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Biomarkers. 2011 May;16(3):193-205. doi: 10.3109/1354750X.2011.557440.

Post-translational modifications of the extracellular matrix are key events in cancer progression: opportunities for biochemical marker development.

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Nordic Bioscience A/S, Herlev Hovedgade 207, Herlev, Denmark.


The aim of this review is to discuss the potential usefulness of a novel class of biochemical markers, designated neoepitopes. Neoepitopes are post-translational modifications (PTMs) of proteins and are derived by processes, such as protease cleavage, citrullination, nitrosylation, glycosylation and isomerization. Each PTM results from a specific local physiological or pathobiological process. Identification of each modification to a tissue-specific protein may reveal a unique disease-specific biochemical marker. During cancer metastasis, the host tissue is extensively degraded and replaced by cancer-associated extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Furthermore, severe cellular stress and inflammation, caused by cancer, results in generation of PTMs, which will be distributed throughout the ECM. This gives rise to release of protein-specific fragments to the circulation. Here we highlight the importance of remodeling of the ECM in cancer and the generation of PTMs, which may be cancer specific and reflect disease progression; thus having potential for biochemical marker development.

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