Beginning in the 1960s, considerable attention has been paid to alterations of cellular membranes associated with cell transformation and malignancy. Many such studies have been directed at a search for significant alterations particularly at the cell surface and, more specifically, in the plasma membrane. Focus shifted abruptly a decade later to oncogenes and elucidation of their participation in complex signaling pathways, mostly involving plasma membrane-associated receptors of transmembrane signaling. These pathways continue to be a principal focus of contemporary cancer research (Weinberg, 2007).

For membrane alterations to be expressed at the cell surface, it is most likely that they arise through biosynthetic or processing modifications directed through the ultimate action of altered genetic information but expressed through membrane-associated enzymes of the cell's internal endomembranes (Golgi apparatus, endoplasmic reticulum, and nuclear envelope). Characteristic transformation related changes in endomembranes were noted early but studies of more specific cancer-related endomembrane characteristics are still in their infancy.


Endoplasmic Reticulum Golgi Apparatus Nuclear Envelope Secretory Vesicle Smooth Endoplasmic Reticulum 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

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