Congratulations to Janna and all other authors on their recent publication in Nature Medicine!
Mouw and colleagues delineate a molecular pathway by which matrix stiffness promotes tumor malignancy. Upon matrix stiffening, integrin signaling is engaged, triggering a signaling cascade that regulates the pro-tumorigenic microRNA miR-18a. This leads to downregulation of both PTEN and the homeobox protein HOXA9, and activation of downstream oncogenic signaling. The pathway provides a link between mechanotransduction, miRNA regulation and oncogene activation that integrates biophysical changes into tumor progression and can also be altered in human tumors. Clinically, the findings suggest a potential prognostic role miR-18a levels in stratifying patients by risk with luminal breast cancers.