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Acta Biochim Pol. 2004;51(2):445-57.

The role of cell adhesion molecule in cancer progression and its application in cancer therapy.

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Department of Urology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390-9110, USA.


Multiple and diverse cell adhesion molecules take part in intercellular and cell-extracellular matrix interactions of cancer. Cancer progression is a multi-step process in which some adhesion molecules play a pivotal role in the development of recurrent, invasive, and distant metastasis. A growing body of evidence indicates that alterations in the adhesion properties of neoplastic cells play a pivotal role in the development and progression of cancer. Loss of intercellular adhesion and the desquamation of cells from the underlying lamina propria allows malignant cells to escape from their site of origin, degrade the extracellular matrix, acquire a more motile and invasion phenotype, and finally, invade and metastasize. In addition to participating in tumor invasiveness and metastasis, adhesion molecules regulate or significantly contribute to a variety of functions including signal transduction, cell growth, differentiation, site-specific gene expression, morphogenesis, immunologic function, cell motility, wound healing, and inflammation. Cell adhesion molecule (CAM), a diverse system of transmembrane glycoproteins has been identified that mediates the cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix adhesion and also serves as the receptor for different kinds of virus. We summarize recent progress regarding the role of CAM, particularly, immunoglobulin-CAMs and cadherins in the progression of cancer and discuss the potential application of CAMs in the development of cancer therapy mainly on urogenital cancer.

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