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Nat Rev Cancer. 2011 May;11(5):317-23. doi: 10.1038/nrc3051.

Desmosomes: new perpetrators in tumour suppression.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology and Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Adherens junctions, which are intercellular adhesive complexes that are crucial for maintaining epithelial homeostasis, are downregulated in many cancers to promote tumour progression. However, the role of desmosomes - adhesion complexes that are related to adherens junctions - in carcinogenesis has remained elusive. Recent studies using mouse genetic approaches have uncovered a role for desmosomes in tumour suppression, demonstrating that desmosome downregulation occurs before that of adherens junctions to drive tumour development and early invasion, suggesting a two-step model of adhesion dysfunction in cancer progression.

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