As the crucial functions of myosin during tumorigenesis have become increasingly apparent, the profile of myosin in the field of cancer research has also been growing. Eighteen distinct classes of myosins have been discovered in the past twenty years and constitute a diverse superfamily. Various myosins share similar structures. They all convert energy from ATP hydrolysis to exert mechanical stress upon interactions with microfilaments. Ongoing research is increasingly suggesting that at least seven kinds of myosins participate in the formation and development of cancer. Myosins play essential roles in cytokinesis failure, chromosomal and centrosomal amplification, multipolar spindle formation and DNA microsatellite instability. These are all prerequisites of tumor formation. Subsequently, myosins activate various processes of tumor invasion and metastasis development including cell migration, adhesion, protrusion formation, loss of cell polarity and suppression of apoptosis. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of the roles of myosins during tumorigenesis and discuss the factors and mechanisms which may regulate myosins in tumor progression. Furthermore, we put forward a completely new concept of “chromomyosin” to demonstrate the pivotal functions of myosins during karyokinesis and how this acts to optimize the functions of the members of the myosin superfamily.

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