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Int J Cell Biol. 2012;2012:340296. doi: 10.1155/2012/340296. Epub 2012 Jan 9.

The role of immunoglobulin superfamily cell adhesion molecules in cancer metastasis.

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Molecular Immunology Group, School of Biomedical Sciences and Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University Level 3 MRF Building, Rear 50 Murray Street, Perth, WA 6000, Australia.


Metastasis is a major clinical problem and results in a poor prognosis for most cancers. The metastatic pathway describes the process by which cancer cells give rise to a metastatic lesion in a new tissue or organ. It consists of interconnecting steps all of which must be successfully completed to result in a metastasis. Cell-cell adhesion is a key aspect of many of these steps. Adhesion molecules belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily (Ig-SF) commonly play a central role in cell-cell adhesion, and a number of these molecules have been associated with cancer progression and a metastatic phenotype. Surprisingly, the contribution of Ig-SF members to metastasis has not received the attention afforded other cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) such as the integrins. Here we examine the steps in the metastatic pathway focusing on how the Ig-SF members, melanoma cell adhesion molecule (MCAM), L1CAM, neural CAM (NCAM), leukocyte CAM (ALCAM), intercellular CAM-1 (ICAM-1) and platelet endothelial CAM-1 (PECAM-1) could play a role. Although much remains to be understood, this review aims to raise the profile of Ig-SF members in metastasis formation and prompt further research that could lead to useful clinical outcomes.

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