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Cancer Lett. 2006 Jan 8;231(1):1-11.

The neuropilins and their role in tumorigenesis and tumor progression.

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Cancer and Vascular Biology Research Center, Rappaport Research Institute in the Medical Sciences, The Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, 1 Efron St., P.O. Box 9679, Haifa 31096, Israel.


The neuropilins were originally described as receptors for the six axon guidance factors belonging to the class-3 semaphorins. They were subsequently found to function in addition as receptors for specific splice forms of angiogenic factors belonging to the VEGF family. The neuropilins are expressed in many types of cancer cells, in endothelial cells and in additional many types of normal diploid cell types. Recent findings indicate that the neuropilins and their associated plexin and tyrosine-kinase VEGF receptors play a regulatory role in developmental angiogenesis as well as in tumor angiogenesis. The neuropilin ligands belonging to the semaphorin family as well as the various VEGF's function as modulators of angiogenesis and tumor angiogenesis. Furthermore, since many types of cancer cells express neuropilins and neuropilin associated receptors, it is not surprising that various neuropilin ligands can modulate the behavior of cancer cells directly leading to the potentiation or inhibition of tumor progression.

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