Cancer cells can be killed mechanically or with combinations of cytoskeletal inhibitors

Ajay Tijore, Bo Yang, Michael Sheetz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


For over two centuries, clinicians have hypothesized that cancer developed preferentially at the sites of repeated damage, indicating that cancer is basically “continued healing.” Tumor cells can develop over time into other more malignant types in different environments. Interestingly, indefinite growth correlates with the depletion of a modular, early rigidity sensor, whereas restoring these sensors in tumor cells blocks tumor growth on soft surfaces and metastases. Importantly, normal and tumor cells from many different tissues exhibit transformed growth without the early rigidity sensor. When sensors are restored in tumor cells by replenishing depleted mechanosensory proteins that are often cytoskeletal, cells revert to normal rigidity-dependent growth. Surprisingly, transformed growth cells are sensitive to mechanical stretching or ultrasound which will cause apoptosis of transformed growth cells (Mechanoptosis). Mechanoptosis is driven by calcium entry through mechanosensitive Piezo1 channels that activate a calcium-induced calpain response commonly found in tumor cells. Since tumor cells from many different tissues are in a transformed growth state that is, characterized by increased growth, an altered cytoskeleton and mechanoptosis, it is possible to inhibit growth of many different tumors by mechanical activity and potentially by cytoskeletal inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number955595
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
StatePublished - Oct 10 2022


  • apoptosis
  • cancer
  • cytoskeleton
  • mechanobiology
  • mechanosensitivity
  • transformed growth
  • ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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