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Nat Rev Cancer. 2011 Mar;11(3):188-97. doi: 10.1038/nrc3005. Epub 2011 Feb 17.

Novel roles for Slits and netrins: axon guidance cues as anticancer targets?

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Apoptosis, Cancer and Development Laboratory-Equipe labellisée La Ligue-, CRCL UMR INSERM U1052 CNRS 5286, Université de Lyon, Centre Léon Bérard, 69008 Lyon, France.


Over the past few years, several genes, proteins and signalling pathways that are required for embryogenesis have been shown to regulate tumour development and progression by playing a major part in overriding antitumour safeguard mechanisms. These include axon guidance cues, such as Netrins and Slits. Netrin 1 and members of the Slit family are secreted extracellular matrix proteins that bind to deleted in colorectal cancer (DCC) and UNC5 receptors, and roundabout receptors (Robos), respectively. Their expression is deregulated in a large proportion of human cancers, suggesting that they could be tumour suppressor genes or oncogenes. Moreover, recent data suggest that these ligand-receptor pairs could be promising targets for personalized anticancer therapies.

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