Over the years, accumulating evidence has demonstrated a strong correlation between physicochemical properties of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and various diseases such as cancer metastasis and fibrotic pathogenesis. These emerging evidences establish that the ECM is not just a passive structural support as previously thought, but is rather an active modulator of cellular behaviors contributing to disease progression when negatively perturbed.
However, a detailed understanding of the role of ECM signaling on cancer metastasis and fibrotic plaque formation and how this can be controlled for a therapeutic intervention is currently lacking. In our group, we are interested in understanding the role of physical constrains exerted by the ECM on cancer metastasis and fibrosis. Our work focuses on understanding the role of physicochemical cues on protease mediated cancer cell migration and identifying the molecular pathways that contribute to MMP (e.g., MT1-MMP) trafficking responding to changes in the ECM.