Anoikis is apoptosis induced by loss of cell adhesion or inappropriate cell adhesion. Adhesion on the extracellular matrix is important to determine whether a cell is in the correct location and to delete displaced cells by apoptosis. The ability to overcome this requirement has important implications for metastatic cancer. However, how adhesion signals are interpreted by a cell into a life or death decision is complex. In this paper, we will examine this from the point of view of the apoptotic machinery of the cell, and discuss the various ways in which adhesion can influence this process.

Abbreviations used: DKO, double knockout; DISC, death-inducing signalling complex; DN, dominant negative; ECM, extracellular matrix; FADD, Fas-associated death domain; MEC, mammary epithelial cell; PAK, p21-activated kinase; PI3K, phosphoinositide 3-kinase; PKB, protein kinase B; OMM, outer mitochondrial membrane; TNFα, tumour necrosis factor α.

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Author notes

Molecular Environment of Integrins: a Biochemical Society Focused Meeting held at Chancellors Conference Centre, University of Manchester, 1–3 December 2003