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Cell Adh Migr. 2009 Oct-Dec;3(4):334-6. Epub 2009 Oct 12.

The roles of cell adhesion molecules in tumor suppression and cell migration: a new paradox.

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Department of Physiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore.


In addition to mediating cell adhesion, many cell adhesion molecules act as tumor suppressors. These proteins are capable of restricting cell growth mainly through contact inhibition. Alterations of these cell adhesion molecules are a common event in cancer. The resulting loss of cell-cell and/or cell-extracellular matrix adhesion promotes cell growth as well as tumor dissemination. Therefore, it is conventionally accepted that cell adhesion molecules that function as tumor suppressors are also involved in limiting tumor cell migration. Paradoxically, in 2005, we identified an immunoglobulin superfamily cell adhesion molecule hepaCAM that is able to suppress cancer cell growth and yet induce migration. Almost concurrently, CEACAM1 was verified to co-function as a tumor suppressor and invasion promoter. To date, the reason and mechanism responsible for this exceptional phenomenon remain unclear. Nevertheless, the emergence of these intriguing cell adhesion molecules with conflicting roles may open a new chapter to the biological significance of cell adhesion molecules.

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